Meet International Human Rights Advisor and PulseWire member K-lee Starland, who draws from her education and personal liberating journey, to empower women worldwide.
World Pulse: Why women and why now?
K-lee Starland: The wheel of the human cycle is turning once more. Prior to 2500 BC, women in most of the world ruled in every facet of life and men were in submission. The male dominating invaders came and over time, the female was suppressed to the extreme. Now the feminine is rising once again through self-empowerment and sisters helping sisters. This time, however, it is not to be one gender dominating another, but instead it must be the liberation of both female and male–from old, ingrained cycles of submission, violence and Power Over to a status of gender equality and cooperation.
WP: Growing up, did you have a strong role model in your life?
K-lee: No. For many years my life was in chaos, violence and dysfunction created primarily by a total lack of self-esteem on my part. Over the years (and with a lot of help) I learned to become my own role model. My long-time personal goal is: Total inner peace and unreasonable happiness. I’m still working on it.
WP: What past experiences led you to a career of human rights advocacy and conflict resolution?
K-lee: I was in a violent marriage for 16 years. Then for a period of time I worked with women survivors of domestic violence, and later with court-ordered women who were incarcerated because of the domestic violence and assault they committed. Through these experiences, my awareness and concern for women everywhere in violent situations became consuming. I then completed my Masters and Ph.D. degrees in both Theoretical Physics and International Human Rights.
WP: What is the foundation of your work?
K-lee: Many people don’t even know they have human rights. My speaking engagements have been for the purpose of presenting these rights and discussing them. The suppression and abuse of women worldwide is also happening here in the US. But while the subjugation and abuse still exists, there are now effective legal consequences.
I believe that a large part of teaching human rights/non-violence lies in one’s way of speaking to another, especially in a tense situation. This is very important to avoid shame and blame, and to create an atmosphere of cooperation by validating the other person. This doesn’t mean I personally agree with him/her. It does mean I honor him/her for being a human, like me, and that we do the best we can in any given moment no matter what that looks like. This, for me, is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights meaning of “dignity.”
WP: Tell me about your experience in Pakistan.
K-lee: I hold a special place in my heart for the people of Pakistan. As a child, my uncle was in charge of setting up the power plant in Karachi. My aunt deeply loved the people there and sent me many pictures, books, jewelry and clothes items from there.
I first started working in Pakistan with NGOs, planning projects to ensure that the locals could put the collaborative information in their own words and customs. Together with World Church Service, we developed a workbook for their Political Education Program, which now reaches the far corners of rural Pakistan. From this I put together my own workbook, “Your International Human Rights: How They Apply in Your Daily Life,” which focuses mainly on the Declaration on the Rights of the Child and is being used in many countries. I believe in starting peace education at a young age so they can carry it forward.
WP: You have stepped into an unofficial mentor role on PulseWire. What has been your experience with our community?
K-lee: A community leader once told me that the reason I am successful in most negotiations is that I come across as everyone’s “mother.”
My message is always about choosing the high road of love, compassion and forgiveness or choosing the low road of fear and its allies. I can only present the options. The choices (and consequences) are theirs.
I can honestly say I that have loved every second of my time spent on PulseWire. I feel so blessed to have met so many amazing women and men. You have opened my heart and my cup runs over.