For years, women have been fighting and pushing for more equality and acceptance in the United States. From gaining the right to vote in 1920 to dismantling the patriarchy in 2020, women have made a lot of progress over the last century. No longer do women take no for an answer or let people choose what they do with their lives. It’s important to empower the next generation of women to continue making waves so that in the future, no matter your age, race, gender, religion, everyone can be equal.

“Justice is about making sure that being polite is not the same thing as being quiet. In fact, oftentimes, the most righteous thing you can do is shake the table.” – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

So, how do we continue to promote that change and shake the table? We can start by 1) modeling self-acceptance, 2) encouraging each other to do better and aim higher, 3) educating one another, and 4) offering support in good times and bad. Change doesn’t happen overnight. But with the help of each other, we can make a huge difference.

Love and Accept Yourself, and Others Will Learn to Do the Same  

When we become self-accepting, we are able to embrace all of ourselves. It’s unconditional, empowering love. While it’s easier said than done, it’s important to just start. Every day announce words of affirmations to yourself. These are positive statements that can help you overcome negative thoughts. When you repeat them often, you’ll start believing them and make a positive change. Create affirmations that have power and meaning. A few examples are:

  • I am strong and capable of achieving anything.
  • I am beautiful, inside and out.
  • I am loved; I am safe.
  • I have the ability to make a difference.

You would never put others down for the way they look, act, or carry themselves, so why should you judge yourself in those ways? Once you start exuding confidence and strength, you can start to become a good role model for others. Young girls will look up to you and want to be happy and positive like you. Your friends and family will see a change in the way you carry yourself and want to feel the same. Lead by example.

Encourage Other Women and Girls to Go for It

Oftentimes, women feel like there are only certain careers or paths they can take because some jobs are “just better for men.” There is a lot of exceptional work to be done and companies need to understand that getting input from both men and women is essential to doing exceptional business. More women also need to understand that they should go for it and apply for the managerial position, to be a director, or to become a CEO. Not only should you be your own greatest cheerleader, but you should also encourage other women to go after careers no matter the field. Some predominately male-dominated fields to consider, are:

  • Trade Industry: Jobs in construction, plumbing, electricity, and HVAC are all career fields that are needing more and more workers as they become less popular. While they aren’t seen as a traditional route for women, they’re great fields for people who want to work with their hands and not have a sedentary desk job.
  • Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM): STEM jobs are growing at a fast pace and women are no longer accepting that it is a career field solely for men. We need to encourage more girls to believe in their ability to work in these careers. There are mentorships, programs, and education systems that are designed to do just that.
  • Medicine: Specifically, in the field of surgery there are fewer women. Surgery is extremely delicate, and surgeons go through years of training in order to be successful. It’s a very demanding career field that does force a lot of people to put their families on hold. However, it’s possible to raise a family while also being a successful doctor. It’s been done my men and women alike.

All too often are gender stereotypes associated with professions. It’s now the job of women to stop people from saying things like, “that’s a man’s job,” and empower the next generation.

Offer Support and Educate from a Young Age

Leading by example is just the first step. To go the extra mile, support women in their journeys and educate young girls to do the same. Mentor younger women in your career field, read a book at your local elementary school, be the older sister someone always wished they had. In addition, discourage stereotypes. To become a strong woman, you must also build others up. Don’t discriminate based on age, race, gender, religion, background, financial status. Let young girls choose their own paths and make decisions instead of herding them down a path they aren’t interested in. Encourage them to start a business, echo their voices.

Continuing to make changes starts here and now with you. What will you do?