Celebrating the International Women’s Day Centennial
Imagine a master class for social change: an academy of action where concrete advice, guidance, and direction for every level of changemaking – from the first spark of an idea to the scaling of an innovation across the globe – are shared by some of the world’s most accomplished innovators and activists.
Imagine their insights then analyzed and distilled – aggregated to identify common threads of wisdom that inform a comprehensive tool for changemakers, a first-ever definitive blueprint for effective action at every level of changemaking.
Ashoka’s Changemakers brings these elements together in ChangemakeHERS, a campaign launched in honor of International Women’s Day that presents the collective wisdom of some of the world’s most accomplished women. This campaign reaches across the globe and into Ashoka’s deep 30-year history as the pioneer and leader in global social change.
Each day, the Changemakers Idea ExChange blog will feature invaluable, concrete advice that only experienced, successful leaders can provide. In their own words, they will share what works and what doesn’t.
Iman Bibars knows both. A veteran social entrepreneur and women’s rights activist in Egypt, she is an Ashoka Vice President and Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
“To encourage and advance collaboration, you cannot just make an introduction,” she said. “You can’t simply say to a social innovator, ‘You know, I want to put you in touch with someone else doing great things in your field. I think you could really help each other achieve your goals.’ That won’t work.”
What does work, she says, is setting up a framework that allows complementary innovators to come together and work effectively. It is a process that requires strong leadership. In her blog she will explain, step-by-step, how she sets up such a framework to enable social entrepreneurs to collaborate. “Collaboration is the key to making large-scale and profound change.”
But large-scale change does not happen without small-scale change first, and ChangemakeHERS also will offer plenty of advice for people just getting started.
“One of the most powerful assets a budding changemaker can seek is mentorship,” said Sejal Hathi, founder and executive director of Girls Helping Girls. “Being able to go to someone you trust to discuss, debate, reshape ideas—someone who feels as comfortable sharing with you her fortes and foibles as you do connecting with her—is incredibly valuable, because that relationship becomes a tool and a portal for discovering parts of yourself that you never otherwise would have known existed, and that could prove key to your projects’ success. But mentorship is like any other relationship: it takes conscious effort and time to cultivate.”
The women featured on Idea ExChange are breaking down barriers to women’s empowerment and, through innovation, are tackling global problems on every front. Some of them are doing it in their own communities, others on a global scale. They work in different fields, in different countries, in different conditions. What they all share is a deep belief that everyone is a changemaker.
They build strong organizations and networks. They unlock economic wealth by pioneering property rights. They confront gender inequality through technology. They leverage the power of sport to combat rape and HIV. They build solar energy distribution networks that employ and empower. They have succeeded at reaching their goals, and they continue to reach for more.
These women are inspiring, but ChangemakeHERS will take their expertise well beyond inspiration. It will be captured in a way that accelerates change. At the end of the month, Changemakers experts, with a decade of experience in analyzing and distilling trends, barriers, and opportunities in the field of social change, will convert the teachings into a tool for success for women around the world and for anyone working to make a difference.
About Ashoka’s Changemakers
Ashoka’s Changemakers is an online community of action connecting social entrepreneurs around the globe to share ideas, inspire, and mentor each other. Through its online collaborative competitions and open-source process, Changemakers.com builds on Ashoka’s three-decade history and vision for an “Everyone a Changemaker” world by creating a place where the best ideas in social innovation can be shared, refined, and funded.
This blog post was contributed by Ashoka's Changemakers team.