5 Small Steps Towards Female Empowerment
You probably hadn’t considered these.
Regardless of how you perceive society around you, we are a far cry from the gender inequality experienced before women were granted the right to vote. In fact, it’s safe to assume the World War II would have had a different outcome and the entire economy wouldn’t have survived if not for the thousands of ‘Rosie the Riveters’ that flooded the factories and work floors.
Women have gained ground in their quest for equal standing, but make no mistake — there is still plenty of work to be done. Changing the social, cultural, and political structures that keep women from excelling isn’t for the faint of heart, nor can it be done alone. A collective movement and shift in perspective will be more easily accomplished when females across the globe present a united front about their worth, abilities, and potential.
Here are five ways you can help women feel empowered and move forward in the quest for equality:
1. Provide Opportunities for Education
In the United States, it wouldn’t seem that access to education is influenced by gender. It has been in the past, but higher education statistics are showing the women are out-enrolling their male counterparts and displaying higher retention rates. This could be because online courses are allowing women to pursue their dreams while still tending to domestic or employment priorities.
In countries across the globe, school-age girls are often saddled with the responsibilities of collecting clean water for their family, taking daylight hours to walk several miles for this necessity. Improving access to clean water in remote communities can help open opportunities for more girls around the world receive the education they deserve. You can get involved by working with Charity: Water.
Another primary reason that girls miss school is because of a lack of access to sanitary products. And, amazingly, this isn’t just a third-world problem. It is estimated nearly 1 in 5 American girls have missed school due to a lack of period products, and 137,000 girls miss school in the UK each year because of a lack of access to sanitary products. In India, it has been estimated that as many as 1 in 5 girls drop out of school after they get their periods — and in some regions, like Maharashtra, that number is nearer to 4 in 5. You can help by petitioning your local government to provide free sanitary products. Check out Red Box Program as an example of a successful campaign.
When a girl finishes secondary school, she is less likely to experience child marriage, face domestic abuse, and suffer from long-term health complications. As a result, educated women and girls are more likely to have fewer, healthier children, who are then, in turn, more likely to get an education and pull themselves out of poverty.
2. Support the Women and Girls in Crisis
There has been a drastic increase in human trafficking rates over the last few years, and millions of girls across the world are subjected to child marriages, enslavement, and other trafficking activities.
There are hundreds of agencies that work to provide training, counseling, education, medical care, and financial support for those who have been rescued and are trying to start a new life. Getting involved as a volunteer or donating to a charity in the space (here’s a good one) can help support the rights and freedoms of females around the world.
3. Stay Involved Locally
You don’t have to look beyond the corners of your community to realize that females around you need help. There is a growing poverty rate in many states, and poor-performing schools limit the potential of the girls who need the best chance at success. Domestic violence is a huge issue all around the world.
You can help by volunteering at a women’s shelter (Google women’s shelters in your city and go visit them in person). While you’re there, convince them to accept pets (since not wanting to leave their pet with an abusive man is one of the primary reasons why women don’t get help).
Get involved with a mentoring program and volunteer as a tutor or mentor to a disadvantaged girl. One of the biggest mentoring organizations in the U.S. is the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program.
4. Shop With Small Businesses
Many of the small businesses in your community are being managed by local women and their families. In today’s economy, it can be tough to offer a quality product or service at reasonable prices without being edged out by giants like Walmart and Amazon. Help your local business market by shopping that row of boutique shops or the bakery down the street.
To help women entrepreneurs globally, buy from women artisans on Etsy and, if you’re able, get involved with programs that offer microloans to help encourage female entrepreneurship, or help women directly through a microloan platform like Zidisha, where you can communicate directly with the women and give extra support.
5. Speak Up — Unapologetically!
In spite of the medical and technological advancements that have been made over the past decades, complications from pregnancy and childbirth continue to claim the lives of hundreds of thousands of females and newborns around the world. Preventable diseases such as malaria or conditions like diarrhea and pneumonia have a significant impact, and you have the ability to make a difference.
Getting involved in aid organizations is one way to get the word out, but you can also go straight to the top. Contact your Congress members with emails or calls and share your voice about the conditions of females around the world. Encourage your friends and families to do the same. Check out Global Citizen for more help on that front.
Perhaps one of the most important things you can do to help a woman feel empowered is to let them know how much you care. Communicating your love, respect and appreciation will go a long way in encouraging a woman who may feel overwhelmed and unnoticed.
Write a thank-you note to your child’s teacher or grab an extra coffee for your co-worker struggling to make ends meet. If you are in the lucky position of being able to promote employees at your company, pay special attention to women. You can live in such a way that the females in your life feel valued and appreciated no matter what is going on.