Have you ever heard a story that you thought everyone needed to hear?
Last week, I attended the Democracy that Delivers for Women conference, sponsored by the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE). Over 230 women and men from around the world came to DC to explore the economic and political empowerment, civil rights, and corporate governance of women.
The speakers at the conference told their stories. In front of hundreds of people, they revisited their triumphs against sexism, oppression, and the wall of deeply engrained social problems for women. Assilah Al Harthy was just one of those women. But her story, above all the others, stuck with me.
What Assilah has accomplished is beyond imagination for most women in the Oman, a small country in the Middle East. To name just a few:
After receiving her diploma, she became the first woman to join her family business. In years coming, she was appointed by His Majesty Sultan as the first woman to serve on the Chamber of Commerce in Oman. Later, Assilah served as head of corporate affairs for the Oman Oil Company, and today she has founded and is CEO of Group 6 LLC, the first private equity firm in Oman
What paved Assilah’s way to success, you’re wondering? According to her: those who deserve the credit are the ones who told her she would fail.
I think this is a message everyone can take to heart. Finding motivation in the people that don’t believe in you, the people that say you can’t, you won’t, you will fail. Assilah had to fight against her own father to prove she was just as worthy as her brothers, but if she would have submitted to the constricting females norms of Islam society, would she have been named one of 50 most power women in the Arab world by Forbes Magazine? Or be included (two times) in the list of top 20 most powerful business women in Oman? I’ll safely guess the answer to that is no.
The Democracy that Delivers conference delivered something to me that I hadn’t expected: confidence. Assilah’s story proved that even against all odds, a person can achieve whatever it is they decide will be their priority. I purposely use the word person, rather than limit it to a woman because the heart and soul of this story has an over arching message—I think you all know what I’m talking about.
So what are you going to do next time someone tries to come between you and your final destination? I hope you’ll take a move from Assilah’s book.
Carsen was born and raised in Saint Louis, MO and recently came to D.C. as a student at the George Washington University working towards a B.A. in communications and sociology. She serves as the communications chair for Students Against Sexual Assault (SASA). Currently, Carsen is an intern for Turner Strategies. To contact Carsen, e-mail her at: email@example.com