Ten Challenges of a Liberated Woman

While women and men have become social equals by law, we are all still deeply conditioned by ancient survival patterns in which women are subordinate and compete with one another for male attention and protection. To create a new ground of human relationship, we have to develop a field of liberated, enlightened consciousness between them that transcends the separation of egoic conditioning, individually and collectively. It is a delicate, difficult, and thrilling endeavor. I have identified ten challenges—and the ideals they point to—facing a woman who wants to create an enlightened future.

1. Holding an Evolutionary Perspective
She strives to live in the knowledge that the creative intelligence that gave birth to the universe is not separate from her true self. She knows that all of the ways that she is conditioned—biologically, socially, and psychologically—are not personal to her, but are part and parcel of a universal developmental process.

2. Trusting in Life
Through letting go of her need to control over and over again, she has discovered the empty Ground of Being that lies at the depth of her self. This profound experience of liberation frees her at the deepest level. As a result, she is at ease, manifesting an undefended innocence, dignity, and independence of spirit.

3. Taking Responsibility for Evolution
Knowing that the entire developmental process is One, she endeavors to take full responsibility for evolving her own consciousness, realizing that her development moves the leading edge forward for all womankind.

4. Realizing Unity with Other Women
She relaxes more and more into a unity with other women as she refuses to act out of the nearly universal compulsion for women to separate from and compete with each other. She doesn’t deny that this compulsion, which has been key to women’s survival in the past, operates in her psyche, nor is she afraid or ashamed of it, but she works to keep her focus on evolving women’s relationships through trust, transparency, and a passion to create the future.

5. Being Emotionally Rational
Despite how overwhelming any emotional experience may be, she strives for objectivity and aspires to liberate her power of choice so that she is no longer trapped by fears and desires rooted in her biological and cultural conditioning. She is developing the emotional maturity to not dis-integrate and give in to ancient survival impulses when she finds herself under pressure.

6. Standing Autonomously and Not Wavering
Rather than gauging her responses by what she thinks others want and need, she is cultivating a radical autonomy, grounded in her longing for liberation and her passion for the evolution of consciousness. She increasingly finds manipulative game-playing distasteful, and craves being simple, straight, and clear in her relationships with others.

7. Relinquishing Sexual Power
She is awake to how deeply identified she is with her sexual power and how instinctive it is to use it to get what she wants. Aspiring to drop this fundamental identification, she finds that sexual relationships become more straightforward and less of a priority and marker of personal success. The more she succeeds in this aspiration, the more she discovers a profound intimacy with others that is not related to sexuality at all.

8. Leading by Example
Dropping the many masks of pretense and self-image, she strives for a rare vulnerability and authenticity that is not emotional but comes from being unafraid of the impulses and motivations that drive women. She is discovering a deep confidence that is not edged with hardness but founded in transparency and humility. She is willing to step forward and be a pioneer, and does not abuse the power that comes with leadership.

9. Being Trustworthy
Resisting the temptation to be dishonest or inauthentic under scrutiny, she desires to act with integrity so that her word is her deed. She aspires to be consistently true to a higher purpose no matter what personal challenges she faces.

10. Rejecting Victimhood
She recognizes that she has cocreated history with men and is not a victim of it. She seeks to take full responsibility for her own choices, past and present. Today, she stands side by side with men as an equal cocreator of an enlightened future.

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About Elizabeth Debold

Elizabeth Debold, EdD, is senior editor of EnlightenNext magazine, as well as an author, internationally reknowned gender researcher, and cultural commentator. Her bestselling book, Mother Daughter Revolution: From Good Girls to Great Women, was heralded by Gloria Steinem and Carol Gilligan as “the book women have been waiting for.” Debold received her doctorate in human development and psychology from Harvard University, where she was a founding member of the Harvard Project on Women’s Psychology and Girls’ Development, directed by Dr. Carol Gilligan. Debold has been sought as an expert on girls, women, and the evolution of gender roles by major media outlets in the U.S. and abroad and has lectured in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. She has made multiple appearances on Oprah, Good Morning America, and NPR, and was featured in a major Lifetime documentary on girls’ development. Currently, she cohosts a regular weekly web broadcast about spiritual and cultural evolution through EnlightenNext. She has also consulted to numerous films/television programs, as well as to foundations, nonprofit educational organizations, corporate law firms, and businesses.  She has taught at the New School for Social Research, Harvard University, and the Graduate Institute, where she was the academic director of the Master of Arts program in Conscious Evolution. Her work has appeared in academic publications, popular media, and international anthologies as wel as in EnlightenNext magazine. She is under contract for a new book, tentatively titled The Evolution of Love: Men, Women, and the Possibility of Transformation to be published by Pantheon. 


  1. It is very important work that you do; I fully support your intentions. I admire your wisdom and thank you for sharing these messages. I resonate most strongly with number six.



  2. I think Dr. Deepak Chopra one day had asked the question "Do you want to be the "Princess Archetype" or something along those lines, the "damsel in distress". We seem to idolize the stick figure, beautiful, exposed skin of a woman so much in society through all the advertising and mass media marketing engine that the true innate nature of a woman is never celebrated. We just need to have all the women shift their paradigm to archetypes such as Codoleezza Rice, Oprah Winfrey, Lady Diana etc and we would be great winners. I see girls in their 20's that are more interested in wearing the skimpiest of clothes and attracting the wrong men in their lives than actually being of service to humanity which would actually bring meaning and purpose to their life and in turn true blissful happiness.

  3. This is great, thank you. I especially like number 10 where you point to the fact that women have co-created history with men…which I understand to mean as rather than in spite of men. It seems to be important that women and all of humanity release the view point of victim hood for everything and anything and instead begin using their energy to create and serve others. What a world that would be!