Thoughts on Being a Woman in Community-Based Leadership

by Lydia Yount

When I was in elementary school, I loved to read biographies, especially if it was about a woman. I would read any book with a strong female character that I could get my hands on, and I remember being fascinated by the lives of history-changing women like Clara Barton, Susan B. Anthony, Amelia Earhart, and Eleanor Roosevelt. Beyond the books, I had other strong female roles to look up to: my grandmother, my mother, and others. Now, I find it as no surprise that conversations that have impacted me the most during my time in O.T.R. have revolved around female leadership. As I explore what it means to be a woman in leadership, and try to make sense of my own experiences as both a woman and a leader,  I want to draw attention to the value of women and the unique characteristics and talents that set us apart. From my own experiences and from what I have seen in this community, we have a different way of going about leadership, and it works.

I believe that women are some of the most articulate, passionate, giving, vulnerable, and thoughtful beings. We desire to be respected more than recognized, but we also should be valued and heard. We are invested, well-balanced, and sincere. We are knowledge seekers. Women have a way of weaving together people– advancing ourselves by serving and building others up. We create strong communities that foster relationships and growth. . The women I have met here in O.T.R. embody all of these characteristics. I think of the stories I have heard, the challenges these women have overcome, the community they have built, the wisdom they pass on, and the legacy they will leave. The People’s movement would not be the same without its female members. They are what I aspire to be. From these women, and through my time in Over the Rhine, I was able to see myself in that leadership role when I have struggled to before. I have often not considered myself a leader because I do not fit that stereotypical “leader” mold. But here I am, seeing these other women who have done incredible things that oftentimes seeminconspicuous or unnoticed, actually making a significant difference in the lives of many. How fortunate am I to get to learn from these incredible women, from the mothers who fought for Peaslee to the women who are there today? So, here’s to the women of O.T.R.. May we trust them, may we hear them, may we give thanks for them, may we raise them up, and may we equip them. They are doing amazing things.

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