Giving Compass' Take:

· Writing for Global Washington, Mara Bolis, Associate Director of Women’s Economic Empowerment at Oxfam America, shares the factors that encourage women to speak out even though it may be easier to stay silent. 

· How is this Oxfam program helping empower women? What does this program do? How can we encourage women to speak out more about gender-based violence?

· Check out this article about South African Actor Sello Maake KaNcube and gender-based violence.

What makes a woman speak out when everything about her context suggests it would be much easier to stay silent? In Mali, a country where women have historically held political and economic power, yet, where polygamy is common and women are largely subordinate to men, a woman decided to speak out. She had participated in an Oxfam program that supports the development of women’s savings groups called “Saving for Change” (SFC) and provides basic civic education. She worked with her peers to create a theatre performance for local officials to show the social impact of having poor access to water. She wrote of her experience:

“Putting that piece together made us learn to speak, and now we can’t be quiet.”

This brought me back to the Women’s March in Boston a few weeks ago. The singer on stage sang the chilling feminist anthem “Quiet” by Connie Lim (aka MILCK) which echoes the same, universal sentiment:

But no one knows me no one ever will
if I don’t say something, if I just lie still
Would I be that monster, scare them all away
If I let them hear what I have to say

I can’t keep quiet.

Read the full article about when and why women speak out by Mara Bolis at Global Washington.