It is not often that women come together in our society for the purpose of inspiring each other and reclaiming and rediscovering the feminine power. Reminders that the roles of women in society are vital to the evolution of the human race will always be necessary. Empowerment for women in this society is needed. The long list of Guyanese women who have died or suffered immense abuse by the hands of their partners is one of the greatest indications. The long list who have been shamed and blamed for being victims of sexual abuse is another indication. The harassment women face daily by simply walking down the street, or in their workplaces and even in their homes and the fact that many have accepted these behaviours as normal are also indications. The mothers who are left alone to raise their children need to know that they are worthy, strong and powerful and the disappointments in their lives do not have to be the death of their individual development.
Women also need empowerment not only to fight and persevere against the ideas often perpetuated by patriarchal systems but often to dismiss many of the myths perpetuated by fellow women. These include what many view as ‘proper’ and ‘improper’ behaviour related to how women dress or how some choose to express their sexuality, as well as the widely propagated notion that it is more acceptable for men to philander, while women must be monogamous and deny their own desires or tolerate the abuses of their partners, else they be labeled as being of “ill repute.”
As long as women are seen as subordinate, as long as women are being mistreated, as long as women are being judged harshly for their choices, as long as there is victim blaming and shaming, as long as women are not equal in every way that counts, there will be need for occasions for women to be reminded of their strength and reminded that without them, there would be nothing.
It is natural for people to connect with and evolve through the stories and experiences of others. What motivates many women to continue their journey is the encouragement of others; even in the darkest of times, there is room to overcome and to inspire others. We do not have to be in the same space to connect with each other. In an era of the internet and platforms like social media, one little light can illuminate the world. But often many women never get these messages. Some spend their lives suppressed and depressed. Some have their lives cut short and whatever dreams they would have had decay or burn, like their remains.
Something spectacular happened at the National Cultural Centre last Friday that reminded us about the irreplaceability of women—that we are motivators, innovators and creators. The event boosted the self-confidence, redefined, rejuvenated and inspired new goals and purposes in many. It reminded me that there is no limit to our dreams; that there is a world of endless possibilities that starts first with the mind and, therefore, there is absolutely no limit to the journey as long as there is life within us.
BRAND YOUth, which is a platform developed by Selwyn Collins, author, entrepreneur and the founder of the web series Conversations With Selwyn (CWS), which has developed to rebranding under the name ‘Connecting With Stories,’ embarked on a series of events that aim to empower youth. The first event, titled ‘Emerging Through Generations,’ was aimed at bringing together Guyanese women and featured Ms. Sherry Ann Dixon, who is a remarkable Guyanese who has spent the greater part of her life in England.
I felt honoured to be present, especially because of major changes I have gone through in my life’s journey in recent times. We must not fear making bold steps in our lives or being truthful for our own wellbeing. Ms. Dixon was once at a point in her life where she was not quite sure where her journey would lead her but through hard work and perseverance she became a renowned make-up artist who worked with celebrities like the late Luther Vandross. And her journey kept evolving, leading her to become an author, communications specialist, international award-winning entrepreneur and transformational life coach. She interviewed icons like Maya Angelou, Margaret Thatcher and Nelson Mandela. She is the epitome of a life of excellence, fulfilment and inspiration, and yet there is so much more she has to offer.
One of the simple truths that came out of the event is that we as women need to make time to take care and develop ourselves. This truth is for all, but why it is important for women to often be reminded of this is because in many instances time slips away, and many passions are dormant, or dreams linger in our minds and are never realised. Often, many are locked into lives where they are taking care of children, husbands and even extended families and neglect their own development. Many become lost in the dreams of those around them and forget that they too have dreams. Life being such a short journey races to the finish line and many find themselves in conditions where they are overwhelmed by regrets. Even successful women often wish they could have done this or that. They wish they would have taken more chances. It is for the same reasons that some women find themselves living vicariously through their children and others become victims of life-long loneliness and their existence becomes a wait for death.
There can never be enough events that encourage the empowerment and development of women who hold the society together. Voices like Ms. Sherry Ann Dixon need to be heard and more visionaries like Selwyn Collins must emerge. If an overwhelming number of women in our society are broken, shackled and suppressed, then the society will be a mirror of that.
Women’s empowerment is not only about words that will motivate some for just a short time before they settle back into a rut, it is about constant reinforcement. It is about putting actions behind the words. For vulnerable women who need more than just the testimonies of others, those with the means to help them must join hands and do so. As individuals we can be as strong as we allow ourselves to be, but as a collective we are an unstoppable force.