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Celebrating Resilience and Courage: Lessons from Freedom Activists Around the World


Laurie Adams, Chief Executive Officer, Women for Women International
Ishrat Jahan, Director of International Programs, Nomi Network
Desmond Meade, Executive Director, Florida Rights Restoration Coalition

“We give them opportunities. We stay with them until we get them on their own feet. What drives us is compassion. And that’s different from sympathy and empathy.”

– Ishrat Jahan

“I believe that we don’t have to wait for disasters to happen to naturally do things that are naturally inside of us, which is to look at each other, recognize each other’s humanity, and fight for a world in which every person is treated with dignity and respect.”

– Desmond Meade

“I don’t like talking about helping people or empowering people. I believe that what we’re doing is we’re investing in people’s own power to be changemakers.”

– Laurie Adams

Key takeaways & next steps:

  • Empowering individuals, particularly those who have encountered obstacles, through authentic support is crucial. Compassion, understanding, and validation are vital factors in facilitating positive changes in their lives. This empowerment may involve addressing trauma, providing education and skills training, and creating opportunities for individuals to learn, grow, and thrive.
  • Challenge and redefine stereotypes and negative perceptions associated with marginalized groups. Dehumanizing language and stereotypes can perpetuate discrimination and hinder progress. Recognizing the inherent dignity in all individuals is a fundamental step toward positive change.