Women empowerment means improving the social, legal, economic and political status of women in order to make them confident about claiming their rights, including basic human rights. In short, it implies creating an environment fit for women so that they can live independently and dictate their own decision. However, today, it is assumed that women’s access to wealth transforms a society meaningfully and other factors are thoroughly ignored.
It is recognizable that the concept of woman empowerment applies to women while they are in their so-called ‘public space’, i.e. in a workplace, otherwise, a completely different set of rules govern the ‘private space’ such as street, transport, and home. The public space also comes with a certain limitations and there is much discrimination against women varying from sector to sector. Outside the workplace, women have to stick to very limiting notion of femininity due to dominating gender bias. The redefinition of ’femininity’ is so prevalent across sectors that it is visible even for the well achieved, independent and ‘empowered’ women.
Woman empowerment has remained one of the highly rated and debated topics in a country like India. Our country has surely tried a lot to preach women empowerment. However, as far as the rape and molestation statistics and commonly, biased mentality of people are concerned, we can say that nothing has changed. A daily newspaper comes with at least one rape news regularly and women are still blamed for initiating rape and molestation and are still asked to stay home at night to prevent ‘something’ from happening. In a literal sense, because of getting ‘empowered’, women have actually lost out the chivalry that they received from men. On the other hand, politicians and NGO’s, who bring up the topic of woman empowerment from time to time, out of nowhere only serve to raise follower list and donors’ funds respectively.
Feminism, which started as a movement to seek and secure equal rights for women has now turned into an organized tool to spread misandry, harass men, and draw undue favors for women from the government in the name of women equality. The human rights and woman empowerment movement shifted into a dictatorship powered by hypocrisy and self-dictated definitions of right and wrong. Newspaper columns, social media, and TV programs are misused to promote the wicked idea of this fake ‘feminism’ which not only provides an unfair advantage to women but also jeopardizes the well-being of the other.
The feminists have successfully injected the thought ‘If a man can, why can’t a woman’ among women through these various channels. The outcome is nothing much to be called desirable, with occasional sparks of a positive outcome. The few sparks of positive outcomes have resulted in an increase in the rate of female literacy and the rate of employment of women across various sectors. Otherwise, the concept is not only misused but also blatantly abused. Positive attitude driven by the concept of feminism is welcomed for constructive purposes, but the same is rendered vulnerable if used to serve ulterior motives of individuals. Woman empowerment, today, is looked upon as the right to drink, smoke, abuse, use slang, and indulge in polyandry. This gives the women a false security to consider themselves equal to men.
Feminists have failed to realize and preach that these practices are unhealthy and have a negative impact on anyone irrespective of gender. Some radicals may rightly challenge, pursuant to above case why is the onus to improve is only on women and not on men?
According to various studies, while it is seen that the behavior of Indian men is changing towards better acceptance of the empowered woman and withdrawal from social vices gradually, the women are adopting and embracing the very same social evils. None other than the radical feminists are to be blamed for generating this negative effect.
Unfortunately, the educated and ‘empowered’ women’s lot is the worst victim of this misdirected feminism because any effort to pull them back to normalcy is strongly criticized by bloated egos. It seems that radical feminism and its preachers and followers are in a vicious cycle of a woman-empowerment trap!
With the help of the hype created by the name of feminism, feminists have been able to confirm some of their one-sided and unjust demands through various laws which are often misused to harass men. Feminists, especially radical ones have to understand that these hypocritical anti-male law demands are not only spoiling women and the basic idea of feminism itself, but also damaging the concept of woman empowerment. We can say that some of the preachers of woman empowerment are people who themselves act as a barrier towards the cause. For instance, financially independent estranged wives are claiming for maintenance and the courts are obliged to serve. Therefore, the question arises as to why an independent woman needs to be maintained, if men and women are considered to possess equal rights? The cruel aftermath of the increasing hype of woman empowerment is increasing numbers of false charges of rape, molestation, domestic violence, and dowry. Feminists have to understand that in order to empower someone, they should be given responsibility and not resort to unfair means.
Currently, there is a parallel existence of double standards of feminism which is creating a smokescreen over the ‘woman empowerment’ tool. The assumption that women only need empowerment keeps both the violent masculinity and the cult of femininity untouched. Everyone must understand that solely women empowerment by women won’t help and men have to come forward in any case.
A government can only make some rules, but in a country like India, most people believe that rules are meant to be broken so woman empowerment cannot solely be a government responsibility. The responsibility should be undertaken by each and every citizen morally, otherwise rules solely are capable of doing nothing. For men, the concept of feminism is very limited. In the virtual world, it is limited to posting in social media about the period, labor pain and how important women are, where, in the real world, it is all about and paying a bill and carrying a bag. However, these are not the kind of feminism that will lead to woman empowerment. The feminism that will lead to woman empowerment is talking to ‘her’ with full respect during a bad mood or stopping a fellow-man from harassing a woman and not be a passer-by or standing up against own parents when they demand a ‘boy’ from your wife. These are the small steps needed to meet the bigger purpose of feminism.
Women have made great strides but still, a gender equality gap exists quite prominently. Even today, a part of our society acts as if a woman is either a mother or a whore. Rape, gang rape, sexual harassment, molestation, eve teasing, misogyny, female-centric abuses like ‘sala’ are clear indicators of sheer woman disempowerment.
To make a conclusion, we have to understand that throughout the years, as dictated by our society, culture, and history, women are the weaker sex and that is why woman empowerment is necessary and to direct it in the right way an understanding of feminism is needed irrespective of gender. Now the question arises that whether women empowerment is a hype or a reality? Increasing the status of women through women empowerment is not an easy task and it requires a collective involvement of both men and women. Though according to Indian culture, ignorance over women is deep-rooted, the idea of women empowerment is not implausible. Initially, a lot of work needs to be done to keep the basic focus of woman empowerment intact and unbiased. At first, the women empowerment activists must point out who their enemies are. It is not true that all the harms towards woman empowerment are caused by men. To kick-start with the positive vibes of woman empowerment, women need to integrate some behavioral changes. They have to stop depending on someone else’s experience to make herself complete because as a different soul, she has full right to have her own story. The present change is unquestionably positive and encouraging but it is not enough. Woman empowerment is more like a social reform program and hence a long run process, therefore, we should be patient and give it some more time before we absolutely label it as a ‘hype’. The day when a woman won’t have to listen to “since you are a girl” anymore, the day when a woman won’t have to tolerate lusty eyes in the street and local transport anymore, that day woman empowerment will be able to rise from hype to reality. In a country like India where the wonderful proposition of triple-talaq ban gets evaporated with a mere political and religious pressure, this seems to be an absurd and illusionary target. In a practical sense, woman empowerment is still more a hype than a reality in India.