The Characteristics of an Empowered Woman
We’ve all seen what we think an empowered woman is.
She walks down the street or into a meeting, head held high, shoulders back with a confidence in her walk that we often envy. She just seems to know herself. Nothing seems to shake her.
Others remark about her strength and self-confidence, but if you really think about it, what does she have that we admire? What is it that she does or has that makes us see her as an empowered woman who seems to have everything under control? The same way we want to have everything under control in our work, in our relationships and in ourselves?
Defined as ‘powerful, strong and in control’, empowerment is what we all strive for in some way. To be in control of our lives, to have the freedom to make choices we want to, to be able to go where we like and do what we like, so we can live happy and productive lives.
Yet, there are many things that can hinder modern day women from feeling and becoming empowered. Gender inequality is at the crux of the problem, and is rife in leadership, business, politics and all facets of life. But still we need to try and thrive and rise above the adversity we experience in any way we can. And many women do.
‘I raise up my voice—not so I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard…we cannot succeed when half of us are held back. — Malala Yousafzai
What makes a woman appear empowered?
There are many indicators that a woman is empowered, with the following as key in my experience:
A sense of self-confidence
She knows what she’s about, she knows what she wants, and she is doing what she can to achieve it.
She has presence
She walks into a room and her body language, confident and upright, makes an impact. People know when she’s arrived. She’ll shake everybody’s hand, looking at them straight in the eye with a warm smile on her face.
She is well presented
She takes pride in her appearance and dresses well and is well groomed. She dresses appropriately for any occasion and makes the effort to look the part.
She is approachable and personable
She smiles warmly, is encouraging and open and you can feel comfortable with her.
She holds her own
In any situation or in front of any audience. In a room of two or in front of an audience of thousands, she can speak well publicly, clearly and in an articulate way and can get her message across concisely. No stumbles or ‘er’ and ‘um’ for her. She has prepared her information and speech and delivers it with punch.
She doesn’t roll over when others don’t agree with her
She calmly asks them why they disagree with her and either agrees to change her opinion (or part of it) or thanks them for their contribution and sticks to her point.
She is emotionally intelligent
In the face of difficulty or adversity, she remains empowered and in control by remaining calm, allowing her thoughts to overrule her emotions, to ensure emotionally-charged decisions are not made in haste.
She is able to make choices by being informed and self-reliant
She doesn’t make decisions or choices in haste, but remains calm and thinks things through by weighing up all the options before moving forward.
She backs herself up
When she makes a decision, she supports herself. She owns her strength.
She is strong and resilient
No matter what life throws at her, she can calmly deal with it and keep facing forward, in the future.
She is humble and has empathy
Arrogance is not part of how she behaves and she genuinely feels for the plight of others. After all, she has gone through hard times and adversity too, and she has come through them a better and stronger person.
She is high in self-esteem, self-reliance and self-confidence
She likes and believes in herself, she bounces forward when life is hard and she backs herself all the way.
‘I’m tough, I’m ambitious, and I know exactly what I want. If that makes me a bitch, okay.’ — Madonna