Women´s Empowerment - What Does It Mean?

Looking in most western countries girls and boys have the same opportunities for basic and higher education. Let´s create the image of a 17-year-old girl in the USA that goes to school every day, getting a good education, planning to study law, and become a lawyer. Does not sound too crazy. For many girls, this is the reality. They can choose what they want to achieve in their future. 

That is one reality. But there is another reality where girls with 17 years have to leave school because the family and/or society expect them to get married and create a family or work in a factory to earn some money. Many girls don´t have the freedom to decide about their future themselves. The reasons can go from cultural expectations, religious rules up to financial issues.

In many countries, there are very strong stereotypical expectations for men and women. As an example: men do physical hard work, they are financially responsible for the family. Women do the household, cook, clean, don´t need higher education, they take care of the family and have to follow the men’s rules. 

Reading this as a person of western countries might be disturbing and unreal, but this is the reality in many cultures. The mentioned stereotypes put women in a lower, underrated position where they don´t have much freedom to choose about how their future looks. 

This is where the word empowerment becomes interesting. The whole world is controversially discussing and talking about empowerment. Empowerment describes a strategy and measure that increases the autonomy and self-determination of a person or a group. Furthermore, it tries to give them back the tools to fulfill their interests and get back their capacity building. On one side, it is the process to gain emancipation daily. On the other side, it focuses to work on the mental basis to get rid of the feeling of being helpless and powerless as a person or a group because of certain characteristics. The goal is that the person or group can take the resources and create in their interest. 

The word originally comes from the US where the social scientist Julian Rappaport gives meaning to empowerment as a strategy.

Social workers use empowerment as an approach and tool to intervene on a resource-orientated fundament, to help a person or a group to regain their autonomy, so they can help themselves to build up their lives. 

Empowerment on a political basis describes it as an instrument to increase the responsibility of the citizens.

Empowerment in all those sectors has in common that it focuses on the strength and not the deficits.

Taking a special group for empowering many countries and cultures is taking big steps to empower women all around the globe. There are countries where it plays a bigger role than in others. Women´s empowerment focuses on what steps can be taken of the woman to gain resilience, autonomy, and self-determination, so they can overcome stereotypes expectations and reach their own dreams. For successful women empowering the surrounding, the society, cultures, religions, and men have to help. Without this, women´s empowerment is unsuccessful in many countries. Of course, girls and women have to create their own possibilities, tools, and

chances to empower themselves to reach equality to the men opportunity, but the whole system around them has to learn and support this in the same way.

Check out Nancy Etz, helping women to empower themselves, supporting with scholarships for girls to get a higher education, and creating equal opportunities for girls and boys in this world.