Women Empowerment a Mystic Illusion or a Reality?
by: Shafqat Jilani
Struggle for power is an innate of all living beings where humans are not an exception. Story of power struggle between genders, social classes and economic groups travels back with the history of humankind. Modern day struggle for power in personal life and work life has become a leading challenge for organizational development experts and business leaders. Personal life supremacy and workplace empowerment are two names of the same willful effort people do in their lives generally in the name of ‘survival’ or ‘job requirement’. Human beings are different from other species in this way too, that they don’t need, demand or desire empowerment for survival or to become the fittest among the lot to protect themselves. Their greed of power and lust for more control over others, both in personal and professional lives, take them and people around to various difficult situations. It is not desired to restate global male dominance, but the obvious fact is men are more in number when it comes to head count at workplace. Even in organizations, where women are greater in number, women’s decision making is over influenced by their male colleagues or bosses. Almost all organization claim equal treatment for men and women, similarly their policies are also obvious on the issue; but unfortunately implementation of such policies is compromised at various levels and the role women can play for the benefit of organization cannot be played.
Modern women have started showing a great concern for their independent and useful empowerment. Modern day women, like their predecessors, are also fighting on both family and professional fronts to gain desired empowerment. For the women of this era, whether working or not; the question is not merely to be empowered, it is to be empowered as per their own standard & satisfaction. Here lies the conflict and reason of not being empowered to the desired level, i.e., conflict of interest between genders. Men, holding more power in planning, decision making and control functions of the organization, are somehow responsible for not transferring the due the powers and authorities to the women in work chain. For men, obviously it is very difficult to ‘lose’ control over their established authority and fear of losing the comfort of status quo also haunts & prevents them from moving ahead to empower women as per women’s standards. Men feel, women are already empowered enough to perform their duties comfortably and achieve their goals realistically, the same notion is strongly rejected by the woman.
Responsibility of present state of ‘lesser-empowerment’ or ‘powerlessness’ can be blamed to men as they have already landed at the top hierarchy order in majority cases. Men shall not lose their control, unless they are logically convinced on the benefits of extended women empowerment where it already exists and rationed empowerment where it does not exist. Second responsible factor behind lack of women empowerment are women themselves. Accepting dominance and abuse of authority by women further triggers extended deprivation for them. They shall get out of self-pity and start taking the charge of their lives based on their abilities. Most of women cannot do this due to their socially cultivated fear of being a weaker gender but they need to realize power is never given in the plate of gold, they have to struggle for it in a practical way by showing their courage, competence, dedication and stronger commitment for the success. Empowerment whether it is for men or women, is always cultivated by women, surprising….isn’t it? A mother empowers the son, or daughter or both. If wrongly empowered, both son and daughter are predisposed to abuse power and deprive others from their due right of empowerment.
At workplace, we find majority of human resource departments are run by women in modern organizations. This is also right time for these HR heads to play their active role in women empowerment; they can cultivate sharing and empowering culture in their organizations gradually to improve present level of empowerment at various levels. This can be done by motivating women to dare for challenging jobs requiring higher level of effort, energies and commitment. Women should be placed in lime light and should be awarded for their achievements. It is a fact that hidden achievers don’t multiply their achievements or contributions for the organization in long run, they need to be recognized and rewarded across the organization. Such talent & achievement promotions create a surge of motivation among non-achievers and the cycle continues for bigger outcomes.
Women empowerment should not create a sense of ‘de-empowerment’ for men as this shall result in win-lose proposition that is also not desirable. Women empowerment shall be done in partnership with men as both are responsible for bringing good result and creating balance in life. A steady work on masculine mindset change is to be taken softly but actively, mothers can play a pivotal role at homes and HR leaders at workplace.
Women Empowerment should not be linked with men's ‘de-empowerment’ because many of women’s powers are captivated by men, it should be a win-win catalyst aimed at higher and long term objectives. Practically, it is not possible to empower women until men realize that empowering women is in fact empowering humanity. Empowerment should be beyond any gender bias and personal greed. We all should be empowered and the deprived ones should be empowered more, including women and women fearing men.
Shafqat Jilani at a ‘Women Empowerment’ Seminar on Women's International Day - March 8 - 2015