Celebrating International Women's Friendship Month: Build Friendships Worth Protecting

Portrait of happy mature and young African American women, studio shot
Portrait of happy mature and young African American women, studio shot

As we celebrate International Women's Friendship Month, longtime friends including actresses/writers/producers Tina Fey and Amy Poehler remind us that female friends are as good as it gets.

A good friend can top off our confidence, be a soft landing spot on a hard day, and help us see that we're not alone in a world that can sometimes feel scary and intimidating. Women pals can unlock our inner Funny Girl and help us find the humor in a world that sometimes takes itself way too seriously, as Fey and Poehler show.

Lasting connections are the sum of the little, seemingly ordinary moments in life that, when added up, have a value we can't begin to measure. Yet, we know we'd never be the same without them. Or in Poehler's case, even look the same.

In her earlier acting days, Poehler was plagued with bleached-white hair and contrasting eyebrows that "looked like they were done with a thick black marker," she said in a 2008 Marie Claire article. Fortunately, her new friend, Tina Fey had the scoop on all things eyebrows. "I was 22 or 23, and I had only recently learned that you can pluck your eyebrows or have a lady put hot wax on them and remove portions of them and shape them. So this was a big thing that happened to me, and I passed that information on to you," Fey said in the article.

In 2001, it was Poehler who boosted Fey. For years, Fey had been asking Poehler to join her at Saturday Night Live. When Poehler finally joined the show, Fey wrote in her book Bossypants, "I was so happy. Weirdly, I remember thinking, 'My friend is here! My friend is here!' Even though things had been going great for me at the show, with Amy there, I felt less alone."

Together, the two have risen to the top as leading lady lights. Their next movie together comes out in December. Excited already!

Women's friendships help us all be our individual best -- and collectively great. They're the crème in our coffee. They're like a back rub on a bad afternoon. Or a tap dance on a top-of-the-world day.

Besties shore us up so we can breathe in, step out, and shine on, whether in entertainment, business, politics or at school.

When your female tribe's behind you, you feel less vulnerable, maybe even invincible, right? And who can relate to what you go through in life more than another woman?

From what I've experienced, when my friends and I are there for one another, the whole world feels a lot kinder and way more hopeful. There's a glow that lights even the bleakest moments.

When women are committed to one another's wellbeing, we also write some amazing new chapters for women around the world who are still overcoming dark passages, like African tailor Angela Adeke.

Angela lives in rural, poverty-stricken Uganda, where guerrilla group leader Joseph Kony committed unspeakable atrocities for years. Thousands of women and tens of thousands of children were kidnapped. Schools were destroyed, and many were killed and displaced.

During these dark times, Adeke struggled to survive and provide for her children. She knew the best hope for them was to attend school. But school staff scorned her and chased her away when they learned she couldn't even afford uniforms.

And then, as happens when compassion meets oppression, Adeke received a $150 grant and business training from California-based nonprofit Village Enterprise.

Unbelievably, in what sounds like a Hollywood movie, Adeke turned the pain of being shunned at school into the triumph of being a community leader and successful businesswoman. Adeke has now sewn uniforms for more than 4,000 children -- helping more girls step foot inside a classroom for the first time.

But she didn't stop there. Because Adeke loves helping other women and girls, she launched a training school for other female tailors,including young girls who get pregnant, sometimes from rapes, who would otherwise be shunned in their community.

I am always amazed what an on-fire woman can do. When women support one another, our opportunities, joy, health, and worlds, personally and globally, keep expanding, one woman at a time.

And when we fail to support one another, or worse yet, hold back or even block one another, we all miss so many opportunities. And we short-circuit our collective rise.

This is our time to lead and light up the world. We have no time to waste by being anything but our best. This is what led me to weave the amazing Confidence Coalition's Confidence Pledge into my new book, Mending the Sisterhood & Ending Women's Bullying. I was so excited to discover the empowering pledge because it reminds us that we rise together.

Let's listen to what it has to say. Really listen. And then try to practice it in our individual worlds.

None of us is perfect. We all fall short of the ideal of female friendships from time to time. But the Confidence Pledge calls us to prioritize and protect our bonds.

And when we do, as Poehler and Fey discovered, life can be pretty amazing. Over time, over years. With your gal pals at your side.

Her lifelong friends are "bound by enormous affection, by our shared experience of a time that could never come again," said author JK Rowling in her 2008 Harvard commencement speech.

We're all connected by and living in times that will never come again. We're all moving from one moment to the next in what can often feel like a warp-speed and full-tilt world.

All we have is now. Let's make "now" count. Hanging out, holidays, graduations, weddings, first jobs and houses, babies, promotions, grandchildren, and more. All those magical milestones are happening right now. And they're so much sweeter if they can be shared with our friends.

So let's vow to make female friendships a priority worth protecting. Treat a friend as you'd like to be treated. Remember her birthday with more than a text. Make a date to run or walk with a friend regularly. Take a dance class together and shake your booties--and blues--away.

Find ways to lift up women and girls around the world. They seek so many things we take for granted, like safe water or an education.

Share great job and internship leads with your friends. Know that their success does nothing to detract from yours.

Cook a meal together and crank up the music as the sauces simmer. Join a book club and read women's memoirs. And share your life story with other women.

Be willing to open yourself up to friends so they can see the real you. Share who you really are, at heart, so your friends can remind you how awesome you are when you forget.

Stand up for the women around you, and don't let them be mistreated or bullied. Be a trusted friend and colleague. If you reach a new pinnacle in your profession, reach back and help another women.

And most of all, as Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Angela Adeke, and JK Rowling show, be willing to let the magic of true friendship shine through your life.

We are living in times that will never come again. But when we look back on them, they will shine even more brightly if we traveled through them with good friends.