January 4-10, 2010 is Women’s Self-Empowerment Week. The national recognition of women’s self-empowerment is intended as an opportunity for women (and men) to reflect on the important roles that women occupy in society. Another intended goal is that women recognize and observe the vareity of ways we contribute to making our families and communities better. Although, I am a big fan of women’s self-empowerment, I belive the idea has gotten a bad rep. More specifically, “women’s self-empowerment” or “female empowerment” has become synoumous with “feminism” or “women’s liberation”– which is not the case. I won’t bore you with the historical development of women’s liberation or identify some of the mulitple branches of feminism that make it diverse and appealing to different groups of women — that’s for another day. What I will do is offer three reasons Why Women’s Empowerment Is a Good Thing.
- Women’s Empowerment = Self Determination: If you have ever done something, that is out of the normal from your family or community, then you know how difficult it is to face detractors with the goal of succeeding. For me this is the most important aspect of women’s empowerment: The ability to determine your own path and pursue it in ways that are meaningful to you. Whether we like it or not, there are still many, many cultural, social, familal, and religious expectations for women. Go to college, get married, stay home with your children, volunteer in your community or church. I’m not suggesting any of these options are bad, but rather to highlight if a woman chooses not to get married or have children it may actually be a result of a thoughtful choice, and not because she “can’t get a man.” Importantly, it takes strong women and men to go against the grain, try things that have never been done before, and be a trail blazer. The world needs those people. Innovation does not come from maintaining the status quo — it comes from creative people willing to step outside the box and try something different.
- Women’s Empowerment = Sense of Self-Worth: If you have ever dated someone that felt as though their entire self-worth depended upon your opinion of them, then you understand very well why a sense of self worth beneifits us and everyone around us. In addition to self-worth as self-esteem and confidence, self-worth means that you look inside yourself and see what makes you unique, valuable, and an important person in the world. Self-worth is one of those qualities that attracts certian people to us — the type of people that want to be part of your orbit because great things happen to and for people who are confident and secure.
- Women’s Empowerment = Committment: I’ve never heard anyone dicuss women’s empowerment as committment, but I think it’s a defining characteristic of empowered women. Women that are self determined and have a strong sense of self worth understand the importance of committing to something and following through to it’s natural ending point. If you really think about it, committment is counter-cultural. We try to teach our children and ourselves to keep our committments, but we often fall short. This means that to maintain a committment is to challenge oursleves to do something that is … beyond the status quo.
Now, I can’t say every woman calling herself empowered believes any of this, but I can say that your relationships and interactions with self-empowered women are most likely enriched because of these attributes. What do you believe are the best characteristics of self-empowerment?