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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

10 ways women and girls could empower themselves

Unlike the last World's 100 Most Powerful Women selected by Forbes, millions of women and girls live ordinary lives as students, homemakers, and/or employees. These [famous ladies] have redefined power, Forbes said. Does it mean that ordinary women are not powerful? Oh yes, they are! Power is at any woman or girl's reach.
Friends hanging out


The online dictionary Merriam-Webster.com provides two explanations for the term; to empower would mean:

1. To give official authority or legal to [someone]. For example, she empowered her mother-in-law to act on her behalf
2. To promote the self-actualization or influence of [someone]. For example, various international organizations such as the United Nations set up programs that aim to empower women across the globe.

Based on the information published on Merriam-Webster.com, to empower calls for action. Women and girls who aspire to empower themselves must be ready to make changes, starting from within. They will need to be ready to approve, to affirm, to validate, to allow, to initiate themselves in unique ways. Empowered women such as President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the first African female head of state, keep themselves and people from banning, blocking, denying, preventing, prohibiting themselves (and others) from reaching their full potential. The 10 ways cited below are my suggested steps women and girls could undertake in order to empower themselves.

1. Trust in the Lord. As a Christian woman, I put a strong emphasis on my relationship with my GOD. In a healthy relationship, parties allow some level of trust to take place. Every day, people trust each other to do the right things. Women and girls trust the creator of heaven and earth with their precious dreams and lives. Or, do they? To trust in the Lord will help any woman or girl to stay focused on what matters the most : Him.

2. Know who you are. Women and girls are first human beings with unique strengths. This is why they perform important responsibilities within their families and their communities. Women and girls need to know they are beautiful and valuable beings. They need to laugh about their flaws, see mistakes as opportunities to grow, and stop defining themselves through another human being. Simultaneously, they need to transform their physical, spiritual, mental attributes into strengths.

3. Be positive, always. Broken relationships and everything associated to them belong to the past. The past: leave it alone and move forward. Honor the past, live the present and get excited about the future! Over the past few years, I was amazed to watch my male counterparts dealing with break-ups. They are able to learn quickly from their mistakes and negative experiences instead of  dwelling on them for a long period of time. They don't over-think either.

4. Hang out with positive and awesome people. In Cameroon, we have a popular saying that states: "Whoever gathers together, they look alike." This is the same with our choice of friends. Well, women and girls live in communities: neighborhoods, workplaces, schools. So, the health of their relationships play an important role in the process of self-empowerment. This is why it is important for them to associate with positive and awesome people who will bring the best of them.

5. Dream BIG. For most women and girls, a popular dream is having a family life. While this dream is honorable, some may unconsciously deny themselves from reaching their full potential because of it. Whether the dream is to become an entrepreneur or to live in a foreign country: dream BIG! Delete phrases such as “What if this doesn't work” from your vocabulary and look for solutions.
Teenagers playing a video game 
6. Seek excellence. No excuses. Work hard. If someone aims for perfection, she will soon drive herself -and people around her- crazy!  If she aims for excellence, she will easily acknowledge her progress and the ones of others. Whenever we seek excellence, failures become learning opportunities for growth. Women and girls may experience failures but they should never think they are failures.

7. Be generous. Certainly, we live in a competitive world. Whether you are a man or a woman, the world will have high expectations at work or in school. To encourage and assist others whenever you are to help will only make you a better person at the end. What goes around comes around.

8. Develop healthy friendships with men. Do what? You read right: develop healthy friendships with men.  You can learn so much from listening and observing your male counterparts. I did.  Women and girls represent half of humanity. So, the need for them to associate with the other half is vital, with clear boundaries and expectations.

9. Nurture self-confidence. In her book “The Confident Woman,” Joyce Meyer said it best. “Women have the babies and believe me when I say that you cannot be weak and do that,”she wrote. Women and girls must celebrate their achievements and share them with pride at the right time.

10. Love your life. Social pressure and the media can easily make feel anyone worthless. "You are not enough," the ads seem to say. Regardless of how much time women and girls spent in the gym, most of them will never achieve the photoshoped looks of celebrities and models they see on TV and magazines. Isn't it the grass greener where you water it?  It is important that one finds joy in the small everyday things: from washing dishes to hearing the voice of a loved one on the phone.

Photos courtesy of  http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/