It’s 2 am and I’m 6 hours into a 12 hour shift. I don’t sleep for fear of missing crisis calls or not hearing the security alarm go off. I work at a domestic violence shelter, and for these 12 hours, I am the only support system these women have. I can’t save these women, or protect them, I can simply empower them with the truths that they were deprived of- that they are worthy, they are strong, and they are capable of achieving whatever they set their mind to. Female empowerment is a beautiful yet tragic thing. It is beautiful in the sense that it transcends to women of all walks of life, not just victims and survivors, and unifies communities to achieve a strong quality of life. The tragic side of female empowerment is the mere fact that it’s even needed to begin with. We live in a world with cultural and societal norms that oppress women, and the second we are empowered enough to break free, we are seen as nasty women.

At 23 years of age it is a very humbling experience to have the lives of many adult women influenced by what I say. They come to me expecting me to know all the answers because of my expensive degree and job title, but what I show them is something not learned in the classroom, nor does it stay in the shelter- it’s respect. If you ask me if I’ve ever been disrespected, the answer is yes. I am disrespected when I don’t get paid as much as a man. I am disrespected when a rapist gets a 3 month sentence. I am disrespected when I am told what I can and cannot do with my body. It is because of this that my work doesn’t stop when I leave the shelter. We are all women who need empowerment. We need to surround ourselves with individuals who see us as equals and inspire us. If you ask me why I believe these things, it’s not simply because I’m a feminist, it is because I am a human being and we are all entitled to our basic human rights.