Let’s be Women for Women, not Women versus Women!

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Pregnant woman on the train

Is empowerment simply respecting each other?

I am not usually the one in the crowd flying the flag up high for us females. I’m more of a carry on as is type of gal, but when I need to voice my opinion “you’re going to hear me”!

While this is not my usual type of blog post, I feel that this topic needs to be discussed.

Inspired by the events of my run-of-the mill daily commute, I began to wonder “is empowerment simply respecting each other, or is there more to it?

It was one of those ‘everything is late’ mornings and following my arrival to Heuston train station I came to find the enormous queue for the 145 bus. By the time I finally got on the bus there was only standing (with your face against the wall) space left – tight spots aren’t really a problem for me….I’m 5ft 2.5” and if your vertically challenged like me then you know that half means everything!

As the bus pulled out of Heuston Station, I scanned my surroundings, noticing the sea of commuters poised over their phones, drowning out the rest of the world’s noise with their headphones. While this is not an unusual sight for anyone commuting to work in the morning, what really grabbed my attention was a lady looking fairly snug amongst the human bus blanket, who had a neat little baby bump to match.

She was standing near the wheelchair space. I asked if she would like me to get her a seat but she declined (there wasn’t any so I was going to have to ask someone to get up! I’m nice like that!).

One of my reasons for asking her was because the women sitting on the pull-down chair in the wheelchair space pretended not to notice her while continuously staring at her bump, which did not go unnoticed by other passengers. Plus the fact that three other women were also glaring at her with eyes that screamed and sounded like our own mothers saying “Get up and have some manners – that might be you some day”.

I’m sure I am not the only person that has been in this position before or has had these thoughts. I am not a mother or a mother to be, but I am a daughter and I was raised to care, to be vigilant, to have manners and respect.

This action, or lack thereof, genuinely annoyed me but also left me feeling a little guilty. Was it my place to point out her ignorance or do I just carry on about my business because the woman standing could have asked for the seat herself?

suffragettes

But this poses the question: Why should she have to ask?

Do we not have enough respect for each other in this day and age to just be nice? My mother always says “If you don’t ask, then you don’t get and then you’ll never know the answer!”.

I guess my point is that I tried to change the situation on the bus by empowering myself to point out my frustration, that simply the lady is pregnant and give her your seat!! I thought my actions would empower those around me to offer up their seats but no – the frustrating fact is that in some situations people don’t want to be empowered.

They actually just don’t care – This is also frustrating because it’s the truth of the world we live in today!

There are many valid questions for this and it shone a light on my way of thinking for the first time ever concerning ‘Women v Women’ and the role of supporting each other not just in work, but in everyday life.

So I asked the Google gods and found loads of websites in reference to the topic. After a lot of reading I decided that for me it’s not just about women empowering women, it’s about empowering each other in general and also finding ways of empowering yourself.

Then there’s realising the fact that there is always going to be that person who will never give up her seat – I know shock-horror!

Here are some of the points I came across that I thought might be useful or at least thought provoking:

  • A lot of empowerment is about the ability to read through the lines and spotting opportunities – remembering sometimes someone’s advice is to help, not to set you back. I think this gets easier to recognise as you get older!
  • Be a mentor, not a competitor
  • Promote each other and don’t be afraid to promote yourself
  • Give yourself a break, give each other a break
  • Educate and empower others, who will then empower others and so on
  • Lastly, don’t be the pregnant lady not asking for the seat to sit down and don’t be the lady pretending not to notice the pregnant lady that needs to sit down!

Let’s be Women for Women, not Women v Women

Arlene Foy, Fuzion PR, Marketing Graphic Design, DublinArlene

Arlene Foy is an Account Manager with Fuzion PR in our Dublin office.

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