Women Empowerment and our Culture
Women working in a filed

Women Empowerment and our Culture

 Women Empowerment is made up of two words: women and empowerment. Empowerment means giving power or authority to someone. So, Women Empowerment means power in the hands of women. It signifies that women should be given equal opportunity in every field, irrespective of any discrimination.

Our society comprises of men and women. In earlier times, men were considered to be the leading members of a family. They were responsible for earning their livelihood and were the decision takers of the family. On the other hand, women were responsible for doing household work and the upbringing of the children. So, the roles were mainly based on gender. There was no involvement of women in decision making. If we assess our entire sector, then research says that women’s issues are either focused on their reproductive role and their body or on their economic role as a worker. But none of them is focused on empowering women.

Women Empowerment is the process that creates power in women to live a happy and respectable life in a society. Women are empowered when they are able to access opportunities in a variety of fields such as education, profession, lifestyle, etc., without any limitations and restrictions. It includes raising their status through education, awareness, literacy, and training. It also includes the authority to take decisions. When a woman makes a crucial decision, she feels empowered.

Women’s empowerment is the most crucial point for the overall development of a country. Suppose, in a family, there is one earning person, while in another family, both men and women are earning, then who will have a better lifestyle. The answer is simple, the family where both men and women are earning money. Thus, the country where men and women work together develops at a faster rate.

History says that women were ill-treated. The Sati Pratha in the ancient times to the girl child abortion in the present scenario, women continue facing such violence. Not only this, heinous crimes against women such as rape, acid attack, misuse of dowry system, honor killings, domestic violence, etc., are still happening in South Asia.

In the subcontinent, a phenomenon of patriarchy prevails. It is a system of society or government in which the father or eldest male is head of the family and descent is reckoned through the male line. It is very deeply rooted in our culture. No one can or shall deny the importance of women empowerment at the moment. Particularly, in Islam, it talks about equal rights for both men and women without any discrimination.  Before the Prophet Hood of Hazrat Muhammad (P.B.U.H), some powerful women were doing their businesses without any fear e.g. Hazrat Khadijah-tul-Kubraa (R.A). But that empowerment was based on the power, power of wealth, or capital not based on equality or freedom of doing manly business.

Today, the problem is more or less the same. The rich and powerful or elite segment of our society becomes the propagators of women empowerment. They are safe from any threat, sexual harassment, gender based violence, and discrimination due to every kind of power they hold. All the movement under the umbrella of women empowerment seems to be a “counter culture”. NGOs and many other organizations are working for women empowerment but on the ground, even awareness is not disseminated effectively. The woman belonging to a backward society and a victim of the aforesaid social issues is still not entitled to equal rights and opportunities.

Being a Muslim and inhabitant of the subcontinent, it is somehow difficult to challenge the patriarchy because it is incorporated into our culture and behavior. If some segment wants to eliminate patriarchy thoroughly with immediate effect, it will ultimately deteriorate the fabric of our integrated society and culture. Because it is easy to plan the elimination of patriarchy on paper in an air conditioned room but it will not be accepted by the people living in backward or remote areas. Women empowerment is directly linked with the “Quality Education” for men not women. When a man, the head of a family is well educated, he will automatically know the rights of his mother, wife, sister, and daughter. Ultimately women in his home will get quality education and they will be entitled to social and economic freedom. Society becomes safe and peaceful for both men and women as lack of quality education is the crucial cause of all the aforesaid social issues faced by women.

Published in Global Affairs September 2022 Edition

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Afnan Wasif

Written by Afnan Wasif

Afnan Wasif is a student of Strategic Studies at National Defence University Islamabad. His areas of interest include International Relations, Domestic Politics & Social Issues. He tweets @afnanwasif and can be reached at afnanwasif84@gmail.com.

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