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Women Empowering Women

We are living in a more progressive time, thanks to centuries of brave and relentless women who have fought for gender equality and got us here. However, it is worthy to note that decades ago, women were still not allowed to vote, to work, and to speak in public. Today, female representation is still lagging politics, some girls are still child brides, there is still gender-based violence, and there is still a gender pay gap in workplaces.

Globally, women earn 24% less than men, according to the United Nations (UN) Women. We are living in a more progressive time, but we are still far from reaching true gender equality due to the systemic oppression of women that pervades our daily thoughts and actions, in ways we might be unconscious of. We need to actively think about how we perpetuate cultural and social norms that pull us backward so that our companies can help reshape a future that is truly gender-equal and women-empowering.

Empowering women is a noble cause, but it is also a necessary task to undertake for the workplace to thrive. According to a 2004 research by Catalyst, there is a link between gender equality and business performance. For companies with higher women representation, there is a higher Return on Equity (ROE) and a higher Total Return to Shareholders (TRS).

As companies with a heart, how can we empower women more?

Celebrate the accomplishments of women.

When we read history and science books, it is always about men and their victories, their discoveries, and their conquests. Women are rarely acknowledged because we had an unjust world where men write history while women cook their dinners. Nowadays, however, we discover that it is not the case. Women have always been active in social affairs, philosophy, literature, and medicine, even when they weren’t allowed to have an education during those times. For most of history, women had to fight for the right to exist and do things. Today, the world is not as cruel and blatantly sexist, but most people still talk over women, shut down their opinions, and disregard their efforts. With this, assess if and how your workplace celebrates the accomplishments of women, and constantly improve your efforts in doing so; celebrate each other’s victories and point out each other’s strengths.

Give women opportunities to shine.

For women to have accomplishments, they must be given enough opportunities. Some studies show that women, especially new mothers, often feel overlooked during discussions on promotions and projects. To empower the women in our workplace, we must make sure that we give them ample opportunities for advancement, training, and funded programs; especially those with less experience.

Give women active and strategic support.

However, with all these opportunities available for them to thrive in the workplace, a lot of women still lack confidence. There is a significant percentage of women who feel nervous when they think about the negative impacts on their careers when they decide to have a family, and some of them also think that their companies aren’t doing enough for women and their careers. Some also believe that their gender, amongst other things like religion, social class, and ethnicity, will curb the progress in their careers. This is why women should be given constant support that is active and strategic, in an environment where they feel safe, free, and confident to reach their highest potential.

Establish a parental leave.

When women become mothers, it significantly affects their careers. It was stated earlier that women feel nervous when they decide to have a family because it might decrease their chances of career advancement, but this rarely worries men, because pervading gender norms still perpetuate the idea that women are the primary caregivers. Globally, mothers spend more hours on housework than fathers and might turn down more opportunities. Men are likely to get promoted since they spend more time at work and less than at home. This is why companies should establish a parental leave, or be specific, a maternity or paternity leave. In this way, men will be given an equal option to be the primary caregiver, and not let this become an automatic responsibility for women so they can also advance in their careers.

Have a gender quota.

As stated above, female representation works wonders for companies. This is why we should start establishing quantitative objectives on women representation in all company levels so that our gender equality successes are tangible.

Gender equality should not merely become an abstract and subjective concept. It must be accompanied with measurable data and written policies, such as ensuring that at least 50% of the people working on a project are women, or that a policy on safe spaces and violence against women are in place and properly implemented.


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