This section of the document focuses on redefining power:

True equality between men and women will not be established unless prevailing conceptions of power that dominate contemporary thought are seriously questioned and fundamentally redefined. Understood in its broadest sense, power has to do with capacity. The exercise of power, or capacity, is fundamental to social existence and essential for transforming reality and advancing civilization. In other words, nothing can be accomplished in this world without the use of power. However, current conceptions of power tend to focus on the capacity to pursue one’s self-interests, to compete effectively, to get others to act according to one’s will, to dominate, to manipulate and to prevail over or against others. Moreover, it is often in terms of its most tangible physical, political, social and economic sources that people commonly think about power.

Understood and enacted in these terms, abuses of power and the unequal distribution of material sources and instruments of power have resulted in innumerable hardships and great suffering for women historically and into the present day. Many thoughtful people, feminist scholars and activists among them, have thus critiqued these prevailing conceptions of power and recognized that in an interdependent social body, coercive and adversarial expressions of power retard the progress and development of all members of the social body. They have instead drawn attention to the many integrative and mutualistic expressions of power that have clearly played an indispensable role in promoting social progress and well-being throughout history.

A reconceptualization of power in this sense requires a broadened appreciation of the sources of power available to humanity, which include the limitless and generative powers of unity, love, justice and equity, knowledge, humility, integrity and truthfulness—powers humanity has been learning to draw upon over the centuries. Expressions of power emanating from these sources can be seen in the capacity to work creatively and constructively with others in the pursuit of common goals, the capacity to cooperate, and the capacity to transform social reality to reflect spiritual truths such as the equality of women and men. As we move beyond the material struggle to exercise power over or against others, and we develop the capacity to draw on these other sources of power accessible to every human being, we activate greater forms of individual and collective agency and create new possibilities for the well-being of women and men.

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