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Empowerment and its importance to women

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Sociology
Wordcount: 4222 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Empowerment is a multi-dimensional procedure that aids women to achieve power and control over their individual lives. Empowerment gives due right to women.

Yet measurement of women empowerment is difficult and it is challenging to judge country level performance as there is difficulty in gathering diverse data. Based on the findings of, Women’s Empowerment: Measuring Gender Gap, five important dimensions have been selected for the examination of women empowerment. Economic participation refers to contribution of females to workforce in quantitative terms. Economic opportunity is related to how much women are involved in the economy, beyond their mere presence as workers. This problem is concentrated in developed countries where women gain access to employment easily but they have little chances of upward mobility. Political empowerment means women have contribution in the decision making and can influence policy making. Educational attainment is very important as women can get the same opportunities as men do and it can be a big step for development purpose. Health and well-being is associated with how much females have access to sufficient nutrition, healthcare and reproductive facilities. It is very difficult to measure each dimension in each country and to implement policy as each country has many other factors effecting its women empowerment.

The GEM quantitatively measures the liberation of women on a country level. This indicator comprises of the share of inequality in control over earned economic resources, involvement in governmental decision-making and economic decision-making. This variable measure how much a power woman holds.

Drawing upon Women’s Empowerment: Measuring Gender Gap, a report on Taking action: achieving gender equality and empowering women, takes a step forward and elaborates further more on that there are three main domains. Capabilities domain which refers to basic human abilities as measured by education, health, and nutrition plus access to resources and opportunities domain, which refers primarily to equality in the opportunity to use or apply basic capabilities through access to economic assets and finally security domain . These three domains are interconnected, and alteration in every one of three is significant in accomplishing Goal 3.

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Women: Current Reality

In a report by Augusto Lopez-Claros, it is mentioned that the past three decades have witnessed a progressively aggregate awareness of the necessity to invest in women through measures to increase social, economic and political justice, and wider access to important social rights but it is argued that changes in women state is a very slow process, up till now a lot of work has been done but yet still the picture is depressing. It is not only the issue in male dominated society but also in developed country as well.

A spotlight on deprived female is acceptable for numerous causes. Unfortunate female have the furthermost requirements. It is regularly stated that female outnumber male among the underprivileged.

One more important report ,Taking action: achieving gender equality and empowering women, further elaborated that poor women have greatest need; investment in them will produce greatest benefit. Further, investment in the adolescent girls is very crucial as they experience more disadvantage than boys.

Plus with progress in education and health, yet poverty among women has increased even in the richest countries where women’s labor force participation has grown, but the terms and conditions of their employment have not improved.

According to Linda Mayoux, Women also help in poverty reduction, if they are given liberty to save with no interference and or they are offered with loan, these women can cater to the need of their house hold eventually reducing poverty.

Microfinance has been fruitful in reaching poor women through inventive methods to address gender-specific restraints. According to a report Women’s Control over Economic resources and access to financial Resources, including microfinance, 2009, it is obvious that microfinance has a constructive effect on income, but this income expansion has definite limits. As females are subjugated to unfair customs and practices which limits their activities. Females face constraints in gain access to financial services.

From all these studies it can be assumed that in spite of numerous accomplishments in giving power to women still women empowerment are effected by many factors .women should be given equal opportunities not only in education, health, and political, economic but also socially as well. Society as a whole should be targeted where new changes, changes in lifestyle and thinking should be accepted. To empower women in Pakistan all these determinants should be taken into consideration.

Increasing socialism, religious fundamentalism, and traditionalism are main limiting reasons for women’s safety and liberty. other than that self-regulating groups like NGOs and other self-governing research and academic organization, have been very energetic in formulating policy documents, raising public responsiveness and encouraging for gender-sensitive strategies and actions at all levels in order to advance women’s empowerment in Pakistan.

Women’s Economic Activity

Economic participation refers to contribution of females to workforce in quantitative terms. Economic opportunity is related to how much women are involved in the economy, beyond their mere presence as workers. This problem is concentrated in developed countries where women gain access to employment easily but they have little chances of upward mobility.

With the passage of time and despite considerable work done on women economic enrichment yet this is still time-consuming as due to many norms and practices women continue to be missing from many important decision-making opportunities which result in the determining the distribution of economic and financial resources and opportunity, that makes women more underprovided.

Depriving women from economic resources makes a nation less productive resulting in negative economic consequences. Several social practices seem as ordinary from culture and religious perspective move women out of the main stream.

Paid employment for women continues to expand slowly and remains meager in many countries including Pakistan. As the global financial crisis does not create problems for men but also for women. With men finding difficulty in recruitment as fewer jobs available due to recession thus, less jobs available for females as well. As females previously were offered less employment the men now with recent event they are less proffered and they are at huge disadvantage then men. They are getting more menial jobs and are given less wage jobs. To a great extent of work of females remains imperceptible, as most of the work done by them goes unaccounted and invisible The segment of women in salaried employment outside the agricultural sector has increased only marginally over the years, this shows that women are not getting work in productive jobs which can lead o development.

According to (Oxaal, 1997) , with the shortage of jobs, a woman does not have any opportunity except for to accept these kinds of job. With that those women who are not allowed to leave their house for income are also at disadvantage , as their men after recession are losing jobs , even than they are not allowed by their females to also take the burden of earning income thus , females due to poverty get undernourished and malnutrition makes them unhealthy , which resultantly effect their families. Poverty, unemployment and lack of economic prosperity further strengthen this aggressiveness in rural areas the large amount of time women spend on housework and caring for family members means that they had little time to spend on employment and personal care.

Since beginning women face a lot of constraint and these restraints replicate women’s difficulty in education; lack of power and confidence and negotiating authority; as from their household they are misjudge which effects in low self-respect plus with comparatively high participation in part-time or transitory professions; leads to less employment for women and discrimination against them. Despite women’s increased participation in the labor market, there has been no significant increase in the sharing of unpaid work, which affects women’s employment choices.

Access to Education

The living conditions of women, their poverty and huge family household prevent them from gaining education. Since the beginning girls are required to work with their mothers to look after the whole family and do household chores this, therefore limits their time and energy to get involved in education. Issue of illiteracy is the main priority for women. As only educated women can access to economic and political sphere.

According to (Medel-Anonuevo, 1993) , Providing education to women will develop self-esteem and self-confidence; they will have knowledge of their health and well-being plus they will have the ability to make their own decisions and negotiate; further this will raise the women’s awareness of their civil rights. In addition will be able to provide skills for income generation and will participate in community/society more effectively and this will prepare them to be good women leaders.

As according to the report Taking actions, educated females are more operative at refining their own well-being and that of their family. They are better equipped to get the most advantage from prevailing facilities and chances and to generate alternative opportunities, roles, and support structures. These empowering effects of women’s education are demonstrated in a range of ways, including increased income-earning potential, ability to bargain for resources within the household, decision making independence, autonomy over their own fertility, and contribution in public life.

In underprivileged countries, girls from their childhood are given domestic work ,this handicaps them in terms of education. Gender inequality in rural location is even more noticeable at the phase of tertiary education. Girls from poor and rural Families face higher obstructions to education.

Boys are always preferred over girls in education in each level from primary to tertiary. But directed public policy and governance actions can help overcome gender disparities. According to The Millennium Development Goals Report, 2009 policies like removing school fees and providing incentives for girls to attend school can alleviate financial pressures on households. Building schools close to distant communities and recruiting local female teachers can also constricted the gender gap in rural areas.

A lot of work must be done to finish inequality and discrimination based on gender especially in schools .hard work must be done to enroll all children in to school, especially girls. And to make sure that they complete their studies up till tertiary level as this can lead to good productive jobs and high economic growth for the whole country.

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Barriers in the Political Domain


Since the independence of Pakistan , Pakistani governments has passed many laws for the rights of women but the change in women condition is still very slow with the passage of time. There is a huge gap between the policy making and practical work. An analysis by JOHN stated that after freedom, leading Muslim women in Pakistan continued to support women’s political liberation through lawful reforms.

According to (Haq, Khadija Haq on Women’s Political and Economic Empowerment in South Asia), government is starting to take steps to surge women’s political contribution through the founding of quota systems at countrywide and local levels. Introducing quota systems is nonetheless only single step on the road to female political empowerment. We are still facing inherent male-controlled traditions and approaches that limit chances for women’s participation in public life.

Environment for women’s political empowerment

Less number of women, who attain decision-making places in a political sector dominated by men, will be unproductive in manipulating decisions as large majority is needed. Women are underrepresented in government, civil service, and other public establishments and still massive gaps continue in education and job opportunities. At the identical period, women face legal restrictions that halt them from gaining equal access to property and inheritance. We can achieve gender equality by promoting women in politics.

According to (Moser, 2007), throughout the world women are still disproportionately represented .They remain a very small minority at the center of political power. One important approach to supporting women’s empowerment is the promotion of the participation of women in politics This includes promoting women in government and national and local party politics as well as supporting women’s involvement in NGOs and women’s movements. In government, women concentration in decision-making positions should be in social, law and justice ministries

Women in Pakistan face a lot of stereotypes like women are considered as unsuitable for leadership positions; and all men contemplate that if women have political influence she must be all knowing. Ever since beginning women are disqualified from leadership roles, they are deprived of chances for leadership skills preparation. Domestic errands make it difficult for females to go for training or further studies as they solely do not have the essential hours for study. Thus they lack the talent and ability of political contribution. Most women are linked to a male political leader: as wife of an assassinated leader or daughter of an older, if not late, politician. While most women ultimately emanate into their own as leaders, it does not alter the fact that women, compared with men, have partial access to the support of political parties and males.

People have different expectations of male and female leaders. As females are responsible for their family needs with their political career simultaneously. But men has only have their careers to concentrate on. When women are elected, they are expected to be all-rounder and all-knowing and in their initial stage of political career, they are expected to make a strong constructive influence in altering the situation of women or talking critical issues such as poverty, health care and education within a small time from their election. According to report ISSUES IN WOMEN’S POLITICAL EMPOWERMENT IN THE ASIA-PACIFIC REGION,Unjustified and inequitable beliefs results in insufficiency of females to consider entering into politics. This diminishes the group of prospect women leaders who can be confronted, motivated, prepared, and developed for politics. Women’s plea for representation is not to substitute men’s power but to create places for both women and men to grow their potentials and foster a collaboration that can take on the tasks of the new millennium.

Culture barriers

Taking the argument in a new direction by a report on Guidelines on Women’s Empowerment, states that social issue also plays major role in empowerment.

In Pakistan, the girl is still differentiated from the boys from the birth, through her childhood, and into her womanhood. In the tribal fragments of Pakistan, native men are grasping more power through religion and tradition. Girls are considered socially weaker in a Pakistani culture that discriminates against them. In rural areas they observes violence, male violence against their mothers and against them thus from start this becomes a part of their life. Brothers also then participate in this violence against the girls in the family to show their manhood to peers and family male members. Male children become more violent when they grow up. Extreme poverty is a major factor that will impede the elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against the girl child .The state of extreme poverty is so severe that it leaves its victims inert to awareness, legal punishment or even religious obligations. The economic empowerment of girls and mothers is critical to the achievement of equality.

Females in Pakistan live in a domain, which is controlled by severe religious, family and tribal traditions. According to Zaheer Udin Babur, Pakistan, They are exposed to discrimination and viciousness on a daily basis .Islamic views are not properly interpreted , they are molded according to the views of men as Islamic views wrong interpretation results in females oppression physically, mentally and emotionally. Women in Pakistan are facing numerous methods of violence, discrimination and difference in nearly every part of life. Violence against women in many fields is often not conceived as a violation of human rights but rather as a normal aspect of lives of Pakistani people. They live in an atmosphere of fear, and their lives are guaranteed in exchange for obedience to social norms and traditions. Because of this fear and sense of being inferior, imposed by the traditional thoughts of a male dominated society, women are suffering immensely especially in their homes. The most abusive forms of violence being faced by women take place in their homes.

A thesis by (Faridi, 2009) states that women are under the control of men as the decision about education, health, occupation, marriage and physical mobility are all made by her men folk from the selection of their dress to the selection of life partner is made by either her father or brother. Women especially in Pakistan are the property of their males and to give them empowerment they should be given their due right. Moreover, Segregation and veil as perceived by men folk make women alienated from their surroundings and limiting their mobility resultantly reducing their participation in economic activities. Child male preference and domestic violence result in the underestimation of females and from beginning they undervalue themselves. Further this study elaborate that fertility rate also plays a major role as females have fewer burdens and have the right in decision making as when to have children.

The family structure of Pakistan implies that make are the bread winner and the women have to look after the family, if the men is unable to do work, even then they will not allow female to work out to fulfill the necessity of the children for food. As if they are tied to home and there going out is still prohibited. A girl is taken less seriously then her male brother, she will not be given proper food. And will not get proper health treatments, are malnourished, thus in the end females die early then males.

Other than that, it can be shown that women in Pakistani tend have more children, especially in rural areas, thus decreasing their opportunity to go to and work. As on Pakistan it is the work of female to look after the whole family, thus, the more they have children, less time available to them for their work.

It is the tradition for females to get married early, they do not get time even to complete their education, and thus early marriages make them educationally crippled. Whereas men of the same age are concentrating on their economic career, females are given the responsibility of the households, cut off from the education world and the depriving them of the opportunity of economically empowering themselves.


In Pakistan, especially in rural areas Violence against women is very common. And they are not encouraged to report their cases to police. If any one of them does that, instead of giving them their proper right, they are subjugated to humility. The dowry has been maintained and thousands of females are killed every year by their husbands because the dowry is too little. And as majority of the cases are not registered so more than half of the scenarios do not come to surface. Moreover, male children are given more rights than female. As girl is considered a burden for the whole family, especially when children are ill, the fathers prefer to pay treatment for sons than for daughters, so that more girls die .Women are not free to move in the villages and suffer severe restriction on their movement.

Generally several laws guarantee that women have access to property, including land. However, these rules are not respected. As more than half, a woman does not even have access to money as they must ask their husbands for a small amount of money to buy daily necessities. In these cases, women naturally do not have access to other forms of property as well, including credit. The condition is worse for land possession which is always limited to men.

Violence against women is very frequent in Pakistan. Wives are frequently the prey of domestic violence .It is vital for women to survive without the terror of aggression. The focus is basically on the safety of women as according to (Malhotra, Schuler, and Boender 2002; Kabeer 1999), Empowered women must not only have equal capabilities (such as education and health) and equal access to resources and opportunities (such as land and employment), but they must also have the agency to use those rights, capabilities, resources, and opportunities to make strategic choices and decisions (such as is provided through leadership opportunities and participation in political institutions). And for them to exercise agency, they must live without the fear of pressure and violence .The core of empowerment lies in the ability of a woman to control her own destiny. The girl child has the right, as any other child, not to be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (CRC, article 37).

Women health is the one of the most important factor as maternal mortality rates are high, and women’s probabilities of dying of pregnancy-related problems are almost 50 times higher in developing countries than in developed countries. Females are also more susceptible to sexually transmitted infections, particularly HIV/AIDS.

Improving women’s well-being

A lot of new policy are required keeping in mind the constraints faced by women in the labor market, including development of women’s capabilities to adapt to changing labor market conditions, support to reduce unpaid care work, and discrimination in the job sector.. These policies can be very helpful in eliminating gender inequalities and discrimination and ensuring access to decent work. Gif these policies are properly enforced they can have a very ever lasting impact. It is, however, increasingly difficult to ensure that all women benefit from labor market regulations because many women in developing countries still lag behind. Due consideration given to health, nutrition and education, and microfinance by policy maker, can have a positive impact on women participation. As microfinance gives income security for children safeguards their well-being and improves their health, nutrition, school attendance, educational achievement and, later in life, labor market performance. Education is the key factor behind all, as enrollment in schools will not be beneficial for them but also for the whole economy.

Efforts must be done to provide productive and decent employment for all, including women .importance should be given to that equal access and availability of employment for men and women in the policy agenda.

According to PAKISTAN EMPLOYMENT TRENDS FOR WOMEN, 2009 ,For political empowerment the administration of Pakistan has a special ministry for women development. Whilst the Ministry of Women’s Development encourages gender equality and supports the status of women in Pakistan at the National level, Women’s Development Departments also occur at the local management level. The functions of the Ministry mainly include ensuring that women’s needs are represented satisfactorily in public policy by various government bodies and agencies. It also ensures equality in education and employment and full participation of women in all scopes of social welfare.

The government of Pakistan makes policies to protect women rights but the problem is that law enforcement agencies such as judiciary and police do not follow these policies wholeheartedly It can be said that at the governmental level, there are policies to end gender based violence and discrimination but they are not implemented properly because almost all politicians are either religious lords or feudal lords who give more importance to their tribal and religious narrow approaches rather than towards universal rights for women. In reality, women are still facing immense problems. (Ahmed, 2007).


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