Shadhika Shadhika

Blog

We want to create a world where women and girls are regarded as equal to men and boys because we believe human rights are universal and inalienable, and India is at the epicenter of this fight.

The Transformative Power of Female Leadership

By My Lo Cook, Executive Director

November 25, 2020

What is female leadership? By definition, it is a style of leadership that is grounded in the full expression of female attributes, based in authentic communications, collaboration, and care for others. Female leadership emphasizes personal and professional development. Therefore, by nature, female leadership is intrinsically transformational and our new interview series, When She Leads: From the Front Lines, illustrates perfectly female leadership and its transformative impact on the lives of the young women of Shadhika.

But most importantly, when asked to propose a vision for the world, female leadership doesn’t only answer the questions of “What?” and “How?” but also spends time answering a third question: “Why?”

“Why do we want racial justice?”

“Why do we need to urgently address abject poverty?”

And for Shadhika: “Why do we want to create a world where women and girls are regarded as equal to men and boys?”

Limiting ourselves to the “What?” to the “How?” is a mistake because we miss the opportunity to identify the values that are driving that vision and the systems of oppression that may be powering our well-intentioned engines.

In a recent episode of the Ethical Rainmaker, the host discusses the roots of philanthropy in the U.S. Through a careful historical analysis of the philanthropic and non-profit industrial complex, the conversation uncovers the problematic capitalist and paternalistic instincts of our sector that run counterintuitive to its mission: to right all the wrongs in society. 

For me personally, as someone who has spent nearly 20 years trying to do good through the non-profit sector, this is a realization that is not only heartbreaking and core-shaking, but also eye-opening to the work that lies ahead.

Philanthropy excels at imagining the “What?” It strives to perfect the “How?” But it has missed answering the “Why?” until now.

At the end of a year that has confronted the world and our sector with profound reckoning, it is fitting for Shadhika to return to the core of our belief in the transformational power of female leadership and for us to answer our “Why?”

We want to create a world where women and girls are regarded as equal to men and boys because we believe human rights are universal and inalienable, and India is at the epicenter of this fight. We believe that current solutions to address existential threats to humanity are inherently flawed because those solutions are missing half the picture by denying equal representation of women and girls at the table. 

This means that our work must single-mindedly bring those young women and girls Shadhika serves to the center of our work, including at the center of our decision making process. This fundamental proposition is deceivingly simple yet, in practice, it requires a level of discipline, humility, and accountability that is both taxing and destabilizing. But it is right.

The transformational power of female leadership is not only undeniable, but necessary for us to normalize and unleash unapologetically to make sure that our vision for India and the world, as well as our work to attain that vision, systematically dismantles the forces that have kept women and girls on an unequal footing.

This is the aspiration that will carry us into the New Year with conviction and strength.

Read more