Women powerWomen empowerment implies the ability of women to take decisions about their life and work; it also implies the provision of equal rights in all spheres, be they personal, social, economic, political or legal.
Women empowerment implies the ability of women to take decisions about their life and work; it also implies the provision of equal rights in all spheres, be they personal, social, economic, political or legal. It is a much-talked about issue today. Women are increasingly becoming empowered and deciding the course of their life to realise their full potential.
Women are steadily gaining control over their lives, working alongside men and making their own decisions about their education, career and lifestyle. From urban areas to remote towns and villages, working women are now making their voices heard. They are no longer willing to play second fiddle to their male counterparts. Educated or not, they are asserting their social and political rights and making their presence felt, regardless of their socio-economic backgrounds.
Striking a balance
There has been a steady increase in the number of working women. This has given them confidence to lead their own lives and build their own identities. They are successfully taking up diverse professions and proving that they are second to none. But while doing so, women also take care to strike a balance between their commitment to their profession and to their home and family. Many of them are playing multiple roles as mothers, daughters, sisters, wives and working professionals with remarkable ease. No one can ever ignore the importance of the role of a mother, sister or a daughter. At the same time, women have also established themselves as equal contributors in managing their home finances.
Women empowerment is a process of enhancing women’s control over society’s resources. In any nation, women empowerment can be measured by the extent of their involvement in social, economic and political fields. Women can be said to be truly empowered only when various factors such as the self-worth of women, their right to control their own lives and their ability to bring about social change are addressed simultaneously.
Women empowerment, in the truest sense, will be achieved only when there is an attitudinal change in society. There needs to be a change whereby women are treated with respect, dignity, fairness and equality. We are living in an age where women the world over are working shoulder-to-shoulder with men. They are now empowered to make decisions about different aspects of their life and profession. This enables them to lead their lives with self-esteem, dignity and freedom—financial and otherwise.
Empowerment acts as a powerful tool against exploitation and harassment. Without women’s empowerment, we cannot remove injustice, gender bias and inequality. If not socially and economically empowered, women cannot develop their own identity.
Due to long-prevailing gender discrimination and dominance of men in Nepali society, women have been suppressed.
They have also been victims of violence and discrimination. In rural areas, the condition of women is far from satisfactory and their contribution to the economy is negligible. Though they represent almost 50 percent of the population, they have not been given equal opportunities. Nepal cannot prosper as long as its women are discriminated against.
Positive changes can now be seen and the patriarchal system of society is gradually losing its hold. Women are now claiming socio-political rights for themselves.
Successive governments have implemented various constitutional and legal measures to help women lead purposeful and meaningful lives. There is an increasing awareness about women’s rights, which is evident in the emergence of several NGOs and self-help groups. At the individual level too, women are now breaking the shackles of suppression and making their voices heard. But unless there is attitudinal change in society towards women, merely arming them with legal and constitutional rights will be inadequate. There is still a need for eliminating the patriarchal mindset.
Contemporary societies across the world have undergone major social and economic transformation. However, some of these processes have augmented gender imbalances in which women remained the ultimate sufferers. This needs to be remedied through inclusive participation. For successful modernisation of society, it is important to empower women on all fronts—social, economic and political.
- Bhattarai works in the Human Resource Department at Kantipur Publications