Globally, the UN Women, along with the rest of the world, observe 'International Women's Day and 'International Day of the Girl' to highlight the significance of women and girls in our world. We cannot, unfortunately, claim to have progressed socially as well. Worldwide, particularly in underdeveloped and developing countries, women are continually subject to gender stereotypes, hindering their access to opportunities in education and occupation. At the same time, many girls may not even be able to attend school, those who do get to face gender stereotyping. And surprisingly, where women make it to jobs, a staggering pay gap exists between the genders.
What is Women's Empowerment?
Women Empowerment is promoting a woman's sense of self-esteem, her right to practice her choice, and her authority to impact any social change for herself and other women like her. This idea has widely gained popularity and is one of the major societal goals we as a community should aim to achieve today. Investing in women by ensuring gender equality is one of the greatest investments we can make today! The question, however, is how?
How to Empower our Women?
Every woman, any girl, regardless of her age, can relate to the idea of 'Women Empowerment to fulfill their long-held aspirations. They tend to believe in it wholeheartedly, and we believe they have every right to do so. We have summarized 20 points below to help you empower the women around you:
Validate their Form of Self-Expression
It has been observed that women's views and opinions are vastly underrepresented compared to their male counterparts. This may be one reason why women may not be able to come forward with their stories. It has been stressed upon by some that if we see any woman being brave enough by coming forward with her personal stories about harassment and bullying, we should try to show our support for them. By showing that and that they actually matter can really bring the change you wish to see.
Compliment More than Just Her Body!
It has always been assumed that simply complimenting a woman's body or their looks is what makes them feel happy and confident. Well, you’ve got it all wrong! Try to compliment their insides rather than their outsides. Women may like to hear that they are beautiful and gorgeous, but they also love to hear how strong, talented, and compassionate they can be!
Check Your Own Unconscious Biases!
Just because you're a woman doesn't mean your responsibility of uplifting others ends there! No, you can be a feminist; you can support equal gender rights, but at the same time, your own bias against women of color or women of different races may be letting them down. See if you carry a certain convention against women of a certain color, race, body, or sexual orientation. Keeping such a check on yourself will actually help you uplift other affected women in your workplace, helping promote inclusivity.
Even the ‘Strong’ Women Need your Support!
We all may have come across that one woman who seems to be excelling professionally and personally, leading us to assume that since they've got it all together, they don't really need our support and our advice on women's empowerment. These assumptions of yours could be completely wrong. No matter how strong your friend looks on the outside, make it a point to make out some time for them to show that you admire and support them in what they're doing and to see how well they're actually doing.
Women Need Some ‘Alone’ Time too…
Traditionally, women's role has always been interpreted as 'passive' and as that of 'caring and nurturing' for OTHERS. This may be why many females tend to prioritize other's needs and subsequently forget to prioritize themselves. You, as a woman, need some alone time, too, so that you can take a break from your surroundings and can actually ponder on your life and choices. This is not only beneficial for your own mental health, but it can also improve the relationships you share with other women!
Utilize Every Opportunity You have
In a largely patriarchal society, it is natural that men tend to look down upon women. And while women have finally made their way into the science world, they still seem to be underrepresented and unappreciated at many conferences, media sources, and speaking platforms. So, if you ever get access to these spaces and opportunities, regardless of whether you're male or female, remember to help other women around you who, too, deserve to share the spotlight!
Invest in Women-led Initiatives
Women, too, are constantly undermined in the business field and seem to receive less recognition for their contributions. According to research, male entrepreneurs are twice as likely to raise equal to or more than $100,000 than their female counterparts. So, the next time you see a women-led initiative, make sure to give it some extra attention!
Support Organizations that Benefit Women
For centuries men have benefited from the existence of clubs that seem to promote their interests through valuable opportunities and information. So why not do the same for women? Support any club or organization that seems to uplift women's concerns. Women need a safe, trusted network to discuss issues of maternity leaves, academic opportunities, equal pay, and workplace harassment. A group together can make more of a difference, so keep looking for such initiatives that could help women around you.
Do Not ‘Dismiss’ Their Opinions!
We can always have contrasting views and opinions, but this doesn’t mean that you completely dismantle someone else’s opinion. Women have always related to the feeling of being ‘dismissed’ by their peers and male counterparts. If you’re trying to make a change, try a different opinion. If you have a difference of opinion, try to praise her for voicing her perspective and then share your take on the subject. Easy, no?
Tell them they do not Always Need a Reason
It has been observed that women often tend to be people-pleasers. This is why you'll often see them giving you an explanation for their actions. It may actually help if you help women around you realize that their actions don't always have to be backed up by some reason. They are free to make their own choice, live their own life, and the reason 'I did this because I wanted to…’ is more than enough.
Make them a Part of the Conversation
According to research, men do 75% of the talking at any important business meeting or research platforms, while women are largely sidelined or excluded. Make it a point to ask your female colleagues for their perspectives and feedback. This will not only promote inclusivity but also highlight the female's importance in the workplace.
Acknowledge Their Gestures
Women seem to do a lot of work at the workplace but seem to mostly go unappreciated. They reportedly do more organizational work and often multitask with their daily chores as well. You can make them feel recognized by thanking them for their work and their gestures, regardless of how big or small their work is. They already face a lot of workplace discrimination, but you can surely help them out of it.
Encourage them to Accept Compliments
Naturally, women have to be socialized into not taking any praise seriously be to related to their personal life or professional performance. It's important to encourage them to accept such praise by a simple 'Thank you.' Being able to accept your own abilities publicly provides women with the chance to be more powerful, confident and to recognize their potential.
Transform Gender Norms
According to Oprah, males and females are socialized differently since birth. While for girls, the stress may be upon house chores and looking beautiful, boys are encouraged to appear smart and brave. This really impacts women's perception of themselves. So as a parent, try transforming these gender norms and pay attention to any gender behavior statements you make. You want an empowered daughter, remember!
Just Say it Out
Don't hesitate to declare that you're a 'Feminist.' There's nothing wrong with being one: you simply believe in gender equality, and this will show women around you that you care for what they stand for!
This can be done professionally through mentorship programs in your society or casually by simply being an inspiration for your younger siblings. Regardless, mentoring is a great way to get your message across and inspire other women who look up to you to succeed. So simply form a group of aspiring girls and help them achieve an empowerment goal.
Show some Support for the Mothers as well
Mothers need some inspiration and support too! Don't forget them in your goal of women's empowerment! From small gestures such as a wink or a smile (while she's handling her kid) to big gestures such as a paid maternity leave can make all the difference and make them feel more valued!
Consider it a duty to speak out against any injustice you see against a woman. Don't stay silent! Carry outmarches, right about any inequality you see. Take the issue on a platform and be the change you wish to see!
Help Educate a Girl
About 31 million capable girls don't have access to basic primary education. Help inspire by taking on the job of educating one such girl and help her realize her dreams!
Women shelters help provide poverty-driven women with essential services and fulfill their vital needs. Around 1 in 8 U.S women face poverty. Help lift these individuals! Contact your local shelter to see what resources they might need and donate to help set up employment workshops so that these women can be independent like you too!
Be the change you wish to see! And don't hesitate to take a step! No matter how big or small your initiative, it is bound to make a difference, one at a time. So gear up and help inspire the many women around you!