The word empowerment refers to power, strength, confidence and autonomy. To get empowered one has to come from a disempowered background. Empowerment begins with women. Traditionally, our society has defined the roles for Women and Men. Parenting and running the house were the responsibility of women whereas; men were the breadwinner for the house. Although at the beginning the roles were defined based on gender appropriation and lack of sophistication in the society, slowly society viewed women as inferior to man and men exerted ability and physical strength over women. Many crimes such as physical abuse, mental harassment, restrictions on the day-to-day activities, barring girls from getting educated were reported.
Women did not resist the harassments and crime on them, as they were uneducated and incapable of earning money to fulfill their basic needs. However, with the growing population, deteriorated socio-economic condition and the necessity for the workforce in the workplace led to the transformation of society’s general belief. After the Second World War, women started contributing to the economy and the overall development of the community. However, women are not treated equally as Men, and there have been fewer opportunities and unequal pay for women. Although more than half a billion women have already joined the global workforce in the last 30 years, the problem of gender inequality and women disempowerment has not been rooted out.
The need for Women Empowerment
Women constitute half of the human capital in the world. For a large-scale transformation in the economy and prosperous society, women need to be empowered to raise voice for their rights, opinion and a secure place at work and at home. Although the civil rights movement and women empowerment started a century ago, women still face a high level of discrimination and abuse, which prevents them from taking part in the independent decision-making process.
Organizations and society need a change now and then. Unless women are given freedom take part in the decision-making process, the overall development of the organization and the society is a distant goal. Women can be made to be genuinely empowered only when all the factors such as women’s right to control their own lives, self-worth of women, and their ability to bring about a social change, are addressed at the same time.
Along with the equal opportunity in the workplace, the mental and physical well-being of women is essential to develop the society. Unfortunately, women still face exploitation and emotional, physical, psychological and sexual harassments. Unless women are protected, treated with dignity and respect, the full potential of improvement can never be achieved.
Education- A Tool to Empowerment
For the prosperous world, gender equality and women empowerment is the most vital topic to discuss. The women themselves must acquire the power to make decisions and act on it independently. No person, government, or organization can award power to women. Education is a way to empowerment. Right to education will provide access to all the required resources to follow, manage and lead the society.
Currently, around 100 million girls are not going to school, and many of these get married at the age of 10-11. Because of which every 1 in 8 girls in developing countries are victims of domestic violence and die out of pregnancy and birth complication. Researchers have shown that girls with secondary and higher education are six times more unlikely to marry than those with little or no education. An extra year of education increases the average earnings by 10-12 percent. Therefore, an investment in girl’s education is tied to the lower infant death rate, better access to essential amenities and higher self-awareness.
As the access to education increases, women would get a chance to participate in technology, politics, civil society, trade agreements and in other important aspects of the decision-making process. Studies have shown that when women engage in the discussion and negotiations, agreements are more inclusive and durable. In all aspects, women empowerment helps to improve the core development process of the economy and society.
If we want to bring about women empowerment in the real sense, there is a need for the elimination of the male superiority. Also, women need to be given equal opportunities for education and employment without any discrimination. We have many laws in place for gender equality and equal employment opportunity. Unless society changes its attitude towards women, all these laws in place will be useless. Also, there is a need for investment in education, and along with the investment, awareness must be created in the society. Empowered women are important for the society and its development and thus, women need to support each other. “ When women support each other, incredible things happen.”