On July 4th, Independence Day, we Americans celebrate America’s independence and our individual rights and freedoms, which veterans of this country fought for. And as modern women of 2021, we have come far, continuing to value, stand up for, and promote equal rights. Ground has been broken in the women’s rights landscape. We strive to eliminate gender inequalities and discrimination while becoming independently capable, empowered women. Other key women’s rights issues include abuse and violence, economic equality, sexual discrimination, and media misrepresentation. We still face issues, but we have collectively moved forward on many issues.
We often credit and uphold the Declaration of Independence as the primary foundation for upholding equal rights and freedoms, but there is also another important document that was written for the first women’s rights convention held in 1848 in Seneca Falls, New York. Called the Declaration of Sentiments, this document was inspired by the language and plea for equality in our Declaration of Independence and argued for “the civil, social, political, and religious rights of women” who, according to the document, felt themselves to be “aggrieved, oppressed, and fraudulently deprived of their most sacred rights.”
Since then, we’ve come a long way and don’t have to look very far to be inspired by women of all ages and demographics who worked tirelessly for equal women’s rights. Women, named and unnamed, have set the standard and encouraged us to be strong and independent. Some of the better known names include Maud Wood Park and Susan B. Anthony (suffragists), Mary McLeod Bethune (champion of racial and gender equality, Margaret Sanger (proponent of birth control), Eleanor Roosevelt (First Lady and women’s rights activist), Ruther Bader Ginsberg (Supreme Court Justice and women’s rights activist), and Maya Angelou (poet and women’s rights activist), among many others.
Despite lingering stigmas and stereotypes, glass ceilings, and double standards, American women are no longer limited to the role of housewife, teacher, nurse, or secretary, as essential as these roles are. What’s important is that each woman has the right to make her own life choices and not to be frowned upon when stepping into what was formerly known as “a man’s world.”
INDEPENDENCE IS KEY
Whatever our political standing or views on women’s rights, independence is key to our identity and is an integral part of our right to freedom. Despite what may have been thought in the past, we are not the weaker sex; in fact, it’s quite the opposite. Women are equally worthy and don’t need a man or anyone or anything else to complete us or to fill a void. We are already complete creations. Yes, like all people, we may need other people and things to survive and thrive. But let’s first and foremost accept ourselves, wholly and completely, and claim our lives and livelihoods. Let’s respectfully and honestly voice our opinions and share our beliefs, as well as listen to others, with thankfulness that we live in a free country.
ME, MYSELF, AND INDEPENDENT I-RENE
Stay real with yourself. Get to know yourself; unconditionally love, support, and stand up for yourself. Be your own best friend and cheerleader. Remind yourself continually of what a worthy woman you are with empowering positive affirmations. Celebrate your strengths and work with your weaknesses. Appreciate your unique beauty and talent and use your God-given gifts for good. As you overcome, triumph, and succeed, reward yourself and, when you fall down or feel like you’ve failed, realize you really haven’t. You’re still a worthy woman. Pick yourself back up, help yourself heal, re-center, realign, and refocus before you get back into the ebb and flow of life.
Cultivate a healthy, positive relationship with yourself and be true to you. Don’t try to be someone else; just be the best you. Just as in our gardens that require weeding and in our diets that require eliminating unhealthy foods, our relationships may also require some gatekeeping to keep out what’s holding you back. So, allow yourself to respectfully say “no” to some people or projects that might be toxic or harmful to your health, well-being, and growth. Take time for yourself to just breathe and be – and enjoy being independently free!