—Humanity’s Struggle Against Single Male Leadership
By Rob Mohr
In my work with communities throughout Latin America, the primary challenge I faced was the male leader of each community. They coveted the resources of the community for their own use as a God-given right.
My work enabled members of communities, who were marginalized by their national governments, to identify challenges, collective resources and changes that would change the quality of their individual and collective lives. The resources I used included non-formal education, all of the arts, and my understanding of culture and language. A primary rule of engagement was, I never told a community what they should do. All decisions rested with them.
My role was to wake participants up to their personal and communal fiscal and human resource base, and how their collective use of these resources would enable them to see and understand their chosen way into a healthier, more productive future. Basically, I taught them how to examine their lives and then make decisions based on what they saw as a challenge.
When a community indicated they wanted to participate in a two week long workshop, we would set a date; define the communities’ responsibilities, and what I would provide. Most often the initial group of participants was all women who represented different family groups within the larger community. Usually the groups included twenty participants and two women we would collectively pay to cook lunch each day for the group. I would pay for the meat and drinks used during the meals. The community would furnish the other needed ingredients, and a suitable meeting place. Usually a home with a covered dirt-floored veranda normally used for weaving and pottery.
The structure included having the community identify challenges in a meeting of the whole body, then dividing into four groups of five. These groups would change members each day so that over the workshop everyone would be in a small group together. The small groups would use a drama they created, for example, that would make the challenge and solution visibly and emotionally manifest. Each time they went into a small group, a different art form would be used. Examples included story telling, songs, poems, dance, dramas, and paintings.
From each group, I would identify at least three people that I would later train as non-formal educators. Resistance initially came from the male leader of the community. But by the end of the two week all day sessions some of the men, and the leader, would participate as observers of the process. Later I would do workshops that included men and women.
Over thirty years of work as a change agent and non-formal educator, I developed an in-depth understanding of the damage done by individual male leadership. Male leaders usually harvested the wealth of the community for their and their families’ benefit. They made decisions concerning the community that benefited them and not the community.
Analysis indicated that this takes place at the community level, regional level national level and international level.
History, also, reveals an almost unending stream of failures by individual male leaders. My conclusion formed by a lifetime of work was, individual male leadership is the most destructive force in the world, and works against human health, the health of the environment, and restricts creative, and progressive, understanding of life. The United States, Great Britain and Russia, which are today few among many, provide clear examples of the danger of individual male leaders at the national level.
An example of a new way to lead has occurred in Bolivia, when a Quechua llama herder was elected president in 2006, he put in place many progressive changes. One of the most effective changes involved leadership. Prior to his election each national agency was organized in the usual top (male leader) down order. He changed the structure. Today personnel in the various Ministries like Heath, Education, Rural Development, Labor, Economic Development and a new Anti-Corruption Ministry work together horizontally.
Individuals at each level within the ministries formed working groups which in turn worked with the groups formed above and below their level. This unique structure is an effective way to solve the country’s problem. Life in Bolivia was significantly changed for the betterment of all citizens.
Inclusive, collective planning provided leadership which minimized ego-centric interest and personal gain. World wide, women and men working together provided the unique democratic way into a sustainable future for Humanity.