My colleague, Whitney, and I are walking up seemingly hundreds of steps to the 2,600-year-old Shwedagon Pagoda. This is the most sacred Buddhist pagoda in Myanmar, as it’s adorned with 27 metric tons of gold leaf, along with thousands of diamonds and other gems, and is believed to enshrine eight hairs of the Gautama Buddha as well as relics of three former buddhas.
At the bottom of the stairs to the pagoda I collect from a woman at a street stall an armful of gorgeously scented roses and then at the top of the stairs I’m stopped by a guard who places a wrap-around sarong on my dress to cover the bare flesh of my legs.… Continue Reading
Indonesia has held a special place in my heart for many years. It’s the country of my mentor, the late Ibu Gedong Bagus Oka, who taught me so much about women’s involvement in peace processes and about the theory and practice of conflict resolution. As a member of Indonesia’s parliament and the founder of a Gandhi ashram in Candidasa and a civic world leader engaged in interfaith dialogue at the UN, she showed that you can inhabit many worlds to lead social change.… Continue Reading
After a long plane flight, and after too many years of almost getting here, I finally land in Dili, capital of Timor Leste. Stepping off the plane, I feel such emotion as I remember my friend, Harry Burton, who wrote of his arriving here to open the first Reuters office just before a newly independent Timor Leste was declared, and who was later killed in an ambush by insurgents in Afghanistan.
I remember, too, welcoming the first Olympic team of a newly independent Timor Leste when I was managing one of the media centers for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.… Continue Reading
On the eve of my birthday I want to celebrate the Janes in my life.
Clipped to a pin board in my bolt hole boat kitchen is the image I wake to each morning – of Jane Goodall with a baby chimpanzee – perhaps it’s Fifi. This image is above a wooden figure with moveable body parts, which I’ve fashioned with arms akimbo and dancing feet to remind me to embrace opportunity and possibility with an open mind and heart. I continue to be inspired by Jane Goodall’s work in sparking and sustaining a movement for young environment activists through her Roots and Shoots network.… Continue Reading
I’m just back from the Women Deliver conference in Copenhagen, a convening on the health, rights and well-being of girls and women that takes place every three years. The conference dynamically engaged some 5,500 people from 169 countries, with 20% under 30 years of age and all of whom came with their energy, ideas, strategies and solutions for change.
One of the participants under 30 was Yemurai Nyone, Founder and Advisor, Dot Youth Organization and 2013 Women Deliver Young Leader, Zimbabwe who spoke at the opening plenary and who said “My strength [as a man] is not defined by the weakness of others.… Continue Reading
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