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Empower women and girls

IF you want women and girls to flourish and to avoid becoming victims of abuse, empower them! Help raise their self-esteem and see to it that you encourage them to become educated, healthy, and independent in different aspects. Teach them about boundaries and about asserting their rights as individuals. Teach them about developing their inner strength regardless of circumstances and regardless of people who stay or walk away. Teach them to become strong and appear strong.

Why? When people think of others as inferior to them, the former are likely to abuse the latter physically, verbally, emotionally, mentally, sexually, or economically. They may think that the latter are too ignorant, too weak, and too dependent to fight or to even realize the abuse.

The keyword, then, is empowerment. This International Women’s Month, allow me to share more ideas on women empowerment. (I said “more” because I have been passionately writing about this subject women’s month or not.)

Empowerment refers to “the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one’s life and claiming one’s rights” (Oxford Dictionaries). It means being informed about what is due to you and believing that you have options. The more educated, strong, and independent you get, the more empowered you become. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has outlined five components of women’s empowerment: women’s sense of self-worth; their right to have and to determine choices; their right to have access to opportunities and resources; their right to have the power to control their own lives, both within and outside the home; and their ability to influence the direction of social change to create a more just social and economic order, nationally and internationally.

According to the UNFPA education is “one of the important means of empowering women with the knowledge, skills, and self-confidence necessary to participate fully in the development process”. South Africa’s Deputy Arts and Culture Minister Rejoice Mabudafhasi shared the same view. She said, “We must afford young people opportunities to learn, acquire skills and contribute meaningfully to the development of our society”.

Our very own Women’s Month Celebration theme (WE Make Change Work for Women) “emphasizes that women should be active drivers in bringing about positive changes, and that they should also reap from development efforts”. All units of the society, especially families and schools – must do their part so that more women and girls will become educated, healthy, and independent. Ignorance, ill health, and dependence make people vulnerable to abuse of different kinds, but when they are fully informed, healthy, and independent, they do not just become strong and productive assets of the society. They become “agents of change and transformation”. Empowered women empower others!

Always read Tempo for articles that inform, inspire, and equip!

Marilyn Arayata: inspirational author, columnist, speaker, and former DLSU-D faculty. E-mail inspire.equip@gmail.com.

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