19 September 2021. On this very day in 1893 New Zealand became the first country in the world to give women the vote. Many other democracies did not follow suit until after the First World War; illustrating New Zealand and particularly the determination of Kate Sheppard for empowering women and equality across both genders.
In the 21st century, the concept of women not being able to vote or have any sort of say in their lives seems completely foreign. The suffrage movement gave women the opportunity to choose how they wanted to dictate their lives, something that had previously been left to the male of the household. Prior to women receiving the vote, the percentage of female Members of Parliament was sitting at 9%. After the recent 2017 election, this percentage had increased to 38%. It’s the small wins like this that would make Kate Sheppard proud.
With the recent September commemoration in mind, it seems fitting to look at ways that we as women can encourage, celebrate and empower those around us. Take a look below and see if you can incorporate these into your everyday life:
1. Be kind
Playground bullies are out and kindness is in. In 2021, being kind is cool. Saying ‘hi’ as you walk past someone on the street, or paying for someone’s coffee order, are small gestures that will go a long way.
2. Celebrate your friends successes
Don’t be someone that resents her friends for doing well. Celebrate the small wins, the medium wins and definitely celebrate the big wins! The gesture itself doesn’t have to be grand, a simple text or phone call will go a long way.
3. Knowledge is power (share it!)
If you were going for a job interview and knew someone who had done something similar, you’d hope that they would share as much as they could to help you through. The same applies for your friends. If you know something that may help them in a current or future endeavour, share it. Helping someone else isn’t going to derail your own success.
4. Compliments go a long way
A small compliment will make anyone’s day. Whether it be a passing comment about someone’s hair looking nice, or something to do with their intellect, compliments don’t cost a thing to dish out. If you want those around you to feel better, give your friends a compliment the next time you hang out. We can promise you’ll feel amazing for it.
5. Let others speak
There is nothing worse than people cutting you off mid-sentence and you realising that nobody is listening to your story anymore. If you have a tendency to speak out a lot in group settings, try taking the back seat for a few conversations and letting others voice their opinions. They may not show it, but they’ll feel immensely appreciated that they were heard.
6. Don’t fight over pennies
As you get older, you realise how important genuine friendship is. Friends are pretty much the family you get to choose. Don’t ruin a friendship over something petty. If that person makes your life better by being in it, then you should do everything you can to keep them.
7. Accept and embrace individuality
It’s common knowledge that not every woman is the same. While this seems obvious, there’s enough out there on the big wide web that still attempts to place women into gender relevant boxes. Don’t expect every woman to adhere to the stereotypical idea of femininity, but at the same time don’t hold back those that do.
8. Say thank you
This one doesn’t even need an explanation. Next time someone does something for you, no matter how small, just say thank you.