BC: What did the process of creating the Vital Voices book entail?
AN: It has been a 17 year journey from when I was a 21-year-old attendee of the Fourth World Conference. The lessons I’ve learned along the way are actually very easy to tell and I’ve told them on a regular basis. Some people told me that leading an organization and writing a book at the same time was crazy, but I couldn’t have done it any other way. There were nights when I was so inspired, I’d sit on a plane or in my hotel room and write for five hours straight. I’ve kept notebooks and journals over the years as well. The really difficult part came when I was trying to decide which women to include in the book, because Vital Voices has worked with over 12,000 women in 144 countries. I had to really think about the women who left an impression on my life. It was a fascinating process.
BC: What is one lesson you want all women to take away from your story?
AN: One thing I’d tell young women is don’t wait to lead. There is no perfect moment. Get frustrated and don’t let your fears paralyze you. Leadership can be a lonely path, but it is worth the course. And leadership isn’t a final destination. You should constantly seek ways to improve and connect with others. When I first started, I felt as though no one cared; now women’s issues are mainstream. No one will give you an invitation, and it’s going to take time, but each of us can lead in big or small ways.
Diana Denza is a regular contributor to BettyConfidential.