Do you feel like something is holding you back in your life? Is it a lack of resources for a project, or maybe a lack of time to adequately plan your next big idea? As Michelle Quinn, Senior Advisor at Constellis, will share in this week’s blog, American women are uniquely blessed to live in a country that—while at times is challenging to operate in—provides each of us with resources and opportunities that other women around the world would do anything to have. So what can we do to fight for more opportunities for these fellow sisters in Christ?
You can listen to this entire conversation with Michelle on our podcast, Work, Love, Pray! Listen below or click here to find your preferred listening platform.
How are women around the world battling roadblocks preventing them from being unstoppable?
I don’t want to say we have it easy in America…but we do. Compared to other places in the world, we have a little bit easier. In America, something that might be a roadblock to be unstoppable for someone is not being able to plan it out correctly or secure financial support, versus in another country, it’s something we don’t even have to think about dealing with.
I’m the mother of five, and have four daughters. They are bright, talented, fierce, and precocious. Women in America can frequently be in settings where women rail against what they perceive as a level of disrespect or oppression or lack of equality. I don’t mean to be insensitive to the frustrations of American women, but I really do believe that we American women have it good, right? We have access to education and healthcare and finance. We can travel freely, and we can marry who we wish. In the United States, we take those rights for granted, and then we become very frustrated by the things that we think we have not been given access to, or the ways we feel we’re being held back.
This is one of the things that I wish I could encourage American women to ponder: look across the globe and see what happens to other women across the globe who don’t have many of those things I’ve just named. They don’t have access to education or training. They don’t have access to clean water or medicine. They don’t have access to finances so they can start a business. They often can’t even own properties, and they don’t get to determine who they marry.
If American women could pivot and consider what we can do for other women across the globe, it would truly make an impact. For me, it’s been a privilege to be able to almost accidentally drop into a space of stability operations, where I’ve had the opportunity and privilege to recognize the need for and stand up for those exact things for women around the world.
The work of instability operations in my professional setting addresses and deals with all the things that happen before we get to an active war. We look at a stable and steady nation, and then we look at an unstable nation, and that often becomes a fragile state. Women can have dramatic impact in fragile states, and also in post-conflict settings, helping to reestablish the civility, rule of law, and the prosperity and safety advancement in their nations. When women can reach across nations and be a voice for other women, it’s critically important. And I think it is imperative that we do exactly that: be the voice for others who don’t have that voice.
What are some of the biggest ways that women can be empowered around the globe?
We always want to be respectful of cultures. In the past year, I’ve been able to go to Dubai, Qatar, Abu Dhabi, and other regions across Iraq, Poland, Germany, and South America. Although I see women in different attire, different roles, and with different levels of education, I see again and again that the heart of a woman is the same, and the value of a woman is the same to God.
I have been in places where I can almost see nothing of a woman except her eyes. And yet when I take the time to sit with her and hold her hand and hear her story of loss or grief or challenge, her eyes shine with the Holy Spirit. She sounds like a joyful, empowered woman, and that’s a privilege for me to see. And then it’s a privilege, when I head back home, to consider and ponder what I might be able to do to shine a light on the dignity that she has.
The United States has so much wealth and has such high aspirations and beliefs in human dignities. When the United States can bring those values forward, it’s critical. It is life-changing and is essential to who we are as Americans. Other nations don’t have anything like the laws we have now, like national action plans or Women Peace and Security Act, or the UN resolution 1325. Other nations are not operating in that space to consider and put in the forefront the value of women, and we as American women are, so let’s not squander that opportunity and responsibility.
What are some traditional and non-traditional roles of empowerment?
As American women, our worth and dignity can take many shapes and many forms. In America, there are women who have chosen to be stay-at-home moms. They are not going to embrace a career, or they are staging their career and stepping out of the workforce. Women can be very hard on other women, and women who are entirely in the workforce and achieving great and wonderful things can often disparage women who are not doing those things. On the flip side, women who stay at home and are homeschooling their children and “keeping the home fires burning” can also be hard on and disparage women who are climbing a corporate ladder.
Women in both of those statuses in life, traditional and non-traditional roles, have dignity, worth, and value. My little brother worked for an organization called FINCA (Foundation for International Community Assistance), which gives micro-finance and grants across Africa. The organization would find that when they gave a grant to a man, the man would say, “Well, this is what I intend to do.”…and often the goal was not achieved, and the funds were not well spent because there was a lack of focus or tribal/regional/border issues.
But again and again, when the grants were given to women, a woman would say, “I’d like to stand up a chicken farm.” Or “I’d like to establish a small school.” Or “I would like to build a clinic.” Because the heart of a woman is uniquely vested in her village, community, region, or nation, she would consistently complete her goal. She wasn’t trying to build an empire! She just wanted a school so her children and the other children in her community could learn to read.
It goes back to the heart of a woman. We are wired to nurture. We are wired to love. We are wired to stabilize and to protect. When we give grants and support, or we create programs that leverage the power of a woman, we will find success and they will find success. And in the work of stability operations, I think that’s very important.
Michelle Quinn has worked in high-threat theaters and post-conflict operations for more than twenty years, providing a broad scope of security, operational, Logistics, and training solutions for the Department of Defense, Department of State, Department of Energy and Other Government Agencies. At Constellis, Michelle is focused on critical U.S. Government missions and programs, both CONUS and OCONUS. In all of these roles and across the years, Michelle has led on the imperatives of Women, Peace, and Security (WPS), and has been an unwavering voice asking, “What might be possible in building peace across the globe, if we engage, include, empower, and give voice to the other half of the world’s population?”
Michelle joined at Constellis in 2021; previously, she served as Senior Vice President at Patriot Group International; Vice President at VxL Enterprises; Vice President of International Programs at A-T Solutions; Operations Manager for a multi-agency Counter-Terrorism program at the FBI National Lab; and Manager of Operations and Training for DOS’ Worldwide Protective Services Programs at DynCorp International. Michelle has also worked on Capitol Hill, supporting the House Banking Committee on legislation tied to work and funding of USAID, IMF, World Bank; at the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB); and at several private family philanthropies.
Michelle currently serves on the Board of Directors of the International Code of Conduct Association (ICoCA), holding the Americas Security Industry Pillar/seat for Private Security Contractors. She also serves on the Boards of The Friends of the American University of Afghanistan and Eagle Online Academy, supporting the undying educational needs and dreams of Afghan women and girls. Michelle chairs the International Stability Operations Association’s Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) Working Group and stewards ISOA’s formal WPS Certification program for the private sector. Michelle is privileged to be member of www.4wordwomen.org. Most importantly, Michelle is the proud mother of four fearless, fierce, world-changing daughters, all out-and-about the world accomplishing great things.
This blog is sponsored by Ronald Blue Trust
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