I have been very proud to the invitation I received for speaking at Action for Women, last Thursday.
This organization is kind of amazing since they devote themselves to help women on the run since 2015. Have a look here, if you want to donate them money or to learn more about their work.
When I was preparing the speech, I thought about how I was going to introduce the concept of assertiveness into that type of context, when people are so vulnerable. I thought of 2 possible scenarios of course. One scenario is our daily life of people like us who are immigrant here in Switzerland but who live a privileged life without escaping or undergoing violence. We avoid vulnerability. We try to do as if we were invincible as if the weakness was a bad thing. It is not! For you to be assertive, you have to communicate your needs. And how do you express your needs if you do not tell people what your vulnerable points are? I always do a lot of storytelling during my workshops, telling people how I did not use to be assertive before. I do not think that anyone will think less of me as a coach, just for admitting I had to work on myself seven years before I became the person I am now! I think it is better like this! There is authenticity in what I do; otherwise, I could not walk my talk!
So, what does one need to be vulnerable? A safe space where to be able to speak up. If the place is safe and speaking up is accepted, then we can be free to express ourselves. How to make that safe space? For an organization, for example, is to have the leaders be vulnerable too (and it's not a coincidence right now that I'm reading the book "Dare to Lead" by Brené Brown).
But what do we do when you not only don't have a safe space but when being vulnerable is precisely the cause of so much violence? Vulnerability for people on the run is a fact, unfortunately, not a pre-condition for any kind of thriving. Again, Action for Women provides that safe space.
By sheltering these women, they engage in a condition of more safety. Safety triggers more comfort and the ability to open up. It takes time, of course. I like to think that in a few years these women on the run could become the most assertive people I know thanks to Action for Women.