“An empowered woman’s best asset is her mind—she invests in insights and experiences that expand her mind and bring self-knowledge because she knows that the surest way to oppress a woman is to control her mind.”
Empowered women all share 3 key qualities that lead to success.
Photo credit: Healer's Library
The world is watching as women everywhere are voicing their concerns about gender equality, pay equity, and the right to be free from assault and violence. “Empower”—a word commonly used by women's rights activists—has made its way into the daily lexicon of men and women everywhere. But what exactly does it mean, and how do you go about becoming an empowered woman?
What Defines the Empowered Woman?
Defined by Merriam Webster as the giving of “official authority or legal power to, or to promote” and “the self-actualization or influence of someone or something,” empowerment means today’s 21st-century woman isn’t afraid to embrace both her strengths and weaknesses. She is as keen to break through the proverbial glass ceiling as she is to admit her mistakes. What makes her powerful and empowered is that she embraces all aspects of herself and knows she’s far from perfect.
At a 2017 conference addressing the issue of gender equality, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, head of UN Women, underscored the importance of psychological empowerment, noting that true empowerment is achieved when we make our minds, spirits, and self-esteem our highest priority. “An empowered woman’s biggest asset is not a pretty smile, her cooking skills, the ring on her finger, her wardrobe, or how many likes she has on social media. An empowered woman’s best asset is her mind—an empowered woman invests in insights and experiences that expand her mind and bring self-knowledge because she knows that the surest way to oppress a woman is to control her mind.”
Whether she’s a stay-at-home mom raising her family, the businesswoman building her empire, or the college girl standing up against the peer pressure to drink at a party, the empowered woman is everywhere. Here are three ways we can empower ourselves—and the women around us—to chase our dreams and make a difference in the world.
Quality Number 1: Autonomy
Autonomy is the “right or condition of self-government and freedom of external control or influence.” While we may not be able to avoid being influenced by those around us, we can discover what it takes to be independent from the predispositions of others.
One sure-fire way to start learning to become more autonomous is to ask yourself whether the decision you’re making today is in line with who you are—each time we ensure our choices are congruent with our personal values and ideals, we get one step closer to defining exactly who we are. Particularly for women who are still learning to “find their she-compass,” and are still on journeys toward self-discovery, re-thinking choices on an ongoing basis might seem daunting. But when we strive each day to put our own needs front and center, we learn to honor what is best for ourselves.
Quality Number 2: Education
One thing we know for sure is that the more we know, the less tendency we have to accept blindly statements deemed as “fact” from others. We also know that in some countries, the education of girls and women are forbidden. Who can forget the 2012 attempted assassination of Malala Yousafzai, a female education activist who was shot in the head by the a Taliban gunman for attempting to educate herself? Or the “Bring Back Our Girls” national social media campaign, an outcry against the Boko Haram kidnapping of 276 Nigerian female students?
Thankfully, women in the US have a right to an education; it’s positive effects are noticed by citizens in every part of the world. In an opinion piece for The Jerusalem Post, former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations Daniel Carmon writes, “Education is important for everyone, but it is a critical area of empowerment for girls and women. This is because education is an entry point to opportunity and because women’s educational achievements have positive ripple effects within the family and across generations. Education is an essential investment countries make for their futures, a crucial factor in reducing poverty and achieving sustainable development.” Education is a perfect stepping stone to success in both work and personal endeavors, and it affords us the confidence and willingness to unapologetically speak our minds.
Quality Number 3: Never Let Anyone Hold You Back
The 21st century woman knows that the although glass ceiling may still exist, there’s nothing stopping her from grabbing a hammer and breaking it open. Women are no longer relegated to old-school definitions of “what
a woman should be.” It’s 2018, and women are going to do—and be—whatever their hearts desire. Engagement expert Alice Darnell says implementing 3 simple mantras can help us stay focused on moving forward: let go of the fear of failure, stop listening to negative voices, and stop letting past experiences keep you from stepping outside your comfort zone. Try incorporating these ideas and watch in amazement as you become a happier person and a role model for others.
Becoming an empowered woman might be easy for some and arduous for others. The key is to keep working at mastering self-discovery—get clear on what you want to accomplish and don't let anyone or anything stand in your way. Women are stronger than many think; show them what you're made of on the way to the top.
Looking for more advice on female empowerment and self-discovery? Look no further—grab a copy of “Finding Our She-Compass: 15 Life Lessons for Women Voyaging Toward Restoration, Reconstruction, and Renewal” and become the best that you can be!