Over the past four years, I have had the privilege of meeting hundreds of incredible women in Knoxville — entrepreneurs, leaders, activists, or all of the above. One question I started asking every woman I met is, “What legacy do you want to leave behind?” With every answer I received to that question, a common thread began to emerge.
A legacy meant so much more to these women than fame and fortune. It meant leaving the world in a better place than how they found it. And for most, that included helping the women beside them and the women coming up behind them see in themselves a world of possibilities.
Women supporting women
If you’ve spent any time on social media, more than likely you’ve come across the hashtag “#womensupportingwomen”, but what do we mean by that? What does a woman supporting another woman really look like? And what kind of impact can that make on our communities?
Last August, we celebrated the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. It was a huge step in many ways for women’s rights, but also an example of how powerful women can be when they support each other. As a way to commemorate this historic date, Wide Lens Media produced the “Every Woman Vote” project through their nonprofit, walkwithme.
Amy Gibson and Bob Deck, the brilliant minds behind this project, interviewed 100 women on how having the right to vote impacted their lives. While many of the interviews discussed the importance of having a voice at the ballot box, one other important theme came out of those interviews. That theme was the profound impact one empowered woman can have on another.
The power of empowerment
To celebrate Women’s History Month, my organization, Let Her Speak, is partnering with Wide Lens to share 10 stories from amazing women in a new project called “Every Woman Can.” This project aims to shed light on how one woman can make a difference in another woman’s life. Through these interviews, we learned so much about the important roles women play in another woman achieving her dream.
It was because of the path those women forged that leaders today are more empowered to show up as themselves.
As the leader of Centro Hispano, Claudia Caballero spoke of her gratitude for standing on the shoulders of women who had to go through a lot more than she ever had. Women who had to erase or hide parts of themselves because they had to compete in a world that wasn’t ready for them to be their full selves. It was because of the path those women forged that leaders today are more empowered to show up as themselves.
Empowerment can show up not just in our inner circles or through influential leaders, but also when we’re a part of a team. Sarah Hillyer, founder of UTK Center for Sport, Peace, and Society, mentioned during her interview that team sports give women a common goal that can only be achieved together. As a team, they work together to find one another’s strengths and leverage those strengths to accomplish more.
We are nurturers
One perspective was repeated over and over again from the 10 interviews we captured for the “Every Woman Can” project. Women are nurturers. We can’t help but seek to help others. And while at times that can be taken advantage of, it’s a superpower we all share.
The act of nurturing can show up in different ways. Dasha Lundy, executive vice president of Knoxville College, Knox County commissioner and co-founder of The Women LLC, reminds women of who they are and challenges them to believe in themselves. The same is true for Raquel Leal, founder of Latinas Time, who talked about a friend who helped her see the light within herself that she couldn’t see, which ultimately led to her founding an organization to help other Latina women find theirs.
There is power in helping another woman feel seen, heard, and valued.
There is power in helping another woman feel seen, heard, and valued. The impact one woman can have on another can cause a positive ripple effect throughout an entire community whether it’s in our homes, our offices, or our schools.
The only question is, how will you use that superpower?
“Every Woman Can” will be shared on WUOT 91.9 FM every Thursday during “Morning Edition” and Saturday during “Weekend Edition” in March. They will also be shared on EveryWomanCan.me and LetHerSpeakUS.com.
About the author » Catherine Porth
Catherine Porth is the director of Insights & Development at the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center, the founder & chief advocate of Let Her Speak, and the co-chair of the Women in Entrepreneurship – Knoxville group. Her mission is to improve and grow opportunities for women across the community, one inspiring story at a time. If you are interested in learning more about or getting involved in Knoxville’s community of women entrepreneurs and leaders, contact her at email@example.com.
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