Awakening and What We Can Learn from Kristin (and... Barbie)

Feeling Home

Isn't it just the best feeling in the world when deep down inside, you feel a sense of freedom, joy, and that anything is possible? I've just finished a Zoom call with a group of amazing ladies who often come to WIN to recharge and remember who they really are at their core. They told me they also come to learn and keep up with the ever-evolving and fresh agenda and sisterhood. They thrive in the collective space, in the feminine ‘WINLand,' that allows them to feel accepted, nurtured, and connected.

The Patriarchy

I’ve discussed at length in my blog posts and newsletters over the years, at WIN, and in talks worldwide the effects of the patriarchy and the system of domination and control that have insidiously encroached into the psyche of women and men all over the planet.  I confess I never really thought much about gender as I was growing up. I haven’t shared much about how I’ve awakened to it and how it led me to create WIN. Most of you know that I grew up in Norway, which is and still is very egalitarian. 

Egalitarian Land

When I was young, I played with Barbie, yes, and a lot more with Lego (in all colours, not just pink, which is marketed to girls these days), and later as I grew up, my friends and I planted trees, played football, or danced ballet —whatever we wanted, it was no big deal. As I grew up, I always felt a strong sense of 'us' and 'together'. After all, everyone had access to free schooling, free medical care, child benefits or unemployment benefits if an adult ever were to lose her job. Everyone felt safe; at least, that is how I remember it. For most of my formative years, Norway was led by a female prime minister, Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, who not only became a medical doctor but was also elected Prime Minister not once but three times. Dr. Gro Harlem is also known as the mother of sustainable development and presided over global health reforms as head of the World Health Organization of the United Nations. In fact, her 1987 publication, ‘Our Common Future, also known as the Brundtland Report, paved the way for the 1992 UN Earth Summit, which underpins much of the work on sustainable development today. Imagine if even more people on the planet had listened to her call to action by then!


I'd like to talk about Barbie now. Have you seen the film? This film manages to catch the zeitgeist of the moment. To me, Barbie (the film) is by no means high art, but it is still well ‘constructed’ and Thought through. It can feel like a long advertisement for Mattel, and there are some dubious areas to discuss, such as whether it was a good idea to turn Ken into an accessory at the start of the film. But when the patriarchy took over Barbie Land, all of the Barbies were quickly 'brainwashed'. It struck me how the story imitated life, and it was just like women and men are in society today.


And just like in the film, women are learning how to awaken and 'deprogramme' themselves. They can deprogramme themselves from the brainwashing in many ways; therapy sessions, hypnosis or, as thousands of women tell me, by coming to WIN. I think the best thing about this film is that it will reach the 'masses' and help many more to ‘wake up’ because not everyone can wake up by attending a WIN conference, even if it would be ideal. It is by far a better choice and less commercial than the world of Barbie! I even felt some similarity to the Barbie metaphor when she left Barbie Land and I left Norway, I was shocked. I was incredibly naïve and had no idea of how deeply-rooted the patriarchy was in the world.  

Bringing about Change

This is when I felt compelled to do something. And that was when the first women's international conference, the WIN conference, was born. Incidentally, I brought women together, and it was the first conference by women for women that I had ever attended! Can you believe it? Some 26 years ago, there were NO women's conferences at all, at least not that I knew about. I had stumbled onto something completely new and innovative, and I was able to create it and bring it into form worldwide, starting from my kitchen table with a small team of volunteers. That was over a quarter of a century ago. Since then, women have been coming together to support each other, learn from each other, and examine the world, work, and life from purely a women's perspective—a more authentic, feminine, and conscious perspective. This perspective is still a novelty for far too many. Being authentic is the key, and it is a journey of self-discovery and awakening that unlocks who we are beyond the programming and conditioning of society—and especially beyond the patriarchy. It is a journey towards our own self-sovereignty. The journey began with women addressing and exploring their place in the world, at work, and in their lives. Today, it includes everyone, as I quickly understood that both women and men have been victims of the patriarchy.

The system (the patriarchy) that shames boys for crying and ridicules girls for laughing needs to be dismantled and dissolved.

The idea of giving value to both the feminine and masculine qualities, the yin and the yang, within all of us, at work and in the world to create harmony took off, and the WIN Way became a reality.

Kristin Engvig

Reprinted from LinkedIN