5 Ways To Support Women Empowerment
Let us fuel the progress towards gender equality.
The words ‘Let us March in support of gender equality’ echoes through the air as the month of ‘Purple’ arrives. Many of us in Singapore are living in a sheltered bubble, away from the political and socio economic issues that discriminate against women. Think of the girls in nations less progressive who are denied any form of education because of systemic discrimination and cultural norms. Some may feel that these issues do not affect them because it is happening “so far away”, but is it?
Issues of gender inequality can be experienced in our own homes – where parents instill ideas that women are solely responsible in the domestic domain. One such idea is the notion that young girls should be taught how to cook, otherwise no one would marry them. Even at work, careers in certain industries are strikingly male-dominated. According to a UNESCO report in 2017, women make up only 35% of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) students around the world, despite making up around half of the population. As said by Michelle Obama, “No country can ever truly flourish if it stifles the potential of its women and deprives itself of the contribution of half its citizens.” Let us break this archaic and toxic mentality and take a large step towards the progress of gender equality.
Here are 5 ways to support women empowerment:
1. Be a leader
It is undeniable that us women will not be where we are today without the powerful voices of political women leaders; Susan B. Anthony, a social activist and icon in the early women’s right movement; Frida Kahlo, an artist who used her work to portray taboo topics such as abortion, miscarriage, birth, and breastfeeding; and Malala Yousafzai who continues to make leaps for the progress of female education and advocacy. Let us take inspiration from these amazing women and become leaders in our own stride. Be open if we want to have an effective voice to challenge gender narratives. We understand better when we listen to the experience of others. We need to provide an accepting and supportive environment for ourselves to highlight our challenges – think of the #MeToo movement in 2017. Stories shared transcended into a common voice that stood against sexual harassment. Speaking out and sharing our struggles are crucial steps for changes to take place be it in legislation, societal expectations, or the perception of femininity in general.
As female leaders paving the way for our future daughters, it is important to lead by example. Be a good role model for your friend or sister. Celebrate the wide spectrum of beauty, empower women with kindness and strength, and encourage women to make their aspirations a reality.
2. Be an encourager
We should build each other up, not pull each other down. We must create a judgement-free environment for our fellow sisters, if we want to look upon our own female community for encouragement. The first step is to boost our self-esteem, the mirror in which we hold our self-perception. Self-love and positivity are empowering and contagious traits that we should spread amongst women. Through positivity, we learn the value of our voice and opinions. Encourage your daughters to embrace their self-expression, be it through fashion, art, or speech – support their interests, even if they seem “too masculine”. It is okay for young girls to have a preference for the colour blue and play with trucks.
As much as we want a positive environment for ourselves, it is inevitable that we get ourselves entangled in the dangerously unrealistic standards of beauty in the far-reaching, overwhelming world of mainstream and social media. We must take advantage of the power that the media yields to promote encouragement for women to love themselves for who they are, as they are. Let us embrace body positivity, health, intelligence, sense and authenticity.
3. Be an advocate
People tend to equate advocacy with aggression. When we speak of women empowerment and gender equality, they think of extreme feminism. There are ways for us to uphold our beliefs in a sensible manner. A great way to start is to advocate equal rights in your workplace. If you notice a female colleague being treated unfairly based on her gender, stand up for her. Encourage more women to take up leadership roles and make the female voice heard in the office.
Another great way will be to display your advocacy on your social media platforms. Post about International Women’s Day, quotes of women leaders that inspire you or even give a shout out to your friend who achieved greatness in her career. Create opportunities for discussion on the triumphs of women to take place, with positivity. Lift each other up by highlighting that we are capable too.
4. Be a mentor
Mentorship allows us to both develop our own character and inspire others to do the same. Get yourself involved in programmes in your local community. You can begin by looking into organisations like Daughters of Tomorrow and Sayoni, where you can take a girl in need under your wing and be a listening ear or provide good advice. You can also facilitate empowerment activities within your workplace, or your church. It can also be as easy as inspiring your own friend or sister to further pursue her education, take up courses for career advancement or engage in a sport that she has always wanted to try. It is ideal to teach others through your own life experiences. By discovering your own value, you can guide the others to discover their own as well.
5. Be a supporter
It is important for us to support women-run businesses. Business used to be a male-dominated industry, and we have made positive progress. So, take that leap and make your business goals and aspirations a reality if you desire. Let us inspire more women entrepreneurs towards financial liberation. A great example is Ms. Rachel Lim, the founder of Love Bonito. Her success was so immense that she got herself listed in the Forbes Asia’s 30 Under 30 list in 2016.
With financial success comes financial independence, and independence is an essential character-building tool for self-esteem. Financial freedom also encourages better education and provides more opportunities for women to better themselves.
Let us show our appreciation for the women in our lives with words of kindness and encouragement. Every positive step forward is progress for gender equality and women empowerment.
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