Definition of Women Empowerment
The topic of empowerment and especially women or female empowerment is as popular as it is confusing. The definition of empowerment is simple; giving power to someone who does not possess or is not permitted to express it.
Various forms of exploitation of women like sexual crimes, dowry, deprivation of political or economic rights, lack of education etc. necessitate a system and policy of protective discrimination for women that gives them certain privileges and rights that can redress the inequality between women and men.
Oppression in India
In a society like India, there have been historic practices like bride burning (Sati), instant divorce (triple talaq) etc which have been deliberately used to oppress women. Therefore, there is a need for education and killing of women to fulfil their true potential as human beings and vital part of human civilization.
We must strive to create an environment of respect and security and instil a sense of celebration of human diversity when it comes to gender, race, religion etc. We should strengthen each individual to create a cohesive and progressive society.
Most of the theories of empowerment appear from western, first world countries and thinker who feel that men have always strived to curb the political cultural and social rights of women in a systematic manner. This is termed as patriarchy. Therefore, women need to be given their fair share of opportunities in all spheres of life to reach a position of equality.
They cite the centuries of oppression in colonial or pre-colonial times, the inability of women to vote, lack of personal rights like abortion, work, etc. These theories are often based on the principles of political liberalism, equality of status and opportunities etc.
In particular, the feminist critique of social norms is vocal about such injustices. They often claim that men have used different ideologies and religion to assert dominance over women and subjugate them to a slave-like existence.
However, the definition of empowerment is often different for different culture and people. For example, a devout Muslim woman may want to devote her energy to educating her children and build a home rather than join a call centre. Another woman may want to cover herself and expose her physical attributes to the public.
The topic of empowerment has to be seen in the context of other issues like morality, life goals and priorities, belief systems etc. A feminist activist in New Delhi may want completely different things to a village girl in Meerut.
Therefore, it is important to intellectually examine the claims of such competing ideologies and verify their ambitions. For example, even though there is a call for ending sexual misconduct and crimes, there is increasing insistence on the objectification of women through entertainment industries, clothing and fashion brands.
A Colonial Tool
Interestingly, Liberalism and feminism were developed as important tools to justify colonialism and invasion of other countries which followed certain religions and traditional customs.
Therefore, these ideas were and are still used to destroy the traditional systems of family, tribe and community in various countries (especially the developing and underdeveloped) as a means to civilize the so-called backward and abused women in these lands. This seems to be a new form of imperialism of economic and intellectual dominance.
Often women’s empowerment is dressed as a universalized blanket where one solution fits all women. However, it is problematic to generalize such thought system as social, political, religious and economic fundamentals may differ completely from person to person and place to place.
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