There is something so powerful about seeing, reading and believing words of empowerment. If you are a member of Facebook, you’ll notice a trend of women in business sharing memes or pictures that contain women empowerment quotes; quotes that reaffirm, encourage, support and challenge.
“There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women,” former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright once famously said. Strong language and yet so true. We must be there to help, nurture and encourage women to embrace their own personal strengths. And it starts with our young girls.
Just yesterday I was listening in on a conversation between a young teen getting ready to graduate high school and a young woman, 23, who is a little wiser about the ways of the business world.
Brittany, the 23-year-old woman has just started up the ranks of a national restaurant chain and is beginning the process of learning to become a manager.
“It is a struggle every day,” she said, “to be taken seriously and not be viewed as the “B” word. I’m not being mean but when I saw there is a task to be done and I assign it, I expect that it will be done. Would a man be criticized for these same expectations?”
Emily, the 18-year-old high school senior, was appalled. “So they don’t see you as a leader?”
“No,” Brittany replied. “But then I am struggling to see myself as a leader. My mom didn’t really talk to me about being a leader or striving to seek out management roles.”
“Oh, well, my mom talks to me all the time about how I should recognize my inner strengths and value and that she expects me to be a powerful leader one day.”
“You are lucky. My mom didn’t and so I feel like it is an uphill battle.”
Do we do that to our children – especially our girl children? Brittany made a comment that she remembered her folks saying to her older brother “Eat up, you are a growing boy.” But no one ever referred to her as a growing girl. A girl who needed to be fed, food and knowledge, to help her grow to her full potential.
Let’s start today by helping to empower other women. Read Global offers 10 ways to empower women. Here are the first three:
Create a safe space: Women in South Asia often have nowhere to gather with other women and talk about issues like gender equity, women’s rights, or health. READ Centers provide a safe, trusted space for women to gather and learn.
Support independence and mobility: Most women in rural Nepal and India have to ask their husbands for permission to leave home. Because of their local READ Center, a large majority of women (75-77%) report being able to freely travel outside of their home unaccompanied.
Teach women to read: If you are illiterate, simple things like reading signs on a road, numbers on a phone, or directions on a medicine bottle make daily life a struggle. READ Centers teach thousands of women to read each year.
The Women’s Empowerment Movement with the UN offers guidelines for businesses to foster the empowerment of women in the workplace:
In brief, the Principles are:
- Establish high-level corporate leadership for gender equality
- Treat all women and men fairly at work—respect and support human rights and non-discrimination
- Ensure the health, safety, and well-being of all women and men workers
- Promote education, training and professional development for women
- Implement enterprise development, supply chain and marketing practices that empower women
- Promote equality through community initiatives and advocacy
- Measure and publicly report on progress to achieve gender equality
Read the entire list of empowerment principals.
Many professional women aspire to advance their career, but most women encounter common obstacles because they don’t have “The Professional Playbook” to navigate corporate cultures. Download three chapters now of the professional playbook for women that includes initiatives to accelerate your professional growth.