“Empowered women empower women,” as the saying goes. This has always inspired me, and I’ve always yearned to be this kind of woman. Yesterday, my new roommate pulled me aside and thanked me for being an outspoken feminist. She told me my strong beliefs and loud words showed her that she too could stand up for women’s rights, loudly.
At first, I was a little taken aback. I don’t think of myself as any sort of feminist hero. I make mistakes and I’m often times a little too aggressive about my options. Especially in the wake of this election, I’m very aware of how I come across when I’m expressing my opinions. But the more I think about it, I realized that the point my roommate was making wasn’t that I’m an ideal warrior for women’s rights. It was that I simply proved to her that it’s okay to fight back against systems of oppression.
We all have our #GirlBoss heroes, but so much of the feminist agenda can’t focus just on them. It’s amazing to be able to look up to women like Michelle Obama, Susan B. Anthony, and Gloria Steinem. But what’s just as important is seeing the women around us stick up for themselves and the women around them on a daily basis. Progress for women doesn’t come from Beyoncé and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie stating it onstage. Progress comes from all of us, as we battle our way to equality every single day.
We’ve seen it with Bernie Sanders and Barack Obama. We’ve seen it with MLK and with Elizabeth Stanton. Grassroots movements work. When the bureaucratic system feels like it’s against you, you have to turn to other measures. Women all over the world have been participating in the fight on the daily, from the protests in Iceland and Poland, to the “Vaginas Against Trump” and “Nasty Women” groups that rose out of the the American election.
From our mothers, sisters and friends surround us with inspiration for female empowerment every single day, yet they often remain the unsung heroes of the feminist movement. Don’t let them be. Each women should be acknowledged for her work and her contribution to the advancement of equality. Each of us face sexism, both blatant and institutionalized, every single day. And each time, we walk away stronger. We are a collective of individuals, through small actions, creating big change.
Take the time to thank the women in your life today, you mom, your sister, your co-workers and you friends. They battle by your side, empowering you, while you do that same for them. Take the time to thank yourself as well. You are strong, and you are worthy. You have more influence in this world than you realize; you have the power to change lives, and you have the power to inspire those around you.
In Hillary Rodham Clinton’s concession speech, she address young women and girls across the country. Her words speak best:
“NEVER DOUBT THAT YOU ARE VALUABLE AND POWERFUL AND DESERVING OF EVERY CHANCE AND OPPORTUNITY IN THE WORLD TO PURSUE AND ACHIEVE YOUR OWN DREAMS.”
You are worthy, every woman is worthy. Keep fighting, and never give up hope.