Each day, I conducted a morning workshop, and then for the rest of the day, we journeyed into the local communities and learned more about the villages, the people who live there, and the work being done.
In one small community, the women had, with support, created a women’s artisan group. We learned how to scrape the green off long jungle leaves to reveal the fibers that the women could dry and weave into bracelets. We learned about the different seeds that the women used for ornamentation. We learned that, although it took us a long time to wrap our minds around how to braid and tie the bracelets, a skilled woman artisan could make a beautiful basic bracelet in about 5 minutes. We also learned that the money that these women earn goes back to their families for education, food, and clean water. Our jungle guide, a man, told us that their research has clearly demonstrated that when you educate and empower women, the money comes back to the community, creating stronger and healthier families and communities. The power of women multiplies for the good and benefit of all.A Love Letter to All Women
It was in this context that I read an advanced electronic copy of Thriving Women, Thriving World: An invitation to Dialogue, Healing, and Inspired Actions co-authored by a wonderful group of women, including Diana Whitney who is a leading thinker and practitioner in the Appreciative Inquiry space. Many of the authors have credentials in the positive psychology and/or Appreciative Inquiry fields, and this becomes important and illustrative throughout the book.
What really stays with me is that this book – and “book” seems like such an impoverished word for this treasure – is really a love letter to all women everywhere. It is uplifting, inspiring, empowering, and energizing. It speaks of hope and possibility and the creation of a wonderful future for everyone through the recognition and appreciation of women.
At a basic level, the book is divided into chapters that tackle subjects such as educating for social change and creating thriving relationships. There are sections dedicated to women’s bodies, financial literacy, and how women – and men – can support women. This is truly a wide-ranging diverse scope, and incredibly ambitious for a book of this nature.What makes it work is that each chapter contains micro-learnings that lead to insight on the topic. For example, one topic dives into forgiveness, describing what it means, and then prompting the reader with appreciative questions about forgiveness: think about a situation in which you forgave a small violation, and why that was important to you. The reader is then prompted to consider other situations, larger violations, even nearly unforgivable ones, and contemplate the role that forgiveness has played in their lives and thriving.
Through exercises such as this, personal narratives scattered throughout the book, practices, and poetic reflections, readers are implicitly invited to share their humanity with all women, and by extension, all humans on the planet.
How to Use the Book
Every word, you can tell, has been chosen carefully and deliberately. But since 200+ pages of this can feel overwhelming, the authors have also included eight ways in which this book can be used. For example, you may wish to use this on your own: take one page per day and spend time reflecting and writing in a journal. You may wish to engage with a partner or one person close to you selecting questions to ask each other to reach a deeper understanding. You may spread these positive ripples further through group discussions or workplace culture interventions. No doubt creative and resourceful readers will come up with their own ways to engage with these valuable materials.
What Stood Out for Me
At the end of my encounter with this book, however, what really stood out for me is that the world cannot thrive and humanity cannot flourish without the positive contributions of women, who form just over half of the human population. When women are involved, communities, families, and workplaces are better and stronger. The world in dire situations now, with environmental, cultural, emotional, physical, and financial needs all crying out for human support and repair. We ignore the power of women at our own peril.
I believe this quote from the book illustrates this in a sincerely compelling way:
“To my sister women: we are being called to gather in circle. To join in a circle of community and bold collaboration. To raise up our voices to the world – for together we are stronger.” (p. 155)
Let’s all go forth and flourish.
Whitney, D., Cocciolone, J., Miller, C. A., Moon, H., Britton, K. H., De La Barra, A. L., Koh, A., Teller, T. C., & Ogawa, M. (2019). Thriving Women Thriving World: An invitation to Dialogue, Healing, and Inspired Actions. Chagrin Falls, OH: Taos Institute.
The 92 questions in this book are written in the style of The Encyclopedia of Positive Questions:
Whitney, D., Trosten-Bloom, A., Cooperrider, D., & Kaplin, B. S. (2013). Encyclopedia of Positive Questions, 2nd Ed.. Crown Custom Publishing.
First picture used with permission from Lisa Sansom.
Group of celebrating people in South Africa used with permission from Tanya Cruz Teller.