Should you be a dragon?

The Empowered Women of Westeros

Regardless of who takes the Iron Throne next week on the Game of Thrones series finale, the show has developed a cast of inspiring, strong female characters who could readily rule the Seven Kingdoms. Each has taught us a valuable lesson about embracing life, becoming a leader and what it means to be empowered ─ important not only for thriving in Westeros, but also for wealth planning.

Arya Stark is true to herself. When her father, Ned Stark, tells her that someday, “You will marry a high lord and rule his castle. And your sons shall be knights and princes and lords.” Arya confidently replies, “No. That’s not me.” She’s thrilled when brother, John Snow, gives her a sword she names ‘Needle’ and exclaims her sister “Sansa can keep her sewing needles, I have a needle of my own.” Her determination proves lucky for everyone when she ultimately saves humankind by assassinating the Night King with her swift maneuvering and a blade of Valyrian steel.

Sansa Stark learns from her mistakes. When she was younger, Sansa only wanted to marry a prince, but learns the hard way that a man is not a plan. Over time, she becomes a wise political strategist who tells treasonous Littlefinger, before sentencing him to death, “I’m a slow learner. It’s true. But I learn.”

Daenerys Targaryen demands respect. Once a meek little sister to abusive older brother, Viserys, Daenerys becomes a revolutionary by cleverly building an army of soldiers who owe her their freedom. She insists that everyone “bend the knee” to signify her birthright to the Iron Throne.

Brienne of Tarth personifies loyalty and physical strength. When Brienne pledges to do a job, you can take her at her word. Whether she was escorting Jamie Lannister back to King’s Landing or protecting the Stark sisters, she did what she could to honor her commitments, successfully fighting many men in combat along the way. She tells Jamie, “All my life men like you have sneered at me. And all my life I’ve been knocking men like you into the dust.” Despite tradition, Jamie eventually anoints her the first woman knight in the history of the Seven Kingdoms.

Lyanna Mormont is self-sufficient and brave. With most of her house slaughtered at the Red Wedding, Lyanna, a 10-year-old warrior, personally led her army into battle against the White Walkers. “I may be small. I may be a girl. But I don’t plan on knitting by the fire while men fight for me.” She didn’t need anyone’s permission to defend the North, and in the battle of Winterfell she took out a giant one thousand times her size.

Cercei Lannister demonstrates the value of strategic thinking and commitment to one’s goals. Although ruthless, she (mostly) kept ahead of her enemies through careful plotting and planning – like when she avoids her trial (and its inevitable consequences) by setting off an explosion that kills her enemies inside the Great Sept of Baelor. She is a despotic leader who believes “The only way to keep your people loyal is to make certain they fear you more than they do the enemy.”

Olenna Tyrell is a mentor to other women. She encouraged Daenerys Targaryen to embrace her strength and leadership “Are you a sheep? No. You’re a dragon. Be a dragon.”

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