Women Empowerment – today’s core issue


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Women Empowerment

Many maintain that the Women’s economic dependence on men impacts their power within the family. With increased participation in income-earning activities, not only will there be more income for the family, but gender inequality should be reduced.

Women empowerment in the world cannot be considered as a uniform issue and can be treated with stereotyped measures. In different parts of the world the issues are different and therefore needs are also different. We need to understand that the women empowerment is not equivalent to a motorway where administration of stereotyped fast-track programmes will be able to bring quick change.

The underlying conditions which affect the women in the form of bias and discrimination exists in the social fabric of the society and therefore addressing the issue in a limited and stereotyped manner is not going to help the women empowerment in the world. Sweeping changes in the structures of society which are inherently biased against women are the need of the day.

Time has come, where women empowerment in the world should be considered more than something the usual activities involved with providing small scale project loans to women or supporting small-scale business activities to help the women to acquire money and the imagined power of money. This change of thinking is necessary due to the hard fact that money cannot act as a magic wand and wish away the social norms, institutions and relationships that are part of our lives and which are primarily responsible for the wide scale discrimination and bias against women.

Poverty alleviation is not the beginning and the end of the women empowerment in world. We need to acknowledge that it is one of the major goals. The real question to ask is whether the women empowerment in the world has been able to change the authoritarian structures behind any of the social norms, institutions and relationships which will openly propagate gender bias and discrimination.

The development model of the empowerment does not answer this question satisfactorily and therefore, developmental model should be considered as one of the tools for the empowerment rather than the beginning and end of empowerment. The time has come when the women empowerment in world needs to expand into the consciousness of the women and wake-up the power within each and every woman.

The awakening of this power should not be for just making money or gaining limited power in the present biased structures of the societies. Instead it should act as a catalyst for the creative and generative change in all the spheres of life. Such awakening of the internal power and the consciousness for the creative and generative action will give birth to the agents of real change.

Through the numerous pathways and diverse solutions these agents of the change can bring genuine transformation in the society for the betterment of the women and the whole of humanity. We need to accept that the current reality that the women empowerment in the world is still a far-fetched idea. To bridge the gap between the vision of the women empowerment in the world and the current reality of the gender bias and disparity, we need to take action at local level as well as at the global level.

This can be only achieved through increased participation of the women at the ground level leading to their greater role in the decision making bodies at the local level. This in turn will lead to a greater economic participation of women, in the enhanced economic opportunity for the women and the socioeconomic and political empowerment of women.

By Premji