For years, women have been portrayed as shameful and helpless victims in need of saving.
Through this article, I want to transform that view to one that highlights what womanhood truly represents, so we can be real role models to the younger generations.
As women, we cannot wait safely to be saved, if we want to raise a generation of fierce leaders. We need to see ourselves in a new light and live instead of merely surviving.
If we want our girls to believe failure is just a bump in the road, we have to dare to fail, mourn that failure and then get up and try again.
If we want our girls to better themselves everyday even when it’s uncomfortable, we have to navigate the discomfort by facing conflicts, trying new things, studying and working hard.
We need to share our stories for what they truly are so that girls know even when it is uncomfortable and scary, they are capable of doing it. They are capable of being who they want to be by having a good support system and by believing in themselves.
They do not need saving, they need to know they can save themselves.
Women are also not shameful sinful beings.
She describes it as a feeling that makes us feel unworthy of love and belonging. Shame is saying, “I am a terrible mother, I am a bad daughter, I am a failure, you are fat, you should not talk about getting your period”. This behavior is not healthy. Therefore, instead of saying, “I acted wrong with my kid today”, I should say, “I need to do better tomorrow”; instead of “I failed at this exam”, I can focus on saying, “I should study better”; replace “I talked rudely to my mom”, with “I should apologize”; practice saying, “getting your period is a natural experience for women, let me tell you more about it”.
I am sure many of you can count hundreds of examples where you have shamed yourself or others instead of calling out bad behavior and discussing difficult subjects.
Can you imagine girls growing up experiencing that and being afraid to discuss the transformation their bodies and minds are going through?
It creates fear around taboo subjects and judgment towards people that don’t resemble us.
It pushes us to hide in our cocoon feeling unworthy of love and belonging.
As women, we owe it to young girls to break that cycle, to find the courage to be curious instead of afraid, to ask the difficult questions and to be empathetic towards others instead of judgmental.
We owe it to them to demystify body image, mental health and menstruation, to talk about inter-sectional feminism and women in leadership roles.
We should make sure that girls fight shame, judgment and taboo instead of living by it.
So to answer the question, “how can we be the best role model to girls around the world?”
Be your most authentic self as a resilient leader and as an empathetic curious woman.