10 Ways To Empower Women and Girls

A mother and daughter use a lantern while working on homework

Former USAID Administrator Mark Green said: “When women do better, countries do better, communities do better, and families do better.” 

Every day, activists and nonprofit organizations work to eliminate wage gaps, minimize violence, and support women in marginalized communities around the world. 

We can celebrate the leaps in progress made in voting rights, governance, financial autonomy, and education access while continuing to fight for true gender equality. 

Here is a comprehensive list of actions that everyone — regardless of gender — can take part in to empower the women and girls in their lives.

How to support women and girls

Practice inclusivity at work.

It is important to strive for inclusivity in the office — and that goes beyond equitable hiring practices. It’s also about the culture that you create in your workplace. 

Men tend to gravitate toward other men when it comes to workplace connections, which can make for a boy’s club mentality. 

Mentorships — and even office friendships that extend outside the office — can open doors and set people up for promotions. If you are a man in a position of seniority at your office, practice inclusivity toward all coworkers and offer support to younger female peers. 

If you are a woman in power, be cognizant of young women entering the workplace and offer them a seat at the table. Empowered women empower women. 

Close the wage gap. 

Similarly, modern workplaces still have a long way to go when it comes to equal pay. 

In 2023, American women still earn 15.5% less than men. But the wage gap is only a part of a larger social problem of patriarchal gender stereotypes still at play in daily life. 

Unfortunately, a double standard exists in a majority of workplaces where positive qualities in men — like aggressive leadership and outspoken values — are perceived as problematic behavior in women.

You can help dispel harmful hypocrisies like this by giving credit and support to the female coworkers in your workplace and encouraging them to apply for promotions and work programs. 

You can also unilaterally support everyone in your workplace by practicing wage transparency and reporting unethical behavior to human resources. 

Support new moms. 

A new mother goes through countless physical, hormonal, and psychological changes before and after giving birth, which can place them in a vulnerable position. According to the National Library of Medicine, one in seven women are at risk of developing postpartum depression. 

If there is a new mother in your life, you can offer support in a variety of ways: dropping off prepared meals, offering to babysit, helping clean around the house, and even simply picking up the phone and checking in on them. 

Having an open line of communication with a new parent can be just as important on the first day of their baby’s birth as it is 3, 6, and 12 months in. 

Protect women’s reproductive rights.

When Roe v. Wade was overturned in 2022, a ripple effect tore through the U.S. that shut down health clinics, limited access to women’s health care, and placed many pregnant women in dangerous situations. 

In June of 2023, a nationwide Gallup poll revealed that 85% of Americans believe that abortion should be legal in all or some circumstances. And yet, 12 states have placed near-total bans on abortion with very limited exceptions. 

There are many ways that you can advocate for abortion rights and reproductive freedom. You can research restrictions in your state, support abortion funds on a local level and national level, or even become an abortion clinic escort. 

Help women in crisis.

Unfortunately, 1 in 3 women will experience sexual or physical assault in their lifetimes at the hands of their domestic partner. 

If someone you know is being abused, it is important to listen to them without judgment. There are many reasons that victims can become trapped by their abuser: emotional manipulation, lack of finances, or threat to their safety or the safety of their pets or children. 

You can encourage them to build a wide support system outside of their abuser, validate the harm that has been inflicted on them, and provide them with resources, such as local women’s shelters. 

You can also research code words and hand signals that relate to women’s safety. In 2020, an international hand gesture was created that could be covertly used by victims of violence to signal that they were in danger. 

Most importantly, you can support nonprofit organizations like The National Domestic Violence Hotline, Futures Without Violence, and Safe Horizon — which provide support and resources to women fleeing domestic violence or recovering from assault.

Support education for girls around the world.

Access to education can literally be lifesaving. 

The Education For All Global Monitoring Report estimated that if all women had a secondary education, child deaths would be cut in half, saving 3 million lives. 

Literacy and education are tantamount to ending child marriages and young pregnancies, bridging healthcare gaps, and empowering women to lead businesses in their communities. 

To help, you can donate to nonprofit organizations like the CAMFED, a Pan-African organization that has funded the education of 1.6 million girls in secondary schools and seeks to educate 5 million by the end of the decade

Support women-owned businesses.

Although 42% of U.S. businesses are owned by women, there is still a significant disparity in the amount of revenue generated by female- and male-operated businesses. 

To help close the gap, you can research women-owned businesses in your community by looking through your local business directory or asking friends and family for recommendations. 

We’ve also curated a list of women-owned businesses you can support online. The list specifically includes companies that are ethical, sustainable, and give back.

Be respectful of women in public spaces. 

Crowded spaces like bars, clubs, and subways can be nightmarish for a lot of women. Poorly lit establishments and throngs of people can leave them susceptible to inappropriate touches, grabs, and uncomfortable exchanges. 

Although a long trail of Hollywood movies has perpetuated the idea that women like to play “hard to get,” the modern reality is that the ideal night out involves enthusiastic consent from both parties. 

When spending time with women in public, keep an eye out for predatory behavior and make sure that everyone in your friend group can get home safely. You can even take a bystander intervention training to learn how to intervene and de-escalate potentially dangerous situations in public.  

Normalize women’s health. 

For far too long women’s health has been the butt of the joke in TV sitcoms, boardroom meetings, locker rooms, and dinner table discussions. Although the average person with a uterus will have 450 periods in their lifetime, menstrual cycles are still treated with disgust and ignorance. 

The easiest way to normalize and support women’s health is to have menstrual products available in your workplace or home within easy reach of a bathroom cupboard. Even if you’re a woman with a diva cup or a man living by yourself, consider the possibility that a friend, family member, or neighbor might need a tampon or pad unexpectedly. 

If you hear distasteful jokes about periods, menopause, or pregnancy, speak up and shut it down. Be kind and supportive when women are vulnerable about their physical health and chronic pain. 

Donate to women and teen girls experiencing homelessness. 

Although the majority of people experiencing homelessness in the U.S. are male, there has been a 35% increase in women experiencing homelessness since 2016. 

Women and girls experiencing homelessness grapple with unique challenges compared to men. They face limited access to necessary menstruation products like tampons and pads — which are taxed as luxury goods in a majority of states across the U.S.

Alarmingly, unhoused women and young girls are also extremely vulnerable to sexual assault, forced prostitution, and human trafficking

We’ve created a few resources on how to help people experiencing homelessness in general — including this guide on how to help folks who are homeless, this guide on how to create a homeless care package, and how to participate in seasonal events like Socktober.

In addition to these general guides, you can specifically support women and girls experiencing homelessness by donating to the Hope House Foundation, an organization that specifically provides housing and support for women in crisis and their children.

Header photo by Tara Etienne Levros, courtesy of USAID

Article Details

November 4, 2023 7:11 AM
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