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June Sarpong’s name is synonymous with activism, with her iconic book The power of women hailed as a manifesto for modern women. Exploring gender equality and its essential role in our economic and social progress, June delves into sexism and the best way to eradicate it.
“The patriarchal rule means that men live in a perennial subconscious fear that one day women will rise up and make them exceed the requirements,” June writes. ‘The reverse is true; the more empowered women are, the more men are freed from the self-created servitude of patriarchy. ‘
Despite its original 2018 version, The power of women it has never felt more relevant, with the pandemic exacerbating the impact of patriarchy, which disproportionately affects women and deepens gender divisions. In short, the world remains a very scary place to be a woman and the powerful words of June cut the rumor.
Following the pandemic and tragic assassination of Sarah Everard, June has released an updated version of her groundbreaking book, with nine chapters on COVID-19 and security, among others.
As an updated version of The power of women reaching the shelves, June shares only an excerpt of her new introduction with Marie Claire …
Extracts from The power of women
Words by June Sarpong
When the legendary fashion stylist Diane von Furstenberg was eight years old, she met the mother of one of her school friends. This woman was a successful wife, mother and business woman. At that moment Diane decided that this was the woman she wanted to be: “An independent woman, a woman who could pay for her accounts, a woman who could manage her own life – and I became that woman.” As I walked with her in the elevator to the Women: Inspiration and Enterprise (WIE) conference, I asked Diane for one piece of advice she would give to any young woman starting out. She replied, “Clarity comes first. I have never met a woman who at heart is not strong. When we come together and put out that side of ourselves, we can truly change the world.”
The kind of effervescence that Diane von Furstenberg and others, as co-founders of Huffington Post Arianna Huffington, actress Helen Mirren, presenter and producer of talk show Oprah Winfrey and model, actress and entrepreneur Iman, exude comes only with age, which is why I am perplexed by the way we treat women over fifty in the West. As Western women age, society makes them feel more and more invisible: they disappear from television screens, magazine covers, billboards, and the media associated with attraction and lust. Surely we should come to these women, rather than discard them?
We have the power to reclaim every part of ourselves and the whole spectrum of the journey of our lives. As a woman, self-acceptance will probably be the hardest thing you’ve ever struggled to achieve, as with self-acceptance comes confidence. Everything in patriarchy is meant for us to be underconfident, speak slowly and without opinion so that we never experience our full power during our lifetime.
The impact of patriarchy is apparently exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. A survey conducted by the humanitarian agency CARE International found that women, who are generally much more likely to be employed by the services and informal services sectors, have disproportionately lost their jobs, and that they are 60 percent more likely than men to point out that this has had one of the biggest impacts on their lives. For many people working in these sectors, unemployment benefits are not offered. In other areas where they are offered, such as Côte d’Ivoire in West Africa, they are required to be paid to the head of the household – often a man – leaving some women without any compensation even though they are often required to buy and prepare everything. food for his family members. This, coupled with a drastic increase in both domestic violence and the amount of unpaid care work that women are expected to do throughout the pandemic, has caused a global mental health crisis. In many ways, the pandemic did not create these problems. It has only forced the fact that women around the world do not always get the same employment opportunities as men, and are always expected to take up most of the unpaid care work, more in the spotlight.
It is vital, therefore, that we act on these statistics and push for change so that women’s rights do not regress in the face of this pandemic, and that we instead raise them more strongly. That is why it is now time for us to rise up and save ourselves spiritually, mentally and physically. By doing so, I believe we can save humanity from a system that has been harmful to everyone, including those who created it in the first place – cisgender heterosexual men.
The patriarchal rule means that men live in a perennial subconscious fear that one day women will rise up and surrender in excess to demands. The reverse is true; the more empowered women are, the more men are freed from the self-created servitude of patriarchy. By doing so, men will no longer be forced to be in constant competition with each other, or to never be vulnerable, which contributes to so many mental health problems and suicides.
My encounter with Diane von Furstenberg happened in 2012 and has been with me ever since, forcing me to examine the woman I want to be and how I can overcome the impediments that prevent me from becoming her. The courage and confidence of women like Diane, created by her firm belief that everything she does is right for her, exemplifies why all women must decide who they want to be and then understand how to become so.
We must encourage and empower the dreams and ambitions of others. We must listen to each other’s fears and insecurities – but we must not let ourselves be paralyzed by them. And we must challenge the social structures and institutions that address women’s emancipation.
I guess it’s easier said than done, but for the sake of humanity we have to try – the world is in crisis and it needs women to help solve serious problems like climate change, poverty, l injustice, gender discrimination, and barriers to education that threaten the very survival of our species. Despite women making up about half of the world’s population, there are so few of us who work in the industry who directly try to address these issues. Just imagine what we could achieve if we had access to all that exploited brain power.
I’m working to become the woman I want to be and I still have a long way to go. Part of the reason I write this The power of women is to help myself and others develop a clearer vision of who that woman is. Positive cutaneous affirmations go a long way in helping to challenge the kind of negative self-talk that many women are afflicted with and that often treats them. There are a number of inspiring statements and quotes that can be found in my brand, www.francais.co.uk. I invite you to use these messages to help you create a new image.
As women, we should all strive to ensure that, one day, we look in the mirror to find the woman we want to be smiling at. When that moment happens, take a moment to enjoy everything it took to become her.
The power of women June Sarpong is out now.