Women’s Empowerment in the World

Women empowerment in world cannot be considered as a uniform issue and treated with stereotyped measures. In different parts of the world the issues are different and therefore the needs are also different. We need to understand that women empowerment is not equivalent to a motorway where administration of stereotyped fast-track programmes will bring quick change. Making some women gain power in the present structures or making a few more to make informed choices in their life is not really changing the situation on the ground. The underlying conditions which affect women in the form of bias and discrimination exist in the social fabric of the society and therefore addressing the issue in a limited and stereotyped manner is not going to help women empowerment in world. What we need today is sweeping changes in the structures of society which are inherently biased against women.

Women empowerment in world: The waves of change

Now time has come to look women empowerment in world as a movement for change which gathers strength by creating and generating new structures and systems in the society which are gender neutral and which promote gender equality. In fact time has come when women empowerment in world should be considered something more than the usual activities involved with providing small scale project loans to women or which supports small-scale business activities to help women acquire money and the imagined power of money. This change in thinking is necessary because the hard fact is that money cannot act as a magic wand and wish away overnight 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 reduction is not the beginning and the end of women empowerment in world. We need to acknowledge that it is just one of the major goals. On the other hand the real question to ask is whether women empowerment in world has been able to change the authoritarian structures behind the social norms, institutions and relationships which openly propagate gender bias and discrimination. The development model of empowerment does not answer this question satisfactorily and therefore the developmental model should be considered as one of the tools of empowerment rather than the beginning and the end of empowerment. The time has come when women empowerment in world needs to expand into the consciousness of women and awaken the power within each and every woman. Awakening this power should not be for just making money or gaining limited power in the present biased structures of societies but it should act as a catalyst for creative and generative change in all spheres of life. Such awakening of internal power and consciousness for creative and generative action will give birth to agents of real change. Through numerous pathways and diverse solutions these agents of change can bring genuine transformation in the society for the betterment of women and the whole of humanity. The process might look slow in the beginning but definitely the fire will catch on and the results will be visible in the long run. We need to accept the current reality that women empowerment in world is still a farfetched idea. To bridge the gap between the vision of women empowerment in world and the current reality of gender bias and disparity, we need action at local level as well as the global level. This can be only achieved through increased participation of women at ground level leading to their greater role in the decision making bodies at local level. This in turn will lead to greater economic participation of women, enhanced economic opportunity for women and socioeconomic and political empowerment of women. A ground level movement which gets entrenched in the local area and which grows in the local area will naturally act as a catalyst for enhanced educational attainment, better health care and nutrition and overall well being of women in that area.

Women Empowerment in world: Focusing on the ground level but simultaneously thinking globally

Women empowerment in world should be considered as an ongoing journey rather than a destination to reach. To do so we need to leave the typical baggage, assumptions and stereotypes that is currently followed in the name of gender and development. It is important to gauge the actual experiences of women on ground and find if it matches with the changes that are sought by the various programmes that are being implemented as part of the women empowerment programmes. As I said before the time has come for real and genuine change and in this regard challenging the existing institutionalized inequalities of an established gender order is very important. This challenge should be creative in nature in the sense that it lays foundations for generation of new structures based on gender equality. We must agree to the fact that women in different parts of the world have different needs and issues to be addressed and therefore one-size-fits-all interventions should be avoided. There are differences between countries and we need to acknowledge this fact and work by keeping these differences in mind. Development of empowerment models which suit to a specific situation is the need of the hour and by implementing programmes as per the need of the different countries, societies and localities we can make a profound impact at the ground level. But the real change that we are seeking will only come when at the ground level women participate in a campaign which begins from their inner self and which spreads like a fire to bring creative and generative change. Such a campaign shall enhance the social, political and economic participation of women at the ground level with a purpose that envisions everlasting change in the direction of gender based equality. This movement and campaign will be far more powerful and responsive than bringing few women into politics as this will make the political structures and other institutions of the society to be more accountable and responsive to the needs of the women. The traditional structures and institutions will be forced to adopt and change so that they represent the truth of today which is nothing less than gender equality and equal rights for women.