The Century of Women

Last week, I was invited to speak at a United Nations NGO conference on the role that women play in the changing world order. The CONGO Committee of Spirituality, Values, and Global Concerns and its working group “Values and Business” presented an inspiring two-day conference. (GoodB will report on the events and speakers next week.) The first day of the conference was devoted to The Divine Feminine, Rapprochement, and the Culture of Peace As a passionate change agent in the field of “better world business” and believer in the role that women must play in creating the new paradigm, I share with you an excerpt from my presentation on the growing influence of traditionally feminine qualities like compassion on the global economy.

The world is changing.

Every institution we have, every model created for human behavior is under scrutiny. Our political structures, economic systems, financial and religious institutions are being examined and challenged.

Humanity is at a pivotal moment of transformation. How we proceed from here will determine the level of suffering we will endure or the level of peace we can achieve in our lifetime.

The more strife and hardship experienced by our world, the more we question the status quo. We have not arrived at this moment by accident. We are part of a growing force of voices that yearn to bring about change.

Humanity has suffered tremendously in the 20th century.  The traumas of wars, conflict, and injustice over the past 100 years have taught us great lessons. From these painful moments we have made great advances in terms of human rights. The second half of the 20th century brought forward a consciousness for the urgent need  to protect the innocent and to “right” the many wrongs of society. Before this shift in thinking, human rights was a fringe idea held by a small group of brave and enlightened souls. The creation of the United Nations and the hundreds of advocacy groups that evolved from it represent the dramatic change in our cultural beliefs. We have gone from killing each other to saving each other. At least some of us have.

What this proves is that it is possible for human beings to change in a fundamental way. As change agents, this is important for us to remember as we move through the often frustrating process of transformation. While it can be slow, plodding, and exhausting, when we look back over the last century we see enormous progress in the way human beings relate to one another.  In spite of those who wish to maintain the status quo, change does come.

One of those areas of progress is the treatment of women.

Beginning half a century ago the plight of women as second class citizens was brought to the world stage. We discussed civil rights, education, and economic rights, and made serious political and social advances. Most of all a consciousness grew that refused to relegate women to the simplistic roles of submission and subjugation we suffered as a gender for the previous 2500 years.

If you remember the progress we have made in recent years (after more than two thousand years of repression and suppression), we recognize as a species human beings have advanced further than we think. Yet the fight is still on…

We hear of young girls subjected to vicious attacks as they fight for their right to be educated. We witness the violent abuse of women worldwide as they struggle to take their rightful place along side of men. All of these challenges reawaken us to a simple fact. There is still so much to do.

We have arrived astonishingly in this new century at a crossroads of spiritual and cultural evolution of the world community. The advancement of women is a crucial part of that evolution.  If we wish to advance as a species, the 21st century is poised to become the Century of Women. This will be the century where women fully participate in the decisions and direction of their own lives.

I worked in the financial industry in the U.S., here in New York, for several years—a traditionally male world. For all the progess America claims in the advancement of women, the world of money in the United States and across the globe is still controlled by a small group of men. The proof of this unilateral control was exemplified by the financial crisis that began in the U.S. in 2008 and spread around the world in a matter of days. It continues to wreak havoc today. Hundreds of millions of innocent people are struggling to survive due to the aggressive and predatory acts of a few thousand men.

I am convinced (and I am part of a growing consciousness) that the only thing that can right this great wrong will be the addition of women to the economic and political systems in a real and integral way.

Greed is not the sole province of men. Women are prone to this human flaw as anyone else. Yet what are traditionally recognized principles of feminine energy – compassion, love, receptivity and conscious humanity – are exactly the elements missing from the current economic structures of the world. These human qualities are precisely the factors that can fix the financial system and prevent another collapse from occurring at the hands of greed.

Compassion and business are not supposed to mix, but a human social system (whether political, religious, or economic) that does not include compassion is forever destined to destroy and not create.

The world needs love. The absence of love is the catalyst behind all human-made suffering. When we forget about love for humanity, we become violent, detached, and destructive. We needlessly create pain for others, because we falsely believe that caring about them will make us vulnerable.  The absence of love inevitably becomes a virulent hate; this is the greatest tragedy of our civilization.

Women are lovers. Women know that love makes us stronger. We understand in our deepest core that love not hate has the greatest power to heal. While hate destroys, love rebuilds.

We are mothers. We nurture our children who create the future of the world and give them strength to face the challenges they will meet. We are the givers of life, not the takers of life. In giving life, we give love with it.

Women are healers. Our job is to offer strength, tolerance, understanding, and wisdom to help repair our world.

In this Century of Women, it is not that women will replace men. It is that men by our example will open themselves to the compassion women embody. Men will find the courage to open their hearts to the love women innately feel for the planet, for our children and communities.

In this Century, women will finally face their fears of annihilation and find the strength to step up and take our rightful place as leaders along side of men.

It is only in true partnership of men and women in government, spiritual traditions, and in our economic structures that we can heal the suffering of our modern world.

Monika Mitchell – Executive Director

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