I won’t lie–I had never thought that ways to support other women would be important in my life. I was raised to be judgmental, harsh, and obstinate.
But women supporting women is some of the most important work we can do. It even spawned an instagram challenge in July of 2020. Here are 12 easy and warm ways to support other women in your life. You’ll be surprised at just how much it empowers you too!
12 Ways to Support Other Women
1. Celebrate her successes
Women have been trained through society and generational behaviors to feel jealous when other women have success. Even if they look smashing when you go out for dinner (after the pandemic is over, of course) or if they just got a promotion and make more money than you do.
But celebrating other women’s successes, large and small, is one of the easiest ways to break those societal expectations of jealousy and competition.
Whether a close girlfriend or an acquaintance, we need to learn that other women’s successes actually makes us STRONGER, not weaker!
When other women succeed, they are paving the way for us to succeed and to feel good about ourselves as well!
How to celebrate:
- Compliment her accomplishments.
- Get excited and ask her lots of questions if it’s a big success.
- Plan celebration parties. Get the girls together, get some champagne (or sparkling cider, if it’s a baby shower!), and have fun together!
- Post congrats on her facebook wall (if she’s announcing her big news on social media) to congratulate her.
2. Listen actively as a way to support women
Unfortunately, true listening is a dying art in modern times. Most people only listen until they have the information they need, or until they’ve formulated a response. In truly active listening, you should:
- pay attention
- show that you’re paying attention through body language
- provide feedback (like reiterating what they just said)
- don’t be judgmental (like in mom-shaming)
- respond like a friend
More often than not, just having someone there to listen to us can help us know who our true friends are, and who we can count on for support and guidance, especially when it’s women supporting women.
Read more: Meet Me Where I Am
3. Find things to accomplish together
There is nothing more satisfying than putting your mind to something and accomplishing it! So why not do it with someone else?!
Often times, women have the same goals, like getting healthy, learning a new skill, or just trying something different… but they don’t even know it!
Share your personal goals with the women around you. If they confess that they’ve also been interested in the same thing, do it together.
Having an accountability partner that can help you get through the end goal is the epitome of women supporting women. Or, if there’s no end goal, as in, say, the broad goal of “getting healthy”, then they can support you through each step. It’s all about helping to hold each other accountable… and let’s face it, sometimes even the peer pressure of someone else knowing your goals is enough to help you keep on track!
4. Encourage the things she is excited about
Some of the seemingly small let downs that we have in life happen when we’re excited about something and we’re met with apathy. But these can be huge to the one who suffers the disappointment.
How often do you (or people you know) apologize for something before you tell someone?
“I know I’m too old to do it now, but I always wanted to be a professional chef….”
“I know this is dorky, but I thought it’d be fun to visit the Gilmore Girl’s set one day…”
What would happen if, instead of prefacing what we like, or want to do, or dreams that we have with some “I know this is embarrassing” statement, we just said it, flat out? And even more, what if when someone does it around us, we encourage their excitement, ask questions, and get interested?
Your own success means a lot more when you geek out about something and the person you’re with joins your energy!
I’m not suggesting to be disingenuous, of course. But encouraging others’ likes, dreams, and “geek-outs” can be an easy way to support other women.
5. Focus on education for girls and young women to support other women
Women’s empowerment should always start with our daughters.
Model body positivity. Model empowerment and female confidence! Model strength and kindness.
This doesn’t mean tell her she’s beautiful. It means telling yourself that you’re beautiful, in front of her.
It doesn’t mean talking about the importance of health and taking care of yourself. It means actually taking care of yourself and talking with her about how it’s important.
Bringing up our younger generations with barriers that have already been broken down for them creates pathways to success and hopefully instills a much more fulfilling, wholehearted life in these budding young women.
6. Be a woman who lifts other women up
This may be the easiest way to support other women because you don’t even have to leave your couch to do this one!
Lifting others up could mean listening, giving compliments, or a verbal show of support.
But really, even just a quick text message to let a friend know you’re thinking about them, or stopping to comment on another woman’s facebook post can help to brighten their day.
If you REALLY want to get into it, let the woman juggling 2 toddlers at the grocery store know that she’s doing a good job and that it does actually get easier. Or tell that girl dressed up as Batman in a tutu for Halloween that she looks fierce.
Maybe it’s tiny little way to support other women, but being a woman who lifts other women up is by far the easiest!
7. Being vulnerable is a way to support other women
Being vulnerable, according to vulnerability and shame researcher, Brene Brown, is when you open yourself to uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure.
She said, in the article above:
“My inability to lean into the discomfort of vulnerability limited the fullness of those important experiences that are wrought with uncertainty: Love, belonging, trust, joy, and creativity to name a few.”
In other words, you experience less love, belonging and joy when you hold yourself back from emotional uncertainty.
The same goes for other women. That makes this a great way to support other women. When you open up and get vulnerable with someone, she begins to feel more comfortable to that same vulnerability. In this way, you can help her find more joy, love, trust, and belonging in her life.
8. Introduce women to other women
Getting out of the vulnerability zone now, introducing women to other women is a great way to support and empower them.
When someone is new to town, the neighborhood, or even new to parenthood, having a tribe of other women to bounce thoughts and ideas off of, or even just for commiserating (especially with new parenthood!) can ease what would otherwise be a stressful situation.
In motherhood especially, when babies were birthed with women, and women had each other close by to support and lean on each other, they did everything together… we don’t experience that much any more as a cultural norm.
But we can change that around. Start a book club. Take friends you know from different parts of your life out at the same time. Get involved with a new mom’s group and take your pregnant friend.
9. Be specific about how you can help
Especially after a woman has a new baby, many people offer to help. They will say, “Let me know if I can do anything for you or if you need help.”
But so many of us are conditioned to avoid feeling like a burden to others, so rather than ask for help, we bear the weight of our new baby by ourselves.
Instead, tell the woman: “I’m bringing a casserole by tomorrow. What time is good for me to drop it off?”
Or maybe: “I’m headed to the grocery store and thought you might have a list, what do you need me to get for you?”
Offering to help is wonderful. Actually stepping up and helping could mean the world.
10. Invite them to hang out
Here’s another one to check off the simplicity box.
You don’t need to throw huge parties, don feminist t-shirts, or spend tons of money to be supportive to other women. Sometimes just hanging out is enough.
Going to a coffee shop, or hanging out with them at home, or even on Zoom gives you a chance to put all these other things into practice. With one-on-one attention, you can fully listen, support, get vulnerable, show enthusiasm, lift her up, give compliments, and ask questions. And if you share the same guilty pleasures, it will give you even more to bond over!
No, you don’t need to hustle 24/7! Give yourself a break and get together with a girlfriend today.
11. Give compliments (and mean them)
Empowering women means bolstering their self-confidence and helping them on their way to greatness.
What better way than to drop a compliment their way?
It could be that she’s looking sassy and smart in her new suit, or it could be amazement at how easily she breastfeeds her baby (and in public!!) OoO
When you really want to give a woman a real compliment, leave out all the patriarchy influence and go right to the heart of being a woman.
Tell her she’s smashing her new business idea.
Tell her that you like how strong, honest, and vulnerable she is.
I mean, sure, tell her that you like her scarf, but don’t forget to mention that you like her tenacity or friendship or skills, too.
12. Ask open-ended questions
Open-ended questions are those questions that no one liked to get when they were called on in school.
But honestly, this type of questioning method can help break down barriers, increase vulnerability, and show interest and support to other women.
Basically, open-ended questions are not yes-no questions. They require a long answer. These types of questions start with “why”, “what if”, and “how”.
They’re especially good for getting to know someone new. They’re also great for practicing your listening and vulnerability skills mentioned above!
13. Helping her through grief is a way to support other women
Grief is another part of our society that we’ve thrown by the wayside. Generations ago, it was encouraged for women to mourn a miscarriage, death, or other parting of the ways.
In fact, in the Celtic nations of Ireland and Scotland until the 1950s, elderly women would perform the tradition of keening at a burial or other ritual to express grief and help others process their own grief.
But today, it seems appropriate to move on after a couple weeks. People forget you’re mourning a loss… life goes on and you’re left behind, still missing what or whoever is gone.
It’s become common knowledge that 25% of all women will have a miscarriage. 1 in 160 will experience a stillbirth. 3,500 babies die of SIDS every year. All of those babies have mothers who somehow, have to manage to go on. But we relegate our grief to the month of October for Pregnancy and Baby Loss Month, and then once more, everyone forgets. Even huge “break ups” like divorce or loss of a beloved job can be cause for serious grieving.
But grief should be processed in a woman’s own time. Ask how she’s really doing. Ask her questions about whatever she has lost. Encourage her to share about the person or thing she lost. You may think it’s uncomfortable for her to talk about, but the truth is that she probably wants to talk about that person. Yes, maybe it reminds her of what she lost, but it can also remind her of the love she had.
If you want to be the kind of woman who lifts other women up, these 13 ways to support other women will help guide you. Embrace your friendships, start new ones, empower girls, nurture young women, and help women grieve.
Supporting other women is some of the most important work that we can do in our lives, and I believe that we are stronger together!
What ways do you like to support your girlfriends and other women in your life?