Women empowerment has been a topic of debate ever since the 1950s when women were initially banned from voting in the United States, to one of the latest examples where the driving ban was finally lifted in Saudi Arabia. Women empowerment can be defined as the recreation of what women can do, and accomplish in a circumstance that they were previously denied doing so.

However, it’s true meaning goes further and can be regarded as the improvement of their political, social, economic and health status for the purpose of sustainable development. In a productive and reproductive sense, the participation and partnership of both men and women are required in the shared responsibilities towards the nurturing of children and maintenance of the household. However, women are being threatened by the overburden of work and their lack of power and influence in society, compromising their lives, health and wellbeing.

Empowering Women Through Education

Another significant threat women encounter is the lack of accessibility towards a good education. It is one of the most effective methods to empower women with the knowledge, skills and self-confidence necessary to fully participate in the development process. More than a third of the world’s adults who are mostly women, have no access to printed knowledge, new skills or technologies that would improve the quality of their lives and endow them with the skills necessary to shape and accommodate to social and economic change. Of a 130 million children who are not enrolled in primary school, 70 percent of them are girls.

Materialising Women Empowerment

Despite its current outlook, there are a few measures to combat this and it can be seen as such. Countries should act to empower women and eliminate inequalities by:
– Adopting practices allowing for women’s equal participation and equitable representation at all levels of the public life and political process in each community and society while enabling women to articulate their concerns and needs.

– Allowing women to achieve their full potential through education, acquire news skills via development and employment and giving priority towards the elimination of poverty, illiteracy and ill health among women.

– Eliminating all practices which discriminate against women and assisting them to establish and realise their rights, including those that relate to reproductive and sexual health.

– Implementing measures to help women achieve economic self-reliance by improving their economic ability to earn income beyond traditional occupations, and ensure women’s equal access to the labour market and social security systems.

– Eliminating all forms of violence and harassment against women.

– Eliminating discriminatory practices by employers against women, such as those based on proof of contraceptive use or pregnancy status;
Making it possible, through laws, regulations and other appropriate measures, for women to combine the roles of child-bearing, breast-feeding and child-rearing with participation in the workforce.

Only through the adherence and successful execution of these processes can women empowerment be fully materialised, leading to the creation of an equitable society where women are properly represented.

Author: Edwin Ang

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