Creating Change: Lessons, Skills and Advice


Lessons learned & advice to activists

  • Inspired by feminism and the ideal of social transformation, women can be leaders for social change. But we must mainly work with others of like mind to make this change.
  • There is a lower expectation of government should do now. This means it takes tremendous energy and organizing pressure to get them to act.
  • Government is not homogenous, and it is possible to find allies within the bureaucracy as well as outside it.
  • It is important to work collaboratively and respectfully across generations and with those from diverse social, economic or cultural backgrounds.
  • When things don’t turn out as well as you would like, don’t give up. Look for opportunities you can build on and different ways to push towards progressive change.
  • Make a strong case and be respectful to your alleged opponents.
  • Advocacy groups can have an impact. Even if you don’t change the minds of government, you can educate each other and the public about the issues.
  • Learn the political and social context for the issues you care about.
  • Find and work with people in the community who value women’s leadership.
  • Identify and cultivate allies in community and also in places of power and influence.
  • Don’t be afraid of being labelled a feminist or radical by those who oppose what you stand for.
  • Be patient and persistent because transformational change does not happen overnight.
  • Do your research and analysis. Think about why a particular policy change or program cut has occurred and how it fits into the bigger picture of government’s policy agenda over the longer term. Learn about the design and delivery of public discourse around the issues.
  • When you are struggling with government policy issues, it is important to have support on the inside as well as the outside.
  • Get media attention: this is very important!
  • Choose your allies strategically.

Skills needed

  • Ability to network, collaborate, and inspire others to “get on board” worthwhile projects for change.
  • Knowledge (theoretical, analytical, and practical) of power structures, how they operate, and how to work around them.
  • Ability to translate knowledge and experience into do-able strategic actions as projects for social change that others can buy into.
  • Energy, patience, persistence. But know your own limitations and be willing to step back to make room for others to use their leadership skills.
  • Knowledge of what is at stake and a vision of how things could or should be different, tempered with the practical organizational skills to motivate others to become involved.

Last Words

Stella finds it most challenging to bring diverse groups together and to coalesce the variety of opinions into one stronger whole. She cautions against being diverted or derailed by issues that are secondary in relation to "the political urgency of what has to be done in the face of radical policy changes."