When the going gets tough, the tough write songs about it and we all sing along.

There’s nothing more comforting than being understood. And as women, no one truly gets us better than our fellow female friends.

It’s also a universal fact that sometimes nothing says it better than a song, so on that note, here’s a playlist carefully curated for the ones who rule the world, as Beyoncé calls us.

Whether you need a girl power pep talk, a boost of self-confidence, some girl-to-girl encouragement, a reminder that you’re perfect just the way you are and that you deserve to be respected, or if you just feel like celebrating the gigantic package of awesome-ness that you are, here’s a list of lyrics to echo every tune of our hearts.

1.) Beautiful– Christina Aguilera

Yes, “I am beautiful, no matter what they say” and No, “words can’t get me down!” Now sing it like you mean it!

2.) Who runs the world? – Beyoncé

Yes, you guessed it,  the answer is GIRLS!

3.) Pretty hurts– Beyoncé

“Blonder hair, flat chest
TV says, “Bigger is better.”
South beach, sugar free
Vogue says, “Thinner is better.”

This feminist of note speaks directly to the female condition society imposes on us, and calls out its superficial, two-faced expectations. “Perfection is a disease of a nation” Queen B sings. 

“We shine the light on whatever’s worst
We try to fix something but you can’t fix what you can’t see
It’s the soul that needs the surgery” 

Amen! We can all resonate!

4.) Girls just wanna have funCyndi Lauper

If the previous song spoke too deeply to your soul, then let Cyndi Lauper remind you what’s really important: Having fun. Life is too short to be taken in by all the image-centred negativity, because “when the working day is done, girls just wanna have fun!” Right?

Of course.

And just to reinforce the fact that Female actually stands for Fun:

5.) Man I feel like a woman– Shania Twain

The best thing about being a woman is the prerogative to have a little fun.” Shania said it. I second it. So as for me, I’m singing along.

6.) Who says– Selena Gomez

Who says you’re not perfect???

It doesn’t matter anyway because whoever they are, they’re wrong! If you’re not convinced, Selena will remind you that you’re a diamond in the rough, and you’re totally worth it!  (Heres me reminding you now too.)

7.) All about that bass– Meghan Trainor

Here’s Meghan Trainor singing what your mother has forever been telling you, but you’ve never chosen to believe. I guess Meghan has a better voice, because how can you not let her catchy words sink in: “Every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top.”

8.) Me too- Meghan Trainor

“If I was you, I’d wanna be me too.”

Meghan Trainor’s self-confidence is addictive- trust me, when this song’s stuck in your head you won’t be able to stop singing “I thank God every day that I woke up feelin’ this way, and I can’t help loving myself…” 

Damn, can we have some of whatever she’s on?

Just keep on singing the song!  

(I wish it took something as easy as singing to convince me though!)

9.) All the single ladies- Beyoncé

Single ladies unite! We’re awesome just the way we are and we don’t need someone to dance with when we’ve got each other!

But for those women who have, (or have high hopes of having) a significant other, here’s Meghan Trainor reminding you that you DO deserve to be treated RIGHT:

10.) Dear future husband– Meghan Trainor

And just to clarify: By right, we mean with respect and equality. Translation: Dear future husband, this is not the 1950s and we are not glorified domestic help.

But just hum along to the song, Trainor makes her point loud and clear.

11.) Brave– Sara Bareilles

For all the women who are victims of not being considered an equal in the eyes of our male counterparts, and fail to have their voices, opinions and truths heard, take Sara Bareilles advice and just Say what you want to say anyway!

“Nothing’s gonna hurt you the way that words do
When they settle ‘neath your skin
Kept on the inside and no sunlight
Sometimes a shadow wins”

Ponder on these words and don’t let that patriarchal shadow overshadow your brilliant self!

12.) And ultimately, never forget that YOU WILL SURVIVE! In the event that you do forget, let Gloria Gaynor remind you with her iconic song I will survive.

“But then I spent so many nights thinking how you did me wrong
And I grew strong
And I learned how to get along..”

Go Gloria! This is a lyrical and melodic masterpiece, and perfect for karaoke, so call all your girlfriends together and sing the inspiration into existence.

AND lastly,

13.)While you’re all together, bonding over these shared experiences, let ABBA  channel your inner Dancing Queen.

The bed is your stage, the deodorant can is your microphone, so sing and dance and have a fabulous time celebrating your unique girl power!

The ‘weaker’ voice: What it’s like to be a woman in a Man’s world.

On Wednesday, the world united together to celebrate the Wonder that is Women.

If you weren’t aware it was International Women’s Day, then you either live under the ocean, or the universe has punished you (or rewarded you, whichever way you see it) by sending you to a place that has no internet connection or any links to the real world- and if that were so, you wouldn’t be reading this, so we can dismiss that theory altogether.

For those of you who do live under the ocean, and just came up for some air on Wednesday, I’m sure you were bombarded with the motivational, inspirational, ‘Girl Power’ dialogue that dominated the day.

But then came Thursday, and we woke up to the void of Happy Women’s Day messages and perhaps unwillingly returned to normality- a state that’s forever being promoted as ‘over-rated’ and ‘cliché’ and compelled to be replaced with ‘originality’. “Don’t be normal,” they say, “be you!” -Whatever that means.

How do we ‘be’ ourselves; how do we embody what lies at the core of being when society, is constantly using its subtle tactics and manipulations to choke us into a mold.

Just like men, women are also classified as strong, brave and courageous, but not for the same reasons that men are. No, women are awarded the labels of ‘Bravery’ and ‘Strength’ for overcoming the daily hurdles that men breeze over without a second thought. Men are brave and courageous for fighting off giants and walking head first into battle and defeating their opponents without hesitation.

Women are deemed brave and courageous for daring to enter into a male’s world and succeed. Every step up the corporate ladder is a dagger in the heart of the giant, that is the Patriarchal society. Every woman who attempts to shout louder than society’s redundant voice dictating who we should be and what we should look like is walking head first into battle against a mob of brainwashed opponents.

We’re courageous for trying to break free when in actual fact we should never have been chained in the first place. And by no means does that place a slight on our achievements and strength at all, we’ve earned the title, we deserve it. We’ve undeniably proved that Women as a nation are a formidable force, but it’s a fight we shouldn’t have to continuously relive.

It’s all good and well that we’ve succeeded in standing up for ourselves countless times throughout history, but why do we continuously have to rejustify our case? Why do we constantly have to repeat ourselves in order to be heard? Why do our voices still feel so weak?

I like how Kriti Sanon says it in this video that went viral on Facebook.

This year, on International Women’s Day, while women around the world were for one isolated day, making sure that they were heard, I was interviewing a scientist who told me how on a daily basis she struggles with not being taken seriously in the workplace by her fellow male counterparts.

“It’s really difficult to be a female scientist in a largely male-dominated field. I feel like I’m always having to try a little bit harder to prove to everyone that I can do the tasks. If a man comes along, he is automatically trusted with a project, but the minute you’re female, you always end up having to defend yourself.” said Environmental scientist Puleng Tsie.

Puleng is based at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, where she works as communications manager for Sci Enza, a company that works toward finding interactive ways to make learning science fun and understandable for learners. She said that although the field of female scientists is growing, it is growing at a very slow rate. “Women are still breaking into a field that for centuries has been dominated by mature male scientists,” she explained.

“Happy Women’s Day” didn’t seem like an apt response to that revelation. The worst part was that I wasn’t surprised at her answer when I brought up the topic of gender stigmatization and discrimination in the workplace. I was kind of expecting her response to be more or less on same lines.  Her answer expressed the same underlying truth that we shove in the far out corners of our minds, and we try to flush away with every pro-women motivational pep talk we seem to be constantly dishing out to one another.

Take a moment to consider the ratio of male to female non-fiction writers who win, or get nominated for literary prizes. Majority of the time, male authors walk away with the prize.  What is it about the female voice that makes it more well-received and accepted in fiction, or when women do dare to delve into the non-fiction battlefield, why do they often settle for memoirs?

In an article published on Slate, Kate Waldman questions why the memoir genre is on the rise for women non-fiction writers and links it to the fact that female non-fiction writers fail to feature on the receiving end of book prizes as often as men do.

“Does the relative invisibility of memoir on the nonfiction prize circuit lead to the underrepresentation of women? Or is it the other way around? Perhaps women are drawn to memoir for the same reasons that NBA judges seem to flinch from it: The genre’s goals feel less explicitly grandiose and weighty, more acceptable for us—with our “emotions” and our “fine brushwork”—to strive for,”  Waldman writes.

Do women stick to fiction and memoirs because it’s too treacherous a territory to compete with the loud, overbearing voices of their male counterparts? Is it the tiny societal voice that’s been subliminally engrained in us from infancy: “Blue is for boys, pink is for girls” in the adult world can translate into “stick to what you’re good at.” Who has the right to set parameters around what areas we can excel in?

There are however the few exceptions of female non-fiction writers who braved the deep waters and succeeded. Last year, three of the four writers shortlisted for The Baillie Gifford Prize for non-fiction, were women. So, maybe there is hope, but how long must we wait around to find out?

Women finally make it to the top of the ladder; the plateau of so-called equality, only to find that they “still have a way to go”. I hate those six words, that are repeated so often they’re bordering on cliche, but maybe I hate them more because the truth in them rings out an ineffable defeat: so close, but yet so far. Will we ever find the pot of gold under the rainbow? Does it even exist, or are we all just a bunch of supreme idealists?

Where to from here? I honestly wish I knew. Puleng has some solid advice, which she stands by:

“I know my background, I understand and I’m good at what I do. If people want to check up on me, or question me, it’s their waste of time and energy not mine.” That’s her expert advice on dealing with being second-guessed just because you’re a girl.

And as much as I agree and applaud her attitude, I fear that the day will come when after screaming so loud, for so long, in the vain hope of being heard the first time, our frail voices will finally falter, be reduced to a whisper and we’ll be back at square one. Having come so far, but with so much further still to go.