Women empowerment is the hot and trending topic these days. Wherever we turn, people are discussing empowerment and protesting for women’s rights. It has become the fashionable drawing room conversation. But do we realize what it means? Are we doing something substantial to encourage women to let go of the barriers they are jailed in, to fly high?
Empowerment is the means to an end, the end being Equality. Equality exists where everyone is treated equally, but it is workable only when everyone starts from the same place and need the same help. I don’t believe that women need special privileges or reservation, we simply need our freedom to be what we want to be. That’s what true feminism is. Isn’t it?
When I talk about feminism, most people retort back to me saying that ‘if you are so evolved and want equality, then why do you girls demand seats on the bus or in the metro.’ My answer to all those people is:
- Firstly, the issue of equality is much bigger than metro seats, it is more about, say, treating your wives or girlfriends as equal partners and not raising your hand on them, to treat your women colleagues as intelligent and capable human beings.
- Secondly, we are not lazy people. We simply need to sit down in crowded buses and trains for safety reasons.
More often than not, there is a basic expectation that a wife should take permission for working, visiting her parents or giving monetary help to them. This in itself is against equality. It does not mean that everybody should do as they please, simply means that a couple treats each other with dignity and takes each other’s opinions in important matters and not treat a marriage as a boss-employee relationship.
True equality would be achieved when we start looking at people beyond gender. Then the problems relating to discrimination, staring, objectifying etc. will automatically stop. To start with, let us just help ourselves and not be afraid of standing up for what is right and fair.
In fact, empowerment means different things at different stages of life.
As a girl child, it means having as much importance as the brother gets, having a safe enough environment to understand the difference between good touch and bad touch, and being able to complain against the latter.
In school or college life, it means having the courage to say NO to undue and uncomfortable attention from teachers, fellow students, in public transport etc.
At workplace, it means being able to stand up for yourself confidently and not hesitating to take a place at the table.
In a relationship or marriage, it means being independent and strong enough to know when to stop losing yourself in the relationship and giving yourself importance.
As you grow older, it also means raising sons who are respectful of women and daughters who know their rights and are not afraid to stand up for themselves.
As an older woman, who has done past the days of active mothering, it means taking your stand and keeping your space, rights and property in your control to lead the last phase of your life with dignity and head held high.
As they say, knowledge is power. Know your rights first. Rights have to be taken in this world, they are not given to you as a matter of right!!! Choose to be empowered. Choose your rights.