Female Empowerment: Why we need more of it

In today’s world, the terms “Women Empowerment” and “Female Empowerment”. The media report on strong women/female role models who stand up for their rights, feminist initiatives are founded to provide girls with the best possible support on their professional and entrepreneurial paths, and violence against women is publicly discussed and criticized. Time to sit back and pack up the “gender club” again.

Not quite, because despite the successes achieved, Female Empowerment can do so much more. We can all help celebrate diversity, demand greater justice for all genders, stand firm against hate and gloating, and defend rights already won.

Contents of Female Empowerment

What is female empowerment anyway?

Female empowerment is not an ideology or a short-term trend. Female Empowerment (also called Women Empowerment) means above all the strengthening of self-determination and independence of women. But let’s take this concept a little further.

Today’s Female Empowerment is as much about issues such as closing the income/pension gap (‘gender pay gap’, ‘gender pension gap’) or supporting inequality of opportunity in the labor market as it is about tackling all kinds of overt and covert discrimination against women in everyday life. The aim here is to break with the prejudices and gender stereotypes (gender bias) anchored in the minds of many people. It is still a matter of filling corporate positions at all levels with suitable female representatives and also of shaping policies with feminist representation and feminist content.

In addition to the creation of legal and social framework conditions, however, another important aspect is at the forefront of female empowerment: the strengthening of self-confidence and the overcoming of boundaries/beliefs that many women have set for themselves out of fear of not conforming to social norms.

How widespread lived prejudices against women still are today often only becomes clear at second glance. Whether in education, at work or in private life: Women are often forced into “typically female” behavior patterns, and those who defy these role models must expect consequences as well as public disapproval. Breaking with clichés and encouraging women to go their own way and resist conforming to society is one of the major goals of “Female Empowerment”. To achieve it, both tireless public discussion and the setting of steady signals in the interpersonal sphere are necessary.

The History of Female Empowerment

Symbolic: International Women’s Day

One day that brings the need for Female Empowerment into focus every year is certainly International Women’s Day on March 8. Initiated as early as 1911 by Clara Zetkin with the primary goal of women’s suffrage to improve living and working conditions, this symbolic day has repeatedly become a plaything of ideologies and politics. At the beginning of the 20th century, women were not allowed to vote in almost any country in the world. Women’s suffrage was introduced in Germany eight years later, in 1919, and International Women’s Day became established. Barely 14 years later, this was banned by the National Socialists and subsequently fell into oblivion. It was not until the late 1960s that the resurgence of the women’s movement brought it back into focus, enriching social discourse with the issues:

  • Women’s rights are human rights
  • Strengthening women’s suffrage worldwide
  • Attention to the Gender Pay Gap/Gender Care Gap/Gender Pension Gap.
  • Dissolution of outdated role models
  • Gender equality and combating discrimination of all kinds
  • Combating abuse, sexual violence and hate crime

If we stop at individual stations in our (German) history, we see how important it is to stand up for cross-gender issues, as they are not only just but also reversible. Acquired rights are eroded step by step without attitude and defense, until little of their own value remains. That is why legislation is a decisive factor in the institutionalization of women’s rights.

A brief historical digression on female empowerment

Some progress has already been made in the area of female empowerment, but there is still much to be done. Here is a brief overview of important feminist milestones:

First feminist writings
First feminist writings by Marie Le Jars de Gournay, Christine de Pizan, Olympe de Gouges, and Mary Wollstonecraft.
The concept of feminism
Women's rights activists, such as Josephine Butler or Hubertine Auclert fight against discrimination against women's groups and establish the concept of feminism.
Suffragettes in England
The suffragettes fight for universal women's suffrage in England.
Internationaler Frauentag 1910-1911
The International Women's Day
Clara Zetkin enforces International Women's Day at the Socialist Women's Conference in Copenhagen.
Women's suffrage in Germany
As a great success of the first women's movement, the right to vote and to stand for election for all female citizens over the age of 21 was enshrined in the Weimar Constitution.
Short hair as a sign of freedom
Short hair provides freedom on women's heads in the 20s.
Marlene Dietrich
Marlene Dietrich makes pantsuits presentable.
Invention of the bikini
Louis Réard presents its new swimsuit called Bikini. This contributed to the liberation of the female body.
Equal Rights Act
The Equal Rights Act enters into force without any real improvements in everyday life. Exception: Women are allowed to drive without their husband's permission.
1962-Eigenes Bankkonto-Female Empowerment
The own bank account
Women are allowed to open their own bank account.
Feminist teaching
Feminist teaching and research is coming to universities.
Places for women
Women's centers, women's bookstores, and women's bars are opening.
House for beaten women
The first "House for battered women" opens in Berlin.
A new marriage law
The marriage law abolishes the "housewife marriage". Until then, the woman was "obliged to manage the household". She was allowed to work only with her husband's consent and if she did not "neglect her family obligations." Divorce law is also being reformed.
Equal Treatment Act
The Equal Treatment at Work Act is passed in the Bundestag.
Frauendemo-gegen-Vergewaltigung-Female Empowerment
Marital rape
Finally, marital rape is to be punished as a criminal offense.
First Chancellor of Germany
Angela Merkel becomes the first female German chancellor.
Feministische Aussenpolitik Schweden
Feminist Foreign Policy in Sweden
Sweden has a feminist government and is the first country in the world to have a feminist foreign policy.
Women's quota in DAX companies
A women's quota of 30 percent now applies in DAX companies. The targets are still missed time and again today.
Nein heisst Nein-Female Empowerment
No means no!
The Sexual Offences Act is being reformed: No means no! Even if women "just" say it.
MeeToo-Movement-Female Empowerment
#MeToo and the Time's Up movement are putting the issue of sexual violence back on the agenda.
The Women's March, a worldwide protest, comes one day after Donald Trump's swearing-in as U.S. president.
Equal payment
A new draft directive has been prepared by the EU. The EU Commission wants companies with more than 250 employees to publish how much men earn compared to their female colleagues. In addition, employers should be prohibited from asking applicants about their previous income.
Gender Gaps 2021
Corona and the equality
Corona crisis further delays equal rights for women.
Petition zum Abtreibungsrecht
Bundestag deletes paragraph 219a
Paragraph 219a is abolished by the Bundestag. This means that the ban on advertising abortions in Germany is now a thing of the past.
US Supreme Court overturns abortion law
For nearly 50 years, there was federal regulation of abortion rights in the United States. Now the Supreme Court has overturned it - and state laws once again apply.
Gleicher Lohn für Frauen
Equal pay for women in Germany
The Federal Labor Court ruled in a landmark decision that women are entitled to the same pay as their male colleagues. This is true even if men have negotiated higher salaries.
Feministische Außenpolitik und Entwicklungspolitik
Guidelines for feminist foreign policy presented
Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock presented her "Guidelines of Feminist Foreign Policy" last Wednesday. These are not only about women and their rights, but about every single human being.
Einigung auf Frauenschutzgesetz in der EU-Bild
Agreement on women's protection law in the EU
In future, digital stalking, forced marriages, female genital mutilation and the sending of intimate images without consent will be punishable throughout the EU.
17th century
Mid-end of the 19th century
Beginning of the 20th century

Why we need female empowerment more than ever before

Feminist issues can no longer be ignored in today’s world and are becoming increasingly all-encompassing. This leads to the conclusion that women have already achieved a lot and should be content with what they have achieved. At the same time, misogynistic assaults, discriminatory and sexualized language, encroaching laws (§218 penal code) as well as unchanging statistics show us that female empowerment and sympathizing with this issue are more necessary than ever. In this context, every little impulse counts. If we enable young women to participate in our educational institutions, if we include all genders in our use of language, if we strengthen the women’s quota at all levels of professional careers or if we give women the opportunity to stand up for themselves in a self-determined way for their profession, their family, their finances or their performance, female empowerment will lead to more diversity, respect and, above all, more equality (of all genders!).

Since recent research and statistics, we know that wars (see Afghanistan and Ukraine) and crises, such as the Corono pandemic, significantly slow down efforts for greater equality or reverse feminist gains.

Gender Gaps 2021

Facts and Data on Female Empowerment

A list of all statistics regarding female empowerment would certainly go beyond the scope of this article. This is why selected data and statistics are provided here to enable you to form your own picture of the state of gender equality. Of course, it must be kept in mind that this selection corresponds to my criteria of importance or meaningfulness and can be expanded at any time. If I have forgotten a report, a statistic or even misrepresented a context, I look forward to receiving a corresponding message.

Feminist foreign policy and feminist development policy

On 01.03.2023 the guidelines of the feminist foreign policy of the Foreign Office in Germany were published by Annalena Baerbock. In February 2023, a paper on feminist development policy was also published by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. These represent an extraordinary achievement for the protection of women, girls and marginalized groups.

These are the ten guidelines of feminist foreign policy in a nutshell:

  1. We integrate the perspectives of women and marginalized groups into our global work for peace and security (fighting sexual and gender-based violence in armed conflicts, humanitarian arms control, a secure world without nuclear weapons).
  2. Humanitarian assistance should be 100% at least gender-sensitive and, wherever indicated, gender-targeted.
  3. We actively address where the rights of women and marginalized people are not consistently implemented (sexual self-determination, overcoming female genital mutilation, combating violence against and discrimination against LGBTIQ*).
  4. We help offset the specific impacts of the climate crisis on women and marginalized groups.
  5. We build networks in international economic policy and promote the participation of women and members of marginalized groups in economic processes (international standards, making the use of artificial intelligence gender-responsive and non-discriminatory).
  6. We promote equal representation and participation of women and marginalized people in society (e.g. in arts and culture, research and science, education and media, protection for vulnerable people).
  7. We work for equality, diversity and inclusion in the Foreign Service (increasing the proportion of women in management positions, taking into account the needs of employees).
  8. We ensure equal opportunities and a discrimination-free working environment (part-time or parental leave must not have a negative impact on career progression, zero tolerance for sexual harassment and sexism).
  9. We promote diversity within our own ranks. We see diverse teams as an enrichment for our work (education and training of gender and diversity competence).
  10. We encourage exchange and networking. We further develop feminist foreign policy in dialogue with civil society, citizens and international partners.

Women's networks, associations and initiatives for more female empowerment

Together, so much more can be accomplished in the area of Female Empowerment. Therefore, various women’s networks, associations and initiatives are listed below, which work for (international) women’s rights, equality and diversity. This list is constantly being expanded, so if you are missing a network, an association, an initiative or your own company, you can contact me at any time.

UN Women Germany is committed to gender equality, women's rights, ending violence against women
HeForShe is a non-profit solidarity campaign of UN Women, a charitable affiliate of the United Nations that promotes women's rights and gender equality worldwide.
The foundation supports education and training measures - e.g. by organizing or financially supporting and participating in congresses, symposia, training courses - but also events of other kinds that serve research and education in the field of women's and gender studies.
The Centre for Feminist Foreign Policy is a non-profit research and advisory organization on "feminist foreign policy."
The aim of the Dialogue Forums against Sexism is to recognize sexism and sexual harassment, to look at them and to show how they can be effectively countered.
FidAR calls for measures to significantly increase the proportion of women on the supervisory boards of German corporations and institutions and to increase the proportion of women in top management.
The #DMW works for more visibility of women on all stages - whether conferences, trade media or management board. Women want and should participate equally and have a visible influence: openly, respected and leading the way.
Global Digital Women's mission is to make the world more diverse, accelerate gender equality, increase the proportion of women in leadership and digital professions, and advocate for equitable participation for all in business and society.
The VdU advocates for more female entrepreneurship, more women in leadership positions and better conditions for women in business.
webgrrls.de is a network for women working in, for and with digital media, founded in Munich in 1997. The network serves as a platform for knowledge transfer, exchange of experience and cooperation for the professional development of women.
PANDA | The Women Leadership Network provides women leaders with a curated, cross-industry network and a dedicated platform for exchange, mutual support, and professional and personal development.
New Work Moms is a network for moms in the new world of work. We believe that mothers can live and work self-determined. We are self-employed, employed, or a hybrid mix of different New Work models.

Women's Empowerment Principles (WEPS)

Women's Empowerment PrinciplesThe Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) are one way of integrating the topic of female empowerment more strongly into everyday corporate life and actively strengthening women in companies. The principles provide guidance to companies on how to promote gender equality in the workplace and in society. A joint initiative of UN Women and the UN Global Compact, the WEPs are guided by international labor and human rights standards. As a medium for social change, companies in particular share responsibility for gender equality and women’s empowerment.

WEPs are an important tool for companies’ implementation of the gender equality dimensions of the 2030 Agenda and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. By joining the WEP community, the company is signaling its commitment to this agenda to promote business practices that empower women. These include equal pay for work of equal value, gender-sensitive policies to promote women, and zero tolerance for sexual harassment in the workplace. The free signature is possible through the following page: https://www.weps.org/join.

My Female Empowerment Approach

Thank You-Kinga Bartczak-Female Empowerment CoachMy Female Empowerment approach is holistic and appreciative. I would like to support companies in developing the potential of their female specialists and managers. I use various methods from coaching, training, mediation, organizational development and consulting. A cooperation with me is clearly designed according to the principle: “help for self-help”. The participants in my workshops and my coachees are empowered to recognize and change their own potential and to formulate independent action plans.

Systemic view

In doing so, it is the systemic view that makes every situation and action transparent in multiple cause-effect relationships and often makes the development of a sustainable solution possible in the first place. This ensures, for example, that the right solution is generated for the associated challenge and that a new problem is not created. Systemic also means that in my approach to female empowerment not only the individual is considered, but also the environment and the people involved.

Feelings and emotions

Strong drivers of our actions are our values as well as emotions. Ignoring them often leads to some dissonance with our needs. In order for Female Empowerment Coaching to have its full effect, feelings are to be accepted as part of our own self and articulated if possible. In this way, my clients remain self-determined and in control of their own emotions.
If you would also like support for yourself or for your female specialists and managers as part of female empowerment coaching, you are welcome to take advantage of our free initial consultation.

Female Mentoring and Sponsoring

Two particular types of female empowerment and mutual support for women, are Female Mentoring and Female Sponsoring.

As a mentor myself, I know how valuable mentoring can be as a tool for personal development. The cooperation extends over several weeks/months, starts at the informal level and often promotes the development of one’s own career network.

In Female Sponsoring, the support goes beyond the advisory purpose and the sponsor facilitates direct contacts as well as the associated advancement of women.

8 Tips for Mutual Female Empowerment

Each of us can empower other women, but also ourselves. To get you off to a good start, I have listed 8 tips for mutual female empowerment below:

1. take care of yourself as if you were your own best friend

In order to be able to support others on their way, we ourselves should be satisfied with ourselves and our behavior. Often we are hard on our own ego, suffer from impostor syndrome, or don’t trust ourselves to make self-determined decisions. However, we should constantly take care of ourselves (keyword: self-care), because in case of doubt, no one else will.

2. check your prejudices

Just because we are women ourselves does not mean that we are unbiased towards other women (keyword: unconscious bias). A study by the opinion research institute YouGov showed that almost one in five women (18 percent) prefer to work for a male boss, only 8 percent preferred a woman at the top of the company, and for 35 percent of Germans it is problematic if a woman earns more money than her husband. Such thoughts are deeply embedded and it is the responsibility of each and every individual to challenge them.

3. support all women – even “the strong ones”.

We women have a hard time being seen and heard in our male-dominated society. Our successes are hard-fought. A woman who vehemently challenges outdated role models, builds her own business or stands up for the rights of others often does not appear to be in great need of help. However, how someone looks on the outside is not a sufficient indicator of how they are feeling on the inside. In Germany, twice as many women suffer from depression as men. Therefore, give an open ear to (even supposedly strong-looking) women in your environment and regularly inquire about their mental and emotional health.

4. make visible the commitment of women to the community

Thank women who do great things in your everyday life – preferably in a way that everyone can see. Women often take on the indispensable care work. Small courtesies and helpful details that maintain a smooth workflow are often overlooked or even taken for granted. A thank you note to team members or colleagues makes the value of this work visible to the whole team. And being seen is very empowering.

5. equal opportunities: recommend a woman!

If you hold a position of power and have the opportunity to make a recommendation for a speaker at an event or decide on staffing replacements, consider whether you know a suitable woman. If you are the one holding the microphone, be brave enough to pass it to another woman. Because speaking time is power.

6. talk more about female sexuality and diversity

Period, masturbation, vulva – these topics are often not talked about and they are not infrequently associated with shame. The dissatisfaction with one’s own body is unfortunately reinforced by social networks(see Facebook Papers). The following quote from Michelle Obama is especially fitting for this: “I think the worst thing we do to each other as women is not share the truth about our bodies and how they work.”

Have courage and empower even young girls to be happy and satisfied with their bodies and their thinking and to talk openly about it especially when doubts, fears or questions arise.

7. help break gender norms

What women learn about “womanhood” and their role in society begins when women are still little girls. If we tell our daughters what subjects and professions are suitable for them and we model classic role models for them, how would they know any better later? Let’s encourage children, especially girls, to dream big and be brave, because as adults we know better than anyone else: Boundaries are only created in our heads. So why let them come into being at all?

8. female empowerment means: “Rise by lifting others”.

One of the biggest obstacles women face is constant competition with other women. Not only do we have to fight hard for our place, but we also have to justify and defend it to other women. Successful women are often viewed with a lot of envy and resentment.

In doing so, a woman in a position of power can pave the way for other women. Rather than fighting it, we should be backing it. Behind every strong woman should be a solidarity support network of other strong women.

Films, Books and Podcasts on Female Empowerment

Feel free to listen in to the podcast episode: “All About Female Empowerment” to learn more about the importance of female empowerment and why we need more of it:

Feminist thoughts and ideas are by no means dusty theories. Instead, they can be inspiring, empowering, and entertaining to boot. The Female Empowerment Library therefore lists numerous films, books and podcasts that empower. If an important title is missing here, please feel free to contact me!

Let's celebrate our diversity and our differences more!

Female empowerment is a topic that concerns each and every one of us. Our diversity makes us special, diverse, inspiring and brings innovative excitement to every field in which we operate. It is important that we talk about it in our environment to create a broad awareness. Even small steps lead to the goal: an equal society.

My other topics for you

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