Last evening I had a movie night out with my girl gang and we went for the much talked-about movie ‘Thappad’. It was such an eye opener. Most of us associate women empowerment only with the poor and backward section of our society. However, the movie made me realize that an educated, independent lawyer is sometimes as much in need of empowerment as the poor, uneducated domestic help.
Although you may argue that women have come a long way in terms of empowerment, a lot of progress still needs to be made. Let us pledge this International Women’s Day (March 8), that each one of us will try to break down the barriers and empower the women around us. Here are 5 ways you can help a woman achieve what she deserves -
1. Begin the Change at Your Home
And no we are not talking about treating your wives, daughters, and mothers well. That goes without saying. Here, we are talking about empowering other women around you. Reach out and make a difference to the life of the small girl who accompanies your domestic help by volunteering as a tutor or mentor for her.Or find out about the young girl selling things at the traffic signal. Fund her education and help her find a better way to earn a livelihood. You can also get associated with NGOs like ‘Teach for India’, ‘Pratham’ ‘CRY’, etc. and work with them to provide education for young girls.
2. Raise Your Voice Against Abuse
Millions of girls across the world are subjected to abuse, child labour, child marriage, trafficking and other forms of abuses. The one thing that most women lack is the courage to talk about the ‘abuse’. Therefore, it is important to raise awareness about the abuse and let the victims know that someone is listening.
Take part in ‘Nukaad Nataks’, write blogs, make YouTube videos, or visit villages to deliver a talk regarding the importance of speaking up. In addition to supporting these women emotionally, you can also support them financially. Donate towards their education, medical care, training, and counselling.
3. Create Self-help Groups in Rural Areas
No one can help you better than yourself. And this remains true for women empowerment as well. There is a track record of how self-help groups (SHG) have played a significant role in empowering women.
SHGs are basically an association of 10-20 members, mainly women who come together to help each other grow and find a solution to their common problems.
This has been especially helpful in solving common issues faced by the villagers where there are no voluntary organizations. Additionally, SHGs have also been very influential in generating livelihoods (through endeavors like krishi udyog etc.) for women in rural areas helping them become financially independent.
Find people in the villages, who are capable, wise and have the required leadership skills. Help them form a community. Lead a couple of meetings until the SHG is able to handle things on its own.
4. Invest in Women’s Entrepreneurial Ideas
The most effective way of empowering women is to make them financially independent. The Indian government is already spending a significant amount in promoting female entrepreneurs. You can do your bit by trusting the women entrepreneurs in your vicinity and supporting them in their entrepreneurial journey.
You can associate with communities like World Vision Micro Loans and provide small loans to hardworking female entrepreneurs, who need a little help to realize their dreams.
The best part about the loan is that once the loan is paid off, your fund is recycled and is then passed on to another female entrepreneur in need.
5. Tackle the Problem from the Grass-root Level
There are a lot of talks going on around women empowerment in India. Books are being written, movies being made, and social media is full of posts from people who claim to be supporting the cause.
Unfortunately, these posts cannot drive the women away from the lack of skills, lack of job opportunities and unequal paychecks. To empower women, an actionable plan is needed. Mentoring programs that follow a holistic approach of taking care of both personal and professional aspects of a woman's life should be designed.
On a small scale, you can find a couple of needy women and train them on specific skills and make them employable. At the same time, you can also get in touch with local businesses and inspire them to hire more women creating jobs for them.
Do you want to empower girls and women? Tell them that you care. Write a thank you note to your mother, who is working 24*7 or help the new mom in the office who is overworked and struggling to balance it all. Remember, you need not be a revolutionary to bring a change. Small steps are the ones that lead to the bigger changes.