What does it mean to empower someone? The word empower has several different meanings. The main definition I’m going to focus on comes from the Merrium Webster Dictionary where it states, “to promote the self-actualization or influence of”. I actually like this definition because it promotes the thought of achieving the positives rather than dwelling on the negatives.
Take the Women’s Soccer team that just won the World Championship. Whether you agreed with their dispositions or not, the team won against all kinds of naysayers. Athletes and celebrities are very driven. There’s a lot of other professions that this includes as well, but for the time being let’s look at the perceptions that women face as athletes. Generally speaking, women do not have the kind of attendance that men do. They are not given the kind of equal pay as the men. They work just as hard if not harder and have to fight for every bit of equality that men do. While I don’t agree with the way the women’s team handled some of their publicity, I love the fact that they were determined to not falter under the pressure. Their fierceness paid off. Now, this isn’t a feminist blog. It’s just a matter of fact.
Women have been holding down a lot of different roles over the centuries. Their ability to multi task often gets overlooked by society. Until the last fifty years or so, their main focus through society was to have children, take care of the family, and keep the house. There were a few exceptions to this rule but over time, women have shown that we have the grit and determination to not settle for the status quo. We now have performers who are among the highest paid people in the world who are women. Some of the most successful entrepreneurs are women. Women are breaking barriers every single day and most of the conversations always go back to equal treatment. I can remember when Pastors were predominantly men and now, in many religions, the women are the majority whereas the men are sorely lacking. Women bring a unique perspective to many different roles.
I absolutely love the STEM movement. One of my very closest friends has a daughter who is getting ready to go to school to study Physics. There’s a lot of women that are propelling the sciences to new heights. The mindset that women don’t do well in science is beginning to take a back seat and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Science was always hard for me. I never really got into it the way that young girls are being introduced to it today. Had I had things more readily available like the children’s museums that are popping up all over the country, that might have been a different story.
When I see young girls who are the victims of bullying, I never know what to think. Part of me gets really sick to my stomach. I remember the years of high school where I was bullied because I didn’t fit in. Too often times, there are folks who will always tear you down because they are either jealous of you or just don’t like you. I remember going home in tears because I never had the feeling of empowerment in high school. I was good at music so I would head in the practice room a lot playing on the flute or piano. It was my refuge and gave me a very small piece of empowerment in an environment that was questionable. Let me be clear. I understand that I’m bringing up the issue of empowering in women and girls, but don’t forget about the young men who are ostracized for various reasons and made to feel that they don’t count. They are equally important. Our society seems to thrive off of kicking people when they’re down and propelling them when society wants a good story. The truth is that every one deserves to be empowered. Can you imagine what we can accomplish if we are lifting each other up as opposed to tearing down one another? Wow. We could literally change the world.
The path to empowering and equality is never simple. There are always going to be stories of hardships and struggles. There will be successes and triumphs but it is imperative to note that empowerment doesn’t take a lot of effort. What does take effort is paying attention. Young girls and women are usually in more need of empowerment than men. It’s gotten better in the last few years but there is so much more work still to be done. Minorities really need to be empowered. The stereotypes of the African American girls to women are not only derogatory but need to be changed. Just because a woman is a minority does not mean she will end up pregnant and on food stamps. As a society, we have to work together to stay focused on keeping our young people engaged and interactive. Communities are stronger when people take part in them. Education is a key and without the education, we are forcing ourselves to live in a bubble. Guess what? Eventually the bubble bursts. The mindsets become outdated. Women are changing the world. If you don’t believe that, then your bubble is about to burst. Women are now in political office. They are the doctors, the litigators, the CEO’s, and other central figures who are inflicting change.
What are some of the ways that you can help empower those around you? Attitude is a critical component of empowering. If you aren’t willing to listen to other’s stories of issues that are a problem in your area, then you can’t change anything. Listening is a huge part of the solution. Be willing to mentor those around you. There’s a lot of young folks out there who are just numbers in the system. They deserve more. They deserve you. You deserve them. If we are all willing to change their lives, they change ours. The young people of the world are not just the future but are the here and now. They empower us just as much if not more so than we empower them. The question then becomes will we let them?
Learn to give praise when needed and not just criticize. I could tell you a zillion stories about all the times I’ve heard criticism but the praise meant the most. The praise has been few and far between in my life but it’s made me stronger and made me appreciate when I do a good job. Our youth need to be praised for what they do right and they do a lot right. Don’t be afraid to use your voice. There’s a lot of situations where our youth and young adults are being abused or at least hurt emotionally as well as physically. If you see this going on, speak up. You don’t have to fight their battles for them but you can be their voice. You may be the one refuge they have from a toxic situation.
I almost forgot one of the most important pieces of all, be willing to empower yourself. If you are the type of person that has been kicked a lot in your life, look in the mirror, remind yourself that you are “lovable and capable“. Never let anyone or anything make you feel inferior. After all, you can’t empower someone else unless you believe in yourself. Empowerment feeds off more empowerment. Be the best you that you can be. Invest in yourself and in others. Once we all empower one another, the world will never be the same. Empowerment can leads to changes in attitudes, respect, fulfillment, and hope. My hope for all of you is that everything you do in this world empowers change for the better. Keep lifting each other up. Never let the world make you feel less than you are. You are special. You are worthwhile. You are unique. Never forget that.