People come to college in hopes of a better life, of a high paying job, and of finding themselves. Students expect that they will have what it takes to leave college within four years with a good enough resume to land their dream job that will lead them to something even greater in the future. College is just a small step in the journey of the rest of students’ lives.
What is the one accurate, reliable indicator for the success of the individual? The Phenomenal Women organization believes that knowing who you are, pursuing your passion, and reaching your full potential is the key to success. They believe that we need to look within ourselves to find out who we are as individuals because our inner beauty is more important than outer beauty. With a strong mindset, sense of self, and direction, anyone can be a force to be reckoned with. Knowing, loving, and cultivating yourself is the key to everything in life, and that is what they try to help people understand in Phenomenal Women, the women empowerment organization on campus.
The Phenomenal Women organization was named after the poem “Phenomenal Woman,” written by Maya Angelou. This seemed like a fitting name to represent an organization built to empower women across all spectrums. Phenomenal Women is an organization that was created on McDaniel’s campus as a haven for anyone who identifies as a woman or supports uplifting women of all ethnicities, sizes, and sexualities. Their mission is to work collaboratively to identify persisting historical discourses that shape concepts of femininity. They also aim to redefine these social norms of the ideal woman and challenge narrow ideas of beauty.
Another goal of the Phenomenal Women organization is to promote self-care and self-love. Attending college is inherently stressful, and they believe that throughout the day, students rarely listen to themselves or their bodies. The organization aims to help women become more in-tune with themselves, so they are better equipped to tackle problems, stress, and emotions.
Ultimately, the organization wants to answer the question about what women’s empowerment is. How does one empower women? Moreover, what does women empowerment look like? Usually, to start a conversation about defining a term, we start with the dictionary definition. However, there is no formal definition of women empowerment, so we have to combine the definition of “women” and “empowerment” to work our way up to the meaning of women empowerment. Empowerment is “…the act or action of empowering someone or something: the granting of the power, right, or authority to perform various acts or duties.”
The organization’s definition of women empowerment is the creation of an environment for women that promotes unity amongst women and men, where women can make decisions of their own for their personal growth, individuality, and for society. It also refers to increasing and improving the way women view and accept themselves versus the way society does.
Women empowerment gives strength to women, helps the voiceless find and project their voice, provides a bridge between men and women to help men and women understand and uplift each other, and makes women confident enough to claim their rights, such as:
- Having the ability to freely live their life with a sense of self-worth, respect, and dignity.
- Having complete control of their life, both within and outside of their home and workplace.
- Making their own choices and decisions.
- Challenging misconceptions of beauty and the socially constructed “ideal woman.”
- Promoting self-love and the development of one’s own identity.
In our modern society, women still face disadvantages in everyday life. First, people need to understand that the feminist movement was created to help shed light on the daily challenges women face, such as gender discrimination, sexual assault, and domestic violence. This movement is a call to action for women and men everywhere to enact change to improve the challenges women face. It has given women a platform to air out their issues and change perceptions.
Phenomenal Women is here to aid the feminist intersectionality of all women’s experience and stories to be heard. There is value in creating unity amongst women and understanding of oneself in different backgrounds. As women, what happens to one individual woman affects all women. In fighting for all women’s rights, everyone’s voice should be heard because people need to learn to listen and listen to learn.
The Phenomenal Women organization meets every other Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. in Hill 108.