4 Ways To Empower The Women Around You
By Vesta Leigh
Everyone has the power to empower. Women can empower each other by a show of solidarity and camaraderie. Men can empower women by acknowledging their male privilege, uplifting their voices and letting them take the lead in conversations. White women can empower women of color by being intersectional, including them in their activism, and knowing when to stay on the sidelines and not intrude in intra-community issues. We all have power to use in different ways, to create a world where women are treated equally, with dignity and respect. No matter who you are, you can do your part to contribute to empowering women and contributing to a better tomorrow.
Treat them with respect and dignity
They are people. They are autonomous. They are educated. They are clever. They are badass. And above all, they are not inferior. They deserve to be treated as you would treat a man in all aspects of life. In the workforce, they are just as educated and experienced as any other. They should not be diminished to stereotypes. They can make decisions for themselves, and they do not need a caretaker. They know what is best for them, and they do not want anyone assuming that they cannot handle it. Trust them to know what they need. They consistently deal with legislation trying to regulate their sex life, their health care, and their access to basic reproductive rights. Stop treating them like children. They do not need a man telling them what he thinks is best.
Hype them up!
Hyping them up can be all sorts of things. Something as simple as a quick compliment take minimal time and effort on your part, but sometimes means the world to the receiver. Spread the positivity! Just a simple “Your lipstick shade is really amazing, that’s definitely your color,” can make someone feel good about themselves, and can lead into more conversation. Notice when they try something new or risky and let them now how much you love it!
Do they have a goal they want to reach? Help them achieve it! Maybe they want to conquer a difficult project at work, or achieve a personal goal. Be their cheerleader, offer encouragement and support them in their endeavors. Maybe they’ve expressed wanting to go back to school, or starting up their own business. Tell them to go for it!
The best kind of hype is the kind that supports women in the workforce! Women are badass, but sexism is very real in the workplace. Support women owned businesses, promote their art, their products and help them achieve success. Next time you’re shopping, browse online and see if there are female business owners who have what you’re looking for. You may get exactly what you need while supporting their business at the same time! It’s a win-win!
Listen, learn, and give them a voice
Do you have privilege? This is the time to stop, listen to what others have to say, and learn how to do better by them. In this modern world, women are often silenced, disregarded and tossed to the side in favor of their male counterparts. It’s important to know when it time to listen to their voices and do what you can to uplift them, project their message and do your part to solve the issue.
Women who are white, cis-gender, able-bodied, and heterosexual especially, take note. Your experiences are different than women of color, LGBTQ women, and disabled women. Acknowledge your privilege, listen to their voices, and step back. It’s the job of the privileged to stand in solidarity on the sidelines and not speak over them. The non-privileged can use the privileged to give them a platform when needed, but it is still their experiences and their voice. Do not be exclusionary. Include ALL women in your activism. Be intersectional.
Encourage a safe space
Offer a safe space to help them get out and vent or voice frustrations they may have. Support systems are a must and sometimes that means making time to sit and talk about their issues. Start a group text with friends where you can uplift each other. Establish camaraderie instead of competition. Make it clear that there is no room for girl-hate in your space, positive vibes only. Make this safe space a place they can go for advice, resources and encouragement, and where they know they will be treated with respect and dignity.
Sometimes even just referring them to someone who can better help them is exactly what they need. There are hundreds of hotlines, websites and chat rooms at their disposal, they may not even know where to look. Take the time to compile a list of what they’re looking for, and send it to them.