Author Emily Bronte wrote in her popular novel “Wuthering Heights”: “She was a wild, wicked slip of a girl. She burned too bright for this world.” Drawing their roots from there, contemporary novelists like Jhumpa Lahiri, Jane Austen and Virginia Wolf have also penned down works of art focused on Women Empowerment and what it all stands for.
In the medieval times, women were considered weak and incapable of working outdoors. Most women were married off at an early age and made to do household chores, away from the public eye, crunched up in their husband’s house. They were also severely ill-treated by their men, objectified day in and day out and looked down upon as vestigial.
However, things changed when women began to rise up against oppression and discrimination on the grounds of gender. There were outright protests for women’s rights and place in society, and we have truly come a long way from how pitiful the earlier scenario used to be.
Personalities who promoted Women Empowerment
Women from as early as the 17th Century have renounced their lives into fighting for what is their due and their rights. There have been several landmarks in the history of feminism and women empowerment, and these were all achieved by women who worked tirelessly to make the world a better place for the future generation.
Although alive for only a brief span of 41 years, English author and novelist Jane Austen became an epitome of women empowerment with six novels, written four years apart. Most popular among them were Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, and Emma.
While still alive Jane published her novels anonymously as she feared that in a patriarchal society such as the 17th century, people, especially men, might bash her for her books that contained strong feminist ideals and notions on women’s rights.
Through her books Jane showed the world that women were not only meant for love and romanticism and to work as housewives. She explained how women can cultivate ambitions and dreams, can work outdoors and can outdo men in intelligence.
In the year 1911 Marie Curie became the first woman in the world to bag a Nobel Prize in Chemistry. She was a polish scientist who discovered the phenomenon of Radioactivity. She also discovered two new elements Polonium and Radium, which are the necessary elements for X-ray machines to function.
In a time when women were not considered capable of being a scientist, and science was predominantly a man’s forté, Marie Curie broke the societal norms to become one of the most celebrated scientists of all time, empowering women throughout the world by showing them that a woman can do every single thing a man can.
Born in France and driven by her passionate love towards fashion, Coco Chanel was one of the women whose name is taken with respect and awe in the fashion world to this day. In the year 1900 she opened her first shop where she sold designer hats. By 1920’s she had already launched her Chanel clothing line and line of luxury perfume.
She founded and created a brand that is celebrated throughout the world and is 100 years old right now. The iconic “little black dress” which is considered by women all around the world as an elegant trademark for attending a cocktail party, was created by this phenomenal woman. Hence to this day she is regarded as an idol of woman empowerment.
Mother of Oscar-winning actress and fashion icon Audrey Hepburn, is veteran actress Katherine Hepburn. Born in 1907, Katherine started her Hollywood career and attracted much media attention due to her unnerving personality and fashion sense. She rejected all labels in Hollywood during the early 19th century when she preferred dressing up in trousers instead of dresses or skirts.
Trousers and suits were considered to be men’s attire, as it was bold and edgy. Katherine, owing to her strong sense of being was often spotted sporting trousers and suits in her films as well as outdoors. She started a revolution that inspired women to wear any clothes of their choice.
Born in 1947, Hillary Clinton is well known worldwide as the head of the Democratic party of America, and she needs no introduction. Representing the same party as former US President Barack Obama, she is a fierce woman whose leadership qualities inspire women worldwide. She ran the Presidential Election against Donald Trump and unfortunately lost, but her spirit and confidence wasn’t hindered to by it at all.
Media Legend Oprah Winfrey was born in 1954. Growing up Oprah had a very troubled childhood and hard life. Oprah was subjected to child molestation, and underage pregnancy, and being an African-American woman, life was not easy for her.
But she utilised her difficulties by considering them to be life lessons, and ultimately at the age of just 19, she became the first and youngest African-American woman to read the breaking news of a TV channel in USA. She gained immense popularity through her talk show “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and now owns her own Television Network as well.
Oprah is a symbol of confidence, hard-work and determination. Despite her traumatic childhood and teenage , she rose above her dark past to make a name for herself, a name that the world will remember forever. She embedded her name in history inspiring women all over the world about how strong a woman can be.
Women Empowerment and Feminism
Although very allied topics, women empowerment refers to the empowerment of the female gender, whereas feminism is bent more towards the provision of equal rights and opportunities for both sexes. In today’s world due to the benefit of social media, women have taken to these social portals to fights for equal rights.
Earlier the pay-roll for women working in the same institution and department, in the same rank, was less than that of a man. However now, such discrimination on the basis of gender is illegal in almost all countries. Due to rise of social media , women now voice their opinions freely and without an ounce of hesitation.
They work in the military, take part in all sporting activities, and grow to be pilots and astronauts, all of which were once considered to be made for only men.
However, it is important to realise that women empowerment does not include belittling men. Women should understand that while empowering their gender they shouldn’t reject the male gender, detest them or otherwise consider them to be an evil entity in society.
If we look around us we would observe that there are several men who have fought for women empowerment their whole lives, while there are also several women who have always tried to drag down other women disrupting their process of empowerment.
It is advisable to stay away from people who are pseudo-feminists, and who only fight for a cause that is advantageous for them and their own selfish needs. Looking at the broader spectrum is important, and realising the need to grow together is the essence of women empowerment.
As African-American poet and author Maya Angelou has said “I am grateful to be a woman. I must have done something great in another life”, being born a woman is a beautiful phenomena. A woman nurtures life and has a heart filled with love and compassion for everyone. But when challenged a woman can also take over thousands of men and smile while doing it.
The aim of a woman is not to fit into the shoes of a man. As genders are different, our physiology is also different, therefore it becomes important to frame one’s own identity rather than focusing on copying someone else.
Women today have achieved various milestones. Even in a developing nation such as India, we see women making the nation proud each and everyday. With Hima Das winning four World Championship medals in one year in 200 m and 400 m sprinting, Apurvi Chandela setting the record as the number one in 100 m shooting globally , PV Sindhu winning the first ever International Title in badminton for India, woman have shined in not only sports ventures but also politics, film, television and media.
From the undaunted spirit of women who have made history in the early times, the youths of today derive their inspiration. It is commendable that no longer is cricket or football a man’s game and no longer is the army of a country composed of only men today.