Empowering women has never been more important. The disruption that the global pandemic has brought to our lives adds to the challenges that women have had in our societies. As often the primary care takers, women as mothers or daughters find it even harder to achieve a work-life balance, while keeping the positive attitude we need to survive the effects of the pandemic.
How do we lift women up to their greatest potential during these trying times? One book I recently read and re-read is Melinda Gates’ The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World. It is a very compelling book, as Melinda shares what she’s learned from the inspiring people she met during her work and travels around the world, in her foundation’s efforts in Africa, to support girls in schools, enable family planning and remove unpaid work, but also to create a new culture of women in the workplace everywhere.
In her book two things, pretty much related to one another, deeply moved me as they are close to what I believe in and do in my work. One, is that a powerful way to empower women is to enable them to contribute meaningfully to what they believe in. By engaging, inspiring and supporting women to contribute, they feel included; they develop a sense of belonging, and become empowered by their actions. They become mentors themselves, and pass the torch further. The second, is the role of the community, as a supporting mechanism to develop and lift up women; also as a place to contribute to. It takes a community to raise a child – similarly, to support women to become knowledgable, confident and empowered individuals. By contributing, girls and women become mentors themselves, and can advocate themselves for a diverse, inclusive world. It takes a community to create a culture of diversity and inclusion in our societies, and that starts in our education systems, mentoring networks and through into the workplace. How can we engage our colleagues to contribute to our communities during the pandemic, when -- despite the convenient communication technologies -- the feeling of isolation has been stronger than ever?
I have personally had a powerful moment of lift earlier this year. I was in a fortunate position to contribute to my university’s bid for a program to increase diversity and inclusion (specifically women and underrepresented groups) in our programs and in their transition to a science and engineering career. The response we received from our community of professionals, educators and non-profits to support initiatives that would facilitate girls’ and young women’s contribution to projects in our community had been tremendously positive. I felt a unique sense of empowerment myself in seeing how much good will and resources the community is willing to put in for such a timely, important cause. I am deeply grateful for this remarkable, collaborative effort. It definitely feels that these collective efforts will have a far-reaching impact, both for the individual women and for society as a whole. As Melinda Gates says: “When you Lift up women, you will Lift up humanity.”
What has been your moment of lift?Published: May 9th, 2021