To begin with, What Is Power?
Power is “the ability to do something or act in a particular way.”
We all understand that we need the required power to do anything that we want to do.
It could be something as simple as lifting an object or as difficult as pole vaulting.
It could be something as involuntary as breathing or as voluntary as holding your breath under water.
Whatever we set ourselves to do, we need the power to do that.
Empowerment is “ giving someone the power to do something”.
If we look at the examples stated above, we know that nobody had to give us the power to lift something, or pole vault or breathe or hold the breath under water. We did it ourselves.
In other words, that power came from within us. That is, we empowered ourselves.
Now, let us consider another example.
A bank employee can give you money in return of a signed cheque. We cannot get into the bank and take money in return.
We do not have the power or authority to do so. Whereas, the bank employee is empowered to do it.
That employee was empowered by his /her job description and by his supervisor to do so.
So, we are clearly empowered to do something and not empowered to do something else.
Why Is Empowerment Important ?
Every human being is part of a family and a society. Each of us has a role to play, and that, more or less, defines what we do.
When we do a task, it involves action, decision making, reviewing the action etc.
Along with guidelines on how to do a task, we should also have some power associated with it. That helps us in owning up the task and doing it better.
This in turn boosts our confidence and prepares us to take on bigger tasks and with that confidence our chances of succeeding in it also increases.
Hence, at the core of a person being successful, lies how empowered he feels in doing something.
That feeling of empowerment is partly something he instilled in himself and partly what others bestowed him with.
Here, we are talking about that overall feeling empowerment.
What Is Empowerment Of Women?
According to an article published by Ourworldindata.org in 2019, women form 49.6% of the world’s population.
So, when we speak about the concept of empowerment of the human race, we cannot NOT talk about one half of the total population. It is implied, isn’t it ?
Unfortunately, even in the twenty-first century, we have to raise our voice for empowerment of women. Why is that?
It is definitely not because these women do not have the power or the ability to do something. They have proven their mantle time and again under various circumstances.
Every field where men have achieved success, women have already conquered, or are in the process of conquering.
Then, why do we still have to speak about empowering women as a separate topic of discussion?
Though there has been a lot of improvement in the way men look at women’s powers and in the way women look at their own powers and abilities, we cannot yet say that we have overcome the problem of inequalities among human beings based on their gender.
There is still work to be done and there are a lot of men and women around the world who have devoted themselves to this noble cause.
“There is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women.” Kofi Annan
What Is Female Empowerment?
Female empowerment is simply the process of giving the required power to the female population.
The power required to execute their jobs well, the power required to make their own decisions, the power required to lead a life of their choice.
The next obvious question is, who has to give this power? Who has been entrusted the responsibilities of empowerment? Is there a forum to do so?
If almost half the population in the world are females, why should someone else give them the power? Logically speaking, if men are entitled to empower themselves, women too are.
Let us look a little deeper into this topic. Let us look at what empowerment is all about.
What Is Empowerment Of Women All About?
Women’s empowerment should start with equality. Equality in opportunities and equality in representation.
Opportunities from the basic opportunity to live (we cannot overlook that fact that female infanticide is till a reality in some parts of the world) ,
Opportunity to education (the number of girls dropping out of school is still way higher than the number of boys dropping out of school),
Opportunity to work ( female workforce is still outnumbered by the male workforce),
And opportunity to lead ( the number of women leaders is much lesser than their male counterparts).
Equality in pay. Men AND women should earn the same pay for the same jobs as men across the board.
Equality in representation in every field of life is also very important for the empowerment of women. This will ensure a fair decision or judgement and avoid a biased one. A fair representation in all fields is not a far away dream today.
What Are Women’s Empowerment Principles?
Unfortunately, for a very long time, women were oppressed and they were not given equal rights or responsibilities.
They had to lead their lives according to the rules set by the men in the society.
Though things have changed drastically in many parts of the world, there has to be interventions from the Government, the society, and every empowered person to bring in equality and justice to all women around the world.
There are principles set by different authorities to help in this cause.
A principle is a rule or a guideline to be followed to help you achieve something. In this case, we are looking at some guidelines that can help us empower women.
The United Nations has come up with 7 principles to empower women in the workplace, marketplace and community. These principles are:
Principle 1: Establish high-level corporate leadership for gender equality
Principle 2: Treat all women and men fairly at work – respect and support human rights and nondiscrimination
Principle 3: Ensure the health, safety and well-being of all women and men workers
Principle 4: Promote education, training and professional development for women
Principle 5: Implement enterprise development, supply chain and marketing practices that empower women
Principle 6: Promote equality through community initiatives and advocacy
Principle 7: Measure and publicly report on progress to achieve gender equality
These principles clearly state that empowerment of women means treating women without any prejudices, providing them equal opportunities for growth and development, and creating an atmosphere of sisterhood which advocates – sharing, caring and growing.
This atmosphere will hence ensure good representation of women in varied sectors of the society.
We need women in equal numbers in the board rooms, in the implementation departments, in the creative fields, and in the sports fields.
For the gender based inequality to be rooted from its bud, growing children should see examples of equal numbers of men and women in all the above mentioned sectors.
A little girl growing up should see as many women on the covers of business magazines and sports magazines, as on the covers of fashion magazines and design magazines.
What Is Girl Empowerment?
When a little girl is treated no different from a little boy, when she is not stopped from doing anything because she is a girl, when she is given the right to choose to do anything in her life, and excel in her choices, to the best of her abilities, a girl is empowered.
She is born feeling as important and loved as her brothers. She is born feeling as powerful as her brothers. She is born with dreams as colorful as her brothers.
It is however important that she sees a good number of women , in her own family and in the society she interacts with, living an empowered life, for her to know that she is empowered.
And that is the collective responsibility of the society – to provide role models for girls to look up to, in every walk of life.
That will give them the confidence that they could choose to be whatever they want, without restricting it to a certain number of stereotypical professions.
In fact if society learns to recognize each other as just human beings, without any biases, every little girl and boy will in turn learn to appreciate and emulate that. The gender of a person wouldn’t matter.
What Is Gender Empowerment?
Gender empowerment, as the word suggests, is empowering a person of any gender.
There is absolutely no bias or prejudice based on what gender the person identifies himself / herself as.
An ideal scenario, where everyone feels included and understood. A scenario where a person does not feel judged or sidelined because of the gender the person is born into or chooses to be.
As a matter of fact, when God doesn’t make any distinction between people based on gender, color, race or achievements, how can we do it? What makes us entitled to do so?
Every person born here has a mission to fulfill. Some feel empowered to fulfill that mission , and some, have to be empowered to do so.
Let us empower ourselves first to be able to empower others.
Let us keep our eyes and hearts open to see and recognize where help is needed.
Let us then, rise to the occasion, to lend that helping hand, to pass words of wisdom, and to ignite that light of empowerment.
What is empowerment of women?
It is the upliftment of the society as a whole. It is the upliftment of the entire human race.
Contributors: Deepa Kadavakat and Kazim Abasali