Society is made up of men and women. During the patriarchal period, men were seen as the leading members of a family and had been ordained certain civil rights when it came to being the “provider”. They had autonomy on all matters of income and decision making for the entire household, delegating women to household work and upbringing of children. These were the norms from over a century ago – and precisely why, today, it’s not that easy to shake off.
If one were to assess our entire sector, then research says that women’s issues are either focused on her reproductive role and her body or on her economic role as a worker. But none of them is focused on empowering women.
What does “women’s empowerment” mean? It refers to the process of giving women control over their choices and access to the opportunities and resources that allow them to thrive. While there’s been progress, gender inequality remains a persistent issue in the world. Empowering women politically, socially, economically, educationally, and psychologically helps narrow the gap.
There is no one single way for women to empower themselves. This can be in the form of deciding which career path she wants to take, what college to go to, what shoes to wear, or what words to say; modern feminist movements have lent women the agency of choice, granted finally after decades of being silenced. Women are now fighting to be given equal opportunities in every field, irrespective of gender.
Here are five essays that may convince you why we should all be feminists:
1. Women’s Movements and Feminist Activism (2019) by Amanda Gouws & Azille Coetzee
This editorial from the “Empowering women for gender equity” issue of the journal Agenda explores the issue’s themes. Gouws and Coetzee offer a bigger picture in to the topics within that deal with intersectional feminism and how it comes into play in the modern landscape of social justice. The issue is dedicated to women’s movements and activism primarily in South Africa, but also other African countries. New women’s movements focus on engaging with institutional policies and running campaigns for more female representation in government. Some barriers make activism work harder, such as resistance from men and funding, If you’re interested in the whole issue, this editorial provides a great summary of the main points, so you can decide if you want to read further.
2. The Side Of Female Empowerment We Aren’t Talking About Enough (2017) by Tamara Schwarting
In this era of female empowerment, women are being told they can do anything, but can they? It isn’t because women aren’t capable. There just aren’t enough hours in the day. As this article says, women have “more to do but no more time to do it.” The pressure is overwhelming. Is the image of a woman who can “do it all” unrealistic? What can a modern woman do to manage a high-stakes life? This essay digs into some solutions, which include examining expectations and doing self-checks. Written by CEO of 1628 LTD, a co-working community, Tamara Schwarting wasn’t afraid to dive deep into the nitty-grity of performative justice and shed light on matters that have been overshadowed by the glory of modern feminism.
3. Empowering Women Is Smart Economics (2012) by Ana Revenga and Sudhir Shetty
If you want to know what are the benefits of women’s empowerment, read this. This article presents the argument that closing gender gaps doesn’t only serve women, it’s good for countries as a whole. Gender equality boosts economic productivity, makes institutions more representative, and makes life better for future generations. This piece gives a good overview of the state of the world (the data is a bit old, but things have not changed significantly) and explores policy implications. It’s based on the World Bank’s World Development Report in 2012 on gender equality and development.
4. The Key to Improving Women’s Health in Developing Countries (2019)
Because of gender inequality, women’s health is affected around the world. This essay illuminates the strings of intersectionality that closely parallels themes of capitalism, labor, and feminism. Factors like a lower income than men, more responsibilities at home, and less education impact health. This is most clear in developing countries. How can this be addressed? This essay states that empowerment is the key. When giving authority and control over their own lives, women thrive and contribute more to the world. It’s important that programs seeking to end gender inequality focus on empowerment, and not “rescue.” Treating women like victims is not the answer.
5. 5 Powerful Ways Women Can Empower Other Women (2020) by Pavitra Raja
Originally published during Women’s History Month, this piece explores five initiatives spearheaded by women in the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship community. Created by women for women, these innovations demonstrate what’s possible when women harness their skills and empower each other. The initiatives featured in this article embrace technology, education, training programs, and more.
There’s no one size fits all when it comes to women empowerment. Women can be empowered in various ways. It can be done through government schemes as well as on an individual basis. At the individual level, we should start respecting women and start giving them opportunities equal to men. We should promote and encourage them to take up jobs, higher education, business activities, etc.
Apart from these schemes, we as individuals can also empower women by abolishing social evils like the dowry system, child marriage. These small steps will change the situation of women in society and make them feel empowered.