“They don’t want to let go of the power, power is such a luxury individual can ever devour”, this sentence echoes in my ears from an elderly lady from my home town, while I am listening to an intense conversation about women economic empowerment (WEE) in the secretary’s office for Global Women’s Issues.
At the office of Global Women’s Issue, more than 20 experienced development experts from International NGOs came together and discussed challenges and opportunities for WEE. I was privileged to contribute to this discussion and share my knowledge of working with the rural comminutes in Pakistan. The platform was very interacting and all those wonderful ladies were sharing their experiences about women empowerment. The crux of the discussion was that more women and girls should be encouraged in the Labor Force through lobbying and policies. I agree with the fact that policy making is important. It is the right thing to do and in fact it is also the smart thing to do. The economy of the future demands women’s full participation in the labor force. Deciding when, why and how to generate income is one of the most basic decisions a woman can make. But then comes the choice that the women are making, are they really making a choice or a choice is being made for them.
Economic Empowerment is perplexed and multifaceted even under the finest of situations. It can be even more difficult when the prefix “Woman” is added. The power and household dynamics are different for every region and so are the dynamics of economic empowerment. Whereas the meeting participants are speaking about global labor laws for WEE, I wonder how these laws will affect the rural communities in the distant areas. I belong to a mountain community and I know how rapidly the ILO laws and reforms influence the remote region folks. This thought of mine is related to the sentence that I stated at the start of this piece.
Despite the need and the fact that it makes economic sense to promote women in the labor force, they have not been encouraged so far. There are many underlying causes for this prevailing issue, and one of them is the power covetousness of the men counterpart. Women Economic empowerment means that existing capacity of women is further heightened and they can participate in, contribute to and benefit from development processes in ways which recognize the value of their contributions, respect their dignity and make it possible to negotiate a just distribution of the benefits of development. Ultimately it primes to the ideal stage where power is shared between men and women counterparts. When women come in the workforce, this act increases the psychological distress of men by reducing their power at the domestic or society level and threaten their self-esteem. Additionally, woman who enter the workforce is supposed to be stronger and firm, a trait less likely accepted in a misogynistic society. The game is all about CONTROL and POWER, and who controls what, unless we don’t learn to share, the vision of WEE will remain a dream.