I feel that in the last few years there has been a real surge of female activism and women empowerment movements. But still, a lot of women are confused about what it exactly means to be an empowered woman. The most common (mis)belief is that women should be treated the same as a man - meaning that a lot of women started behaving more manly, as a way to earn that equality and respect.
That is NOT female empowerment.
Trying to be someone else instead of owning and nurturing your god-given qualities will only make you feel confused and conflicted about who you are as a woman, as a mother, as a partner, as a teacher, as a leader.
Empowered Woman is a woman who recognizes and owns her divine right to thrive and prosper in her life, while making this world a better place by using her natural gifts of intuition, empathy, caring, nurturing, beauty and creativity.
She understands that she doesn't need anybody else in her life to feel complete or safe. She herself has everything needed to make her every dream, every wish happen.
Although we still live in times where women aren't treated as equals everywhere and there is a lot of work to be done until we will be; first we need to start treating ourselves as such.
You might say now: "But Sanja, we are already living so much better than our moms and grandmas!", and I would completely agree with that. One of my grandmas wanted to go to high school in her day, but she wasn't allowed to. She was beaten to obediency by my grandpa (who hasn't stopped insulting and belittleing her until the day he died). My other grandma never knew how to read or write but she still managed to provide for her entire family. My mom was a seamstress who spent her life serving my dad (and my brother and me) - just to say to me, before she died of cancer, that she regrets not living more for herself. I was really blessed with having strong women in my family. I guess that every one of them influenced me and my fight for women's empowerment and equality in some way.
We should learn from our female ancestors, from their fights, from their sorrows, and create a better future for our daughters.
Here are 6 aspects of female empowerment for you to implement in your life.
I put this first because I believe that this is still the biggest fight we need to win in our mind.
How many of you REALLY, TRULY believe you can earn enough money to live in financial freedom, and never ever worry about money?
I bet that something in you is contracting and cringing right now.
Being financially independent, and not worry about money, is personally my biggest goal. I feel like I have everything else in my life, only this piece of the puzzle is missing. Even though I'm living so much better now than that single mom trying to get ends meet with $800 a month (I lived like that for almost 8 years), my dreams are BIG! I want to travel, I want to experience different cultures, I want to live a certain level of lifestyle - and I'm not ashamed of it!
There are so many women almost apologizing if they're making big money, and living comfortably. Or, big dreamers, like myself, trying to tone down their excitement about their goals - because they'll need to be rich in order to pursue them.
Can you imagine a man toning down his desire to make a million dollars? No. Because on some level they are raised to believe that they can do it, and SHOULD do it. They are the ones earning money, right? If a woman would say to her family - "I'm gonna make a million dollars in five years!" they would almost laugh at her.
It's time to own our right to be freaking RICH! We deserve it! We can make it happen! We don't need a man to take care of us - we can make our own dreams come true!
If you're struggling with this try making affirmations on a daily basis like:
"I trust that everything I desire is coming to me with ease and grace."
"I am a rich goddess, with every cell of my being."
You know those songs like "Two become one..." and quotes that are about finding another half of your soul? When I encounter them I want to pull my hair out. For. Real.
If you take anything from this text, please take this - YOU ARE A WHOLE, NOT A FREAKING HALF!
Now, I won't lie to you and say that I never cried my eyes out when somebody broke my heart while listening to exactly that kind of music. In my time, when we still had cassettes, I almost ruined mine by listening to Mariah Carey's "Without You" on repeat. Today when I hear, "I can't live if living is without you..." I cringe.
I'm NOT saying that you shouldn't want love and a partner in your life. We long to be loved and understood. And, because I found my life partner, I can tell you that there really isn't a better feeling in the world (well, except the love for my daughter). It's like coming home. Everything just feels right. I can be truly me. I'm seen. I'm understood. I'm respected. But my point is - I felt like that even before I met him. Me, myself and I had a beautiful and loving relationship.
That special somebody in your life is just that - a partner. He/she is not your savior, other half of your soul, somebody to take care of you, the person that will make you happy. YOU are the one that needs to take care of all of that. TRUE LOVE starts with you and your relationship with yourself.
Only after you feel ENOUGH by yourself and can give yourself love, you can give it to someone else.
This aspect has 2 sides.
The first one - if you never want to be a mother. If that's your choice and it makes you happy - I'm so happy for you! Never allow anybody to try to force the decision to have a baby on you. The truth is that you will end up resenting that baby, as it was a baby's fault of being born, and you both will most likely have a love-hate relationship. You don't deserve this, and most importantly, that innocent baby doesn't deserve it.
You are NOT an incubator. It is NOT your DUTY to give birth to children. That can only be your CHOICE.
My best friend decided that she won't ever have kids because she is still trying to fix what her mom and her mom's issues did to her. She doesn't want to transfer the same emotional distance and coldness to her children, so they end up struggling like her. I fully support her in her decision, and I think there are lot of moms out there right now who should've decided the same. You can throw rocks at me now, but I stand firmly behind this.
This takes us to the second aspect - if you want to be/are a mother.
Well then beautiful, you better step up. If you chose to bring a new life on this Earth you have to take responsibility for it too. And, I don't mean on basic baby stuff like taking care of them or teaching them things. I mean the responsibility of you being strong, nurturing, loving, and a supporting mother. Motherhood is really challenging and shouldn't be taken lightly.
To be a good parent, you need to take care of yourself so that you can have the physical and emotional energy to take care of your family. - Michelle Obama
The mere fact that we as women can bring life to this world is something that should make you look at yourself in awe and wonder. It's really mind-blowing to me how through the centuries men belittled us to feel no more than a womb and caretaker.
We're freaking goddesses! We can create life! Read that again - CREATE LIFE! What is more powerful than that? Nothing! Stand proud in your role as a creator of life sister!
Luckily, we now live in the times (at least in the USA) when female entrepreneurship is on history's highest.
Here are some statistic*:
The US has 12.3 million women-owned businesses.
US women-owned businesses generate $1.8 trillion a year.
40% of US businesses are women-owned.
Women started 1,821 net new businesses every day last year.
There are 114% more women entrepreneurs than there were 20 years ago.
62% of women entrepreneurs cite their business as their primary source of income.
Private tech companies led by women achieve a 35% higher ROI.
Women-founded companies in First Round Capital’s portfolio outperformed companies founded by men by 63%.
But even though we are slaying in the small business sector, the corporate sector is still a male-dominated game. Before we start crusading how this is unfair (and it is!) we should first look at ourselves and check - when was the last time we asked for a promotion? When was the last time we asked for raise? When was the last time we really fought for our project to be accepted? They sure as hell did.
Men are by nature more assertive and aggressive and it's easier for them to fight for what they believe they deserve. Because we women are naturally more oriented to try to "make everybody (else) happy" we just sit silently on our workdesks and think how you could do so much better job than your a@@hole of a boss. Only, he applied for that job; you probably didn't even try.
In my opinion, the solution to this is not becoming like them, it is understanding that you too DESERVE to be considered for that raise or promotion, because of the qualities YOU have, and that are different than your male colleagues. Make a list of all things of how you can improve a department or a business strategy. Convince YOURSELF how everything would function better if you took over a process. And then, convince them.
"Do not be afraid to make decisions. Do not be afraid to make mistakes."
– Carly Fiorina, first female CEO of a Fortune 20 company
Btw, have you ever been in a meeting where you were bringing out your proposal to a room full of male managers and you had the feeling of them checking you out more than actually listening to you? I have. But, sexual discrimination and harassment are other beasts to tackle.
5. Sense of Safety
This is something that I personally, as a sexual assault and harassment victim, really struggle with. One of the qualities of my dream partner was the ability to defend me. I know it sounds lame, but if you haven't been in shoes of someone who's been abused, you don't understand. I got what I asked for. My now-husband is a hunky guy with 10 years of experience in the military and 20 years of taekwondo training. I would lie if that's not something that gives me peace.
We as women carry an enormous heart-breaking legacy of our sisters being raped, tortured, humiliated, and burned at the stake. Historians think that around 3 MILLION women were killed during witch hunts. In every war, you have rape camps set up. During the 5-year war in my home country, I remember listening to the stories of women who were saved from them. And stories about women who were killed there. I was 11 at the time and was afraid that when soldiers come they would take me there because I was already looking womanly. Some scars never really heal.
“Instead of saying, "I'm damaged, I'm broken, I have trust issues" say "I'm healing, I'm rediscovering myself, I'm starting over.”
― Horacio Jones
In the end, I'd love to remind you of something we women usually forget - our self-care.
We wear a lot of hats in our life - a mom, a wife, a friend, a daughter, a teacher, a leader, an employee, etc. It's important to remember that our "hats" are not who we are. Those are just our roles in life. We are more than that. We have come to this life to experience it in all it's glory. All it's struggles and wins. And to do that we constantly need to remind ourselves that the world won't end if you don't clean that kitchen today or buy your daughter the latest toy craze or if you get fired from your job. This is all just temporary. An obstacle (minor or bigger) on our path.
To be able to flow through your life with ease you must take the time to nurture yourself physically, spiritually, and emotionally. It's not selfish, it's essential!
Don't sacrifice yourself too much, because if you sacrifice too much there's nothing else you can give. - Karl Lagerfeld