Women Empowerment: What Happens When Women Stand up for Each Other
“Empowered women empower women.” Despite reading this quote many times before writing this post; I never took the time to understand what it was really saying. Essentially; what I realised was that it was saying that women who are strong-minded and empowered, elevate other women.
Everyone has insecurities. Whether it is one insecurity or many, it is there in the deepest part of ourselves. Whether we show it or not. No one likes absolutely every part of themselves- and if they do, I’d like a taste of that juice they’ve been sipping on. It is common for people with insecurities to feel empowered by making others feel inferior to them. I’ve always thought…in this cruel and wicked world it’s pretty easy to be unkind and harsh. But it takes courage to be kind.
There is something special about women standing up for women.
Only other women understand the unique struggles of being a woman. If we look at women’s marches throughout history, it can be seen that all types of women come together for a particular cause. Women from different ages, races and ethnicities stand together for a collective cause. This stood out to me, because at this crucial turning point of change, differences are put aside and instead similarities are embraced.
We have just finished the annual 16 days of activism. This is an international campaign which stands up for the eradication of violence against women and children. The campaign usually runs from the 25th November to the 10th December. The 10th December being significant as this is Human Rights Day. The 16 days of activism will always be a campaign in which I hold close to my heart because I fully stand for the eradication of violence against women and children.
However, when I say this I believe that violence should be eradicated against all genders. Men and women alike.
There are many women’s marches which have gone down in history; but one particularly significant march was the woman’s march which took place in Pretoria on the 9th August 1956. It was in support of the eradication of pass laws put on black women in 1952 during the apartheid era. Approximately 20 000 women gathered in the streets of Pretoria to protest. Women of all ages and races stood together for the eradication of pass laws. Throughout the duration of the march the women sang a woman’s freedom song called: “Wathint’ abafazi, Strijdom!”. The song went as follows:
wathint’ imbokodo, uza kufa!
When you strike the women, you strike a rock,
you will be crushed; you will die!
— Rallying call for Women.
From this march it can be seen that protest was done for women, by women. These were women from all races empowering other women. The term: “when you strike a woman, you strike a rock” has stuck. It reminds us of the strong and steadfast nature of a woman. The strength to carry on despite abuse, pain and subordination. And the strength to stand up stronger once they have been broken down by those closest to them. I have experienced this strength on a personal level with people closest to me. It amazes me every day how they are able to stand up taller and stronger every time they are broken down or mistreated. This, to me, is the individual strength of a woman.
I believe it is through true suffering and hardship that we are able to be empowered. If we look at powerful women in history; one of my favourites being Princess Diana of Wales. Her marriage was filled with loneliness and uncertainty. She was going through these emotions without the world knowing. All the world saw was a beautiful princess with a crown and a fairy tale life. Until the true story came out. In one of her interviews she said that helping others, visiting the sick and caring for the marginalised brought her healing. She was able to empower others in her weakness, which became her source of strength. Despite her passing more than 20 years ago her compassion and love for people is what keeps her legacy. Despite no longer being a member of the royal family when passing; her funeral was one of the biggest in history and it was deemed as: “The day the world cried”.
It is thus evident that despite Diana’s pain; she was an empowered woman, who was able to empower others. With the end of 2018 approaching I believe we can all bring this year to an end by remembering the individual power we hold. Whether our contribution is big or small. It has the power to change the life of one person; or even the state of a nation. Let us not forget that the strength we gain along our journey in life is a strength others out there so desperately need.
A few years ago, my aunt used to have a tradition – during the Christmas season she would fetch less fortunate children on the streets to give them a day of food, games and Christmas gifts. A lot of planning went into this. She would spend months putting together Christmas boxes with toys, toiletries and other essentials. My dad and grandfather would go around collecting the kids they saw on the street and bring them to the event. Despite the sacrifice she made; I don’t think anything could replace the feeling of seeing the smiles on the faces of those children. Watching this as a little girl, the gift of giving stuck with me.
As this year draws to a close I would like to challenge you. Before the end of this year, do one thing for someone else.
Whether big or small…whether it’s time or money…make someone else’s day. Let us never forget that someone empowered us to be the women we are today; whether it was a mother or a grandmother. I therefore urge you to use your strength as an empowered woman to empower someone else.
Kelly as a student at the University of Cape Town majoring in Gender Studies, Organisational Psychology and Psychology. Empowerment is defined as a measure given to an individuals and communities, aimed at increasing their autonomy and self-determination; enabling them to become stronger and allowing them to understand and exercise their rights with freedom and self-confidence. Kelly is particularly passionate about female empowerment. It is because of this that she has joined the Future Females movement. Women have a unique strength that is deeply embedded. It is her hope that through her writing she is able to help women across the globe discover and utilise this strength to the best of their ability.