I recently left a job I loved because of workplace bullying. I was the digital editor of a glossy magazine, and within three months, I managed to turn their stagnant online platforms into thriving and marketable spaces. I broke every record imaginable, the money was great, and I enjoyed my work.

It’s crazy for me to think back on it now. My editor was a woman I had initially considered a strong, kind leader. But that quickly changed, and my dream job became a hellish nightmare.

The snide comments and degradation eventually got too much for me, and I resigned. It was the hardest decision of my life, but I needed to preserve my mental health. I then continued working as the Women in Excellence Editor at another publication and used my voice to enrich ladies from all walks of life. I did not allow one bad experience to change how I viewed womanhood. I still believe females are beautiful, intelligent, courageous, and honourable.

My terrible experience got me thinking about the long-prevailing stereotype that women often hate and harm one another simply out of jealousy. Women should strive to break glass ceilings together, but that usually doesn’t happen.

The deep-seated dislike that women sometimes have towards each other often goes beyond the classroom or office. Richardson‐Self’s 2020 research suggests that long-standing misogyny is a crucial factor impacting the differences between females. Women are judged by society because of how they dress, whether they decide to get married and have kids, their beauty, virtue, and more, and at times criticise one another based on these archaic patriarchal ideals.
There is often a divide between women who want to take on so-called ‘traditional’ roles and be stay-at-home wives and ladies who want to work and have no desire to have families. To simply pin these differences as feminism versus traditionalism would be a false dichotomy. When watching the 2003 film, ‘Mona Lisa Smile’, the dissonance between ‘traditional’ female roles and liberal feminism is even more pronounced.

Despite the long-standing differences between women, I believe every female should strive to be a girl’s girl.

As a Women in Excellence Editor, I take pride in celebrating ladies – women who take on ‘male-dominated’ roles, single moms who are turning their lives around, ladies who survived gender-based violence, daughters, graduates, feminists, traditionalists, grandmothers, sisters, and wives. All women should be lauded regardless of the paths they follow.

Here are some simple ways you can foster the power of women empowerment in your daily life:

Share a compliment
If you see a woman looking lovely, tell them. If your classmate scored a high grade on a test, compliment her and ask for tips. If your colleague has been doing well at work, pat them on the back. You have nothing to lose by being kind to others.

Share opportunities you see
Should you come across opportunities for work, scholarships, or anything you know could assist another woman, don’t be afraid to share them. Instead of gatekeeping the information, you could change someone’s life just by being gracious.

Correct her quietly
If you see a woman with lipstick on her teeth, pull her aside and tell her quietly. If she has menstruation blood on her clothing, help her resolve the issue instead of mocking her. As women, we need to stand together.

Diverse women share thoughts
I reached out to a few young ladies, who opened up about why they think it’s vital for females to empower each other:

Vinolia Malema, who runs a nail salon, said:
“Women should support each other to empower one another because we are stronger together.”

Rabelani Ratshili, a female construction worker, noted:
“I empower women by giving them opportunities to work as builders within my company. I want to see more girls winning.”

Charlotte Nthabiseng Mokgothu, a woman who owns a hair salon she started in a shack, said:
“If we support each other and stand together, the world will see how powerful we are, regardless of the challenges we face. There is a Setswana proverb that says, ‘mosadi o tshwara thipa ka fa bogaleng’, which means that, indeed, nothing is impossible for women.”

Trisha Pillay, master’s student and award-winning journalist, added:
“The stereotype of women being competitive may stem from societal expectations and limited opportunities, fuelling unnecessary rivalry. Supporting one another is crucial for women as it fosters unity and collective progress.”

As women, let’s try and focus on fostering kindness, camaraderie, and compassion for one another. You won’t lose by helping others win, so strive to be a girl’s girl. Now and always.

What does being a ‘girl’s girl’ mean to you? Why do you think women’s empowerment is essential?