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Around International Women’s Day, you'll see a lot of posts about “strong” women, and while they definitely deserve all that love and praise, be mindful of who you’re unconsciously excluding from these conversations. 

When we think of empowering women, we think of educated, working class women that are breaking barriers in their professional fields. Empowerment has become synonymous with professional success. While it’s important for women to continue taking up space in male-dominated industries, don’t neglect women that don’t fit this generation’s perception of an “empowering” woman. 

Women that are homemakers are empowering. Women that work for minimum wage in factories are empowering. Women that pursue their dreams at 50 are empowering. Women that didn’t receive a formal education are empowering. Women are empowering.

Some women look down upon the women that choose to stay at home and take care of their kids. They think that these women aren’t strong enough to balance a career and a family, but they’re wrong. The idea of strength is different for everyone. Let go of your “saviour mentality” when you see women at home — she wanted that; she chose that. A woman’s place is wherever she wants it to be; the choice to do so is empowerment. That choice is strength. But also, not everyone has that choice; so many women are stuck in situations where they cannot make that choice. It is not anyone’s place to demean someone and tell them to “just do it,” because it’s not as simple as that. 

Overall, you don't have to play a sport, work in a male-dominated field, or break free of a traumatic past to be considered empowering. You are empowering. You don't have to empower thousands of people; just empower yourself and those around you. 

So while you uplift certain women, be cautious of who you might be putting down as well. Redefine your idea of empowering women. 

 

Thamilini Balakumar is a Global Business and Digital Arts student at the University of Waterloo. She has a passion for creative writing and storytelling. In addition to writing, she tells stories through her photography and videography.
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