~ Guest Writer, Julia Rael ~
Inspiring Women’s Empowerment
Since the birth of the United States, women have had to compromise their careers, their families, and their dreams in order to be taken seriously in the professional world. The world will never know how history might have been changed if women were given the right to vote and run for political office since the beginning of time. Instead, women have been chained to ovens and washing machines – on the clock 24 hours a day for their husbands and children. There was once a time in America where this suburban lifestyle was the greatest future a woman could hope for. Coming from this my background myself, I know a little bit more about these women’s lives than I know about the women who fought their way to the top of the corporate ladder. However, my mother did not abandon her dreams to have a family – her dream was to have a family. When I, the oldest child, was born, my mother began taking steps back from her work as a court reporter and began spending more time with her new baby. Within a few years, she quit her job and stayed home full time to care for my sister and me. She was not angry that she had to stay home changing diapers and cooking dinner while my father left the house every morning to go to work. For her, this was the life she always wanted. This was the life she grew up with and her mother grew up with before her.
While this way of living may be rewarding to some, there are others who have no choice but to abandon their dreams of becoming highly-educated professionals. At the onset of the female empowerment movement, women who beat the system and decided to do things their own way almost always came from a wealthy background, or at the very least, a comfortable one. They made changes to the world where they could – a little bit at a time until it was no longer considered ludicrous to have a female doctor or a female lawyer. Those who proudly bore titles such as “the first woman in space” and “the first woman senator” provided inspiration and hope for the housewives and their daughters that were hoping that the future just might hold better things in store. It would be these inspirations that sparked some of the most revolutionary movements in American history.
What does “empowerment” even mean?
Google states that empowerment is “the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one’s life and claiming one’s rights”. That is exactly what women began doing toward the beginning of the 20th century in America. With the women’s suffrage movement beginning in the mid-1800s, information began spreading to households and housewives across America. This revolution was not brought about by women creating rights for themselves, but rather realizing that they had these rights all along – it was up to them to claim them. The process was not an easy one then, and it still is not today. No matter how hard women work to make their voices heard, it seems as though there will always be those who try to silence them.
As with any cause, however, it is through unity that the largest strides will be made. Women must work together to lift each other up and inspire one another to keep moving, even when things may appear hopeless. Send a note. Share a video. Do little things for the women in your life to remind them that they are powerful and have a lot to offer the world. Even though we may have momentary setbacks, that does not constitute failure. In recent media, many stories are being shared about women who have gone through horrible things – but they choose to use their bad experiences to inspire others and make a difference in the world and the way things are done. That is the mark of a warrior: someone who continues to fight even when they have been knocked down.
I am reminded of a powerful piece of choral music I heard recently, titled “Still I Rise”. Written by composer Rosephanye Powell, the lyrics beautifully represent the “We Can Do It” mentality that has been driving women for ages. The opening line immediately inspires: “Though I have been wounded; aching heart, full of pain – Still I rise, yes, still I rise…” The song is written for female voice parts, and it includes some powerful solos. If music is a source of inspiration to you – as it is to most of the people in this world – give this song a listen. Pass it on to a woman that has been an inspiration to you. Pass it on to women you know who may need encouragement in their lives, and remind them that they are capable of moving mountains.
Singing in choirs has taught me a lot about what it means to offer encouragement to those around you. It takes a lot of vulnerability to open up your voice for everyone to hear. The art of solo singing is something very few people are brave enough to do. In an ensemble, however, you have the support of numerous people around you, singing with you and supporting you. The idea of a choir is to be one voice – everyone gives it their best, and everyone is important. Being together in this setting invokes a sense of community that can be found in very few places. It’s a spiritual feeling. I am fortunate enough to be living in a time where I am not frequently dismissed for being a woman. I have had good experiences, but I know plenty of women who have had bad experiences. Our fight is not yet over, but we should be allowed to rejoice over the progress we have made in the last few years.
Women rise higher when they rise together.
Imagine all the people in your life that were there when you felt powerless to remind you of all the things you have to offer the world. That is who we should strive to be for one another in this life – a beacon of encouragement and hope to those who are without. We all deserve a chance to reach for our dreams – and we should never take lightly the amount of work it took to get us to the place where that could even be possible. But as we rise, let us not forget to pull up with us those who have been beaten down. As we rise, let us remember those who have helped us reach these heights. And as we rise, let it be our goal to make a difference in the world around us – so that those who follow after may have the hope of a better life.
Anger and fear will not help us rise.
Motivation toward selfish gain will not help us rise. We rise when we reach out to others and offer encouragement. This idea in itself is an encouragement to me. We do not have to walk alone – we rise together. Just as a choir is filled with individual voices to create one unified and beautiful sound, we should strive for the world to see women as a whole as powerful beings. Yes, there are some individuals who get solos. There are some women who may be temporarily in the spotlight. But none of us would ever have that chance if it were not for the women that came before us. Women have so much to give as individuals – yet we can give so much more when we come together and share our ideas and talents with the world. It’s been a long time coming, but changes are being made. Take some time in your day and thank someone who has helped you rise back up when you were down.
And let us never, ever forget why we rise.
Julia is a young, enthusiastic writer whose love for music is threatened by only one thing: her love for coffee. She is currently a choral music student and barista in Los Angeles, where she likes to spend her free time bullet journaling, hiking, and laughing at her two English Bulldogs – Emma and Charlie
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