This Thursday, March 8th is International Women’s Day!!
If you don’t know, my organization Embrace Her Legacy has several initiatives and programs in place to empower, inspire and educate young women and girls across the globe.
Being an inspiration or a beacon of hope to women and girls was something embedded in my soul for most of my life which may have started early on.
As an Afro-Latina woman (meaning that my race is Black but my ethnicity is Hispanic as both my parents are from Honduras), I grew up with the opportunity to go back to Honduras almost every summer which ignited a world-view that perhaps some of my peers did not have.
I got to see extreme poverty up close and personal. Although my parents managed to migrate to America and provide a better life for themselves and their children, I was very well aware that I had it good. Seeing children beg for food, walk around barefoot and beg me to leave them my Jordans incited a desire to empower and help others.
So when it came time to launch out and start my own women empowerment organization, my prayer was to impact women and girls across the globe from all diverse backgrounds, races, walks of life because at the core of my heart, I knew that we are all in some way facing similar struggles.
As women, oftentimes we believe this lie that only women who look like us, share our same belief system or come from the same places we come from can relate to us. But in my years of doing this work, that is far beyond the truth.
We are all fighting the same thoughts of insecurity, fear, doubt, frustration, or brokenness. We all have a desire to be loved, understood, succeed, be heard, be acknowledged, overcome our trials and take care of our families.
As a speaker, I have given talks to extremely diverse audiences in age, gender, and races. I’ve mentored girls from all backgrounds in race, religion and ethnicities. And let me tell you this…we are so much more alike than we are different.
I’ve learned to walk with such a compassion for people which spills out into my work. With International Women’s Day this Thursday, I urge you to consider that woman at your job, in your class, at your church, driving next to you in traffic, at the coffee shop, or while you’re grocery shopping. Before you judge her or dismiss her, remember that she wants the very same things that you do.
She has probably dealt with her fair share of problems as you have. She is probably dealing with some brokenness just as you are. She more than likely shares the same fears or insecurities that you do. She has the desire to be heard, seen, approved, understood and to succeed just like you do. She may not look like you or think like you but she matters just as much as you do.
Instead of being the woman who judges, have compassion. Go out of your way this week to encourage another woman – one who you may not speak to regularly. Tell that co-worker that she’s doing a good job. Tell that woman at church that you like her hair. Give your favorite barista who you know is working her way through college a random $20 tip or gift card. Send an email to that woman you admire and let her know that you’re a secret fan!
We are all royalty – no matter what our backgrounds may be. We are women. We are powerful and let’s have compassion, love and patience with one another knowing that we are far more alike than we are different.
Now that’s women empowerment…
Maria I. Melendez
Founder & CEO