The idea of an empowered woman as depicted in movies and books is one who goes out and earns. One who has a regular job goes to the office, gets a salary. When women were not getting education and women working was unheard of perhaps this made sense at one level although not completely.
Is empowerment really about a woman having a corporate job? Is it really about running her own business? This image that has been created is far from the reality of someone being empowered. To me, empowered means someone who can decide for herself. Someone who can take decisions about her life.
What if someone (and many do) wants to be a home bird? There are many women who do not fancy a corporate job. They have consciously decided not to take up working in an organization. They have made a choice. Isn’t that empowerment? Why should all decisions of empowerment be defined as being an employee somewhere? If someone who was working in a corporate job gave it up to raise her kids because she considered that also as a priority in her life, isn’t that empowerment? If the man in the marriage did not want to give up his job and the woman wanted to, did both not get what they wanted? Years down the line why is it looked down on the woman who gave up her job. Even if she is totally satisfied with her decision and she has executed the responsibility of raising children, nobody would call her an empowered woman which is really sad.
Those who made the decision to go out and work and make a full-time career are to be lauded. Those who managed a career and a family need to be praised. But equally, those who decided to fold up their career or chose not to have one and give fulltime to the family also need to be praised as empowered women if that is what they wanted to do. I look at many women from my mother’s and grandmother’s generation who lead a life with dignity and choice but did not go out to work. I won’t dare to call them unempowered. There are many matriarchial families where the women make life-choices but do not go out to work in an organization. Could any of them call them unempowered?
Being empowered is having the ability to make your choices whatever those choices are. It is not about making only one kind of choices that most people think. If you chose to go out and work, you are empowered. If you chose not to go out and work, you are still empowered. You are empowered if you live life on your terms.