At the International Women Leaders Global Security Summit in New York, United Nations Deputy Secretary General Asha-Rose Migiro highlighted the value of empowering women so that they can build a healthier, peaceful, educated and prosperous society.
According to Migiro,
“Study after study has indicated that when women are fully empowered and engaged, all society benefits. This is the only way we can successfully take on the enormous challenges that are confronting our world.”
Migiro further points out that men and women must work together to change enduring values and attitudes. This means working in partnership at every level. Men must assume their responsibility and ensure that every girl and woman are enjoying their rights and assuming their rightful place in society. Despite many economic and technological advancements, many women all over the world continue to live in desperate conditions. Many societies still forbid their daughters from things that are commonplace in most Western societies such as attending school, driving, joining the workforce etc. Many girls as young as 10 or 11 are forced into marriage with men more than twice their age.
While the movement towards women empowerment is slowly making headway with shining examples such as Malala Yusufzai, Malalai Joya and Maria Bashir, there are still many barriers and challenges which need to be confronted. Some of these are:
- Males residing in a patriarchal society have an inherent tendency towards superiority and do not allow females to rise higher than them.
- Women are burdened with a large chunk of domestic responsibilities.
- Restrictions placed on women limit their participation in economic, religious and social activities.
- In many societies, the boy child is given preference for healthy diet and education.
- Preference for a male child continues to exist in many families.
For sceptics who wonder about the hue and cry over women empowerment, it would be pertinent to point out the benefits to society of an empowered woman:
- Women who are empowered are likely to be educated and are more motivated to educate their children.
- When a female is encouraged to work at gaining meaningful employment, the money she earns helps to support her family and promote their well being. This in turn helps to develop society.
- With women forming 50% of the world population, including more and more of them in the work force will foster economic growth of every country.
- Women who are empowered participate in national development in all sectors such as engineering, social service and medical science and now are even contributing to the defence services.
So considering that empowering women is in the larger interests of society, here are some possible solutions that can help further the cause:
- Education via mass communication is key. Men and women must be held responsible and encouraged to practice gender equality.
- National data must be gathered so as to identify areas where gender inequality and violence are highest. This data may be used by NGOs, social workers and Government officials to help raise the status of women.
- Changing society’s attitude starts at home. Practice gender equality at home and highlight the importance and equality of both genders.
Of all the above solutions, the last is perhaps the most pertinent. Change begins at home. So ladies, make sure your sons and daughters get the right message about gender equality from an early age. It’s a small step but will go a long way in furthering the cause of women.
Feature Image Courtesy: Wordpulse.com