Empowerment literally defines the shift of state from ‘Powerlessness’ to that of ‘Power’. Women’s powerlessness is a grievous glitch that the entire world is struggling to fix. Women form about half the population of the country, quite a substantial section, yet their situation needs mending. Various organizations, institutions, even government has started humungous initiatives and programs to address the issue, yet these efforts have barely moved the needle.
The Global Gender Gap Report published by the World Economic Forum benchmarks the evolution of gender-based gaps among four key dimensions (Economic Participation and Opportunity, Educational Attainment, Health and Survival, and Political Empowerment) and tracks progress towards closing these gaps over time. As the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to exist, closing the global gender gap has increased by a generation from 99.5 years to 135.6 years, not pleasant air to breathe.
Amidst this struggle to diminish gender gap and establish a gender-just atmosphere, we often talk about empowering women by providing them with equal access to opportunities and resources. Stringent legislations, privileges in public transport, reservations in corporate and education sector are some initiatives that have been introduced.
However, with everything changing, society getting modernized in terms of nod to western culture, does true empowerment exist? The topic demands attention.
In this day and age, the word Empowerment is being extravagantly exploited, abused, and misinterpreted. A girl who managed to get herself education, becoming the first to do so in her village, is tagged ‘empowered’. A woman stood her ground to continue work after marriage, combating severe societal backlash is also called ‘empowered’. A female employee who survived competition with other 10,000 employees to join C-suite is also ‘empowered’. A woman who fought against all odds to shine bright, make the family/nation proud also bags the title of ‘empowered’. Empowerment is usually befogged with beauty, money, and power.
Not to be missed, a lot of women have started to enjoy these privileges and become predators. There is large volume of videos and posts on social media these days that showcase instances of women insulting, abusing, and blackmailing men, by playing the infamous woman card.
Is this what we were aiming and longing for? Clearly the initiatives in effect are failing to mask the dismal lives of women.
Who doesn’t know the story of popular Bollywood actress Parveen Babi’s devastation? A decently educated, good-looking successful model cum actress with a glittery career, ended up with alcohol addiction, disturbing relationships, victim of mental illness that led to her demise.
The iconic American actress Marilyn Monroe’s story was no different. The final years of her life were not as glamorous as her illustrious career, due to her addiction to sleeping pills and depression, which took her to a level where she found death easier than life.
Sylvia Path, another addition to the list, was an American poet & novelist, who ended up killing herself at the age of 31 due to clinical depression.
It’s apparent that modernization is certainly not a matter to glorify, and possession of money, education, reservations, and privileges will not giftwrap empowerment for women. These certainly are elements that constitute empowerment, but something goes missing that deprives women from being holistically empowered.
To paint the entire canvas of gender equilibrium, instead of taking away rights from men, or making provisions for women, the need is to empower women from within and groom them at spiritual level.
Most of us have heard the narrative of Lord Mallinath-the female Tirthankara with magnetic beauty, the topic of many poets’ verses and portrait of artists’ paintings. When over six kings, mesmerized with her beauty, sent marriage proposals for her, she invited them to the palace, placed a gold-made statue with features precisely as hers in the hall, but full of decomposed morsels. The offensive odor made all the kings dazzled with beauty but baffled with smell. That’s when Mallinath Ji enlightened them as to how external beauty fades and holds no value if the soul is impure. She accentuated that the magnetism is not towards the body but towards the soul that is eternal and stays while we journey through this human life.
The narrative echoes the fact of igniting the change within individual mindsets. Alleviating women from all shackles of powerlessness by empowering them at soul level, awakening the dormant consciousness in order to have a sense of righteousness is the need of the hour.
But how to connect with your inner self? A common answer is meditation, which literally means ‘Dhyaan’, and defined as deep thought and transcendental concentration. It is a self-controlled experience, like we practice yoga often to improve focus & concentration. When this yoga is combined with the knowledge of divine, it becomes Sadhana, which builds an accord with the divine power, the Supreme. A Perfect Master, A Spiritual Preceptor brings in that knowledge of divine, the art of self-contemplation in the life of a human, which no chant or mantra can define.
Once the women experience this contagious sense of enlightenment, it will eventually alter their perception/aim in life and overpower all sorts of mental obstruction, anxiety, nervousness and depression. That’s when a woman can be called as EMPOWERED.
Empowered women contribute effectively to the global developmental processes. Their structural positioning in the society paves for enhanced productivity of whole families and communities and improved prospects for the coming generations. Like they say, ‘An educated mother produces an educated family’. Likewise, an enlightened & empowered woman will conduce the power of womanhood and feeling of being identified as an empowered woman. The dream of gender inclusive approach will not be impossible to realize with a firm foundation of holistically empowered women.