There is no specific definition for women empowerment. Since the late 1840’s women have been fighting for equality. From economic empowerment to political empowerment, women have been battling gender-related barriers to break down the social norms of women like sexual harassment, career progression and unequal pay, where women are paid less than men are for performing the same job.
No matter how you put it, women empowerment is the act or support of empowering or elevating women and girls. Coming together is the key to economic and political growth for women. When women speak of or represent women empowerment, that means women uplift other women, they support togetherness, they pave the way for other women to succeed and they support women, altogether.
You can preach about women empowerment, but your actions can show otherwise. Women empowerment is real, but some people that speak on women empowerment are not real.
Women Empowerment is Empowering Women
It is imperative for women to support each other. We’re all fighting the same fight. Sometimes we may have good intentions, but certain situations force us to compare ourselves to other women. We may compare our looks, talents, relationships or careers, and that often creates unnecessary feelings of jealousy, which also causes feelings of competitiveness.
“We should be developing things together, we should be cheerleading each other, putting the power we have behind each other and doubling up on it,” Kate Hudson said during her interview with Glamour. Though Kate Hudson was speaking on the cattiness of women in Hollywood, her words apply to all women. She said, “You have a choice to either compete with the woman sitting next to you, or to support her and do something together and root for each other.” With so much going on, why would you not choose to help the woman out that is fighting the same battles you are battling?
I said all that above to say that women using whatever platform they may possess to uplift women is women empowerment.
An example of a woman empowering other women is Issa Rae. During her interview with The Maneater, Issa Rae has spoken about the importance of working with people across the board, as in working with your friends and people who are trying to come up and progress like you. She also believes in rooting for everybody Black.
The actress and writer also spoke about working with women during a panel. She said, “[Insecure] is show centered around two Black female friends. Black women are essential to my life, and any time I have a chance to work with them, support them, I’m there.” Not only did she speak on this, but her actions are aligned with this statement.
Other powerful examples of women supporting women are Malala Yousafzai (a writer and activist who actively fights for women and our rights), Oprah Winfrey, Beyoncé Knowles and Iyanla Vanzant, who said, “The way to achieve your own success is to be willing to help somebody else get it first.”
You Cannot Preach About Supporting Women and then Bring Them Down
Using women empowerment for a way to get people to support you, and then acting the opposite of what it means to empower women is fake. If Issa Rae did not encourage other women after she explained how working with other women is essential to her, that would be fake. You cannot talk about uplifting women and not show it in your doings.
Nicki Minaj has been in the music industry for over a decade, and yes, she has given us body positive anthems like "Anaconda." She has also worked with Foxy Brown and given props to Azealia Banks and Cardi B. She has also spoken on women empowerment, stating to Vogue, "I think of myself as a woman who wants other women to be bosses and to be strong and to be go-getters."
Though Nicki Minaj has embraced her sexuality, made her way through a male-dominated industry and spoke her mind in support of women, her actions do not align with her words in favor of women. During her CRWN interview with Elliot Wilson, she said, “Every two years I get told about some new female rapper. To me, it’s silly to compare me to women because there’s no woman that can put up the stats that I’ve generated.”
Another example of her actions not aligning with words are the testimonials from other artists, like Remy Ma and Lil Kim who both explained that Nicki Minaj has not been the best competitor in the music industry.
Saying things to other women like, “Just say you're jealous. I’m rich, famous, intelligent, pretty and go! But wait, leave my balls. Tired of you sucking on them,” as Nicki Minaj said in the DMs of a writer, after an honest critique of her music, is out of pocket for lack of better words.
Women empowerment is supporting other women. Degrading another woman and kicking them while they are down, while you preach about women coming together, is fake empowerment.