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What's Possible Interview Series by Marianne Schnall

Marianne Schnall is a widely published writer and interviewer. She is also the founder and executive director of Feminist.com, a leading women’s website and nonprofit organization. For more than 15 years, Feminist.com has been fostering awareness, education, and activism for people all across the world. Schnall is also the cofounder of EcoMall.com, one of the oldest environmental websites promoting earth-friendly living. More

Marianne Schnall

Lately I have been reflecting upon all that I need to accomplish and am responsible for in my day-to-day life. Juggling two kids, running a small nonprofit, and finishing writing a book had me feeling a bit overwhelmed and frazzled these past few months. Many days I feel like I am split in far too many directions, with inadequate time to accomplish even a little bit of what I have to do, much less any time left over to recharge. My reflections have caused me to question what it is that I need regarding self-care, and what it is that truly strengthens and inspires me. ...

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Marianne: Women are slowly achieving more leadership positions in many sectors, but we are still far from parity. For example, though we made strides in this last election, women still make up only 18% of Congress. What obstacles do you think keep women from entering and advancing through the pipeline, and what do you think we can do to change that? Do you think we just don't see ourselves there, or is it because there are structural obstacles? 

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Ai-jen Poo

Marianne: When you hear the term power, what does it bring up in you? How do you define power?

Ai-jen: We talk a lot about the importance of organizing, especially among women, because we believe that we need to build power to change the world and win for women everywhere—particularly low income women. When I hear the term power, what it brings up is what it takes to win meaningful change in people's lives at scale, and that's the kind of power that we're interested in building.

Marianne: As you know, part of Omega's work is...

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Eve Ensler

Marianne: You have been a part of Omega’s Women & Power conferences since the very beginning. What was your experience of the 2012 “What’s Possible” conference?

Eve: There was a tremendous sense of unity. It felt like speakers and participants were equally engaged and equally empowered. I was moved by the kind of energetic hunger and clarity in women—this need to go further and do more and be bolder. There just seemed like a lot less fear in general and a lot more willingness to be disruptive and daring.

Marianne: Did you...

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Joan Halifax Roshi

Marianne: The Omega Women’s Leadership Center (OWLC) is exploring how to create a new paradigm around power and leadership, particularly when it comes to women. When you hear the term power, what does that mean to you? What would a new paradigm of power look like?

Joan: I think power is mostly associated with imbalance—someone having power over some other being. In this case what we're speaking about is not the old notion of power, but a notion of power that includes compassion. The sense of being able to really have the strength to see the ultimate...

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Sally Field

Marianne: The Omega Women’s Leadership Center is looking to redefine power and catalyze a new way of envisioning women’s leadership. What is true power and how do you think it should be used?

Sally: There is the obvious power that comes with money or success. But there’s also personal power that comes from someone working hard on his or her own internal process—the kind of power we talk about as “finding your voice.” It requires you to turn within on a daily basis and not leave any leaf unturned as you discover what it really means to be alive. You...

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Marianne: Your philosophy toward women’s health and wellness is very synergistic to the Omega Women’s Leadership Center’s approach to leadership, in terms of learning to tune into our inner wisdom. How would you, personally, define power? What does power mean to you?

Christiane: I love that question. Power is the ability to empower yourself and others. We are moving into a partnership society, and the only power that works is partnership power. We are brought up in a hierarchical mind-set or mythology, where we have God the Father, who is...

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Marianne: The Omega Women's Leadership Center (OWLC) is focused on encouraging more women in leadership and also helping create a new paradigm of power. How do you define power? What does power mean to you?

Anna: I think power is influence. It's not the same as physical power or atomic power or the power of the sun. I don't think we're talking like a physicist would talk, or an engineer. I think we mean influence. So it's really a metaphor. It's using the power to ask, ultimately, “What is a person's position and what can they do with it? And how...

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Marianne: What inspired the formation of the Omega Women’s Leadership Center?

Elizabeth: Since we began in 1977, Omega has offered big conferences and smaller workshops on a variety of subjects specifically for women. About 10 years ago, I began thinking about what happens when you put the words “women” and “power” together. From the beginning of recorded history, there’s been an unspoken law that it’s un-ladylike to put those words together. I wanted to turn that on its head and explore the whole issue. What is a powerful woman? As women...

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