Right now there is an Instagram challenge going around that originally appeared to be all about female empowerment. When you’re nominated, you post a black and white photo of yourself in which you feel confident, and then you nominate a handful of other women to do the same. What seemed like a simple way to show support for all the strong ladies in your life may have started as a movement against femicide in Turkey, where over 450 females met their death in 2019 as a result of hate crimes against women.
While the origins of the “challenge” just came to light, it has definitely started raising awareness about the horrific situation in Turkey. It’s absolutely devastating, and when we hear about these things, we tend to want to help but often don’t know where to start. Sometimes even if we have the best intentions, we end up just moving on with our lives because taking action just seems so big. Sure, there are big things you can do to fight for any cause, but there are also small things we can do. We can nurture and support strong women within our own communities. You won’t be able to save everyone, but you can have a profound impact on one person.
This entire scenario got me thinking a lot about the word empowerment. In my opinion, when you feel empowered, you take the reins. You don’t need anyone’s permission. You don’t need to explain yourself. You don’t need to apologize. Empowerment cultivates a sort of passion, a sense of excitement and confidence, and you feel the call to step into your own power. You own it, whatever “it” is to you. It doesn’t necessarily mean you act without fear, but you find the strength to dig into your soul and do what moves you.
While empowerment comes from within, sometimes we all need a little support to really step into our own. How do we empower each other more? How do we lift each other up and build a community of strong women? I’m just a girl from Massachusetts hoping to make the world a teensy bit better, but I’ve got a couple ideas.
Encourage each other – Giving your friend a little nudge can help her feel supported and more confident in pursuing her goals. Check in with your friend about that side hustle she wanted to start and see how it’s going. If she’s considering making a major life change, lend an ear to chat and offer some reassurance. She’ll be more likely to stay on track if she knows she’s got you cheering her on.
Celebrate each other’s success – When your friend gets a big win, whether it’s a promotion, completing that half marathon she’s been training for or maybe even deciding to quit her job to pursue her dream of flipping houses, party on! Plan a girls night to toast to her achievements or if you’re far away just give her a call. Letting your girls know you’re proud of them can go a long way.
Support each other’s ventures – Did your friend just start a new business? Being a loyal customer is one of the best ways to show support. If spending money is not an option, help spread the word to your own network or write them a positive review online.
Give compliments – So easy! How good do you feel when someone tells you how much they love something you’ve created, or even just that they like the outfit you’re wearing?! If you like something, speak up and brighten someone’s day in less than 5 seconds.
Hand over the reins – If you’re a manager at work, a teacher or counselor, or you have kids at home, turn over full responsibility once in a while. Give your female colleagues, clients and children a chance to get creative and find solutions on their own without you guiding every step of the way. Showing that you trust them enough to do so can give them a confidence boost, and make sure they know that it’s ok to ask for help should they need it.
Donate to or volunteer at a women’s shelter – It’s hard to feel strong and confident when you don’t even have the basics. By donating clothing, toiletries or food to a women’s shelter, you can help provide necessities that help women feel like themselves again. By volunteering your time, you can help them build personal and professional skills that will help them to stand on their own two feet. Check this directory to find a women’s shelter near you.
Mentor a young girl – Organizations like the Boys and Girls Club and Girls Inc. give you an opportunity to work with young people who may face difficult circumstances at home. The provide a safe haven for kids to thrive and learn, and mentors like you give them strong role models to look up to.
Vote for women – Whether in your community or on a national scale, electing women to public office can make a big difference today and for future generations. Female politicians can advocate for us and provide strong role models for our kids.
In order to make a difference, we don’t need to save the world in one fell swoop. Start close to home, and make a difference for someone you love. Like enhances like, so doing a little good will lead to more good. By creating strong women among us, it will create a ripple effect. Your reach will extend further than you realize, and in turn maybe your small act of kindness really will change the world.