By Oluthando Keteyi - 02 August 2019Views : 2940
Empowering women means empowering society. But all too often, it’s spoken about theoretically – and while people may agree with the concept, there’s rarely a discussion about practical ways to empower women in everyday life.
It’s not just about selling ‘women’s only’ car insurance or pink champagne; it’s about instilling a real sense of self-worth in women across society, so they can thrive.
Here are six small ways you can do this every day:
1. Watch your words
Language is more powerful than many of us give it credit for – it’s a powerful way of enforcing a group sentiment or belief about a particular concept.
Avoid referring to women in derogatory terms (even if you’re just joking), and correct others who do this in discussions with you. These words reinforce the stereotype that women are weak, not powerful and not in command of their own lives.
Getting society to think differently about an issue starts with the individual – and the simplest way to do this is to refer to women using uplifting language rather than in words that position them as secondary to men or “less than”.
2. Compliment each other
A community of empowered women starts with your own circle.
Communicate what you appreciate and admire about the women closest to you: compliment and congratulate them on their achievements and create a positive support structure that helps us all gain confidence, so we can reach our full potential.
Do the same with new people you meet: from the barista making you a perfect cup of coffee to the office junior who did a great job tidying up the storeroom.
The more confident a woman is, the more she’ll take on new challenges – because she won’t feel weak or defeated if she doesn’t succeed.
3. Be a role model
If you want to empower women, be the change you wish to see in the world by empowering yourself in your own life.
Be strong and confident in your choices, and see yourself as a powerful individual capable of doing anything you set your mind to. This then sets an example to the women around you that they can do the same.
In a work context, this may mean setting a positive example to others, rather than competing with other female colleagues.
You could also be a mentor to a younger woman looking to enter the same industry you work in, by connecting her with potential work opportunities, coaching her to improve her skills and generally helping her navigate her career path.
4. Speak up
Have the courage of your convictions: if you witness a woman being discriminated against, or spoken about badly, say so!
You don’t have to do it in an aggressive way, but simply making it known that you disagree with what’s being said or done can have a powerful impact on those around you.
It could be as simple as letting a woman around the boardroom table have her say on a matter, when typically she may not be able to as more dominant male voices don’t give her a chance.
Showing younger, less confident women that what they have to say matters, will give them the strength to stand up for themselves next time.
5. Start with the younger generation
The younger you are, the easier it is to learn new beliefs and adopt new ways of thinking.
With all the young girls in your life – whether it’s your niece, grandchild or daughter – teach them that they can achieve whatever they put their mind to and that the only barriers they have in life are their own limiting beliefs.
Practical ways of doing this could be buying them empowering books with strong female characters, or choosing them toys that go against the outdated boy/girl stereotypes like toolsets for girl toddlers, or science and engineering kits for older girls.
6. Accept other women – and yourself
Not everyone is the same as you, whether lifestyle, culture, religious background, political outlook, and even physical appearance and preferences.
Empowerment goes hand-in-hand with acceptance, so start by accepting yourself the way you are. Women are brought up believing that they have to be perfect, and this quest to be the impossibly “perfect women” is extremely limiting.
Also, accept the women around you for what they are, and admire their unique strengths rather than notice their differences. Empowered women follow their own path, no matter how different that may be from the women around them.
Attitude is infectious! By starting in small ways to empower the women around you, you’ll set the example for other women to do the same. After all, this is how society changes: step by small step. By being empathetic, encouraging and accepting of other women – and standing up for them when they’re not doing it themselves – you’ll be helping to create a new society of women who are strong enough to take on any challenge they face.
With thanks to Fedhealth