Kazakh Women Activists Highlight Importance of Intergenerational Relations

August 13, 2006

Facilitator discusses leadershipIn May 2006, WLP's partner in Kazakhstan, Shymkent Women's Resource Center (SWRC), held a Leading to Choices leadership workshop for 11 women activists between the ages of 16 and 65 from two regions in South Kazakhstan.

During the workshop, participants explored the concept of participatory leadership through discussion of case studies, interactive exercises, and role plays, comparing traditional styles of leadership, such as exerting force, to participatory styles of leadership, such as building consensus.

Participants acquired the knowledge and skills needed to formulate a shared vision. In particular, the workshop provided an opportunity to strengthen intergenerational relationships in a culture where maturity and experience are often more valued than youth. Younger participants gained the confidence to express their opinions while the more experienced women encouraged them, in the context of a workshop environment that stressed the richness of diverse experiences and respect for the contributions of each individual. "During the training I learned to work better in groups and to make joint decisions. At the beginning of the seminar it was difficult for me to cope as I was the youngest participant, but later the difference in age was not important and other participants listened to my opinions," recounted one young participant.

Many women activists left the workshop with renewed energy for social advocacy. "After attending the workshop I am convinced of the importance of being a leader in my own life. I shall work out a plan of action for the next five years. I want to know more about technology and how to use technology effectively to strengthen public advocacy for the welfare of women," said one participant. One young woman is developing plans to create her own organization and to share her new knowledge and understanding with other young leaders.

Workshop participants formed a coalition to advance women's leadership and participation in public life in South Kazakhstan through empowerment training. Using the Leading to Choices curriculum, participants plan to hold mini-seminars in the region for organizations working for the rights of women and youth, building their capacity for effective cooperation and community outreach.

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