Photo © Darcy Kiefel
Photo © Darcy Kiefel

10 Leaders Who Redefine Leadership

By Emily Garcia and Kim Crane

Think you know what a leader looks like? Meet nine women and one male ally from World Pulse’s global network who are transforming their communities—and challenging traditional images of leadership along the way.

When we reached out to World Pulse community member Susan K.A. to thank her for her leadership as a World Pulse Welcomer and to ask her if she’d like to participate in this article, she was surprised. She had never before thought of herself as a leader, a word she’d seen divide people rather than bring them together. But her actions, along with the other nine women and men you will read about here, model loving and compassionate leadership. They demonstrate that leadership can be showing a girl in rural Zimbabwe that she matters and that her opinions are valuable; it can be simply being yourself and sharing your story in spite of the discrimination you face; it can be empowering others to take on leadership roles; it can be teaching your sons to value and respect women.

At World Pulse, we have seen as many ways to lead as there are members in our global network—and all are making our world a better place. Here are 10 of the many, many World Pulse leaders who have inspired us this year.

Greengirl | Nigeria

Leading with Service

“The world will only begin to experience true leadership when people come to an understanding that leadership is more about what you can give than what you can get. Leadership is service, and the gains are embedded therein.”

Read more »

 

Malayapinas | Philippines

Leading through Grassroots Action

“The passion and the patience to unite the people in charting their own destiny and collectively realize their aspirations—without fears of the power that be—is the very essence of being a leader.”

Read more »

 

Tash | Uganda

Leading with Courage

“Being a leader to me means service, standing up for what I believe in—which is equality—regardless of what other people will think of me.”

Read more »

 

 

Ynanna Djehuty | United States

Leading Revolution

“Leadership can be tender, loving, and compassionate. My leadership demands the collective to hold and own the power.”

Read more »

 

 

Mukut Ray | India

Leading with Love

“My approach to leadership could be a pep talk, like saying to someone ‘You are good, and you have the confidence to go further’…These seemingly small words can actually transform a person’s life.”

Read more »

Shahd Majeed | Iraq

Leading through Collaboration

“Leadership is about making other people leaders and empowering them.”

Read more »

 

Mbizo Chirasha | Zimbabwe

Leading as an Ally

“Being a leader is first to carry others’ burdens, to do the best in sharing your skills, your passions, your creativity, and your world view--while balancing opportunities and space for both genders.”

Read more »

 

Princesse Muluzinyere | Democratic Republic of Congo

Leading through Mentorship

“A leader is someone who has a clear vision, which she aims to achieve with the help of others!”

Read more »

 

Bitani | Lebanon

Leading through Self-Expression

“It means the world to me to see the ideas I’m presenting spreading.”

Read more »

 

 

Susan K.A. | United States

Leading by Listening

“Leadership is demonstrated by learning the art of listening to others, really listening, and providing empathy. This requires the ability to quiet one’s own mental chatter and agenda in order to let the speaker express everything that weighs on them, uninterrupted, and truly feel heard.

Read more » 


Greengirl shares her wisdom as an environmental steward.

Greengirl | Nigeria

Leading with Service

The world will only begin to experience true leadership when people come to an understanding that leadership is more about what you can give than what you can get. Leadership is service, and the gains are embedded therein.

“Women can no longer be spectators,” writes Greengirl. “They must have a say in the use and distribution of natural resources.” A humble, determined, and accomplished environmental activist in Nigeria, Greengirl works to empower women, especially grassroots women, to become environmental advocates and demand a seat at the decision-making table.

In Nigeria, a beautiful and resource-abundant country, mismanaged resources frequently result in exploitation of the natural environment. In 2008 Greengirl founded the organization Women’s Initiative for Sustainable Environment (WISE) to strengthen women’s roles in natural resource access, use, control, and stewardship. She offers impoverished women in Kaduna State, who are traditionally sidelined when it comes to environmental policy, the opportunity to learn skills in environmental management and protection.

By mentoring women in her community, she is making the world a greener place.

Connect with Greengirl »

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Malayapinas

Malayapinas | Philippines

Leadership through Grassroots Action

The passion and the patience to unite the people in charting their own destiny and collectively realize their aspirations—without fears of the power that be—is the very essence of being a leader.

In the wake of Super Typhoon Haiyan, with the Philippines government struggling to assist survivors of the devastation, Malayapinas did what came naturally to her: Along with her husband, she stepped up to organize relief efforts for her hometown of Estancia.

A social worker, a social justice activist, and a women’s advocate, Malayapinas ran for Philippines Congress in the spring of 2013 as the only woman from her party on the opposition platform. Though she lost, she tells us, “I left footprints of a real politics of change with every handshake and smile I gave.”

Malayapinas was raised in a poor, working class family, and was exposed at a young age to worker struggles for just wages and safe working conditions. She promised herself that one day she would work for change and fight against such exploitation. Today, she continues to speak out in a country that has one of the highest rates of attacks on journalists. She believes in the power of the collective to free her country from poverty and oppression.

Connect with Malayapinas »

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Tash | Uganda

Leading with Courage

Being a leader to me means service, standing up for what I believe in—which is equality—regardless of what other people will think of me.

In a country where being gay is a crime, Tash is a vocal and courageous advocate for LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex) rights in Uganda. A law school graduate, she believes that one does not have to be discriminated against to care about the plight of gay and lesbian people, whose safety is under constant threat in Uganda.

As a Christian, Tash never imagined she would be become a leader in the fight for LGBTI justice. But when she personally witnessed two gay people struggling to hide their love, she was moved to LGBTI rights activism. Now she intends to use her legal training to bring about policy reform to protect the human rights of the Ugandan LGBTI minority group and vows to fight until her government stops imprisoning people based on their sexual orientation. In her advocacy work to influence both political and social change in her country, she calls attention to the shared humanity of all people, gay or straight, and shows others how to be allies in the struggle for LGBTI rights.

Connect with Tash»

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Ynanna Djehuty

Ynanna Djehuty | United States

Leading Revolution

Leadership can be tender, loving, and compassionate. My leadership demands the collective to hold and own the power.

Ynanna Djehuty always knew she was meant to help women heal, but first she had to heal herself. Listening to the quiet voice that has always pushed her to face her fears, she recognized the wisdom of her childhood self who wanted to grow up to be a doctor, mother, or teacher. “Leaping has been scary because of all the messages we receive that we cannot do it,” she says.

Today, Ynanna is leading a revolution of healing and empowerment as a writer, certified birth doula, and midwife in training. An Afro-Dominicana woman born and raised in the Bronx, New York, she is transforming the lives of women in her community. When she began learning about how Afro-descendant women were experiencing birth and health in the US, she was alarmed at the neglect they were experiencing. She believes women, and especially Afro-descendant women, have been made to be afraid of their power. Her decision to become a midwife was a calling to serve her community at large and to help women reclaim their power.

As a reproductive health activist, Ynanna raises awareness about maternal and infant health, specifically highlighting disparities in the US healthcare system for women of color.

“I guess that’s what birth is like,” she writes, “You have to trust yourself to know that you will make it to the other side.”

Connect with Ynanna »

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Mukut Ray leading World Pulse new media training with women and girls in her community.

Mukut Ray | India

Leading with Love

My approach to leadership could be a pep talk, like saying to someone ‘You are good, and you have the confidence to go further’…These seemingly small words can actually transform a person’s life.

Mukut Ray is a leading and loving voice in the World Pulse community, empowering others through her constant and supportive engagement online. An outspoken advocate against gender-based violence in her country, she has tackled issues ranging from dowry violence to child trafficking and has fervently advocated for the rights of India’s widows.

She sees women in India advancing as leaders but she tells us that if you “scratch a little deeper, out comes the harsh truth”: deep-seated patriarchy and misogyny that devalues women and threatens their health, happiness, and very lives.

Trained in economics, travel, and tourism, she left a corporate job last year to advance women’s rights in her community. She is involved with the non-profit Deoraj Trust, a community driven initiative that educates and mentors women and girls, and her voice has continued to rise during World Pulse’s 2013 Voices of Our Future program. She is often the first to leave supportive comments and words of encouragement on others’ writing. With grace and warmth, she helps others do their best work and become their best selves.

Connect with Mukut »

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Shahd Majeed meets young Syrian girls in their refugee home.

Shahd Majeed | Iraq

Leading through Collaboration

Leadership is about making other people leaders and empowering them.

Shahd Majeed grew up in a nation plagued by war and was displaced from her home in Baghdad in 2006. “I personally do not speak the language of weapons, but I definitely speak the language of determination and freedom,” she writes. Today she embodies the change she hopes to see in every nation of the world.

A woman’s empowerment advocate, Shahd aims to inspire women by being a positive example. “The tiniest things around us can be our source of power,” she says. The business she founded in partnership with the company By Women, For Women assists women with resumes, job applications, and job placement.

Leading through collaboration, she has partnered with Syrian World Pulse Correspondent Hummingbird to address the needs of the growing population of Syrian refugees in Iraq, helping women who have left refugee camps find employment in her city, Erbil. She plans to continue to encourage women to be their own advocates, and is preparing to share the World Pulse Voices of Our Future digital empowerment training with young women at her alma mater of University of Kurdistan Hewler.

Connect With Shahd »

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Photo Credit: Masimba Biriwasha

Mbizo Chirasha at the Girl Child Creativity launch. 

Mbizo Chirasha | Zimbabwe

Leading as an Ally

Being a leader is first to carry others’ burdens, to do the best in sharing your skills, your passions, your creativity, and your world view–while balancing opportunities and space for both genders.

Watching his mother toiling in the fields and selling tomatoes for his school fees made an impression on Mbizo Chirasha as a young boy. Mbizo grew up in a family of poor peasant farmers in what he describes in his World Pulse journal as a dust-laden, drought-prone region of Zimbabwe. When his father died, 13-year-old Mbizo and his now female-headed family were chased away from their land. At that young age, he understood that their unjust dispossession was a direct result of discrimination against his mother due to her gender. Despite incredible hardship, Mbizo’s mother worked hard to support the family. Today she is Mbizo’s hero and his inspiration.

Mbizo applies the perseverance he learned from his mother to advocate on behalf of girls’ rights in Zimbabwe. He is an internationally acclaimed performance poet, writer, and a devoted advocate for the girl child. “If women are empowered and motivated they change the face of the world,” says Mbizo. He is the founder of multiple grassroots educational projects, including Girl Child Creativity Project, which empowers girls through their exploration of the creative arts. He seeks continued networking and skill-sharing with World Pulse community members.

Connect with Mbizo »

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Princesse Muluzinyere with her family when they learn that the World Pulse community is celebrating Princesse as a global leader.

Princesse Muluzinyere | Democratic Republic of Congo

Leading through Mentorship

A leader is someone who has a clear vision, which she aims to achieve with the help of others!

Princesse Muluzinyere, who never had a chance to even touch a computer as a girl, is now regularly logging online to write about women’s health and peace and security in rural areas of the DRC. Princesse is the eldest of 10 siblings and the only girl in her family to attend university, where she graduated with a degree in Nutrition and Diet. She believes that the world will bear witness to a more hopeful future when all girls have access to education and new media technology. She shares the technology skills she’s acquired with her community as a “girl ambassador” at the Maman Shujaa Media Center in Bukavu, DRC. She also mentors young women to increase their independence and employment opportunities in a region where girls are often discriminated against, neglected, and denied education.

She is motivated by her strong vision: “May all women come together in life. May the integration of women put an end to the violence done to them.”

Connect with Princesse »

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Bitani

Bitani | Lebanon

Leading through Self-Expression

It means the world to me to see the ideas I’m presenting spreading.

As one of seven daughters growing up in Lebanon, Bitani faced harsh truths of what it means to be a woman in a society that undervalues women’s contributions. Shortly after her birth, Bitani’s grandfather said, “Though she is a girl, we do not want her to die.” Ongoing support from her family has allowed her to become a vocal advocate for women’s rights.

A 25-year-old mother and graduate student, Bitani refuses to be defined by the headscarf she wears or what global mainstream media say about Muslim women. “I not only aim to help women who are being oppressed due to extremist interpretations of religion,” she says, “but also to inform the world out there that there are Muslim women who have a voice.”

She leads by example, showing women and girls in her community what it looks like to be an empowered Muslim woman. She also aims to make her people more welcoming to the diversity within Lebanon, which is unique in the region for its 18 different religious groups.

Bitani reserves the right to tell her own story and encourages other Muslim women to do the same. As a journalist and politically active feminist, Bitani challenges the status quo by bringing to light the untold stories of veiled women. She is working toward a day when the world can view her religion with balance and understanding.

Connect with Bitani »

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Susan K.A. with her son Charlie.

Susan K.A. | United States

Leading by Listening

Leadership is demonstrated by learning the art of listening to others, really listening, and providing empathy. This requires the ability to quiet one’s own mental chatter and agenda in order to let the speaker express everything that weighs on them, uninterrupted, and truly feel heard—to allow their suffering (or joy!) to be felt by the listener.

It was a conversation with another mom over the sandbox that caused Susan to question traditional ideas of leadership. “Jack’s a follower, not a leader,” said the other mother—a statement that challenged Susan to form her own definition that recognizes the leadership potential of all people.

True leadership to Susan is born from desire to help, serve a larger purpose, or alleviate suffering in some way. Although she rarely thinks of herself as a leader, Susan has nurtured her approach to leadership in tandem with her parenting philosophy. Like tackling issues of justice, raising two sons requires inner strength. “It’s what we choose to do with feelings of anger and frustration that make all the difference in our ability to lead.”

She has put her philosophy into practice while greeting new members as a World Pulse Welcomer. She responds to what other World Pulse members write in their journals with thoughtful and positive comments to make them feel heard and held with love. Her actions and loving presence foster a supportive and welcoming community culture. “If we live in a way that touches what’s best in each other—inspires others to be their own highest self—then we are living up to our potential as leaders.”

Connect with Susan »

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Topic Leadership
Comment on this Editorial

Comments

All these leaders are awesome. And I am proud to be friends with Malaya Pinas. She is one superb leader and I hope the coming year will bring her work to fruitful achievements.

I must say, I am the proud friend of Malaya´s, who is cheering her from the other side of the world!

To all these wonderful women, and to the wonderful World Pulse team, a tight hug and all my gratitude for their endurance in making a better world happen.

Love,

Jackie

Jacqueline Patiño FundActiva Tarija - Bolivia South America www.jap21.wordpress.com

Dear Jackie my sister,

Thank you for being so proud of me and all the wonderful women here . I miss you and hope all the best in your life. Regards to Jackie! Miss you two!

love, Malaya

Amazing ! Loved it ! Fabulous leaders with fabulous stories. So grateful to know these amazing human beings.

Thank you World Pulse team.

Love,

Mukut Ray

I am so happy to see women birthing new life, not necessarily as biological mothers, but as mothers to our earth.

Thank you.

Yvette

Hi Amy,

I adore doing it! It feeds my soul. It's really an honor to have this opportunity to meet all of these amazing people.

Love,

Susan

______________________________________________________________________________ "I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness the astonishing light of your own being." -Hafiz

I am astounded and at the same time inspired by the different faces of leadership and the leadership drive exhibited through the seemingly little things people do to bring about change. 'Service, Action, Courage, Revolution, Love, Collaboration, Ally, Mentorship, Self expression and Listening' - These words truly spell and define leadership. It's a great privilege, honour and delight to meet and know each one of you.

Best Wishes, Greengirl

It is truly a "great privilege, honor and delight to meet and know each one of you," as Greengirl says.

What a thrill to be included in this piece! My parents, husband, sons--my whole family--were so happy to read this inspiring article today. What a gift.

Love,

Susan

______________________________________________________________________________ "I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness the astonishing light of your own being." -Hafiz

My family and friends who have seen the article were equally happy. I am just as happy for you as I am for myself and others.

Susan, listening is a rare virtue. Congratulations!

Greengirl

This is great my dear sisters and of course brother. You have exhibited leadership in all manners. Keep up the good work as the world is in demand of this kind of leadership.

Regards

@ Nairobi KENYA Women have impeccable character, if tapped society realizes quantum leap in development

Greengirl and the other women of World Pulse listed here are paving new ways in how the world views leadership. This is leadership making progress where it counts most. Congratulations, ladies, for making a huge difference in our world.

Congratulations, World Pulse for providing a platform for the rest of us to be inspired by their work.

Sarah Happel, Principal Intercultural Training & Leadership Coaching www.SpectrumSolutions.eu

Dear Emily and Kim,

Thanks for all the efforts of putting this up together! What a wonderful job for all the women here and for one brother women advocate!

I'm so high spirited watching my picture with Jensine and the article about me.

Than you from the deepest of my soul for this!

I love you all!

Malaya

You hit the nail right on spot, Emily and Kim creatively pieced it all together. Thumbs up to both of them, for a job well done! I can imagine your feeling, Malayapinas! Congratulations!

Best wishes, Greengirl

Great thanks world pulse community . I am grateful doing what am doing and other members are doing .Will do the best as advocates to make and shape the world see light.Thank you to the Founder , Executive team , press team , the community of membership and Zimbabweans who help me to grow and with that support to shape the world. Together we break chains and barriers.Let me congratulate other members who are featured in 10 member leadership journal .You are my inspiration . Your commitment is amazing .

Mbizo Chirasha International Perfomances Poet, Writer ,Creative/Literary Projects Specialist Founder/Creative Director- Girlchildcreativity Project

My body is weak from physical labor, but my fighting spirit is stronger than ever. My children and their children can no longer be harmed by my fight. I will be honored to help the efforts toward justice in any way that I can.

Yvette

I salute you all GREAT Ladies and gentleman with GREAT minds! You remain GREAT visionary leaders of our generation. My dear Greegirl, Iam proud to be identified with you my mentor.You are GREAT indeed! I just love you. In fact Iam privileged to be introduced to such a spectacular platform:WorldPulse where I can speak for myself too Thanks to Greengirl and to the Worldpulse. Best wishes to all!

My very amiable Optimistic Lady, I am glad I found your words here and feel really privileged to have connected with you too. It is a great delight to see that you have started navigating your way in the World Pulse community. I am not in the least surprised as your optimism echoed thoughout our training sessions, as you never missed a class. I look forward to listening to your voice through your journal posts, and please do stay in touch; and reach out whenever you need additional support. See you soon!

Much love to you, Greengirl

Dear Bitani,

I like your story and it is inspiring. Self-representing yourself and not allowing others to define you is important to spreading the message you want to share in your own words, your own way and using what is comfortable with you.

Keep up the spirit.

Best wishes, Osai

Twitter: @livingtruely

In this trade we are in Leadership is Dealership, The Commodities that must nor run out of Stock are VISION: for without a vision a people perish, LOVE: Love covers a multitude of sin, HOPE: Keeps us alive, and SERVICE: Serves them all without Fear or Favour .

To the 10 leaders honored here, and the hundreds more in our community, thank you for leading in so many different, but equally wonderful, ways. Positive change happens when we each embrace our own leadership potential that is unique to us, and impact our world at every level. It's inspiring to hear your stories!

Thank you so much for sharing about these great leaders, all of them are making so amaizng changes in our world, they are all inspiration for men and women of our world. 

World needs to know more about such people so that those who think that they cannot do any thing to change this world can learn and can feel powerful 

Sister Zeph Founder of Zephaniah Women Education and Empowerment Foundation( ZWEEF)