The concept of female empowerment has spread in recent years in many areas, from companies to Hollywood film sets. But do you know what it is to be an empowered woman and, more importantly, how you can become one?
Although the idea of female empowerment has been present throughout history, represented by all those women who stood up to established canons and fought for effective equality, the term itself is relatively recent. In fact, it was adopted at the Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing in 1995 with the commitment of countries to promote change in favour of women's rights. Do you want to know more about female empowerment and progress towards real equality? Do you want to see inspiring examples of women leaders? Keep reading!
Although legal equality in the workplace is a reality in many countries, there is still a long way to go to achieve real equality between men and women. In this sense, change is happening progressively.
For example, from 2015 to 2018, the number of women in executive levels increased by 4%, from 17% to 21%, according to the 2019 McKinsey study Women in the Workplace. Currently, 68% of companies consider themselves committed to supporting gender equality and the empowerment of women, according to the report Women’s Empowerment and Business: 2020 Trends and Opportunities by the United Nations (UN).
However, access to the labour market, family reconciliation, the wage gap or the glass ceiling remain real problems. Did you know that, according to the 2020 Bloomberg report Gender Equality Index, only 6% of female professionals hold CEO positions? And that, according to the study Global Gender Gap Report of the World Economic Forum (2020), only 18.2% of women hold positions on boards of directors or business leadership, despite constituting half of the workforce?
Therefore, both governments and companies must intervene in this objective towards effective equality between men and women, banishing prejudices and social clichés.
In achieving this challenge, empowered women and professionals who lead the fight for equality with their actions also take on a special role.
But what exactly is an empowered woman? According to the Cambridge Dictionary, empower means “to give someone official authority or the freedom to do something”. Therefore, female empowerment represents that awareness, both individually and collectively, that women have the ability to be owners of their own actions, to take action and, ultimately, to lead their lives.
There are a number of qualities you will recognise in empowered women:
Many female professionals in history are models of female empowerment: great researchers, such as Rosalind Franklin (mother of the DNA chain) or Marie Curie (discoverer of radium and polonium); defenders of equality between men and women from politics, such as Emmeline Pankhurst or Clara Campoamor, and artists or creators, such as Frida Kahlo or Coco Chanel.
A closer contemporary example is that of Michelle Obama. The former first lady stands as a global reference for female empowerment thanks to her words, speeches and actions.
In countries with fewer resources, there are also clear examples of women's empowerment. One of them is Malala, the Pakistani activist who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 for her defence of civil rights, especially those of women.
At the corporate level, an inspiring example is Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's chief operating officer, who takes every opportunity to highlight the need to incorporate women at all professional levels.
Do you want to follow in their footsteps? There are a series of guidelines that you can carry out to work on your own empowerment and become an empowered woman:
With the aim of boosting, empowering and promoting female talent to achieve effective equality, Banco Santander is launching a new edition of the Santander Scholarships Women | SW50 Leadership 2023, a programme for 50 women in top management positions who aspire to join boards of directors.
The programme, held on the campus of the prestigious London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), will provide them with the tools, strategies and skills necessary to work on and hone their own leadership style.
This will be done through interactive lectures, one-to-one mentoring and discussions with top-tier experts from LSE and their peers. In addition, they will receive individual and group coaching sessions, a unique networking experience and, above all, become part of an exceptional community of women leaders from around the world.
The scholarship includes 100% of the cost of the training programme, as well as the stay in London during the programme dates. You do not need to have a university degree or be a customer of Banco Santander.
Are you in a top management position and want to be part of an international community of women leaders? If the answer is yes, sign up for the Santander Scholarships Women | SW50 Leadership 2023.