Women Empowerment, this is What We Need to Do

  • Published on:
    December 17, 2018
  • Reading time by:
    6 minutes

Women Empowerment: Sharing our Stories 

In our ongoing efforts to uplift and empower other women and encourage each other to live our authentic best lives, aligned with our values and in integrity with who we truly are, we are all missing a very crucial building block: telling our stories with vulnerability and honesty. In our world of Pinterest perfection and #nofilter we are perpetuating the curse of perceived perfection. We aren’t sharing our struggles and our failures and, in not sharing these, we aren’t really helping anyone. 

This past weekend, a stranger commented on an Insta post of mine and she asked me what I felt was missing from the ‘women’s empowerment’ movement and she said that she feels it’s all becoming a little cliched. It saddens me that she feels this way, but I cannot say that I am surprised. It was very easy for me to answer and tell her what I believe is missing and it made sense to me to share this with the millions of women globally, who read this publication. 

I honestly believe that what is missing, is authentic vulnerability in telling our stories and sharing our struggles with the women who will inherit this world from us. We all struggle, all the time. It may be with low self esteem or impostor syndrome. It may be issues related to body image or a lack of body positivity. It may be mental health issues such as anxiety or depression. Perhaps we have been victims of emotional or physical or sexual abuse and violence.

Perhaps we have battled academically since we started school or we have gone through some really tough financial times where we didn’t know where our next meal would come from. Maybe marriage turned out to be less of a ‘happily ever after’ than all those fairytales tried to make us believe. Perhaps pregnancy was sheer hell and we are just happy we survived.

We have so many stories that show how strong and resilient we all are, yet we don’t share those stories with each other and we often even hide from our past, ourselves. This is unfair to us and the struggles we have survived and it is unfair to the women who need a positive role model and who need to hear that they are not going through their struggles on their own. 

If we are to change, this is what I believe we all need to do:

Thankful for the Lessons 

We are not victims of our past or our circumstance. We are all warriors who have overcome something in our lives. We have emotional and physical scars that prove that we have survived all the tough times that life has sent our way and everything – no matter how awful – has contributed to mounding us into the women we are today. Stop hiding from the past or feeling embarrassed about it and instead, be thankful for the lessons and for the strength and resilience you have gained. 

Vulnerability is a Superpower 

The single biggest reason we are not sharing our stories of struggle or failure with each other, is the fear of what people may think or that they will learn that our carefully crafted public persona is not perfect, after all. There are two things that we need to let go of here. Firstly, the ridiculous notion that we need to be perfect all the time. Secondly, we need to let go of the mistaken belief that vulnerability equates weakness – it is in fact, the polar opposite. 

It takes a lot of bravery and faith in the goodness and love of others, to be vulnerable and honest about our fears, our struggles and our failures. 

Tell your Story

The story of ‘you’ and how you got to where you are in your life, is likely full of struggle and setbacks and it shows how you have triumphed and beaten the odds. You should be proud of yourself and you should be proud of all you have overcome to become the woman you are today.

Tell those stories. Share all your experiences and learning with other women – you never know who you may inspire and you never know who needed to hear that there is another woman who has survived similar or possibly even worse challenges. 

If we are truly committed to empowering other women and creating more leaders, we should be committed to ensuring that these women know exactly what we have survived and that they are able to appreciate the rights they enjoy and expect right now, that our mothers and grandmothers had to fight for.

We should be proud of all we have endured and all we have survived to get to the places we are in our lives right now. Be vulnerable and honest about the challenges and the struggles and the failures and empower at least one other woman with an unwavering belief in herself and her ability to overcome the challenges she is going to face. 

Deborah Hartung

She has spent almost 20 years advising corporates on matters relating to employee relations, corporate culture and leadership development. Deborah is passionate about people and technology, the human experience in the workplace and the opportunities for the advancement of humanity in the digital age.  

Especially popular with young or first-time leaders, entrepreneurs and women in leadership, Deborah encourages all those she meets to align with their purpose and to be brave enough to be authentic in all their interactions.  She writes about life, love, leadership, workplace culture, the future of work and the importance of making the world a kinder, more tolerant place. 

Deborah lives in Johannesburg, South Africa and is committed to ensuring that her children – daughter, Reagan and son, Owen – have as many adventures and experiences as possible. Amongst her friends she is known as the woman who always needs at least SPF50 sunscreen and someone who can trip and fall whilst barefoot and stone cold sober. A big fan of tequila, craft beer and MCC, Deborah loves entertaining friends and is secretly a rather big fan of baking. 

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