Empowerment is suddenly the new buzz word for everyone. Whether it is a company thinking profits working on leadership building, or an NGO working on some development programmes, or teachers addressing children in a class on why should one study, to politics devising women-focussed schemes for voter tokenism – everyone is talking about Empowerment! What does this really mean? I have asked several people. I have heard several opinions and none jelled well with what I felt or experienced as empowerment. Empowerment to some is the ability to earn money and lead a life of choice by being able to afford anything that they set their eyes on. To others it is empowerment if they are able to make small decisions for the family, where otherwise the main decisions are taken by the men in the household Some say empowerment is the very fact that they can pursue a stream of study of their choice so that they can pursue a career that they want to Empowerment is when we can earn, but what is empowerment in earning if we can’t decide on the spending? Empowerment is stepping out of the house, but what’s the point of it if we remain a slave to someone who has to take us out? Empowerment is also definitely education but is restricted if the knowledge so gained is not used at free will. Empowerment can be to learn or earn, choose or refuse, select or elect – it’s really for me, a state of mind where I think I can in my limited capacity make an informed choice on something. A state of mind where I can control my thought and action and feel responsible for my decision as well.
By Priya Varadarajan