There is roughly a fifty percent chance that you, reading this right now, are a woman. You are working; you are living the way you want. You never have to stop and think about the consequences to your reputation in society because everyone around you shares the same belief as you – women deserve to take control of how they lead their lives as much as any man. This obviously is not the case in many parts of the world, including areas not far from your own home. Even our neighbours, whom we believe to be sharing our wavelength of thoughts with, may not be as supposedly progressive as they make themselves out to be.
The first, most important thing everyone needs to understand is that empowering women does not mean bringing men down and belittling their needs. Much like with the misconceived concept of feminism, the very essence of women’s empowerment is misconstrued both accidentally and rather conveniently. Its whole point is to allow women to rise to their true potential against age-old superstitions and now invalid beliefs and traditions, not for their singular benefit but for that of society as a whole.
Society is a complex organism, made of numerous interconnected parts that depend profusely on each other. If one of them is not functioning to its full capacity, or at all, the others struggle but usually fail to make up for the lost contribution. Ultimately the one that suffers is not the dysfunctional part, but the entire organism itself. The only one losing out as a result of discouraging and discrediting women is our society.
Dating back to the Early Vedic period, women enjoyed a powerful, respectful position in society. Not only were women a big part of all public festivals and religious ceremonies, but also given the freedom to choose their own husbands on attaining maturity. Women had the same stature as men in spiritual and intellectual life. Literature talks of learned female scholars as well as warriors, as girls and boys both studied the Veda along with fine arts. Rig Vedic hymns authored by twenty-seven female rishis are a reflection of their success and the progress they achieved as women intellectuals. One of the women they were attributed to is Lopamudra, the greatest ancient Indian philosopher. Conversations between her husband and herself, included in the Rig Veda, highlight the great intelligence and virtue possessed by her. Lopamudra serves as an ideal example of the wondrous, knowledgeable products of empowering women. The rights, duties and privileges commanded by women then are ones that we must seek to implement for women today in all parts of society.
Looking at the simple situation of a household, we see that when the woman in the house is denied the right to work or contribute in any manner that is rewarding, she cannot add value to the family monetarily or intellectually, and her lack of productive work affects her entire family in social, creative, emotional and various other aspects of their life. If this same woman works, for example, she is constantly exposed to new ideas and people while she gains experience and knowledge, all of which she shares with her children and other family members, who inevitably benefit from it. She also contributes financially, allowing her to give her family a better lifestyle.
The woman is given independence and a sense of ownership concerning her future. She does not have to stay shackled by being answerable to the male family members, or seek their permission for even the smallest of things. She makes her own decisions and her own mistakes, and takes full accountability for her actions.
Imagine this scenario, enlarged to the scale of the entire society. Numerous women working and generating individual incomes will result in a steep rise in national and per capita income, contributing both to their countries’ gross domestic products as well as to the global market. Several social and technological changes will also be seen as women will bring new ideas and methods to the table around the globe.
It will make society a safe place where ideas are not stifled by notions of superiority because over time, the empowerment of women has allowed them to reach the same level of achievement as men in regards of education, business, creativity, knowledge, scientific approach and much more. All individuals in society, irrespective of gender or baseless superstitions regarding them, will have the chance to live a self-respecting life that they have built for themselves.
Empowering nearly fifty percent of the world’s members is a feat that will have no small outcome. Impacts will range from households to global leaders. It is not just an act of enabling women. It is a promise to the future generations, to our children, to ourselves, that we will lead better lives. That we will overcome the obstacles from our past and the challenges from our future as a society that allows its girls to learn and explore as much as its boys, and its women to be leaders of thought, change and social action as much as its men.
You need two hands, two eyes, two ears and two legs. Voluntarily not using one of them is nonsensical and inconvenient to say the least. If this is such an obvious fact, why do we question whether women should be empowered? Is there reason good enough to ponder over whether it is sensible for half our population to let its abilities be wasted, its extraordinary talents hidden and its intelligence suppressed?
Society will not benefit from empowering women. That is the least accrediting way to put it. Empowering women will make society.