It doesn’t matter how you ended 2016, I think we can all agree that it was a rough year. At the end of a particularly brutal – and for some heartbreaking – political cycle, many women felt a range of emotions from fear to desperation and hopelessness. As a result, the prospect of a new year didn’t feel promising, to say the least.
But others have rolled up their sleeves and dug in to re-energize their efforts to help empower other women. Our WomenConnect4Good team is ready to put our time and talent to work and make this the year for women.
The dynamics that come into play when women come together is profound. Doubt it? Look what a very committed group of women were able to accomplish in just 24 hours for Take the Lead Women! December 20-21, 2016, men and women joined in a Charidy.com crowdfunding event to help Take the Lead in their mission to propel women to parity in all sectors by 2025. They didn’t just meet the goal they beat the goal and raised $312,160. Helping other women along, and strengthening the communities we live in drives all women. It’s our nature to want to help others and doing so fulfills our sense of purpose in a real and authentic way.
Here are five great ways we can come together and change the status quo this year.
Volunteer with an organization that helps women. There is no shortage of organizations and causes that need our time, talent, or treasure. In fact, there are many, many organizations who could use your help today. From the work we do with Women Connect4Good, to Take the Lead Women, to Convoy of Hope, find and plug into an organization that fights to protect and advance women’s rights or ensure women are able to get the help and support they deserve.
Be a mentor. Mentors matter, and many women can attribute part of their success to lessons learned through a mentoring relationship. On one level, a mentor helps women become empowered, with more self-confidence and resolve. On another, mentors serve as a guide, role model and advisor. The benefits of mentoring go both ways. Both the mentor and the woman being mentored learn from each other during the mentoring process. Successful women are guiding others through the ranks and helping them with their own experience, and through mentoring relationships, we can help women to top management and beyond.
Support female politicians or run for office yourself. I recently read at Care2 Causes that one important way to make sure women’s rights are protected is by making sure women are equally represented in government, which currently, they’re not. As Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider recently told me, having only 19% women in the US Congress creates lopsidedness in legislation and a lack of diversity that hinders good governing. No one is leader by herself. Elected officials need a group and coalition to lead. It’s a two-way process of leadership and support with everyone working for the greater good.
Look at the global picture. Yes. Things are a mess at home, and your community and your country need your help, but things are also pretty scary for women and girls all over the world. There are so many worthy programs that can make a difference. For example, my Leading Women co-author, Rebecca Tinsley’s Network for Africa is doing amazing work. Convoy of Hope’s Women’s Empowerment Program is also having an impact through micro-loans, job training, and education – helping women and girls gain self-esteem and build self-confidence. In Ethiopia 1,000 women have attended the program since 2010. As a result, these women have experienced a 240% increase in income since joining the program. The Women’s Empowerment Program is proof that when women are given the opportunity to generate income, it not only impacts their families, it impacts their country’s economic standing.
Support other women. Find out what the women in your life need, and look for ways to help them. My Leading Women co-author Gloria Feldt works to inspire and propel women to reach parity in leadership across all sectors by 2025. Gloria has always supported other women, starting with providing birth control for teenage girls in a west Texas Planned Parenthood and rising to become President and CEO of Planned Parenthood’s national organization. Gloria debunks the idea of a finite “you-win-I-lose” pie. The pie is actually infinite, she says. “The more there is the more there is.” Her approach can be duplicated. We can reach out to women in the workplace and in the community to give them the tools they need to advance. That’s what the women-helping-women movement is all about, and when one woman wins, we all win.
Keep in mind as we go into the new year that mentoring, advocating, and volunteering provides you with opportunities to stretch yourself and step outside of your routine. It provides the opportunity to make a positive impact on the greater community.
Is there an organization in your community that resonates with you? A place where you can donate your time, treasure, or talent? You don’t have to donate a million dollars to make a difference. Instead, focus on what you can to do to improve the status of women and girls in today’s society. We are all sisters, and women need help all over the world. It’s our job to help them. When we do, we have an impact, not only on their lives, but on the lives of their children and future generations, entire countries, and indeed the world.