Women’s Day 2014 Guest Blogger – Ms. Marguerite-Marie Mitterlehner, Independent Consultant to Social Entrepreneurs, Europe

One of the successful alumni of HEC, CEMS & London School of Economics! She donned the consultant hat for 5 pivotal Social Enterprises in Africa & Asia and is now an International Advisor for Conserve India.. You can read more about her – http://uk.linkedin.com/pub/marguerite-marie-mitterlehner/22/6a4/b0b

Thank you Ms.Mitterlehner for honoring Conserve India & Conserve HRP with your this gesture.

Over to Ms. Mitterlehner………………….

I recently read about Mrs. Damenech[1], who is a radiant example of how women motivate and participate in change. After 33 years in secretarial and administrative roles, Mrs. Damenech has opened her own business and is selling and delivering injera, a large pancake which is the base of almost every Ethiopian meal, in her neighborhood. A recently started UNDP training program collaborating with the Ethiopian government has provided her with entrepreneurial skills and will continue to provide advice when needed.

The reach of Mrs. Damenech’s venture is broader than just economical: she is an inspiring example. Not just in Ethiopia, but worldwide. In one of the poorest countries in the world[2] and herself being aged over 50, she has left a stable career to start a new business. Few women in developed countries achieve this. This strong, shining woman is grabbing opportunities, facing risks and challenging the status-quo in her neighborhood, and probably in her society.

Choosing Mrs. Damenech’s example to illustrate his article, and not one of her male colleagues, the journalist was aware it would be more striking. Why is that?

Because women are crucially inspiring!  The beauty in women has the power to inspire.

A teacher in a slum in Cambodia once explained to me why he insisted on having the school freshly painted, and a fountain and flowers in the courtyard: “Because these children need to be inspired, they need to know that life can be better”. Every experience of beauty speaks of the universal and opens a window of new possibilities. The beauty and the strength of a woman like Mrs. Damenech tell other men and women: we can make it, positive change is possible. On the contrary, when a woman is struggling or ill-treated, we instinctively know something is wrong. Beauty is powerful and inspiring, and because women are inherently beautiful, they are exceptional conveyors of inspiration.

The way women inspire change is also crucial because they do so in another way than men.

The Western corporate world is already aware of that[3]. Out of 9 leadership behaviors that positively affect a company, women tend to use 5 more frequently than men: “People development”, “Expectation and reward”, “Role model”, “Inspiration”, and “Participative decision making”. I believe this is applicable in other contexts and that more than men; women prize the opportunity to pour their energies into making a difference and working closely with others. Through their unique leadership style, or simply through their distinctive way of relating to others, women inspire change.

In their beauty and their way of relating to others, women are crucial to inspire change. But how can we fully benefit from women’ potential when almost two-thirds of the world’s 792 million illiterate adults are women[4]? Their potential can only be released when the society recognizes their inspiring power. The rest of the world, we, should create such favorable environments where women can become the agents of inspiring change they inherently are.


[1]Jeffrey, J. (2014, January 2). Ethiopia aims to create new generation of entrepreneurs. BBC News. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk

[2]Ethiopia ranks 173 on 187 countries. “The 2013 Human Development Report – “The Rise of the South: Human Progress in a Diverse World””. Human Development Report Office, United Nations Development Programme. pp. 144–147.

[3]Women matter 2: Female leadership, a competitive edge for the future, McKinsey & company, 2008.

[4]UNESCO. 2011a. p. 12

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