Monday, April 27, 2009

Empowering and Disempowering Women

I was shocked at this morning's open conflict between my women co-workers. Really, I could not react the way I used to react whenever men are in conflict with other men. This is because I cannot explain how another woman disempowers another woman. Disempowerment between and among women may arise from positions of power (e.g. boss-empoloyee) or from the style of communication (e.g. one is more assertive than another), or from resources (e.g. rich-poor women),or from other sources that cannot be easily seen or measured. Whether in big or small women's organizations, conflicts such as what I witnessed this morning, arise. From my own point of view, a confrontational approach really does not work for women. I tried that many times before, even in intimate relationships, and it often led to disengagement. Thus, creating barriers or divide between and among women.

For the purpose of immediately addressing these conflicts, perhaps, we can always try other methods such as mediation, organizational development or cultivation of values such as peace and harmonious relationships among leaders and members of an organization. When I say mediation, it means having a third party who can patch up differences between and among 'parties in conflict'. A mediator must be unbiased, a person that is respected by both parties. Another method would be an OD workshop on conflict resolution. The groups or persons in conflict must be able to face each other in an environment that would tackle their issues at work. And perhaps instilling values on harmonious or peaceful relationships must be cultivated even on day one at work. These are just some proposals which must be tested. Perhaps, in the long run, we may know which will work for an all-women's organization.

These conflicts in women's organizations actually inspire me to search for meanings why women whether in big or small organizations often end up in intense conflicts and almost often lead to disengagement. For me, it is a big challenge if we can find some the factors that led to the intensity of the conflict: what predispose the women to engage in such rage? what triggers women to openly attack another woman? These are some of my questions. Perhaps, some answers to these questions will strategically address on what will create a truly nurturing women's movement/s for women...

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