By Noeline Kirabo

I recently attended a women’s leadership retreat organized by the Global Livingston Institute that brought together women from all over the world. The women were leaders in different industries, countries and specialties, yet we all had one thing in common: we each had a story to tell. When I learned that the retreat was about bringing women together to share stories I was a bit disappointed, but decided to tune in all the same.

As diverse as we were, there was such a strong sense of harmony and oneness. We talked freely and bonded very well. As we sat listening to each other’s stories, the dividing walls and blinding masks came tumbling down. Suddenly, it didn’t matter where one was from, all that mattered was the fact that we were woman on a journey to impact the world and we needed each other.

There were many learning points but what stood out for me was the power that women gained when they owned their own stories. Many African cultures condition women to hold back and observe in silence. We are taught not to speak up about our pains or fears and this is very disempowering.

Over the last three years I have committed my life to empowering vulnerable girls to become employable, and their biggest challenge is not a lack of skills but rather the inability to speak up for themselves. Learning to tell your story begins with embracing the unique fragments of your experience.

Every woman has a unique story to tell about her courage in the face of fear, resilience and persistence. These stories are liberating as well as empowering. When victims of violence learn to embrace and tell their stories without shame or remorse then true healing has been achieved. When girls and women dare to express their vulnerability so as to help their peers then a tribe as been formed. It takes a village to raise a child and it takes a community to support a woman. We are each others keeper and we ought to cheer each other on as we tell our stories.

More than ever before, we need to create platforms where women from diverse walks of life are empowered to come and tell their stories. In telling our stories we expose our vulnerabilities and become fearless because we have nothing more to lose.

Abuse and violence both thrive on silence. When we hold back our pain, we reject the healing that sharing brings. When we let go of ourselves, we find true healing and gain confidence to overcome our challenges. We are a total sum of our experiences and each bit of your story is vital to your success.

Have you taken the time to own your story? Have you embraced the liberty of telling your story with the intention of ministering healing to others? Now is the time for every woman to embrace their story and tell it with pride so the next generation of women will be empowered to draw strength from their vulnerability.