International Women's Day: Being substantial
This Women’s Day, find ways to advance your fellow women and push back against gender bias because sisterhood is not just about sharing lipstick, but showing true love, respect and feeling secure
The world has historically and fundamentally made women feel inferior so we're more inclined to view ourselves as a lesser mortal. We compare ourselves, find some source of jealously/superiority, put other women down and make them (and ourselves) feel helpless.
It doesn't have to be that way. Maybe it did in high school, but now we have the opportunity to become much more than that. We can make a real difference to change the lives of the women around.
Below are several ways in which we all can actively support our fellow women personally and professionally.
Start with encouragement
As women, we tend to play it safe or make sure all of our ducks are in a row. We want to assess the situation for security and control and often are risk-averse. But when it comes to living brave and bold, we need to support other women in their brave and bold decisions. Do you want to buy a bikini for summer? Yes! I will go with you to make sure self-defeating thoughts don't creep in. Do you want to start a business? Yes! Let's go! How can I support it? Do you want to throw an event, host a workshop, attend counseling, travel to a foreign land, try online dating? Yes! I will support you.
When you're showing support to someone, helping them stay accountable to their goals is important for them and for you. It keeps them on track and it keeps you in encouragement, even when it may be easy to slip into a little jealousy. What you'll find is that support feels good. Uplifting a girlfriend brings feelings of uplift for you as well. It always feels good to be encouraged and it feels wonderful to encourage others. The shift of perspective is a tool of momentum producing courage in both women.
Observe your language
The way we encourage women and how we say it matters. As women, we have been minimising each other without even knowing it.
The language we've been handed makes us seem dainty and quaint and pretty and lovely and quiet and demure. If you Google 'descriptors for men', you discover the following list: strong, tall, big, handsome, tough, robust, hero, powerful, aggressive, hard-working, athletic, dependable, sculpted.
A similar Google search for women produces the following list: accepting, adorable, affectionate, agreeable, angelic, attentive, attractive, gorgeous, fragile, forgiving, provocative, ravishing, reserved, sacrificing. When you're encouraging a fellow female, try to use language that sounds and feels powerful.
Instead of 'You're so amazing,' exchange it for, "You're powerful, strong, goal-oriented, focused, driven, and your idea will shake the ground you set it on."
Ask her powerful, positive questions
Women are such ingenious innovators. Many times, the ideas they come up with on their own are more effective than anything someone tells them. As her friend, encourage her own thoughts to grow. Create action plans with her by asking her prompting questions instead of telling her what you would do. Questions like: 'Why is this important to you?' or 'What matters the most in this situation?' And let her navigate what matters to her in this space, instead of hearing what matters to you first. Support them in their brave and bold decisions.
Be present, show up, be proud.
Celebrate her effort and her work. Encouragement is the best way to keep going, and celebrations can be as simple as a quick text, e-mail, hug, or glass of wine. As women, we are in this together and it's time we start lifting each other up instead of silently holding each other back. We want our fellow females to be loved, supported, encouraged, empowered, educated, successful, and fearless. We want them to achieve their goals and spread their wings. We want them to make big decisions and roll with them. We want to see women thriving, and to do that, we have to play an active role in the lives of our fellow females.
Dear Women, not only on Women's Day but every single day let us say – 'I'm going to say yes to other women and get behind whatever they're trying to do with my effort and prayers.' Let us give our best for the best of all.
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