Imagine leaving the United States for a grand adventure. Then learning what you really signed up for was more like a prison sentence where all your rights were revoked. This is what happened to Sheila Flaherty, a psychologist, who lived in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for a year when her husband was transferred there. Coming from a land of privilege and a profession of distinction, Sheila found herself now treated as powerless chattel. But fate intervened as she began to counsel women in secret. Sheila Flaherty said, “I have always been passionately drawn to righting injustice. While living in Saudi, my compassion led me to practice counseling secretly, helping to empower the American and Saudi women I met. This experience fueled my passion for writing East of Mecca, a novel about women within the confines of a violent, oppressive, male-dominated society.”
Sheila is no stranger to oppression. She saw it in the separation between those of different skin colors growing up in the South. She experienced the condemnation of some religions toward some individuals. She lived through the women’s rights moment in the USA experiencing harassment, support, discouragement, and empowerment. But she said that she never truly felt oppression until she was a woman in Saudi Arabia. Now Sheila uses her writing to empower others, no matter their situation. “I write so I can enlighten and inspire and empower others to action. My ultimate goal is to take the majority of my profits from my writing and provide funding for women and girls to meet their most profound needs.” I am excited to have Sheila Flaherty on The Empowerment Show to talk not only about her novel, but about her personal experiences and her drive and commitment to empower others.