Want to Fast-Track Your Way to Female Empowerment? Build A Tribe.

One of our impact causes at Sahoja is building healthy communities through women’s empowerment. So in honor of International Women’s Day, we thought we’d offer some advice on how to start doing that close to home.

The International Women’s Day website explains how, together, we can make an impact on this pivotal cause:

“We are all parts of a whole. Our individual actions, conversations, behaviors and mindsets can have an impact on our larger society. Collectively, we can make change happen. Collectively, we can each help to create a gender equal world.”

This year’s theme is #EachforEqual — a call to action for each and every one of us to help create a gender equal world…a world that can, and should, be “healthier, wealthier and more harmonious.”

At Sahoja, we support #EachforEqual, today and every day.

So, for the women of our community: What’s an easy, inspiring way you can empower yourself and the women around you? We spoke to Madrid-based choreographer, diversity facilitator and female empowerment advocate Jennifer Lisette Lopez, and her answer was: Build a tribe. Here’s what inspired her to do that — and her best tips for building your own.

Empowered Women Empower Women

“I decided to build a tribe after I attended a retreat on SuperShe Island in Finland a few years ago,” says Lopez, who has been featured as a dance instructor in European editions of Elle and Vogue. I realized that I was surrounded by powerful women, but many of them were struggling. Some were trying to balance motherhood with their careers. Others wanted to build their confidence or find their passion. Or they were saying things like, ‘I want to make a difference, but I don’t know how.’

“I wanted to bring these women together,” she continues, “because I’ve witnessed firsthand that when you get a bunch of like-minded women together, magic happens.”

Members of Lopez’s tribe include NGO consultants, UNICEF facilitators, journalists, documentary and short film directors, singers, actresses, educators, yoga and dance teachers, and coaches. How exactly to they help each other shine?

Opera singer turned business consultant and digital marketer Lisa Mariette, who joined Lopez’s tribe a few months ago, says, “What I love about our tribe is that we not only offer each other help and support, but we lift each other up in both good times and bad.

“We listen to each other and provide different perspectives. We point out blocks that someone might not be aware of. We bounce ideas off each other for our businesses. And we collaborate, rather than compete, in areas where our businesses intersect.”

Fellow member Fiona Van Tyne, a globetrotting yoga teacher and personal trainer who runs Artio Fitness, agrees. “The tribe is a network where we can openly share our wins, ask questions, and support each other.” Recently, she says, she needed help with her business, and several women offered to help. Her conversations with them helped her gain clarity about the direction she wanted to take. “Each person I talked to was positive, enthusiastic and genuinely wanted to help however they could.”

“Mentally, it’s nice to know that there is this close network of women who will help you or cheer you on,” she says. “It’s made me much more positive with my other lady friends, and I have been working on becoming as big of a champion of them as our tribe is of each other.”

5 Tips for Building Your Tribe

  • Look for women who, like you, are global citizens with a shared purpose, goal or mission.

You can get as specific as you want, says Lopez. (Solopreneurs who are creating more sustainable businesses; single moms who want to learn, and practice, conscious parenting; peaceful activists who are making an impact on a cause that is close to their hearts.)

“I decided to focus on women who are trying to move their careers forward,” she says, “either by starting a business or moving their own ideas forward. But they’re also global citizens who want to give back to society. Women who will support each other. Women I trust and call my friends.”

  • Start small — and keep the group “consciously cultivated.”

At first, says Lopez, your tribe might be three or four like-minded women. But in time, it will grow organically.

Lopez suggests asking yourself: What do these women have in common? How can they help each other? “It’s not a Facebook group that anyone can join,” she says.

Before inviting someone new, make sure that you or another woman in your tribe is willing to vouch that they share a similar mindset, intention and goals.

  • Lay down some positive ground rules.

Everyone should be genuinely motivated to help each other, says Lopez. “They should also be willing to be vulnerable, so they can receive help themselves.”

  • Schedule regular meetups (in person or online).

It doesn’t matter if the women in your tribe live in the same city, state or country, says Lopez. “Even if they never meet in person, it’s important that they feel connected.” That’s why she suggests scheduling regular get-togethers, even if they’re virtual. “It’s up to you how frequently.”

In the beginning, she says, it might take a little more work to make everyone feel comfortable and connected, “but once the tribe gets going, the magic kind of happens on its own.” It may help to choose a discussion topic or a theme for each meetup, she says.

  • Set up a group chat so that members can keep in touch between meetups.

This is another great way for the women in a tribe to share their experiences, ideas, and advice for each other, and support each other on a variety of levels. It’s also a nice place to share and celebrate your wins with the group, and encourage other members to do the same.

Making Magic

What does it look like when a group of women start making magic together? Probably like Lopez’s tribe. In the last few years, the women in her group have gotten each other speaking gigs, moderating jobs, and client leads. They’ve connected each other to other people in their networks and have offered emotional support for women who’ve been going through a hard time. Some of the more experienced entrepreneurs in the group have mentored other women launching similar businesses. And two women even decided to become roommates, says Lopez.

“My heart is so full when I see women in the tribe connecting with each other, helping each other, and pushing each other forward. They make me feel connected to something greater than myself — to a universal source of love and connection.

“I’m a community organizer by nature,” she continues. “I love getting people together, and I see how much happier we could all be if we were all more connected. The amount of positivity and joy and good things that happen when we build our own tribes — it’s exponential.”

And on the level of female empowerment, her friend and fellow tribe member Mariette says: “When you have a group of strong, determined women walking shoulder to shoulder with you, you feel unstoppable.”

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