Women empowerment: Catching the train

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THE empowerment as it is called cannot happen in isolation whether it is like giving a weapon to a soldier or a train ticket to a passenger.

Women empowerment is about enabling women to utilize their potential, liberating them to have their own discretion in their lives and considering women as equal to men rather than inferior or superior. We will understand this by a simple example of catching a train and reaching a destination is the achievement of empowerment.

For example, we would like to empower Mona and Lilia and free them from any gender bias or inferiority feelings caused to them earlier.

The first phase of enabling women empowerment is that the government makes rules that everyone must consider Mona and Lilia their equal, cause them no harm and accept them in the society. However, just political empowerment implemented by the government is not enough to catch a train!

Therefore, someone must arrange them money for their ticket or they must have the entrepreneurial skills to earn the money so they can buy the ticket. So the next phase is to empower them economically, i.e. to enable them to have access to resources which are required to progress further in the life such as buying a train ticket.

Having a ticket is still not enough as on the way if no one accepts you, no one interacts with you then how you will find or reach the train station. Thus, people on the way must recognize you as equal human beings and freely interact with you and accept you. Hence we need social empowerment which will also remove any fear Mona and Lilia have in going out and finding a station and catching a train.

This is still not enough, as political, economic and social empowerment cannot provide physical legs and mind to the persons involved. Therefore, Mona and Lilia will have to gather courage, mentally free themselves from any fear or obstacle they know or faced in the past. This phase is about developing an identity, self-managed leadership and being competent and confident be a go-getter to catch a train.

Therefore, now we can summarize that empowerment of women is not only one person’s responsibility but it is a moral duty of each and every one of us that we enable millions and billions of women like Mona and Lilia to catch the train. Overall women empowerment can be achieved based on the political — economic — social — personal empowerment as enabled by governments, businesses, society, community, colleagues, friends, family and women themselves. As I am one of you, all I can say is have a look at live departure board in your life and see you soon on the train!

— Areej Al-Jahani is a doctoral candidate at the University of Reading, UK, and she is a lecturer in the education leadership at King Saud University, Saudi Arabia. She can be reached at amaljuhani@ksu.edu.sa.


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