What Empowerment Means To These Women

Two women standing back to back holding hands and smiling, one is in a white button up shirt and the...

Today certainly merits you some form of celebration after all, it’s International Women’s Day, and if one thing’s for sure, it’s that you’re capable of just about anything. So do your part: Volunteer for an organization centered on women’s issues, donate to a cause that supports gender equality or simply call your mom, your sister or even a former professor to thank them for inspiring you and your work. And for a little bit of motivation, we spoke with some leading ladies in their industries who share just what it is that empowers them on this landmark day. Read on and spread their words.

Courtesy of Amaya Jones

Amaya Jones, Jewelry Designer

"My father always raised me like I was a boy. He never spoiled me or treated me any different from my brother. Once, he received a huge shipment of firewood, and he gave us both the chore of moving it into the house. At the time, I was upset to be lifting back and forth for hours, but my father instilled a positive value system in me. He allowed me to be what 'I am,' not what I'm 'supposed to be.' I personally don't distinguish tasks as 'male' or 'female.' I think women are brave and capable of being nurturers intrinsically as well as successful in their careers."

Shop Amaya Jones here.

Courtesy of EveryStylishGirl

Nana Agyemang and PingHwa Okorie, EveryStylishGirl

"Women of color for so long have been ridiculed, belittled and stripped from the beautiful culture that has made us such amazing women. We have had times when we straighten our hair to fit in, lightened our skin and hid our curvy figures because it wasn't what society deemed as beautiful. But that's going to end. We know there is a young girl following us who has big dreams and aspirations but might not have the finances, the mentorship or the education to feel empowered to chase those aspirations; however, we are here to tell her that she can. She can do it all. We tell the stories of women who look like her and were in the same place as her to be that light of inspiration."

Follow EveryStylishGirl here.

Courtesy of Bricia Lopez

Bricia Lopez, Super Mamás

"What we want our listeners to understand is that they can be great moms and follow their dreams at the same time. They don't have to choose between one and the other. It's okay for them to do what they want in spite of their families and friends saying they should be home taking care of their kids or focusing on making their husbands happy. It's about them finding support within our circle by knowing that there are women out there who are doing it all."

Listen to the Super Mamás weekly podcast here.

Courtesy of Karen Lundgard

Karen Lundgard, Girl Scouts of Greater New York

"The key to change is empowerment—and the key to empowerment is opportunity. In girl scouting, we provide our girls with the opportunity to be heard, to see beyond their circumstances, to take healthy risks and most importantly to lead. Empowered women are not only advocates for themselves, but also for other women, their communities and their world."

Read more about the Girl Scouts of Greater New York here.

Courtesy of Ilse Valfre

Ilse Valfre, Valfré

"I grew up admiring artists like Miss Van, Frida Kahlo and Lisa Frank. They showed me that you can make a career out of doing what you love and not be afraid to expose my femininity. My art has always celebrated womanhood, and therefore I think it naturally lends itself to the current political climate. The main objective with my art is to make women smile by being a positive distraction from the current state of affairs."

Shop Valfré here.

Courtesy of Cuyana

Karla Gallardo and Shilpa Shah, Cuyana

Karla: "My father raised me first and foremost to be a strong woman: to never depend on my partner, to study hard (education is something nobody can take away from you) and finally to create something meaningful. I was taught to never think of myself as different for being a woman in the workplace and to think of it as an advantage instead. I have always been part of male-dominated classrooms and boardrooms with a background in math and finance, and never allowed myself to think or feel like I was less."

Shilpa: "Female empowerment is a huge part of our DNA. We believe in the beauty of women empowering women through their shared stories of motivation and inspiration. We created the Essential Women campaign as an outlet to celebrate just that. We have set out to feature women who are visionaries and innovators and who are working to create something meaningful that will push us all to evolve."

Shop Cuyana here.

Originally published March 2017