Sara Carlemår is a 43-year-old Swedish woman, mother, wife, sister, daughter, and human. Sara is the founder of a Social Enterprise, GLOW4equality, which is focused on promoting gender equality by empowering women. She works as a communications strategist in her own company since 2005 and as a Social Entrepreneur in GLOW4equality since 2019.
Sara always had a commitment to the rights of women and children and engaged in different ways by raising money and awareness for the organization ECPAT which works against sexual exploitation of children, as well as the local women’s safe house.
However, having been born and raised in Sweden, one of the most equal countries in the world, Sara feels that she’s been blind to the reality in other parts of the world. Sweden has one of the world’s best economies, education, social security, and healthcare systems. And it pretty much has equal rights and opportunities for everyone. Despite having some challenges, the country is still one of the most equal countries in the world.
In her own word “I’ve always felt equal to the men around me, my father, my brothers, my husband, in business life, among friends, everywhere. And living in Sweden I’ve been in a safe “bubble” my entire life. That’s maybe why it hit me so forcefully, during a trip to Iran, that the oppression of women is for real and it’s enormous.”
In 2017, Sara has gone through a life-changing experience in Iran that lead her to think of women’s rights and issues beyond her familiar surroundings and led up to starting GLOW4equality. Sara shared her journey of creating a social enterprise focused on women’s rights and equity.
Sara, Why did you choose to focus on promoting gender equality?
I have always felt a great committment to issues like child sex abuse, trafficking, genital mutilation, sexual and reproductive health, oppression, freedom of speech, and equal value of all human beings.
At one point, after the trip to Iran, I felt a need to go to the bottom of these issues, with the values close to my heart and how to use my entrepreneurship to address some of these issues. I took help from a professional coach to lead the process. Coaching is such a strong tool – I know that working closely with coaching for 15 years, you have all the answers inside of you, it is all about digging deep and being asked the right questions. Three areas made me develop my innermost drive and landed my new idea: strong experiences, the power of networking, and coaching.
Which aspects of women’s lives, do you think, are most impacted as a result of gender inequity?
The right to decide. Without going into a big definition and a long answer, I want to say that the right to decide over your body, your possibilities, your choice affect all aspects of your life.
Can you please share about your organization Glow4Equality?
GLOW4equality is a social business startup, founded in Östersund, Sweden, in 2019.
GLOW4equality offers professional group coaching online for women that are involved in gender equality issues and passionate about making change. The group coaching programs are free of charge to the attendees and possible through social entrepreneurship and funding in different ways; public funding, philanthropy capital, foundations, and CSR partnerships with businesses.
We align our work with the UN Sustainable Development Goal number 5, Gender Equality, and their higher mission is to contribute to gender equality and empower women and girls around the world.
Women who work to combat gender inequality sometimes struggle to significantly impact the problem they address. I believe that professional coaching can increase these women’s abilities to do so and set off a strong ripple effect. Coaching helps a person go in the direction they want to go, and enables sustainable change from within. Through our 6-month long coaching program, each woman enhances her own ability to make a bigger impact and support more women. Being coached in a group focused on a shared goal, the women form their own supportive and collaborative network of like-minded, while at the same time identifying their own specific needs to be able to drive positive change from where she is.
During 2021-2022 I ran a pilot study of three coaching groups at GLOW4equality. Women in the groups represented Kenya, Nigeria, SierraLeone, Canada, Sweden, Germany, North Macedonia, India, and Uganda. The groups join around the UN Sustainable Development Goal number 5 and these underlying targets:
- Target 5.2 End all violence against women and girls
- Target 5.3 Eliminate forced marriages and female genital mutilation, FGM
- Target 5.5 Ensure full participation in leadership and decision-making
After the pilot study, we are ready for a wider launch of our coaching program which, I hope will broaden our horizon and deepen our impact eventually empowering and uplifting more and more women.
What motivated you to start Glow4Equality?
Frustration and reflection on what I am contributing to in the world. I felt that I could make a huge impact on issues that really matter if I just use my time right. My channeled frustration motivated me! Seeing what I have created so far, what women we attracted to our program, and how companies get the idea of why to partner up with us- is a great feeling. I have a strong long-term goal that I work within in different ways and that keeps me motivated though I still get frustrated on inequalities every day, every week. I know that if I keep my focus and keep channeling my frustration through GLOW4euqlity.
How do you envision creating change through your work?
Empowering women to empower others is what I work for. I envision having created strong ripple effects on gender equality enabling professional coaching to women who are already committed and doing the work to achieve it.