I grew up in a household with a strong feminist mother, a supportive father, and with the understanding that I could do anything I put my mind to. Yet at 20 years old, I was unable to recognize or admit to myself or others that I was in an abusive relationship. I was able to extricate myself from that relationship, but it changed my perception of strength and the origin of confidence. Despite my comfortable upbringing and feminist values, I didn’t have the ability to stand up for myself.
It wasn’t until I discovered the Storytelling for Leadership framework while working as a community organizer years later that I was able to fully understand the difference between standing up for an idea, and having the confidence to stand up for myself, and I knew that I couldn’t keep that important revelation to myself. I connected with partner organizations in Rwanda that were interested in trialling the Storytelling for Leadership framework for women’s empowerment, and a few months later moved to Rwanda to pilot Resonate (an organization that supports leadership to improve the social and economic status of women). Since then, we’ve shown that providing women with access to skills is not enough; in addition to hard skills and education women also need the internal resources required to take action – a truth that is reflected even in my own story.