The word empowerment means to increase the level of control or power over a certain issue or in a certain situation and to claim one’s rights; moreover to allow the process of decision-making to take place smoothly and without any inequalities. And the subject of women empowerment has come a long way since decades.
Let us help you out with a brief of all the topics that women empowerment has got to cover, from feminism and women’s rights to the development and failures in this area.
This article will provide insights into the following topics:
- How do you define feminism?
- What are the three essential factors for empowerment?
- What is meant by women's empowerment?
- What is the importance of women's empowerment in the world?
- Who started feminism?
- What are the basic beliefs of feminism?
- History and theory of feminism
- What are the three types of feminism?
- Waves of feminism
- What are the various types of empowerment?
Starting from 1872, this movement was introduced mainly to help women achieve political, social, and economic liberation and to lessen inequality on all grounds. In broader terms, feminism chiefly aims at reducing and gradually uprooting gender-based inequalities in political, economic, and social terms.
The four waves of feminism:
- The movement was intricately constructed on the foundation of many aspects, such as equality, autonomy, independence, etc.
- The first and the second wave of feminism took place from the mid-‘90s to 1965 and from 1965 to 75, respectively.
- The first wave mainly took place to help women attain their right to vote. After this being a gradual success, there became grounds for more development.
- Further, the second wave focused on the basic social and political liberation of women.
- Soon it expanded scope for more achievement due to which came the third wave of feminism. This grabbed world-wide attention as it talked about women empowerment on an international basis. It talked about issues that have been stereotyped and needed a drastic change, such as the concept of femininity and masculinity, sexuality, womanhood, etc.
- The fourth wave is still ongoing and is in the central phase of its movement. It started in 2012. It focused on a wide range of issues and provided an opportunity to anyone and everyone, regardless of their gender and sexuality, to speak up against any unjust act that has taken place with them like harassment, assault, abuse, etc. It helped to voice the opinions and sentiments of people all over the world, irrespective of their caste, creed, gender, race, and sexuality.
Why is it needed?
The answer to this question is rather a simple and logical one, to offer an unbiased and unjust free future to all.
Although feminism started with helping women realise their rights and to voice their opinions, contrary to popular belief, it is not restricted to solely helping women. This is because it revolves around the notion of rooting out inequality as a whole and not just to aid women. Men too face oppression and so do people from the LGTBQ+ community, which is why this movement is even more important.
Some instances that justify the increasing need and significance of the movement:
- One of the biggest issues till date is that of the existence of the wage gap. Women all over the world face this problem where even though they do the same amount of work for the same duration, at times even more than men, they still get paid less. And thanks to feminism and protests organised because of it, things have started to change slowly.
- Gender inequality prevails on a huge scale in terms of education. There are still so many countries where girls are denied access to proper education, and boys are encouraged to study over girls.
- In certain underdeveloped parts of the world, instances of child marriage, dowry, etc., continue to take place, and women’s lives continue to be toyed with.
These are just a few examples. There are innumerable such challenges and obstacles that need to be dealt with. And it is activists and movements like this one, that is incredibly helpful as they are trying to root out these evils as much as possible.
Besides problems faced by women, feminism also encourages men and queers, transgender people, etc., to speak up against any sort of oppression, abuse, or harassment that they have faced. Moreover, it provides them with a platform through which they can speak and be heard as and when needed.
Progress over the years
Women empowerment has come a long way over the years and has remarkably achieved success in certain areas.
- Rights: Getting women the rights that they deserve has been one of the major struggles as well as one of the most crucial aims when it comes to women empowerment. In terms of rights, the situation has become a lot better compared to the way it used to be a century ago. For instance, before 1870, women were supposed to give up all their belongings and properties after marriage but this changed after 1922 because of the Law of Property Act, which allowed both men and women equal access and inheritance of properties.
- Healthcare: Women have come a long way in terms of getting access to healthcare such as maternal health, reproductive rights, the legalisation of abortion, mental health, and even domestic violence.
- Education: The literacy rate for women has seen a noticeable change in the ‘80s and ‘90s as it went from being 0.2% to 6%. Education institutions have also started adhering to government-induced policies towards making sure that girls get the chance to educate themselves as well. And awareness and gradual understanding of the same has also led to more and more girls in the village areas being encouraged to study.
- Economic growth: Although women in several parts of the world continue to face the wage gap and disparity in the work environment, there have been changes happening in other parts of the world and efforts are still being put to change the condition of the former too. After all, change always takes place gradually and never suddenly. For instance, women have started to be able to achieve the position of a CEO with fewer obstacles, and the gender pay gap has statistically decreased over the last two decades.
- Social and political participation and freedom: Women have always been left out of important instances requiring decision making or participation in terms of social, political, or economic aspects. But over the years, the representation of women in government countries has increased significantly, if not in all countries, then at least in some. According to studies and statistics, in the last two decades, about 75% of female prime ministers and presidents have held office.
How you can contribute
Change starts from small steps and from you. Here are certain ways through which you can bring change around yourself and contribute to women empowerment:
- Support women-run businesses.
- Root out stereotypes and negativity towards women and men or anyone else for that matter.
- Be vocal and honest.
- Help in any way you can. For instance, if you could donate to a village school and support education for girls, ask your friends to donate too and do not hesitate!
- Speak up and battle against injustice. You being quiet about an unjust act only makes it worse.
- Donate and support women’s organisations and women activist clubs whenever you can.
To conclude, support women empowerment in any and every way you can because women deserve the same support, recognition and access to rights, healthcare, education, etc., the way men do. And it is high time we all realise that because together, we can bring the change that should have come a long time ago.
Co-author: Khushi Shah
Khushi has just passed her school and is now studying at PDPU. Apart from writing, she likes to sketch and dance. She also has other blogs where she posts proses and poetry.