“Empowerment alone cannot help our women.” I stand for this statement. Empowerment of women is a necessary step to take to protect the well-being of women, especially in a country like ours. However, it is not the only step that we should take.
Empowerment – and its Necessity
To begin with, let us understand what empowerment is. The term empowerment is basically the power and authority given to someone to do certain things with their own freewill, to make choices that regard themselves without having to ask for permission of others. It is the process of claiming one’s own rights, controlling one’s own life, and striving to dominate over one’s personal choices.
For centuries together, women have been tortured, suppressed, tormented and dominated over. They were never treated as equals to men, nor were they given equal rights and opportunities. Practices such as Sati and female infanticide were followed. Widow Remarriage was introduced much, much later.
For years they have been deprived of fundamental rights of education, vote, equality, freedom, rising against exploitation and many more. Women were always believed to be ‘sacrificial’ and were hence awfully victimised by patriarchy while men did just as they pleased. And all those who opposed it (men or women) were labelled as a ‘shame to the society’.
If this had not been the case, women empowerment might not have been necessary. However, it is still a good thing that women are now fighting for their rights and authorities. It is high time that the rules and regulations applicable to women and their bodies were formulated by women who can understand each other, not men who have not the slightest inclination about the life of a woman. Our society cannot fully progress if woman are not a part of the developmental agenda.
Daily Hardships faced by Women
If you delve through the pages of ancient world history, you’ll see how women were deprived of their independence every time, but differently in each era. It began with little things like forcing them to wear corsets at an early age and continued up to stealing their scientific, historical and other discoveries. The men of the past have not been very kind to women.
The oppression of women was and is practised even till today except for the fact that the scenario and method of oppression has somewhat changed. The modern world misogynists superficially accept that women should be given “rights” but internally, they are not really happy with that fact.
Practices such as mansplaining, manterrupting and man-spreading are now followed. While these issues don’t seem very serious, they are subtle signs that sexism still exists in our world, despite being in the twenty-first century. And it is only now that women finally have the courage to call them out.
Even then, these practices are the lesser of the other evils in our world. Nine out of ten women have been sexually abused at least once in their lives. They find themselves victims of rape, molestation, murder, eve-teasing, etc. Everyone knows the famous psychopath Ted Bundy, but has anyone remembered the names of his countless victims, to pay their respects and sympathise, if nothing else?
In fact, in today’s world, a lot of women don’t even call out such occurrences in their lives. It is considered quite a usual practice. It is normalised for women to walk in parking lots with keys between their fingers to stab attackers, or with one hand on pepper spray.
It is normalised for women to flaunt wedding rings, or repeat that they have a man in their lives to avoid being harassed or flirted with, because other men have more respect for the men in their lives than for those women.
Despite all of this, many men even today oppose Feminism at large scales. I don’t refer to modern feminism which implies that women are better than men, but to the ideology than men and women are equal and deserve the same rights and respect.
Feminist women, who ask simply that all these things should not be normalised, are labelled as selfish, gold diggers, rude and even mentally crazy in some cases! And the few men who stand up with the women are ridiculed and commented upon. They are alleged to not be “man enough”.
Other Steps to be taken
Empowering Women is a key agent for change but this alone is not the solution. Even empowered women face violence. This is because empowerment of women alone is not enough. For change to occur, the ecosystem of power around women must be different. First and foremost, we need to bring a change in the mind-sets of society, where everyone can respect each individual, whether male, female or others.
Of course, it is not going to be easy to bring that change in the mind-sets of people, especially when we consider ourselves to be civilised. Evil always needs to be nipped in the bud. From the initial stage of upbringing itself, parents need to build that value and belief framework.
Women have been treated as delicate and weak by society and men have been conditioned to always be physically superior. But parents need to instil in their daughters the ability to respect themselves, and never consider themselves lower than men, no matter how badly they are treated.
They need to teach their sons to respect women in every way, form and manner. In later years, this should be a part of the education system as well. At the stage of adulthood, this should also be part of the Human Resource Development in corporate and government employment.
Educate your daughters. That is the first and most crucial step of protecting the rights of women. Admire their dreams to pursue higher education. They will become independent. They will learn to call out sexism, homophobia and other such vices in the world. They will learn to protect themselves against all evil.
They will know the laws that safeguard their rights and they will fight for themselves, once they are educated to believe that they can. If you alert your daughters and see to it that they are aware of their rights, they can protect themselves and others around them too.
Introducing correct self defence mechanisms right from the schooling age can help both girls and women to safeguard themselves and those around them from impending danger. To survive in such a cruel flesh eating society, the introduction of compulsory military training to every citizen would also do much good.
Females would be accomplished with self-defence in order to protect themselves from the sadist inhuman evil components roaming well-disguised in our society.
Women should visualise their power and stand up with utmost confidence to raise their voice against crime. The violence with respect to the sexual assault and rape cases has highly subdued the power and confidence of women in the society. Males have been overpowering women with their physical strength, though they probably understand that they would lose the fight if they were competing with women based on will power and intellect.
We also need to create safe platforms for our young women to share their fears, their doubts, and their insecurities about sexuality, patriarchy, toxic masculinity, and the burden of expectations they bear.
There is also the role that society must play. There is a requirement for all individuals to understand that each human being has a right to live with dignity and to have freedom.
It is not possible to assign a police constable to each woman in the country, at most they can be asked to be vigilant and try to patrol as much area as possible. Each individual is responsible to raise his / her voice against crime. If there is an incidence in one’s awareness then it becomes that person’s responsibility to raise an alarm and try to help.
A crime is a crime, whether women are empowered or not. Nothing and nobody can give someone the right to violate another’s bodies in any way.
It is high time that we shut down on all types of sexism, patriarchy and toxic masculinity. It is time to empower and educate our women, and protect them from the unnecessary distress that is caused to them. It is time to ask ourselves the serious questions. Why are our women always chosen? Why must they not choose?