For most of the past century women have been expressing how they wish to live and work. In today’s environment women of the 21st Century are half of all U.S. workers and are frequently the primary breadwinners or co-bread-winners. It is a dramatic shift from just a generation ago. It changes how women spend their days and how they think of themselves; it has a ripple effect that reverberates throughout the nation and beyond our borders. It fundamentally changes how we live and work and affects everyone, including families, husbands, companions, employees and colleagues.

American women have been on the forefront of exploring their possibilities. Through education and entrepreneurship, starting their own companies, women are working in a chosen profession, which has given them the power to ask and demand changes. Women have made great strides and are now more likely to be economically responsible for themselves and their families. Indeed women are winning on many fronts, yet there is still a long way to go. This new way of thinking will also demand different actions. The questions often asked are connected to how women see themselves, how they are finding success in their decision-making processes as strong professionals, as partners and leaders. It also demands flexibility and respect from these partners.

Setting goals, expanding a vision, setting boundaries for oneself and others are critical points to achieve, It is essential that men are part of this thought-process and equation. They are part of the solution. It is meaningless to define women’s capacity and ability, without considering the resources, financial and humane, to improve their lives and the lives of others in their immediate environment. To recognize a woman’s full potential behooves everyone to know what benefits there are for all to reap and enjoy.

It is our responsibility to define these possibilities and own them. Knowledge, perseverance, determination and self-confidence are our best asset, built upon education. To gain the ability to have the confidence in competence, judgment, assurance and poise is very much part of success. Self-confidence gives quality to this equation…

The women I spoke to on the subject of their vision, the inherent points they made were the following: learn, be curious, be optimistic, leave fear behind, create connections to people you enjoy working with, be enthusiastic. Learn a new language, learn its culture and history, be curious about art, music, literature, and carve out time for yourself. Treat yourself with respect, if you don’t no one else does. Be grateful to people who give you a helping hand. Above all be authentic! And as Shakespeare so wisely said: be true to yourself!

We are living through a period of a powerful and unique transformation; for many people it is very disturbing.  Women’s Rights are Human Rights. No matter where one searches for answers, the American women are on the positive side of this vital equation. We are fortunate to live in an environment of great support through a variety of institutes, seminars are abounded, and networking groups are helping women find their stride.

Women are not stuck in an idealized past; many enjoy the fruit of their labor and follow their dreams with determination. In our free society women are not forced into a loveless marriage as is still the case in many countries in other regions or was the case in past history. We are fortunate to have women in our time we can admire, emulate and learn from. Their accomplishments and vision are an inspiration to all of us.

My research with many women around the globe shows that their needs are similar: Finding a partner, building a life, having children, creating a family and finding a fulfilling occupation are very often the underlying goal. Yet the center of this is always their self- confidence and concern for others, searching for answers and often encouraged by like-minded women and men. Most of them are being encouraged by a parent, teacher or mentor. It is also based on the possibility of an education and breaking down perceptions of a past image. It could mean that women are seen as hard or pushy, if they have entered the working world in competition to their male counterparts. Validation of their core believes is long overdue in all free societies, but particularly in societies where women are serfs. Yes, serfs! It is another word for slavery.

Why are women winning? Women have had a great voice and impact over decisions concerning their lives. They are taken seriously. We have had the opportunity to observe women as world-leaders in the now and the past; women leaders who have reached the zenith of their endeavors have shown courage and fortitude. It is the same goal for women or men to fulfill their responsibilities. Rising above the perceived idea women can accomplish much. They neither need to compromise their intelligence nor have their goals trivialized. Women’s empowerment depends very much on their ability and on their participation in work that needs to be accomplished and believing in themselves.

The impact women have on the world stage is, in its core, the need of all humankind.  Each woman represents her respective country as a diplomat, and each one has pride in her nation. At a time when democracy is fought for, more widespread, it appears that dignity has long been at risk, ignored or even eroded.  The world is unquestionably in need of better leadership. It does not matter if this leadership arrives with a woman or man. It is only important in it existence and in its clarity of purpose.

Public diplomacy demands that women working or traveling abroad be the best they can be. Each one carries the responsibility and symbolizes the best of individual freedom.  Their choice of profession, of speech, of thinking crystallizes all hopes and dreams of women around the world. The goal and common denominator is the rejection of violent ideologies. Public Diplomacy is a constant and demands the commonality of a civilized and respectful form of behavior for the twenty-first-century. The deep-seated belief by women is that they are better diplomats and better negotiators, more patient in defining the needs of mankind in various roles. Believing that the world would be a better place if more women were playing a stronger part in the decision-making process, is a major point.

When women are brought into the male decision-making realm, the tone of the discussions becomes more successful, more polite, geared towards diplomatic solutions rather than hard confrontations. A more civilized tone is used and a more courteous behavior is shown. Men need to be included in this thought process. It enriches all lives. The constant change in our world demands a new dynamic in our thinking.

There are golden rules to make our world a better place. These rules are the beginning of all human exchanges and are universal. They lie in clear communication and action, not in empty promises. We may consider this a time of chaos and hardship; we may also consider this a time of great opportunity and chance to find answers and a way out of this calamity. Guidelines are easy to follow and made to give everyone a solid footing of his or her goals. One has to only ask for them. It is up to the individual to follow these golden rules.

Some of the guidelines are self-explanatory. Some of them demand a positive way of dealing with complex tasks. It helps to behave towards others as one would want to be treated. Communicating thoughts and ideas in a polite, quiet manner or paying attention to others ideas is an important factor in negotiations. Acknowledging not knowing the answer is part of the art of communication. We live in a fast-moving time, communication is instantaneous, yet virtual reality is not real.  We need to learn to take the time and respect the other’s language and opinions. It is a great asset to find associates who share the value of quality in achievements.  .

The answer lies with each one and the decision to take the responsibilities which are presented to her, may even demand reinventing herself to the surprise of her family. In theory that is easily answered but not in everyday life. We live in a free world and are fortunate to be able to make choices in an environment which encourages us to pursue our goals. Yet, we also live in a time of great shifts; it exacerbates the fear of independence, and compounds economic difficulties. This moment in our history requires also a civic response from women and men by building social trust and capital through cultural means. Women all over the world understand and need to further their deep-seated commitment to make it a better world. It is not a one-time thing but a constant reminder of endeavoring to make all lives better. It demands courage and willingness to face the challenges to take on the problems. We need to embrace these challenges and make them our own; no matter where we are in life’s pursuit.

Above all having goals, expanding a vision, setting boundaries for oneself and others are critical points to achieve. It is essential that men are part of this equation and part of the solution. It is meaningless to define a woman’s worth without considering the compassion, the resources to improve her existence and the lives of others. This is a universal point and is an essential part of our global world.

Christa Dowling is a media executive, specializing in cross-cultural activities within strategic alliances. She has worked as a journalist in  Europe and the Middle East for Conde Nast Publications and Springer Verlag, Berlin, heading major publications. Her deep interests are human rights and women’s rights issues. She is fluent in German and French, educated at Frankfurt University and Stanford University.