In 2006, the U.S. was third in the world for economic gender equality. In 2016 it had fallen to 26th.
Despite this, there’s a huge movement among women to empower one another, to secure equal rights, to challenge gender narratives, and to establish a brighter future for our daughters. This movement has traveled the globe, and we have inspiring women to thank for improved gender equality around the world. With that said, it’s clear we need to make some changes here at home.
Are you wondering how to empower women so that you can help move us toward a better future? We’ve come up with 15 ways to empower women in your community and around the world.
1. Boost her self-esteem.
Empowered women go on to empower others—so encourage the women around you, and make them feel special and strong. Encourage your friends to speak up and make sure they know the value of their opinions, so that they’re never scared to use their voice.
Do you have a daughter? Celebrate her self-expression from a young age. There’s no “right way” for girls to dress. Whether she loves to dress up in full princess attire, or she likes to keep a stylishly low profile in some loafers for girls, encourage her to be her authentic self. And fashion isn’t the only way to assert her unique personality—support her interests wholeheartedly, whether she’s into sports, drama, band, or academics.
2. Shut down negativity.
Women are constantly exposed to negativity as they’re often held to unrealistic standards of beauty displayed in magazines, on TV, and more recently on social media.
While our near-constant presence on the web has created a culture where women and men can more easily express themselves, negativity online has become a big problem, especially among teenagers. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2017 that 14.9% of high school students had experienced cyberbullying in the last year.
Lift women up by taking a stance against negative comments online, at the office, in school, and wherever you go. Combat negativity by promoting body positivity, intelligence and authenticity. Don’t be afraid to shut down negativity directly and honestly, your fellow females will appreciate you.
3. Be open and honest.
This one can be tricky because it’s not easy to be vulnerable. Sometimes it can be hard to share your experiences with others, but it can play an important role in giving other women a voice.
Without women like Rosa Parks, Malala Yousafzai, and Susan B. Anthony, women wouldn’t have the rights we have today. Thanks to these ladies speaking out and sharing their struggles, real changes have been made: legislation, societal expectations and even how women view themselves in the mirror each day. The world has been transformed by women who rose to the occasion to combat misogyny.
While it’s important to share your own story, it’s just as important to listen to other women’s stories and experiences. There are tons of great resources out there to read, listen and share women’s narratives. Rothy’s taps into the minds of female game changers to find out how they’re disrupting their industries, and inspiring women in the workplace.
Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine is a media brand that highlights female stories through film, written word, audio, and imagery. Hello Sunshine also has an interactive monthly book club that features a new female author each month. Get to know these talented women, and share their inspiring stories with the men and women in your life.
4. Advocate for female colleagues.
In 2016, men held 78.8% of S&P 500 board seats, while women held 21.2%. Women are still fighting daily for equal rights in the workplace even though more women are attending and graduating from college, and more women are in leadership roles than ever before.
How can you help? Be an advocate for your female colleagues. For example, if you see them experiencing unfair treatment in a meeting or on a paycheck, say something.
Women must work together to empower one another in the workplace. Work as a positive and powerful team—and you’ll make things move.
5. Lead by example.
This is one of the most important ways you can empower women. Young women are deeply influenced by their role models, so make sure you’re a good one. Celebrate different types of beauty, empower women with kindness and strength, and encourage women to make their aspirations a reality.
6. Help provide clean water.
Having access to clean water is a basic need that many of us take for granted. But not everyone has clean water, and women are often excluded from the allocation of water resources. This can then result in negative impacts on women’s health and economic opportunity. Women empowerment organizations like CARE help provide clean water resources to communities and involve women in the decision-making processes—helping them obtain jobs and fair access to water. CARE also helps establish better sanitation facilities in schools to improve women’s health.
Extend your mission to empower women around you by contributing to a women’s empowerment organization that helps women around the world.
7. Become a mentor.
Whether you find a mentorship program in your community or focus on inspiring your friends and sisters, being a mentor is a great way to inspire young women. Gather a group of gals and encourage them to participate in an empowerment activity.
Need some ideas? The United Nations
Population Fund has a workbook with empowerment activities you can facilitate with your favorite crew of strong women.
8. Support women-run businesses.
Show your support for women in your community by investing in businesses run by women. Do you know an organization or company where women hold the majority or all of the leadership roles? Consider investing, making a donation, or doing some shopping with them.
Rothy’s is proud to have a mostly female leadership team empowering women every day with their leadership skills, self-expression, and commitment to sustainability.
9. Know your own worth.
The US Census Bureau reported in 2018 that, “Among women who hold full-time, year-round jobs in the United States, Black women are typically paid 61 cents, Native American women 58 cents and Latinas just 53 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men.” Working women in the United States and around the world are still experiencing inequality in pay and structure in the workplace.
Know your worth and make sure the women in your workplace know theirs. Be brave, and ask for what you deserve. Future generations of working women will thank you.
10. Fight against injustice.
Stand up for women’s rights, and be part of the process. Invite the inspiring men and women you know to rally together at your local women’s march, take your knowledge to the polls, write your representatives, and encourage other women to join the fight for women’s rights.
Throw on your favorite pointed toe flats, craft a witty sign, and get ready to take down injustice with an empowered group of ladies by your side.
11. Help a new mom adjust.
Whether it’s offering maximum maternity or paternity leave at your company, or offering to donate babysitting services to a mom you know, helping a new mom adjust is a great way to empower moms and their little ones.
Giving a mom some time to take care of herself helps her recharge—and moms inspire and empower all of us! So be sure to take care of the moms who show us love every day.
12. Show your appreciation for the women in your life.
Say thank you, give and accept compliments, and help out the women around you. Show the women in your life how much you appreciate them by sending a thank you card, giving them a compliment, or simply telling them what they mean to you.
13. Keep a girl in school.
Education is crucial for empowering women, but there are still 31 million girls of primary school age out of school.
One of the best ways you can empower young women is by supporting their education. When we’re armed with knowledge, we can make a difference. Consider making a contribution to an organization that keeps girls in school, or find out what supplies a local school near you needs, and make a donation.
14. Donate to women’s shelters.
According to the National Women's Law Center, one in eight women in the U.S. live in poverty. Women’s shelters help provide women with basic needs and social services.
Contact your local women’s shelter to find out what resources they need, and make a donation. Many women’s shelters offer employment workshops, so think about donating your time and empower women by helping them perfect their interview skills or work experience.
15. Support organizations that empower women.
Do what you can to support organizations that are committed to empowering women. Whether you make a donation, give your time, or refer a friend to a business or organization that makes empowering women a priority—your support matters.
Here are a few women’s empowerment organizations worth checking out:
- Pro-Mujer: Gives low-income women in Latin America financial, health, and social resources to help them grow.
- Malala Fund: Helps fund education for young women around the world.
- Global Fund for Women: Allocates funding to help women fight for gender equality.
Empowering women starts with you. Show your support for the women around you by showing them they matter and reminding them of their strength. Changing the narrative for women and seeing real change is a team effort, so share this list with the women in your life, and encourage them to take action.