What makes up a strong woman? Is it her ability to multi-task? Is it her ability to get the job done and look flawless all at once? Some believe a strong woman embodies intelligence, strength, poise, grace, independence just to name a few great qualities. The truth, however, is that a strong woman is someone who helps build other women up rather than tear their female counterparts down. A strong woman knows that a society can only thrive if men and women are able to work together toward a common goal or future. If you've ever wondered how you can help empower other women, it can be pretty easy. You might not even know you already do these things in your everyday life, but if you've wondered about other approaches then keep reading.
1. Learn to lead by example.
What’s better for empowering women than empowering you? Think about the kind of woman you want your younger sister, cousins and own daughter to be. Now try to be that woman. Show people that you can be fun, beautiful, smart, brave, adventurous, and hardworking and your most genuine self. Gandhi once said: "Be the change you wish to see in the world," and he couldn't have been more right.
2. Stop gossiping about other women.
What’s worse than being the butt of a rumor? The only thing worse than that is being the person who is responsible for starting a he-said, she-said rumor. Gossip can seem light-hearted, but what was intended to be harmless can lead to disaster in a matter of time. The thing about gossip, especially in a small office setting, people eventually find the original source. Often times, gossip can come from a place of insecurity and jealousy. We’re pretty much all guilty of doing it. But next time you’re tempted to say something gossipy about a female friend, acquaintance or coworker, just try to imagine how you would feel if someone repeated that kind of things about you. Use word of mouth to brag about a friend's accomplishments or even humble brag about yourself.
3. Give sincere compliments.
Don’t you love that feeling when you receive a genuine compliment from a friend, or even better — a complete stranger? Why not spread that sort of energy and attitude by paying someone else a compliment? If you see a woman rocking a look, tell her she looks fabulous! If you notice a coworker got a haircut, tell her how much you love it! We all need a little confidence booster from time to time.
4. Fight for women, not against them.
The workforce is competitive for anyone, and women aren’t just fighting men and each other for the professional edge. Women are also battling the gender wage gap. Additionally, women face more difficulty moving into management positions in comparison to men. These obstacles should be more than enough motivation to teach women to fight for each other, not against each other! Advocate for your fellow female colleagues. Encourage one another to take the high road and deliver quality work. Provide the kind of support you’d like to receive. The future can't be female if we don't encourage each other to aim for success.
5. Speak up against sexism and injustice against your fellow sisters.
I was pretty young the first time I noticed a man scan my mother from head to toe while we were shopping at a grocery store. The entire act disgusted me to my core, and for some insane reason, I wasn’t afraid to speak out on the matter right then and there. I called the man’s attention and let him know that he needed to keep his eyes to himself. I was only about 9. I’m now 24, and I still let men know when they’re being creepy and their gaze is unwanted and unappreciated. Women are not objects that men have a right to gawk at. If you see a woman being mistreated, misspoken to or simply disrespected, don't sweep the issue under the rug or continue to tolerate it. It's important to intervene and/or speak up.
6. Push boundaries, together.
Sometimes we just need a small nudge to take a chance on something that scares us. Women hear the word "No" so often. Some women were raised to believe they weren't stronger than men or smarter than men. Imagine the endless possibilities if we just said "yes" to the crazy, wonderful and innovative ideas our female goddesses are constantly flowing with? Have you had a friend who has been wanting to make a scary career change? Is a coworker contemplating asking for a raise? Do you have your eye on that promotion? Think about all the times you needed someone around to tell you to go for it. Now become that person for someone else!
7. Choose to be happy for others rather than jealous.
The world of social media has made it incredibly easy to compare ourselves to complete strangers. We are all guilty of it. We might long for what others have going in their personal or professional lives. Does that mean we have to be angry about what others have thought? There are so many moments and experiences in life that can be tainted by jealousy when they could have otherwise been incredibly enjoyable times. Rather than being upset about a co-worker getting a raise, congratulate her and ask about her approach for the next time you're up for a similar opportunity.
8. Keep a positive state of mind.
Negativity can spread like wildfire. I once shared an office with two women who constantly complained about every little part of their day. After a while, it began to wear me down. Rather than attacking or lashing out at them, I decided to take control of the narrative. I started talking about positive things like our department succeeding despite being severely understaffed. I made it a point to ask about weekend plans and their kids. This kind of conversations make the day and office more enjoyable overall. You have the ability to influence your environment.
9. Be a role model for younger girls.
The political climate of our planet is a little wacky, to say the least. We’ve all questioned the future of our country and the future of this planet in general, but the good thing is, there’s still hope. There is hope because we have the ability to influence a younger generation. We have the ability to teach our daughters, nieces, younger sisters and other girls like that they are just as valued, smart, beautiful, strong and capable of so much. There are a lot of ways to become a mentor. Volunteer at a local youth center, volunteer to coach a sport or contact your local Boys & Girls Club. Become a positive role model for girls who need it.
10. Acknowledge the strong women in your life.
I was lucky enough to grow up with a strong, out-spoken, strong-willed mother who raised my younger sister and I do believe we were capable of just about anything. We never once questioned if we were good enough to compete with our male counterparts. We were taught that crying wasn’t a sign of weakness. These lessons weren’t easy, but necessary. The older I get, the more often I try to let my mother know how grateful I am for her constant guidance and influence. Positive female role models were actually abundant in my life—from my kindergarten teacher to my middle school coach, my younger sister, and my incredible friends. When’s the last time you let the strong women in your life know how much you appreciate them? We all need some words of encouragement and recognition from time to time.