To Empowerment and Beyond
6:08 PM, 19 Jan, 2019
The word ‘empowerment’ came into vogue in the late 60s with a growing tide of feminism. Since then it has been gaining overwhelming importance in terms of social justice and equality. The definition of empowerment may vary according to the context and the cultural moorings of a society. But the overall idea which is, ability to control one’s life, remains true to every situation.
To empower someone is to encourage them to find ways to overcome obstacles, and not to remove obstacles yourself.
Now, it’s not to say that women around the world are in a dire need of saving but it is for all of us to acknowledge that they certainly have been the victims of the hierarchies that cultural norms bring along. From taking a decision as trivial as going out of the house to taking positions equal or superior to men in any competitive environment, women have to constantly fight for their rights.
To keep on going in the desired direction, one needs milestones to cross at regular intervals.
To measure the progress of any movement, we need tools that present us with the picture that depicts the reality of our times. Social scientists and experts from differing backgrounds study the data at their disposal rigorously and form new tools to observe further progress. These tools over the time establish the very base for any social movement to come to fruition.
Hence, slowly but surely the landscape is changing. Women, all over the world, are defying the norms and setting biases straight. People are increasingly becoming aware of their inherent ignorance and trying to adapt to the change.
But there are certain challenges that remain inspite of all the changes. Such as:
- Empowerment Evaluation: The existing tools to gauge the progress, both in terms of quality and quantity have been proven inconsistent and inadequate. Without reliable data, a holistic approach can only seem satisfactory in books and not in the real world.
- Social Desirability Bias: Ironically, out of all the biases, the social desirability bias actually works without any bias among men and women. It’s the sort of pressure that doesn’t let you open up to the harsh realities. Facts can hide behind blatant lies. And one can fake a politically correct front just to avoid any social stigma.
- Lack of Non-survey Instruments: Surveys are widely used as bases for generating new hypotheses. But the cultural and landscape changes require dynamic solutions. Solutions that can actually get people talking. With the existing quantitative measures, it is almost impossible to reach a quality result.
But putting the technicalities aside, it must be said that any movement can withstand the test of times only when the changes come from within. For a society can only be as prosperous as the sum of the individual prosperity of its subjects.