“Every woman is an unfolding narrative, continuously evolving with each phase of her life. Paying attention to this process leads to an awakening of self which, when harnessed, will inspire women to pursue their dreams and make a difference in the lives of others.” considers the writing of Dr Tererai Trent

Stirred to make a difference

The call to awakening challenges each of us to move beyond self-gratification and use our gifts to make a significant impact in the lives of other women.

The life of international spokesperson for quality education and women’s empowerment, Dr Tererai Trent, is an example of what it means to be an awakened woman. As a young girl, inspired by the determination and endurance of the women who raised her, Tererai dreamt of a better life. Undeterred by her tragic circumstances (From Child Bride to International Warrior for Education), Tererai was determined to achieve her goals and ultimately give back to her community by alleviating the plight of women and girls. 

The path to awakening

Through her book The Awakened Woman – Remembering & Reigniting our Sacred Dreams Dr Tererai Trent illustrates what it means to be an awakened woman. Her manifesto outlines 10 essential steps, taken from ancient African wisdom, that enable women to awaken their silent dreams and pursue them.

‘We cannot expect to change what’s in the world unless we first awaken what lies deep within.’ – Dr Tererai Trent

Though they are presented sequentially, her steps (which she refers to as ‘the 10 essentials’) are not a dogmatic declaration. They purely serve as a vehicle that will enable individuals to move forward. 

Photo: Tererai Trent International Foundation

There is no definite beginning or end to the awakening process as certain events or personal experiences may trigger a deeper meaning for a particular step. In addition, there are diverse ways to apply ‘the 10 essentials’ and each can be revisited more than once – a woman can weave in and out of each step as she continues to grow and evolve.

We live in a world that frequently devalues, dismisses and disempowers women through numerous social, cultural, economic and political forces. Fortunately, through various efforts and movements, countless women have paved the way for the emancipation and empowerment of women and girl children, thus improving our lives and those of future generations. Bearing this in mind, women owe it to themselves to keep the empowerment momentum going.

One way in which women can maintain momentum is by establishing “sahwiras”, also known as “sacred sisters” or “sisterhoods” (Step 6 of ‘the 10 essentials’). 

Dr Tererai Trent aptly states that to succeed in achieving our dreams, women need to surround themselves or belong to a coalition of sacred sisters who share similar goals. The sahwira relationship creates a female energy that sustains our work, families and ultimately influences how we show up in the world. Sahwira-ships enrich our lives by sustaining and teaching us and keeping us focused on our dreams and, she says, “until women can come together and authentically support one another, our narratives, dreams, communities and the world will remain disjointed.” As the saying goes, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

Aspire to Inspire

The journey to becoming an awakened woman is not only a personal one; it is a lifelong commitment closely linked to one’s calling. We must remember that “a calling, dream or vision can only have greater meaning when tied to the betterment of our communities or spheres of influence”, notwithstanding that “it takes determination, commitment and self-discipline to make our dreams a reality”. 

By working together in our sisterhood networks, on a social and/or professional level, women will be become stronger, make a meaningful impact in their communities and, in the long run, create movements with staying power.

Read: Women Working Together for the Africa We Want

It is through literature such as The Awakened Woman that we are able to learn how to reawaken or reignite our dreams or visions, irrespective of how far along we are on our journeys. As we awaken, may we aspire to inspire.