Women 'Empowerment' - Is it a Paradox?
Some time back, I was having a generic discussion with my mother, (it’s been a ritual since STD rates came at par with local calls, that me & my mother have to talk with each other every evening for an hour; So our gupshup & chai happens over the phone, discussing everything under the sun from our daily schedule to national & international politics) over issues of women equality and gender bias related issues. As usual, I was harping to her about, how so much work is happening all over the world with respect to Women Empowerment. It’s one of UN Millennium Development Goals. And still we are no where reaching near it.
That’s when she just said to me it’s not possible to achieve gender equality so easily because “They” don’t intend to. She being a English Literature Post Graduate, just explained the reason for this statement with a simple answer - it’s the word they use for bringing women equality ie empowerment.
If you Google the meaning for Empower, it pops as - give authority to/ power to. Various synonyms for Empower show as authorize, permit, sanction and list goes on.
The question which comes to mind- Who are these people who are giving us the authority to become economically independent or become literate? The male human species has over powered us so much that they are now going to decide whether they want to empower us or not... Why?
As female human species, did we come on this earth without brains or what? We the so called educated female human species who are spear heading the so called cause of “Women Economic Empowerment” too have fallen in this word trap.
In late 1960s-70s the movement which began in United States was called Women Liberation Movement. In 1968, at the University of Washington, a Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) organizer reflected on a meeting about white college men working with poor white men, and "noted that sometimes after analyzing societal ills, the men shared leisure time by 'balling a chick together.' He pointed out that such activities did much to enhance the political consciousness of poor white youth. A woman in the audience asked, 'And what did it do for the consciousness of the chick?'After the meeting, a handful of women formed Seattle's first women's liberation group. Also in 1968, 100 women protested the Miss America Beauty Pageant because it promoted "physical attractiveness and charm as the primary measures of a woman’s worth," especially the swimsuit portion of the contest. The movement spread all across the globe thus spreading the cause of women liberation.
But today, almost five decades later, we are still struggling towards women liberation and slowly and smartly, the word ‘Liberation’ has been dropped and ‘Empowerment’ has replaced the jargon.
The point I am trying to make- A concept picks speed if it’s advertised understanding the insight into the target audience’s mind. That’s when a product sells. But if we want to kill the product because it will not benefit the company no matter how beneficial it might be for humanity, the company will make sure it remains alive but never reaches its break-even point.
Excellent case of ‘Killing two birds with one stone”. In here, just simmer the tone of the movement by replacing the jargon and rest everything falls in place.