Empowerment doesn’t have a straightforward definition because it means something different to everyone. Keshab Chandra Mandal wrote that female empowerment could be defined in five separate categories: social, educational, economic, political, and psychological.
Social empowerment might be one of the most prominent forms of empowerment shown in the mainstream media. It strengthens women’s social relations and their positions in social structures, giving them more of a purpose outside of the home. Their contributions to society are recognized and valued as opposed to looked down upon simply because it was a woman’s creation. Social empowerment also fights back against discrimination, no longer letting people of different disabilities, races, ethnicities, religions, or genders be walked over by what’s considered ‘normal’.
Education is a crucial part of growing and developing, but there are still places in the world that deny education to girls. This takes away a fundamental skill everyone has the right to: knowledge. Without a proper education for all, gender empowerment isn’t possible. Education puts everyone on equal footing, and lets young girls have access to what their rights and duties are. Not only that, obtaining knowledge can boost self-confidence, self-esteem, and make girls self-sufficient. It also gives them access to the development of social, political, intellectual, and religious consciousness, and can discourage the growth of bigotry, narrow-mindedness, superstition, intolerance, and so on.
People say money can’t buy happiness, but being at an economic disadvantage can take away access to becoming empowered. Being poor, landless, deprived, or oppressed doesn’t allow access to resources that those in good financial standings do. Closing this gap would allow everyone to have equal footing, and women, in particular, would gain a more significant share of control over the material, human, intellectual, and financial resources.
Having a voice in politics can be substantial in letting a group’s view be pushed into the light of mainstream media, and that’s no different for advocating women’s rights. The political involvement of women “implies the decentralization of power and authority in the deprived, oppressed, and powerless people who have not been able to participate in the decision-making process and the implementation of policies and programs of both government and organizations as well as familial and societal matters”. In other words, having political influence would not only give a voice to those who haven’t had a voice in how things are governed, but it would also allow the possibility of policies and programs being put into place that would work with these discriminated groups.
Psychological empowerment aligns with social empowerment—it transgresses the “traditional and patriarchal taboos and social obligations” and lets women go beyond what’s expected of them in society. This can build self-confidence, help women recognize their self-worth, and gives them the chance to take control of their income and body.
All five of these categories intertwine with one another, but it’s equally important to consider them separately as well. Each group has different main goals they’re aiming for, so trying to focus on them as a whole would be unbeneficial ultimately. Knowing what work has to be put into these five categories can provide a boost in the right direction, and allow empowerment not just for women, but eventually for all.