Empowerment is a strong, powerful word, however there still exist unhealthy misconceptions that need to be challenged with integrity and humility. Women’s empowerment is underpinned by freedom and equality which would empower girls and women to enjoy and exercise their rights. UN Women and United Nations Global Compact have developed the following Women’s Empowerment Principles which were introduced on International Women’s Day 2010:
1.Establish high-level corporate leadership for gender equality.
2.Treat all women and men fairly at work—respect and support human rights and non-discrimination.
3.Ensure the health, safety and well-being of all women and men workers.
4.Promote education, training and professional development for women.
5.Implement enterprise development, supply chain and marketing practices that empower women.
6.Promote equality through community initiatives and advocacy.
7.Measure and publicly report on progress to achieve gender equality. Through empowering girls and women to have rights, we are ensuring equality and respect.
The idea is not to strip men of their rights, but for women to work beside men in order to build fairer practices and a fairer world. By ensuring empowerment and equality, we should aim to create and nurture harmony. “After thousands of years of male dominance, we now stand at the beginning of the feminine era, when women will rise to the appropriate prominence, and the entire world will recognize the harmony between men and women.”
Some would still define empowerment as ‘power over’ which contradicts everything that true empowerment is about. This would lead to the previously mentioned dangerous misconceptions as this would imply that women will be gaining power over men, at the expense of men who would suddenly lose their power. We should wholeheartedly challenge these ideas as “when our actions create discord in another person, we, ourselves… will feel that discord. Likewise, if our actions create harmony and empowerment in another, we also come to feel that harmony and empowerment.”