By Farida Naz
Most of the people believe that women empowerment is a fancy word for feminism. Regardless of all the good feminism has achieved people don’t want to identify themselves as a feminist because of the false denotations associated with the word feminism. Some people argue that there is nothing left for women empowerment because women have equal rights as men do in the society. Yes, women do have more social, political and economic rights than ever before in the society, but the fact is that in global level women are suffering because of gender inequality. Women are still struggling with basic human rights like honor killing, child marriages, female genital mutilation, street harassment, rape, pay inequality, education, are name to few. In modern world women also have to deal with body shaming, slut shaming and victim blaming on daily basis. People who claim that women have equal rights as men are failed to see the troubling global picture of women’s rights and the inequalities happening because of assigned gender roles to individuals, which limits the abilities of both men and women in the society.
We need women empowerment because the epidemic of honor killings needs to be addressed. The motivation of honor killings is on the basis of cultural norms. Honor killing is violating the person’s right to life. According to the survey, in India and Pakistan around 2000 women are killed by family members every year in order to “restore the family’s honor.”(Time, Iftikhar) In both countries the actual rates of honor killing are much higher than the survey reports because most of the time family members commit the killings, thus there is no one on behalf of the victim to report the case. In Pakistan, in July 2016, the social media star, Qandeel Baloch, was killed by her brother on the name of family’s honor. Her brother’s explanation for murdering his sister was “girls are born to stay home.” In a press conference, Baloch’s brother says that, “I am proud of what I did… I drugged her first, and then I killed her. She was bringing dishonor to our family.” (Time, Iftikhar) Police investigation reveals that her brother is a drug addict, and he also has some cases of theft, now a murderer. This is the situation in male dominating societies like Pakistan, if a male is thief, drug addict and even a murderer that doesn’t bring shame to the family, on the other hand if a female becomes famous because of her hard-work and talent that brings shame to the family because “girls are born to stay home.”
We need women empowerment because daily, “nearly 40,000 girls are wed before 18. In 36% of cases, the girls are younger than 15.” (Child Marriages) Child marriages take away the childhood of these little girls and push them under the responsibilities of marriage life. These young brides cannot continue their education, they cannot enjoy their childhood, and they have more health complications and have high maternal mortality during child birth. According to the report by the organization Because I am a Girl, across the world in every 2 second a girl before 18 is wed and if this issue is not addressed more than 140 million girls will become child brides by 2020. These early marriages are forced marriages and most common in South Asia and in Africa. Most of the time the reasons behind child marriages are; younger wives are more obedient. In patriarchy, men still want to dominate their partners, actually they don’t need a significant half rather they need a submissive sex slave and a servant to meet their needs. Parents wed their daughters early to protect girls from sexual violence. Ironically, child marriages end up having a larger risk of sexual abuse and domestic violence compared with marriages between adults.
We need women empowerment because Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), “procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons” (WHO) is happening in 29 countries and it is practiced on girls as young as 5 months old. FGM is done to protect girls from been sluts and prevent them from having pleasurable sex. More than 200 million girls and women alive today have been cut in 30 countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. (WHO) FGM has many short and long term health effects on the women’s health. It can cause complications like excessive bleeding, problems in urination, virginal infections, and difficulty during sex and high risk of mortality during child birth. FGM is very brutal act done to girls only because of the fact that they are female. We need women empowerment to aware people about the deathly norms of society to safeguard human rights because FMG is not a women’s problem it is the violation of human rights.
We need women empowerment because girls have fewer opportunities to receive education in developing countries due to limited resources and gender parity. Providing education to the girls will help girls to come out the vicious cycle of poverty. Educated women are more autonomous regarding decision making about their personal life. Education is fundamental human right of every individual, but sadly, “women comprise two thirds of all the illiterate adults worldwide, as well as 60 percent of the world’s poorest people.” (Malala Fund) Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate, Malala Yousafzai, was shoot to death because she claims for girls education. In conservative societies we need more people like Malala, we need more empowered women to have our rights.
We need women empowerment because women experience terror when walking alone under the moon and in some places even women experience terror when walking alone under the sun. Street harassment is the major problem faced by women including myself on daily basis. A study says that 99 percent of women experienced some form of street harassment in their lifetime, and 50 percent experienced it by 18. According to the study, Statistic- The Prevalence of Street Harassment, 79% of women living in cities in India, 86% in Thailand, 89% in Brazil, and 75% in London, UK have been subjected to harassment or violence in public. (Stop Street Harassment) The survey done in the United States found that 65% of all women had experienced street harassment. The super power of the world, United States, holds the first position in rape cases in the world. The survey found that, “males are majorly the rapist holding a proportion of 99%. Out of all the victims, 91% are females while 9% are males.” (U.S Bureau of Justice) The high rates of street harassment shows that women are been treated inferiorly and women are facing regular insult in the streets every day. In addition to this, sexual harassment in the workplace is still largely an issue of unequal power between men and women. The beauty standards of mass media are one of the main reasons behind high school bullying of young girls. Such harassments have devastated effects like depression, low self-esteem, anti-social behavior, seclusion and even suicides. The worse kind of street harassment is rape. Sadly, today we are living in the societies where rape is the common problem and women are the major victim of it. We are living in a rape culture where women are constantly blame for been rape. Women are been slut-shamed for provoking innocent men. Women are asked to wear properly and behave properly in order to avoid rape instead of asking men to stop dehumanizing others and snatching others rights.
We need women empowerment because women are still defined mostly by looks. Women are pressurized by media and beauty industry to have skinny body and flawless face. If women are obese it creates problem in their marriage life, personal life and even studies shows that obese women are trend to have low wages than normal weight or skinny women. Due to such pressure from the society women go for fatal surgeries if they can afford otherwise they have to suffer from social stigmatization and fat-shaming. Today women across the globe are having severe eating disorders like anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, and others. According to study “every 62 minutes at least one person dies as a direct result from an eating disorder” (ANAD) Most of the victims of eating disorders are women and the main reason behind such disorders are the beauty standards given to us by the media. The sexiest language and propaganda by media about looks cause people to suffer. Even normal weight women are not happy with their bodies due to the anorexic underweighted models whose beauty is overestimated by TV ads. Dark skin women are struggling with looking paler and white skin women are lying under sun for hours and hours to get tan. The overexposure to ultraviolet rays causes skin cancer to many of these women. In fact, media is successful to make us all uncomfortable with our skin and our body types. A study done in UK shows that, “the average UK woman worries about her body image every 15 minutes.” (lifeheak.org) The competition of Miss Universe, Miss World and other beauty contests terrifies normal women about their looks. Even though, beauty contest says, they judge participants on the basis of “person’s knowledge, sensitivity, social commitment and intelligence.” I wonder what nudity has to do with intelligence and knowledge of the participants. If social commitment is being tested then why the participants are almost nude on the stage and do cat walk. If these are the standards to test the intelligence then why not men are asks to do ramp walk in underwear to demonstrate their management skills and knowledge. We need empowered women to stop the beauty propaganda on TV advisements, to make people comfortable with their bodies, to stop judge people on the basis of their looks.
Women empowerment is a believe that women should be treated same as men, not because women are better than men, because women are also human beings and they have same human rights as men do in any society, in any time period. Men also don’t have joyful life in many societies due to gender parity. We need empowered women to ensure equal rights for all and equal division of labor in the societies. Men are considered money makers and providers of the family. Even the woman in family has equal or more income than man, still man are expected to bring more money to family and expected to take care of family’s financial needs. One of the most common expectations of men is that they be physically powerful: big, strong, muscular, and not vulnerable to any challenge. Men are expected to not express their emotions publicly. The most common phrase in our society is “men don’t cry.” Gender roles are holding the society back. According to a study published on the website, Change Our World, due to gender parity boys are twice as likely as girls to be diagnosed with a learning disorder. “30 percent boys are more likely than girls to drop out school. Tragically, they grow up into men who are also more likely to binge drink and around four times more likely than females to commit suicide.” (Haltiwanger) Human race is paying very high cost because of the assigned gender roles to the individuals. These particular gender roles limit the abilities of individuals and reinforce stereotypes about gender in a society. It is time to appreciate the abilities of individuals for what they are regardless of their gender and sex.
I want to be empowered woman because I don’t believe in a narrow definition of masculinity and femininity. I agree with British actress and activist, Emma Watson, “Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive, both men and women should feel free to be strong.”
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