Empowerment can be defined in many ways, but when talking about women’s empowerment, it means accepting and allowing people who are on the outside of the decision-making process into it. It is all about equipping and allowing women to make decisions for themselves.
Empowerment is a process that promotes women’s self-worth, right to determine their choices, access to opportunities and resources, right and power to control their lives – both within and outside the home – and ability to influence social change. However, these still remain outside of the grasp of women in our society. Every woman has the right to exercise her reproductive rights and to be protected from violence and harmful practices. Empowerment involves working with youth and communities to enable girls and women to understand their rights, and work with policy-makers on creating and implementing policies that respond to and protect their needs and rights.
Women can make decisions when they are able to access the opportunities available to them, without restrictions. Gender equality can only come when women have equal opportunity as well as freedom from discrimination and harassment in the working place. In today’s age women are doing very well in all fields but they are still not given equal importance in the process of policy making and decision making.
Raising awareness about women’s empowerment is part of the process of empowering women. We can’t deny that women are an integral part of society. As compared to men, women play a more important role in the development of society. In big cities women are well educated and independent, but in rural regions they are still dependent on men. They don’t have even the power to make decisions about their own life. In rural areas people think that women’s education is not necessary and the responsibly of women is only to serve the household. Most women of rural areas are uneducated because their parents are uneducated.
Look at all the developed countries: they do not differentiate between girls and boys. The women in developed countries do the same work as men do and are found in every field of education and profession. But Kashmir’s women are very different. They spend the whole day at home and have no office or workplace to go to. The Quaid-e-Azam said: “No nation can rise to the height of glory unless your women are side by side with you. We are victims of evil customs. It is a crime against humanity that our women are shut up within the four walls of the houses as prisoners.”
Patriarchal men say no to education for women. Many women are denied the opportunity to do a job and earn their livelihood. Their occupational choices are limited due to social and cultural constraints and inherent gender bias in the labour market. They also lack supportive facilities such as childcare, transport and accommodation in the formal sector of the labour market. Women’s labour is considered inferior because of the employers’ notions of women’s primary role as homemakers. As a result of discrimination, their work is low-paid and obstructs upward mobility. The Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) strongly emphasised on education of women, saying, “It is the prime duty of men and women to acquire education”. Islam is a religion that gives women great importance. However, the narrow-minded and biased religious Ulemas have always misinterpreted it to serve their wicked purposes. It amounts to neglect of the soul of Islam that gives women equality in every sphere of life.
Women can play a much greater role in the development of our nation. They have the potential to lift our nation out of its quagmire of problems. God has bestowed them with all capabilities and their role in any sphere whether it is social, economic, political, cultural or educational cannot be ignored. We need to utilise their talent in the right place and acknowledge their stake in the country’s progress.