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Vital Voices: The Power of Women Leading Change Around the World Hardcover – June 5, 2012

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Editorial Reviews Review

From the Book: Quotes from Women Leading Change

Mu Sochua
Mu Sochua

Mu Sochua

"When a child says, 'Give me back my soul,' I translate it into 'Give me justice.'"

Samar Minallah Khan
Samar Minallah Khan

Samar Minallah Khan

"When it comes to women's rights or human rights, in Pakistan there is a kind of a culture of silence. It was very important that some sort of a movement based on media should somehow start that would challenge the mindset or that would help in breaking the silence."

Kah Walla
Kah Walla
Kah Walla


"I believe in people's innate ability to succeed. I believe that success is defined by ourselves and is within each and every one of us. The job of a leader or a facilitator or a politician is to help people define success for themselves, identify the ways in which they can succeed, what they need to do to succeed, and to accompany them along the road to that success."


#8 Washington Post Best Seller (Hardcover Nonfiction)

“In this compelling new book, Alyse Nelson shares the stories of the remarkable women who have motivated her work at Vital Voices. For anyone who wants our world to live up to the promises of the twenty-first century, look no further than these determined agents of change for blueprints on courageous leadership.”
—Bill Clinton, 42nd President of the United States

“This timely book tells the story of a movement that is transforming our world and of an organization—Vital Voices—is clearing the path. Its message is about more than equality, it's about leadership, justice, and hearing those who in prior generations possessed only a single right—to remain silent. If you are looking for inspiration about what is possible, and for a challenge about what is still necessary, here is your guide.”
—Madeleine K. Albright, former U.S. Secretary of State

“I have been humbled and inspired throughout my life by the determination of African women and women in other parts of the developing world who are committed to bettering their families and their communities. The power and possibility of women's leadership are captured in this book's innovative model. There has never been a more fitting time for the world to embrace a new brand of leadership by embracing the power and possibility of women worldwide.”
—H.E. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia and 2011 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate

“From the poorest villages to the highest government offices, women are leading the way in tackling humanity's biggest challenges. Alyse Nelson's Vital Voices imagines what's possible if we can fully tap the unique leadership potential of all women and girls. This book is essential reading for anyone interested in building a better world.”
—Melinda French Gates, co-chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

“Over the next 25 years, nothing will do more to build a more peaceful, more prosperous, and more sustainable world than the empowerment of women and girls. As an innovative and collaborative leader, Vital Voices is making a profound and lasting difference for the better, as the stories in this book clearly demonstrate.”
—Muhtar Kent, chairman and CEO, The Coca-Cola Company

“This powerful book tells the story of a pioneering organization and shows us what is possible when we invest in transformational leaders—from dissidents to entrepreneurs, these women motivate us and change lives.”
—Tina Brown, editor-in-chief, Newsweek and The Daily Beast

Vital Voices is a vital read. The world is changing and in the places where the most progress is happening, women are leading the charge. Alyse Nelson empirically states the case that when women are given opportunities, they seize them and ignite positive changes in their communities and even their countries. At a time of such universal economic uncertainty, investing in women can make all of the difference.”
—Lisa Ling, executive producer and host, Our America

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (June 5, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1118184777
  • ISBN-13: 978-1118184776
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #239,816 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

ALYSE NELSON is president and chief executive officer of Vital Voices Global Partnership. A cofounder of Vital Voices, Alyse has worked for the organization for fifteen years, serving as vice president and senior director of programs before assuming her current role in 2009. Alyse has worked with women leaders to develop training programs and international forums in over 140 countries and has interviewed more than two hundred international leaders, including Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and former presidents Mary Robinson and Bill Clinton, as well as Nobel Peace Prize laureates Aung San Suu Kyi, Wangari Maathai, and Muhammad Yunus. Under her leadership, Vital Voices has tripled in size and expanded its global reach to serve a network of over twelve thousand women leaders in 144 countries.

Previously, Alyse served as deputy director of the Vital Voices Global Democracy Initiative at the U.S. Department of State. Her position aided former First Lady Hillary Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's commitment to promote the advancement of women as a U.S. foreign policy objective. Alyse helped design and implement Vital Voices initiatives throughout the world. From July 1996 to July 2000, Alyse worked with the President's Interagency Council on Women at the White House and U.S. Department of State. She attended the UN Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China, in 1995. She serves on Secretary Clinton's Advisory Committee on Strategic Dialogue with Civil Society and is a Board member of Running Start.

Alyse has been featured in international and national media, including the Washington Post, Financial Times, the Miami Herald, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Reuters, and has appeared on BBC, PBS, CNN, NPR, Fox News, and CNBC. She completed her graduate degree work at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. In 2006 Alyse was named one of ''Ten Women to Watch'' by Washingtonian Magazine, was honored by her alma mater, Emerson College, with the distinguished speaker award, and in 2011 she was featured in Newsweek as one of ''150 Women Shaking the World.''

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth Pierson on June 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I found Alyse Nelson's book, "Vital Voices", to be an amazing, inspiring read. Filled with short vignettes about women making a difference in their community from around the globe, I loved the breadth of experience this book covered. This isn't a book about just women in power-- this is a book about making a difference on every level. Some of my favorite stories came not from the women with the most money, but from the women who were determined to make a difference in their own stratosphere-- for example, the story of Sunitha Krishnan, who devotes her life to helping stop sex trafficking in India.

For me, the format of the book was not a detriment, but a great way to showcase many different stories. The author left me feeling like, even though there were so many stories already told, there were many more she could have included. Ultimately, I left this book feeling inspired, and encouraged to try to find a way to help my own community, both on the issues of women's rights and just in general.

Not your traditional beach read-- much more spiritually nourishing than that! A great book!
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Vital Voices is a collection of examples of women who have changed their worlds, in many cases against insurmountable odds. These stories are tied together by a few overarching themes of the book. The principle themes that I thought were especially powerful were:

1. Economic, political, and scientific progress cannot be furthered beyond a certain point without the inclusion of all groups in the society. Countries that do not allow for the full participation of women in all aspects of their society will never be able to progress to their full potential. "Women's progress is global progress."

2. Women, and their informal sub-culture within many countries, can be a catalyst for change when other more formal holders of power are too corrupt to too complacent to facilitate the needed transformation.

3. Conditions in many parts of the world are still so horrendous that most Americans and other Westerners cannot even fathom the horror.

The style of this book is a collection of essays. Some might not like this format, in general, but it fits the material well. I didn't mind it.

I highly recommend you read this book. I guarantee that no matter what your interest, vocation, or profession is, you will learn from this book about the state of the world, leadership, and managing transformation.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
People in the United States, especially the younger women and girls, generally have little idea how women are treated in most of the rest of the world. Slavery still exists and it is often sexual, sometimes girls as young as four and five are used as sex "workers."Thousands of women in impoverished areas of the world are promised jobs, only to be pushed into the role of prostitute. Thousands of women and girls are sold into prostitution by their families that have no other way of earning an income. This is not restricted to the developing world; there is an active slave trade where women are imported into developed countries.
Women that are officially wives and mothers are also de-facto slaves in large areas of the world. Even where they officially have equal legal rights with the men, those laws are not enforced; a man is still considered the equivalent of a feudal lord over the women in his household. Honor killings of female relatives still occur more often than most realize and women are sometimes passed around to prevent conflict between tribes and clans.
In the midst of all this gender-based misfortune, there is growing hope, largely based on the actions of brave women in the cultures and countries where women are oppressed. Given aid by the global organization "Vital Voices" women that grew up in these places and that have often been raped or otherwise mistreated, are speaking out against the culture that tolerates it. Most of the book is composed of testimonials and brief biographies of women that have crusaded against the situation rather than accepting it. From the countries of the former Soviet Union through the Middle East, south Asia to Central and South America, women have stood tall and strong in the face of powerful pressures against them.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Alyze Nelson wrote the Introduction and then devotes a separate chapter to each of five "common threads" from which the "fabric" of great leadership within the Vital Voices Global Partnership has been "woven" for almost two decades. They are:

o A driving force or sense of mission
o Strong roots in the community
o An ability to connect across lines that divide
o Bold ideas and bold action
o A resolve to pay it forward

According to the Foreword provided by the Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton and its Founder, Vital Voices can be traced back to the United Nations' Beijing women's conference in 1995 when delegates from 189 nations met to discuss various issues. Since then, hundreds of thousands of women have helped to build an increasingly stronger, more influential global organization that continues to support as well as stand both with and behind women around the world. During the past seventeen years, much of great value has been learned. As Nelson explains, "Our goal, with this book, is to share those lessons as widely as we can in the hopes that other women -- and all individuals -- who aspire to make a difference can draw inspiration, guidance, and hope from these voices, their stories, and their successes."

Each of the five chapters is introduced by a "vital voice" among the extraordinary women who, in the words of the Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton (VVGP founder), "are on the front lines across the world who make each of us dare a little more, risk a little more, do a little more." Specifically, these are the leaders who introduce the first five chapters:

One: The Honorable Michelle Bachelet (Under-Secretary General and Executive Director, UN Women)
Two: Dr.
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