From mean girls to allies: Why female support matters.
Updated: Dec 27, 2022
There's enough room for all women to be whole without tearing each other down-Unknown.
Full Disclosure: I'm an only #girlchild.
Growing up in a family of 5 brothers, I grieved for a sister.
I got so desperate that I once tried to dress my younger brothers in my cast-off dresses *hides face*.
They weren't amused.
Here's the thing,
Coming from a long line of #alphafemales, early on I understood the power of the #divinefeminine-and I wanted to join the ranks.
I thought being a woman/girl was the single-most awesome thing anyone could be.
Then puberty stepped in.
There, I was introduced to #cliques - complete with #femalebasedbullying and #meangirls.
In high school, I remember a girl shredding my leather-bound notebook with a razor blade.
She said it was because she didn't like me-and I never knew why.
Unfortunately, some of those girls have become women-and have given birth to newer, meaner versions of themselves.
Social media hasn't helped-any browser search can bring up videos of school girls fighting, females #dissing other females-and of course liberal use of the "B-word". Locally, there was also a recent incident where a female student was slashed and stabbed by another female student-while their classmates cheered.
If all girls were taught how to love each other fiercely, instead of how to compete with each other and hate their bodies, what a different and beautiful world we would live in-Nikita Gill.
Why do I find this so disconcerting?
Because in an era of increased #entrepreneurial activity, we HAVE to become our #sisterskeepers.
According to recent research these are the numbers for #femalefounders in Latin America and the Caribbean:
Latin America & Caribbean countries have among the highest rates of new firm creation worldwide-ranging from 20% in Uruguay to 30% in Chile, which had the largest female-to-male ratio (0.7) for early-stage entrepreneurial activity;
Job scarcity has been cited as the most commonly reported reason for starting a business (10% more women than men);
Women are 40% more likely than men to become #solopreneurs ;
While many #fempreneurs start early and are less educated, there's also an emerging #laterstageentrepreneur group -who are more active, and are more than twice as likely to have a graduate education.
While all of this is good news-there are still disparities in ICT. However, this is counterbalanced by a high percentage of female-led businesses in the transportation and manufacture sectors, along with newer and more innovative product and service offerings.
Unfortunately, there's also a high percentage of business closures (20%), influenced in no small part by inadequate access to financing and antiquated start-up processes.
So how do we become #allies ?
By accepting that limitations are largely self-imposed: In a new digital landscape, goods and services can be created in one geographical region-for consumption in an entirely different geographical region. Which means throughout the diaspora, you have an opportunity to #buyfromawoman.
By understanding that we are greater than our deepest fears: No one creates the perfect product without R&D. Accept failure for what it is-a chance to figure out what didn't work-and how to make it better. This also means that when coming across a product/service from a #femaleownedbusiness, don't assume that it's inferior. Also-don't #badmouth it. Understand that it may be at the earliest stage of the product cycle-and it will get better. We've all been there.
By building a community/ tribe to stand with us: Female-based businesses survive and thrive when the #community stands up-and supports. Direct investment, referrals and engagement help drive business growth. Mentorship matters.
Supporting another's success won't dampen yours-Unknown
Recently, a good friend and fellow #founder Diann Wingert lamented the lack of female support when she stated that, "Many of us believe that because we struggled to make it, then those coming after should also struggle".
It's time to change that narrative, by reminding ourselves that the fight is always against poverty-and not each other.
Do you agree?
Share your thoughts in the comments.