RECAP—Sustaining Positive Change: AWiB Listens (World Café event)

Lead Facilitators: Felekech Zewde and Yodit Gidey
Date: Jan. 2nd, 2020
Venue: Hilton Addis

AWiB president for 2020, Felekech “Fei” Zewde, introduced AWiB’s theme for the year—Sustainability—which was also the theme of the evening.  Fei recognized AWiB’s 2020 Board and gave members displaying their products a few minutes to introduce themselves.  Subsequently, Yodit Gidey, the senior program manager of AWiB introduced what the World Café discussion format is and how it would be facilitated.  Using the World Café format, AWiB listens to the response of her members and participants of the event for three questions tabled by President Fei and Yodit.

The three questions discussed and response of participants is summarized below.

  1. What is our passion? How do we lead and sustain positive change?

Participants’ responded that their passion includes:

  • Addressing challenges that give the opportunity to show that “women, too, can do it”
  • Finding solutions for social problems
  • Inspiring people so that they can be responsible
  • To see female prime minster in Ethiopia so that there will be more women in power
  • Promoting art and music
  • To see women’s equal participation and benefit in every aspect of life– politically, economically and socially. Particularly the hard work and contribution of the rural women is not recognized and valued. For instance, the image that crosses our minds when we hear the word “farmer” is a man. However, women work hard both on farmland and in the household.  Rebranding that image is important.
  • Building women’s capacity to say, “I will not vote for those who will not do anything for me,” and ask what politicians will do to address their needs if elected
  • Making information on health care accessible to women
  • Understanding and listening to others—individuals and community—

with a view of helping one achieve maximum potential, especially women

  • Supporting causes that capacitate women and children
  • Fashion and jewelry
  • Holistic wellness, learning and living – Career, physical, mental and emotional wellness
  • School of life—listening , reading , writing, speaking
  • Living in the moment – being present
  • Branding and business strategy
  • Self-development
  • Gender empowerment
  • Emotional stability
  • Team building and talent identification
  • Nurturing children

These passions can be used to lead and sustain positive change through/by:

  • Continuous and open learning
  • Setting healthy boundaries in the workplace
  • Putting our passion to practice
  • Assuming responsibility for actions
  • Strengthening the current female ministers’ ability through AWiB. This will prove that women can discharge their responsibilities if they are given proper training and a chance
  • Knowledge-sharing and investing in children
  • Setting up schools with comprehensive programs including art and scholarship scheme
  • Partnering with men
  • Walking the talk
  • Influencing policy frameworks and implementation process
  • Fighting double standards
  1. While implementing positive change, what holds us back from being or becoming a leader in our current work?

Gender stereotypes, societal challenges and self-imposed restraints are mentioned to be the main inhibitors for women from pursuing their passion and sustaining positive change.

Gender Stereotypes

  • The assumption women have that male bosses undermine “women’s opinions”
  • Societies’ attitude toward women; patriarchal systems
  • The expectation on women to exert double effort
  • Labeling of ambitious women as aggressive

Societal Challenges 

  • Poor work ethic
  • Unfavorable policy-making processes
  • Lack of support system
  • Limited, informal networking opportunities
  • Negativity and passivity
  • Undermining the potential of the youth
  • Limited access to finance

Self-imposed restraints

  • Fear of being different, fear of change, self-doubt
  • Perfectionism
  • Low self-awareness and self-confidence
  • Poor women to women support to bring more women to the forefront- complacency with our own success only
  • Not leaning on our own beliefs but getting carried away by circumstance
  • Losing work-life balance; getting consumed with social responsibility
  • Lack of focus
  1. How can AWiB support us as leaders sustaining this positive change?

AWiB has been described as a platform for women to nurture their skills and support one another.  It is said that AWiB provides its members with inspiration from the stories of successful women, self-discovery and self-evaluation, learning spaces and networking.

AWiB listened that she can support her members and women leaders by:

Increasing Visibility

  • Increasing her media presence to create awareness of her mission and reach a wider population
  • Sustaining her strong brand
  • Achieving her goal of 50% Women on Board campaign
  • Collaborating with government

Increasing Accessibility

  • Approaching highly positioned women in the public sector and assist them in filling gaps by providing different training including self-confidence, time management, communication skills and public speech
  • Providing online trainings and discussion spaces
  • Investing in the next generation; going to schools and universities with ideas
  • Working in a more organized way that involves previous board members and members to increase her outreach
  • Challenging hotels to fulfill social responsibility with subsidies for venue and reception so that AWiB can reduce entrance fee on monthly events
  • Expand to regions

Broadening Membership Base

  • Attracting influential members
  • Setting mechanism for a Diaspora membership package
  • Working on membership retention

Bringing dynamism to Events and Programs

  • Bringing fresh and dynamic ideas both to the monthly and weekly programs
  • Addressing real problems Ethiopian women leaders face
  • Influencing public policies
  • Going beyond the minimum; expand senior to junior seminars – not only to politics and business people but professionals and others
  • Working beyond grass root level “aid mentality”
  • Go to school levels – young girls to have ambition
  • Being a bridge between her members and financial institutions

Enhancing AWiB’s Capacity

  • Expanding AWiB’s work space and providing serviced work space for rent
  • Acquiring a property and holding events in her own space, and renting out the facility for other events.


At the end of the event, President Fei and Yodit asked participants to make a commitment of what each person can do to sustain positive change for women.  The participants wrote their commitment on a post-it note and posted it on a designated space.  Some of the posted notes reads:

  • Consciously work on personal development and supporting other women
  • Teach young people about identity and self-worth
  • Create spaces for women to upgrade and change
  • Create awareness about AWiB; bring new members and invite guests to monthly events
  • Mentor young women
  • Share knowledge and experience in creativity, innovation, and business strategies
  • Change the image of Ethiopian women
  • Lead by example, walk-the-talk

The only male participant of the discussion committed to:

  • Initiate discussion with friends, colleagues and family on challenges Ethiopian women face.

AWiB Team

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