Empowerment of women is a hot topic now. More and more women are realizing this and want to establish their rights.
In a quote from current UN-Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, “Countries with more gender equality have better economic growth. Companies with more women leaders perform better. Peace agreements that include women are more durable. Parliaments with more women enact more legislation on key social issues such as health, education, anti-discrimination, and child support. The evidence is clear: equality for women means progress for all”.
This is a very powerful statement, one which is welcomed by every woman, young or old. This statement is welcomed by men who believe in women unreservedly. Of course a large pocket of population believe women need to be submissive.
It is ironic that many women believe in their own empowerment, but do not wish to extend it to other women. A mother in law believes in her power, but not in the empowerment of her daughter in law! A female boss believes in her power, but not in the empowerment of her female colleagues! So why blame men only?
This empowerment is a very positive change that needs to be welcomed by all. Unfortunately, many young women today are misusing this and taking this empowerment issue to extreme lengths. They are taking the concept of power and forgetting the nuance of empowerment. Empowerment is inclusive, power leads to exclusion.
I have had clients who are having marital issues. The ladies in the equation are asserting their rights very aggressively and having rocky marriages. These ladies feel their rights are being compromised, they need not let go of their rights.
More than rights, when people understand their boundaries, learn to be firm and see it is not compromised, assertively retain their boundaries, relationships may not be rocky. Assertive communication leads to lot of respect for others while not compromising on one’s own boundaries. This style will lead to healthy relationships, and relationships are required. Man is a social animal, he cannot survive alone.
The harshest form of punishment for a person is solitary confinement. This can break the strongest willed person. This means man requires relationship and have people around him. So why drive people away? Why resort to behavior pattern which is prickly, aggressive and abusive?
One lady is insistent she does not have economic freedom, while her husband has given her property and does not question her spending any money. As his legal wife, she has rights over his property, why try to aggressively gain this right?
Another lady wants to continue her friendship with a person from other sex. It could be plain friendship, but the husband questions this. He feels she does not talk to him as much as she talks to her friend. These friends message each other several times a day, talk for several hours. Her husband is feeling pushed aside by this behavior. She does not want to live with his family, wants another living establishment. He was for it initially, but now feels she could even bring that friend home. This is his fear, and so she has left the house. She says she will return if he apologizes and takes up another house just for them. Here trust issues have cropped up, unless that is resolved, this marriage could have serious trouble.
Every woman has a right to friendship, and like I have mentioned before, friendship actually does not have a gender. When a particular friendship begins to cross marital boundaries, cross into the we space, then this lady needs to take stock. She has to first build her husband’s trust in her. Family and friends will get pushed onto a lower rung when marital relationship begins.
Another young lady wanted to assert her right as a daughter in law. She would refuse any offer of suggestion from her mother in law, even went to the extent of hitting the old lady during one such argument. She does not repent; says the elderly lady needs to stay out of her life. The husband is very upset, he wonders where their marriage will go. He cannot abandon his parents, nor can he afford to establish two houses.
Empowerment will bring you respect, the need or want for power may not gain you any friends. There is no need to shout your rights from the roof top. There are assertive ways to earning and retaining your respect. It is a matter of choice. By not demanding your rights, you do not become wimps or spineless. There could be places where you need to reiterate your position, but this can be done assertively. How consistent and firm you are is the key.
To make life and living happy, one needs to look for self care at the same time others’ care too. Too much of focus on one side alone will lead to imbalance in life. How can you strike a positive balance? You will need to work at both. All those people we look up to, who are role models, have established balance in the areas of self care and others’ care.
People need to introspect and see if their behavior pattern is inclusive or not. How does one’s behavior impact others? Is a change required? Women were known to be inclusive, they were known to build families together. They were the anchor for all members of a family or community to revolve around. This is one of the strengths of a woman. Is this changing? In the name of empowerment? Can fragmented families survive? A very disquieting thought.