A profound power arises when women come together and support other women – when we unite in a community that allows for safe, vulnerable, and authentic connection. In a space where we can be held, met, and seen, deep healing occurs, and anything is possible.
The truth is, we cannot reach our highest expression without the love and guidance of other women. We cannot be the friends, wives, mothers, daughters, or entrepreneurs we want to be if we are not held in true sisterhood.
In order to truly change ourselves and the world for the better, we need to reclaim our right to sit in community with other women. As writer and poet Alex Elle said, “It takes a village to thrive and be great. We cannot do it alone. Life wasn’t meant to be lived that way.”
A Brief History of Women in Community
The ritual of women gathering to connect and share stories is universal. It is as old as humankind itself, existing in ancient cultures worldwide.
For thousands of years, women gathered in nature, around campfires, or in sacred space to pass down wisdom – sharing resources, medicine, traditions, recipes, spiritual lessons, and stories. Many of their rituals were tied to phases of the moon, nature, spirits, seasons, and even menstruation.
As they shared their wisdom, healed, and connected on a deeper level, women became more powerful. They started to speak up, amplifying their voices and making positive changes in their tribes, towns and communities.
Unfortunately, this all began to change with the rise of patriarchy and hierarchy, which pushed down ritualistic and community-oriented practices. Masculine, linear progress began to replace more feminine, cyclical ways of being. It was during this time that women were removed from power, persecuted, or even burned at the stake for being ‘witches’ (oftentimes these women were healers or spiritual leaders).
Women’s circles, rituals and community decreased drastically, and the sister wound was born.
Healing The Sister Wound
The sister wound lives in all of us. It is the manifestation of women living in a patriarchal society that reinforces unhealthy coping mechanisms to survive. The sister wound is the pain, distrust, jealousy, insecurity, comparison, and fear we sometimes feel when relating to other women.
Although the patriarchy and sister wound robbed many women of their sense of community, things are starting to shift. Today, women all over the world are cultivating community to share their experiences and wisdom, heal their wounds, and lift each other up.
Through sisterhood and community, we unlearn what we’ve been told by the patriarchy – that competition and jealousy rule the relationships women have with each other. Through feminine connection, we emerge empowered and supported, knowing that we are never alone, and that together, anything is possible.
The Benefits of Joining a Community of Women
For women, being part of a community is associated with a multitude of benefits, including better health (both physically and mentally), increased confidence and self-esteem, emotional connection, and so much more.
Community is instrumental in encouraging women to be their best selves and recognizing that we are more powerful when we come together.
Here are some of the top reasons community is so beneficial for women:
Provides a safe space
Sadly, many women have never experienced a safe community of other women. In fact, many have reported that their connections with other women actually resulted in challenges, judgment, and even trauma. Again, this sort of experience stems from the sister wound that has ingrained itself into our psyche after centuries of being pinned against each other to dim our own power.
But in a conscious, intentional space, women’s communities provide a safe place to heal and show up in our truth – feeling held, seen, and heard. They create a container for vulnerability, assisting us in releasing emotions and unhealthy patterns while increasing our ability to connect with and hold space for others.
Gathering in a circle of women can be a profoundly transformative experience that supports us in navigating the ups and downs of life and feeling less alone in what we are going through.
Allows us to learn, share knowledge, and actively listen
In a community setting, women can bring together an array of different perspectives, skills, wisdom, and experiences, and everyone has the opportunity to share. At the same time, all members have the opportunity to listen with intention.
By pooling our knowledge and skills, we are better able to learn, solve problems and understand complex ideas. Engaging with other women in such a setting creates a safe space for us to broaden our minds and see the world from a whole new perspective. Working together and interacting in such a way can also be energizing and motivating for all involved. It provides a space to not only learn and grow, but also express oneself without fear of judgment.
“I can promise you that women working together – linked, informed and educated – can bring peace and prosperity to this forsaken planet.” -Isabelle Allende
Supports and empowers us
In patriarchal societies, it is common for women to place competition over collaboration. But contrary to some beliefs, women can be each other’s biggest supporters, and are incredible allies when put on the same team.
The most effective way we can begin to heal the sister wound is by lifting each other up. The aphorism “a rising tide lifts all boats” expresses this inherent truth – our light doesn’t dim when we ignite someone else’s flame. It just makes the world shine that much brighter. Empowering women is about sharing our experiences with one another in hopes that our words and actions will inspire, and more importantly, uplift them. It is all about helping other women enhance and enrich themselves.
We all deserve to be treated with respect, love, honesty and compassion, and a women’s community or circle provides the perfect container for this kind of energy. In such a space, what we say, feel, and think matters. We know other women have our back, which allows us to be vulnerable. We can sit in community with other women and speak our truth, sharing our deepest fears, shame, insecurities, hopes, dreams, and desires.
As we hear other women, women who we might have perceived as confident, put together, or ‘having it all’ – we realize that no one is perfect. We are all on our own journeys, and we all have insecurities, fears, wounds, and various things that we would like to shift in our lives.
Furthermore, in many societies, women are taught to behave a certain way in order to be accepted or ‘worthy’. As a result, we often self-censor and hold ourselves back from our full, authentic expression due to self-doubt or fear of judgment.
Women communities change this. They hold space for us to share and amplify our voices and our truth, increasing our confidence and self-esteem. They also encourage the sharing of stories and past experiences, which helps in releasing limiting beliefs and even healing personal or ancestral trauma.
“I want to build a community where women of all races can communicate and ... continue to support and take care of each other. I want to give women a space to feel their own strength and tell their stories. That is power.” - Beyonce
Helps us succeed
Study after study shows that women who support women are objectively more successful. A study published in the Harvard Business Review demonstrates that women are more likely to achieve the highest possible levels of success in their careers if their inner circle is made up of other women.
In community, women can empower and support each other to be more successful, confident, and motivated. From professional accomplishments and guidance, to mental health support and workplace obstacles — women communities become spaces where women can share career advice and create opportunities for each other, together. We can encourage each other to try something new, take risks, and step out of our comfort zone.
“Behind every great woman... is another great woman." -Kate Hodges
Makes us healthier
Being in community with other women can also improve our health, both physically and mentally.
Scientists share that being in the company of like-minded women releases oxytocin, which can help counteract the day-to-day stress most of us experience.
Furthermore, women with a female support network have a better chance of surviving various diseases. Research published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology looked at women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer and found that those who have strong female bonds were four times less likely to die from cancer.
“Communities, countries, and ultimately the world are only as strong as the health of their women.” -Michelle Obama
How to Form Strong Relationships with Women
Now that you understand the value of being in community with other women, you may be asking yourself: How can I form stronger relationships with the women in my life? Here are a few tips:
- Be proactive. Reconnect with the women you’ve known throughout your life that you liked, and from there rebuild your relationships with them.
- Whenever you meet a woman that you feel a connection with, get in touch and see where the friendship may lead you. Deep connection with other women is not something that happens to you, it’s something that you willfully create.
- Be intentional about the women you surround yourself with. You have the right to decide who you spend your time with, so choose women who uplift, love, support and inspire you.
- Don’t be afraid to go deep. Joining a women’s community means that you’re willing to be vulnerable – to love fully, with all that you are.
- Consider joining a local or even an online community of women. Find a group that shares similar values. This may be a book club, yoga group, philanthropic cause…anything that sparks your interest. What’s important is that you’re getting together with other women who share a common interest—and that you go to meetings and events often enough to let these strong connections develop.
Right now, connecting with each other and coming together to support one another is more important than ever before. To share our stories…to be real with a community of women we can trust is one of the best feelings in the world. It is in this space that we can reawaken to our true power.
These communities are instrumental in encouraging women to be their best selves and realizing that we are stronger when we come together. We trust that women who are empowered have the power to bring about positive change in the world.
“The true wealth of a community is measured by how carefully it listens to its women and how sincerely it values their wisdom. Empowering women empowers us all.” -Forest Whitaker