The Portrait of Dreams

Sara Bowcutt

We have eyes capable of imagining future beauty, and it is this that gives rise to a powerful resilience, capable of courage even in despair.

1. Bio

Managing Director of Women for Women International – UK, an international association that assists women survivors of war, in conflict areas and post-conflict situations. Previously, she was its Director of Fundraising & Marketing. Specialising in fundraising, she has worked in the charity sector for over 17 years, managing teams for small and large UK and international charities including War Child, Age UK and MTV Staying Alive Foundation.

2. The power of a dream

In my vivid imagination, as a child I dreamt of becoming dozens of different things. In hindsight they all had to do with storytelling, which is what I do now, albeit in a different way than I could ever have imagined. When I finished university I didn’t know what I wanted to do, I accepted a marketing job, but it brought me no joy. Then a friend got me thinking about charities. That changed my life. I accrued various different experiences, then I heard about Women for Women. That became my dream. It took me eight years to make it come true, but now, here in my role, I feel that I’m exactly where I’m meant to be.

3. My journey into real beauty

This job, which allows me to combine a career with my need to do something that has a positive impact on the world, is the first step on this journey, which at times can be hard. I could tell you hundreds of stories about how, in the darkest darkness, gestures of pure beauty shine through. Like the beauty I saw emanating from the women of the Democratic Republic of Congo, survivors of a decade of war that saw over six million people die, and yet, incredibly vibrant with strength and hope, with a rare sense of sisterhood. Or I could tell you about Bosnia and Herzegovina, where tens of thousands of women were victims of sexual violence during the conflict. When we asked them what they needed, they asked for financial assistance and training, but also for lipstick. It wasn’t about vanity, it was a statement of strength against the horror they were experiencing. They wanted the snipers to know that they were killing a beautiful woman. Lipstick as a last act of defiance in the face of war.

4. What I learned and won’t let go

The power and resilience of women is incredible and undeniable: as statistics and headlines inundate us with stories of war and violence against women, there are powerful change-makers, women who resist, in spite of it all, with strength and hope, to rebuild their lives and forge the path for generations to come. I dream of a more equal, peaceful and prosperous world for all women everywhere. We need to invest more in the power of our fortitude and make our voices reverberate louder. We need everyone to pull together to shape a better world and, together, I know we can do it.

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