“Mothers, Role Models and More”

By Kimberly Lord - 05.05.2011

“Do you laugh like your mother?’  It’s one of the many questions posed to KMA learners to help them identify their earliest influencers – and the shapers of their own cultural identity.

Do I laugh like my mother?

Yes! And, I talk, entertain, smile, warble, and welcome strangers like her, too.  In fact, it was her laugh that helped me find my mother at a crowded party in a sea of kneecaps.

Mothers, grandmothers, aunties and women role models shape our lives and our outlook from our earliest days.  They play a foundational part in who we are and how we see the world.

Women and the investment in women create a unique opportunity to help change the world as inspirationally pointed out in Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s book, Half the Sky, titled after the Chinese proverb: Women hold up half the sky.

Pulitzer Prize winning Kristof and WuDunn cite numerous sources and tell the personal tales of women across the world illustrating this point.  They note the potential resource of women and girls first recognized by the World Bank and the United Nations in the 1990s.  World Bank Chief Economist Lawrence Summers wrote, “Investment in girls’ education may well be the highest-return investment available in the developing world.  The question is not whether countries can afford this investment but whether countries can afford not to educate more girls.”

They also cite United Nations Development Programme research, “Women’s empowerment helps raise economic productivity and reduce infant mortality.  It contributes to improved health and nutrition.  It increases the chances of education for the next generation.”

The goal of the book as stated by the authors is to recruit readers “to join an incipient movement to emancipate women and fight global poverty by unlocking women’s power as economic catalysts.”

The book was introduced to me by my friend, Pam Bell, one year ago after a group of us had finished the Mother’s Day Y-ME race.  Pam was inspired after reading the book to create a group of international activists for the empowerment of women and girls.  She shared her vision and asked our girlfriends to take 5 simple steps to join her quest called,  “Arms Wide Open.” One year and more than 100 activists later, you can read about how her project has taken off at her website. Read more »