‘Women’s empowerment’ is probably one of the most overused phrases in global campaigns today. But who exactly is an empowered woman? I was asked this question in a recent interview and this is what I said:
An empowered woman for me is a woman who has realized that freedom and power is not something that another person or society can give you. Whatever your circumstance, as humans we all are born free, and our power is within. The question is, have you allowed others to rob you of your freedom and choices? Are you using your power to assert yourself, your freedom and choices, or are you giving away your power to the system that’s trying to repress you through rules, customs, and fear?
An empowered woman is one who has complete ownership of self, which is the absolute and fundamental essence of being a free citizen in a democracy. It is only slaves and prisoners whose lives are controlled by others through fear and power. Women and girls controlled by society, family, traditions, religions, through dictums, and fear and power, are like slaves and prisoners.
A woman who is a doctor or engineer, whose parents are blackmailed for dowry, who continues to tolerate violence and death threats from her husband and in-laws, but does not walk out to reclaim her sanity and safety, because she fears social stigma for herself or her family, is not empowered. In fact, I say, that a village woman is more empowered than her, who may have little education, but who defies khap and community diktats, and chooses to leave her community and seek a new life with a lover of her own choosing. It is the village woman who is more empowered than the urban, educated, working woman, because she has recognized and claimed her absolute freedom as a human being.
You can read my full interview with ‘Glad to Be A Woman’ here http://www.glad2bawoman.com/category/achievers/rita-banerji-woman-behind-50-million-missing-campaign