In view of International Women’s Day, here are some ways and means regular people like you and I can support and empower women.
1) Provide the ticket to education.
Many young girls in countries around the world are taking on adult responsibilities like walking miles to fetch water each day, seeing to younger siblings, cooking and cleaning as their parents work to make ends meet. If you personally know one in these circumstances, you could try to make education accessible or connect her to those who can.
2) Support organisations that help girls and women in crisis.
There are millions of girls across the globe who are subjected to abuse, child labour, trafficking, child marriages, etc. See how you can become an advocate for children and families, perhaps through volunteering with programmes that offer training, education, counseling and care, if not reach out to those inflicted and be a voice to the voiceless.
3) Mentor, share and show concern.
Help young girls from poverty-stricken families, those performing poorly in school, exposed to teen violence and bullying, etc. by tutoring/mentoring. You can empower and develop confidence by lending a listening ear, counseling and caring by making others and those in these circumstances, feel valued. When you show someone they matter, you can transform their life.
4) Tell women you care.
Not all women in need of empowerment come from lacking backgrounds. Tell the women in your life - families, workplaces, neighbourhoods - that you care. Show care by doing something nice eg. stand in for someone who needs time off struggling to juggle with responsibilities, or just express your appreciation with a kind gesture or word, a surprise gift, unexpected invitation to a meal, etc.
5) Celebrate women’s achievements.
If another woman impresses you or does a job well done, tell her so, congratulate her. If she’s an office colleague, inform her superior. Give due credit to those who are deserving, especially the timid and shy, those who doubt their abilities, have low self-esteem, etc. Simply acknowledging others empowers.
6) Stop the gossip and girl-bashing.
Change the subject when you notice any conversation heading that way. Why run down someone with hurtful comments, especially about things which may or may not even be true, all the more if not in her presence; there must be better things to talk about. Be the ‘bigger person’ you know you are and shift the energy to something more positive.
7) Share your stories and learn to laugh at yourself.
Many women have amazing stories to tell but are fearful of all sorts. Teach others to be honest and lighthearted; to laugh at themselves if you’re one who is a natural at being candid about your life. Let other women find strength in being real, imperfect and vulnerable, unafraid of being open about ourselves, our lives, our family, children, careers, etc. as you need to learn to laugh at yourself first, before you laugh at others (tongue-in-cheek). But seriously, life is too short to be serious all the time.