The impact of women-only networks across the world is a growing phenomenon. Women, having always been excluded from workplaces, social spaces, and business networks, have taken the initiative and started their own. The intrinsic gender prejudices in traditional networks have also nudged women towards building their own communities, be it for entrepreneurship and funding, moms, tech or other facets of living.
There are few things as satisfying as being a part of a circle of women — as small or large as it might be — and knowing that you have an empowering, encouraging bunch who have your back.
These communities are instrumental in encouraging women to be their best selves and realising that we are stronger when we come together. We trust that women who are empowered — supported, confident and strong — have the power to bring about positive change in our world.
How women communities help raise their power:
1. To find a safe space
In a world where women are disproportionately targetted by online bullying, they often end up reducing their online presence, or alter it to avoid negative interactions. Women communities are safe spaces that make it easier for them to be candid, original and where expressions of vulnerability are encouraged.
2. To find support
The best guidance is more likely to come from someone who has experienced what you are going through. Most women admit they are emboldened by the knowledge that they are not alone in facing issues like workplace gender bias, domestic violence, and reproductive health concerns, for instance, and that they are inspired to help other women in the community by sharing the knowledge they have gained through their experiences. Women understand one another’s concerns, embarrassments, joys, and obstacles. Women communities foster empathy while also serving like a robust support system in more ways than one.
When women are put in the same team, they can push each other to be more successful
3. To find new opportunities
The importance of relationships should be valued in both a personal and a professional capacity. As women are gradually, but certainly trying to bridge the gap in the business industry, there are more opportunities for female entrepreneurs and professionals to climb the corporate ladder. Today, women account for 40 per cent of the global work force and are at the helm of major establishments, yet there is no dearth of setbacks women face each day they spend pursuing their ambitions. From professional accomplishments and guidance, to mental health support and workplace obstacles — women communities become spaces where women can share career advice and create opportunities for each other, together.
4. To learn and unlearn
Women often end up getting trapped in unconscious patterns of behaviour, which are detrimental to their growth and success. Empowering women is about sharing your experiences with one another in hopes that your words and actions will inspire, and more importantly, uplift. Women communities encourage the sharing of stories and journeys, which help in breaking those archaic patterns. They allow women to be vulnerable and there is a great sense of empowerment in being vulnerable knowing it will not be baleful to their own development.
5. To amplify the voices of women
Media and culture lacks authentic representations of women; from products we cannot use to stories we do not identify with. From the classroom to the boardroom, women’s opinions have been hushed, disregarded, interrupted, mocked or mansplained. Women are schooled not only to ask permission, apologise, hedge and speak up, but also to self-doubt and self-censor. Women communities change this. They become stages whereupon women are handed the mic, and find the confidence to raise their voice and their power.
6. To find a cheering squad
Contrary to popular sexist beliefs, women can be women’s biggest supporters. Judgement and enmity comes from centuries of being put in competition with one another. But when women are put in the same team, they can push each other to be more successful just by encouraging and motivating them.As women, we are multi-dimensional and we want to succeed in all aspects of our lives, including at home and in our careers. At work, we are often reticent to try things before we feel we are 100 per cent ready or qualified.
If you are part of a women empowerment community, give your girls the encouragement to get out of her comfort zone. Set expectations high because she is capable of achieving them. Create an environment for her to feel safe in her crucial decision making processes, and also hold her up as she tries to rise from her falls and moves on.