I’ve always sought out strong women as companions, colleagues, and friends. But more often than not, the strong women we come to know first in our lives are our mothers. In Dark Paradise, Auntie Glor possesses a maternal nature that is tainted by the loss of her grandson and her husband. Despite living through hardships, she endures and holds on to her faith in Jesus, believing that he helps those who walk the path. A different book that stands out to me as revealing what constraints society puts on women and the difficulties they must face is The Awakening, by Kate Chopin. I read it many years ago, but Edna’s need to be a separate person from her husband, society, and children, struck me to the core. I wanted Dana and the other women in my novel to possess that same burning desire to be their own person. To realize their own purpose. To find their own place in the world.
Men received less grief than numerous women at that time, and Gladwell’s reasoning for the inequality of men and women is primarily moral licensing. Sexist and racist comments towards any person in our society today and in the 19th century is an examples of moral licensing. In Elizabeth Thompson and Julia Gillard’s position moral licensing presents very strongly because their society has approved both their situations as leaders but then the same society will ultimately have and give hatred for both of their extinguishing successes. Elizabeth Thompson and Julia Gillard were living in a “man’s world”.
Empowerment is a difficult word to define. It is used widely and probably too easily by donor agencies, governments, and NGOs to describe a number of different approaches and strategies toward development. (Kelly, A., Sep. 2008)
In speaking with the women of Shaheen, there was an unmistakable value placed on Shaheen’s efforts to empower women economically. Ms. Nishat shared her view that economic empowerment is the first step towards liberation — towards finding your voice and becoming a key decision-maker within your community. The most powerful component of Shaheen’s work is the ripple effect and potent cycle of empowerment set forth. This wasn’t simply about changing the lot of one woman but generations of women.
As lucrative as the technology industry is, women, especially Black women do not last long. During the Black Tech Women’s Community Lounge, Shanice Graham- Merrill put her certified BTW stamp on why women in technology need an outlet to bring their challenges as well as successes to others who can relate to their professional experiences. Black Tech Women provides that medium in which women can EMPOWER and RECHARGE one another to have long and fulfilling tech careers, such as that of Kesha Williams, who has over 25 years of in the tech game.
Earlier this week, I spoke on a panel at the Wilson Center on women in politics. We all agreed on the importance of women’s networks as an empowerment tool. Networks can provide women with several kinds of support. First, a network of similar women allows members to share strategies as they face similar situations. An example of this could be an association of women engineers. Second, a network of diverse women can give women the opportunity to meet women that are unlike them in some ways but could be helpful to them financially or politically precisely because of their differences.
Women frequently choose to focus on other things in their negotiations with employers, including more flex time, the ability to work from home, and better benefits. Finally, the biggest reason for the gap in earnings between men and women has to do with larger decisions about what kinds of fields they enter (women are more likely to enter human services fields, which pay less than STEM fields, where women are rarer) as well as how much they work when they get there. Women are more likely to work part-time, particularly when children are young.
Confidence is a third important ingredient for gender equality. Women must feel that they have the knowledge or experience to share, the skills to get the job done, or the ability to lead in order for them to step up and take advantage of the openings they see in their societies. Many studies show that women seek and get less money when they negotiate for their salaries or don’t apply for jobs (including an elective office in the U.S. ) because they don’t value their worth. Self-confidence can be more difficult to quantify, but it is equally important to the other aspects of empowerment.
Women around the world need access to skill-building opportunities. Whether it is training in public speaking to help political candidates, an accounting class for budding entrepreneurs, or a demonstration on irrigation best practices for farmers, women must have the capacity in the sectors they would like to work. Political training in the U.S., such as Running Start and Emerge, abound. I had the opportunity to work with women members of political parties on several occasions in Kosovo. At one point, the workshop focused on negotiations so that the party members could advocate for more women on the party candidate list.