Empowerment seems to be a buzz word these days, one which focuses on our own Western female empowerment, rather than the empowerment of all females.

Though it is inspiring that the rumble of feminism has reached a roar once more, many of us fighting the good fight don’t truly understand what empowerment really means. The definition of a word isn’t as simple as the sentence the dictionary denotes, many words encompass far more than they're known for. 

When it comes to feminism, the plight of the straight, white, cis gender, educated, able bodied, middle class Western woman, is not the same as the plight of the impoverished, LGBTQ+ woman of colour. Sure, we may all be fighting the same overall fight in the singular sense of the word, but the latter is dealing with layers upon interlinked layers of inequality stretched out across history which has been drenched in the side-effects prolonged oppression has on culture, interpersonal relationships, self-worth, identity, self-image, language, and religion ...  

Those of us who are not deeply imprinted by the thumb of oppression are women of privilege, and recognizing that privilege will help us to obstruct oppression by showing our support to the plight of others and removing our support from the systems and companies which enable oppression around the world. 

True equality considers and encourages balance between genders, races, religions, countries and this planet, so I've devised an (admittadly incomplete) guide to help us all inch towards a new state of consideration, and perhaps, a new state of wisdom and awareness. 

Our planet is swiftly becoming polluted on so many levels that we’ve set into motion a sort of post-apocalyptic state in which 30% of animals will be at risk of extinction, oceans will acidify, wildfires will get bigger, droughts more severe, and entire countries could disappear due to sea level rise

In a UN climate change report from 2014, it warned that warming beyond 4°C would likely result in “substantial species extinction, large risks to global and regional food security, [water shortage], and impacts on normal human activities”. 

At the rate we’re currently going, during this century, that number will rise to surpass the 2°C warming that scientists have set, bringing us to the danger zone of 3°C (+). 

Though feminism and climate change may not so obviously find themselves hand-in-hand, women are disproportionately affected by the repercussions of environmental changes. When ocean levels rise or when harvests fail, a study by Georgetown University found it is women who are most effected. Similarly, when natural disasters hit, according to a study by the London School of Economics, women are more likely to be killed than men. 

It is our responsibility, as members of the species which caused global warming, and members of the society which has contributed most to it; to partake, pay attention, and unite with an empathetic sense of equality and utmost urgency. At the end of the day, if we don't deal with the issues impacting our planet, equality won’t matter, as we’ll all be, as Prince EA so poignantly puts it, “equally extinct”. 

how to help? On March 24th, people around the globe will be taking pledges for #EarthHour , this is a great way to start learning and be inspired on changes you can make in your life by seeing your peers and fellow humans commit to change.

In the fashion industry, it is women who suffer the most, with females making up over 80% of garment workers . 

Every single store you find in the mall, on the high street, or online, unless explicitly stating otherwise, it was more than likely made in a sweatshop. Doesn’t matter if the tag says Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, India, or even the UK, unfair working conditions are as much a part of the fashion industry as the shops themselves. 

From the farmers in fields inhaling chemicals and tainting their own water supply to grow the fibers we'll eventually wear (thousands of whom kill themselves each year); to the women in factories working inhumane hours in unsafe working conditions for slave wages (it’s reported that 40,000 fingers are lost in China’s Pearl River Delta factories); to the society the clothing is destined for. Fashion does more harm than good. 

Just for some perspective, in a report by O’Rourke Group Partners, they broke down the ‘true cost’ of a $14.00 polo shirt. The cost to the retailer is about $5.67 and of that cost, all the labor that went into polo shirt’s creation equates to about $0.12 cents per shirt. 12 cents for all that human activity, from farming and weaving to cutting and sewing. 

The simple truth is, each and every purchase you make either empowers or exploits. By supporting companies which pay fair wages and produce their shoes, clothing, accessories, jewellery, ect .. sustainably, you make a stand for how the industry should be, rather than supporting the harmful structure it currently resides under. 

how to help? Quit fast fashion. Start buying clothing produced ethically and sustainably. You can check out my SHOPPING GUIDE for insperation, or use Done Good’s beta shop for an amazon search engine-esque experience to help get aquanted to brands. I also reccomend finding some bloggers you identify with, there are tons of inspiring women via Ethical Writers Coalition who are bound to help guide you away from the fast fashion's fist. 

We don’t often consider the intersectionality which exists within our food culture. It becomes uncomfortably hypocritical to eat a 'cruelty-free' diet when the worker who grew your plant-based foods did so working in slave-like conditions. Aggregate data shows that women comprise about 43% of the agricultural labour force globally and in developing countries. In sub-Saharan Africahowever;, that number flies up to 70%. By purchasing food products which were produced under fairtrade conditions, you’re ensuring that your diet is free(er) of oppression. 

how to help? Know where you food comes from. Though fairtrade programs are imperfect, they do signal intention and action. By locally produced food whenever you can, directly from the farmers at farmer’s markets and ask them if they pay their employees a fair wage. If you’re buying food from abroad, look for the fairtrade symbol. 

Kick cattiness to the curb. Fight that little green monster of judgement and jealousy within you and celebrate the achievements of other women (and men for that matter). To be a true feminist you must support and empower other women, and though training ones self out of the reactive habit is a process, it will make you a better person in all situations if you can learn to replace judgement and jealousy with love and support instead. 

how to help? If you find yourself judging or jealous of others, ask yourself why. You’ll soon know your deepest and silliest insecurities, the faster you face them, the faster you squash them, the happier you’ll be.

Liberation is about choice. Whether you want to cover up or show some skin, feminism isn’t a ‘look’, this is especially important when it comes to other cultures or religions, just because a woman is covered up, doesn’t mean she’s oppressed. Similarly, if a woman is baring it all, it doesn’t mean she’s a ‘slut’. Feminism is about having the freedom to make choice and expresses yourself as an individual.

how to help? Unless someone is specifically asking you as an individual what you think of their clothing, push those judgements out and save your brain power for something more useful and inspiring. 

Most people reading this blog, whether it be through class, religion, sexuality, gender, or race sits in some sort of place of privilege. It is important to use that privilege wisely. So rather than speaking FOR those who are oppressed, SUPPORT those who are oppressed by speaking WITH them.

how to help? Ask those personally experincing opression how you can help. I have no idea what it feels like to be a Muslim American, but as a Muslim American, Hoda Katebi does. Read her blog. I have never experienced what it is like to be an Indigenous Woman, but these 15 Indigenous Female Writers have, read their work. I don't know what the experience of a Black woman is, but these 13 Books By Black Feminist Females might help me to understand. We have to listen to the stories and struggles of people who live a different reality than we do to begin to understand their reality, and offer our help, rather than pretend we have the answer to their problem ... 

Empowerment is held under a web of oppression, and each spoke of that oppression is connected. Yes, women as a whole are oppressed, but that oppression is multilayered for many. The struggles of women of colour, transgender women, lgbtq+ women, women from other religions, women from different countries, different cultures, disabled women, ect … need to be listened to be elevated into mainstream discourse and be both considered and acknowledged in conversations about oppression and equality.

If your empathy is not extending beyond your own struggle, it becomes as harmful - and though unintended, in many ways takes the side of the oppressor.

Intersectional feminism, is inclusive of all people who identify as female, regardless of their background and where they are in the world. Yes, intersectionality fights against sexism, but also fights against racism, classism, ableism, sizeism, injustice, and bigotry.

how to help? This simple guide to Intersectional Feminism is a great starting point. 

Your daughter may be pretty and your son may be handsome, but every compliment on their external aesthetics should be accompanied by another compliment that has nothing to do with their looks. For example, should “you’re pretty / handsome” come out of your mouth, follow it up with “… and smart / great and counting / good at reading / creative / funny ect…”.  Encourage your child regardless of their sex to embrace their interests and passions. Emphasize empath, explaining to your children the pains of the world will only inspire them, while they’re still filled with that burning love they’re born with, to care.

how to help? Though I'm not a parent, my mum raised some overly empathetic children so I'll share with you what she did for starters. Read books to your child about children who have other skin colours, different family dynamics, who come from different countries, practice different religons ect ... talk to your children about the struggles of others, bring them to public cultural experiences shared by other cultures. Check out this article in the New York Times on 'How To Raise a Feminist Son', or this one on how to 'Raise Woke Children', this Buzzfeed article on 'How To Raise Race Conscious Children' , or these '14 Books To Teach Intersectional Feminism to Kids'.

Voting for politicians who advocate for equality will ensure equality is supported in policy and legislation. According to the United Nations, As of June 2017, the representation of women in politics were (single, lower and upper houses combined): Nordic countries, 41.7 per cent; Americas, 28.1 per cent; sub-Saharan Africa, 23.6 per cent; Asia, 19.4 per cent; Arab States, 17.4 per cent; and the Pacific, 17.4 per cent. Only 2 countries have 50 per cent or more women in parliament in single or lower houses, Rwanda with 61.3 per cent and Bolivia with 53.1 per cent (are you still the ‘land of the free’ USA?)

how to help? Get informed for each election, no matter how big or small, and vote. Understand the policies the person you're voting for is pushinf for. Find out how many women the candidate you’re voting for has working on his or her campaign staff. If it's not voting season, get involved in other ways by lobbying the person currently in a position of power to create positive change. 

Go to rallies that promote women’s equality, join organizations that fight for the equality of women in your area as well as other countries, share the work of women writing about equality, have conversations about Intersectional Feminism with family and friends, ... it’s only when we’ve planted the seeds of information through discussion that those seeds are watered and grow.

how to help? You can find some great resources for feminist activism here.

Self education is a key part of any movement, invest yourself into learning about intersectional feminism by reading, listening to, or watching the stories of women from all walks of life will enhance your empathy and understanding of experiences your place of privilege shades you from. This will not only make you a better feminist, but also a more well rounded human being.

how to help? I'm not an expert in much of anything, so this is a completely incomplete list, but for starters, subscribe to or peruse: Bitch MediaFemsplainFeministingEveryday Feminism. Each of these sites also have great reading lists for finction and non-fiction femnisit authors. 

** I am not, nor am I pretending to be, an expert in Feminism. If I have mispoken in some way, please do let me know in the comments!
Photos: Annie S Pratt via Unsplash 
Sources: The Sunday Times, Clean Clothes, The Guardian, NY Times, The Guardian 2, The Guardian 3, British Fashion Council, Business 2 Community, The Sun, The Guardian 4, Orourke Group Partners, Clean Clothes, Climate Investment Fund, Global Moms Challenge, United Nations FCCC, Euro Parl, The Guardian 5, FAO, The Gaurdian 6, Princeton University, Joojoo Azad 1, Joojoo Azad 2, American Edu.