According to the Oxford dictionaries, the transitive verb “to empower” means “to give (someone) the authority or power to do something” and “to make (someone) stronger and more confident, especially in controlling their life and claiming their rights”. So, we have these two connotations that draw the possibilities of using it correctly. Starting as a synonym for the term “to authorize”, being used in a broader way, meaning "to enable or permit", the term is an essential focus point in nowadays politics, economics, sociology and in pop psychology, based on self-help. Self-help and community-led initiatives contribute to psychological and social well-being through restoring dignity and a degree of control to disadvantaged groups.The Sphere Handbook, an internationally recognized sets of common principles and universal minimum standards in life-saving areas of humanitarian response emphasizes the importance of empowerment. The first Core Standard and its Key actions focus on building on community-based and self-help initiatives. Therefore, empowerment is a cross-cutting issue and lies on four pillars: access to information, inclusion, participation and accountability. The term as it appears today refers to increasing the economic, political, social, educational, gender, or spiritual strength of individuals and communities, meaning “to equip or supply with an ability”. This use was generated by the civil rights movement and is mostly linked to feminism.
Thinking of the current raised women’s issues, empowerment appears as a central point, but not always necessarily as a way to succeed and develop, but more as an excuse for eccentric behaviours. For example, many female artists have scandalous appearances on the stage and, when asked about their performances they blame the nudity and the explicit sexual movements on women’s empowerment. Of course, in this case, the concept looses its essence. The latex (almost un-)dressed female asking to be treated like a sexual toy and to be talked dirty is not helping the improvement of women’s lives, but encourages the harassment. Unfortunately, it becomes the opposite. It is good to raise awareness on women’s beauty and build self-confidence regarding one’s body, but when in most of our societies victim blaming occurs often, this behaviour only boosts the no sense of a right to be free from these kinds of violence.
Empowerment lies on improvement of standards and equality and is the process of obtaining basic opportunities for marginalized people. Women’s empowerment should be made through proper access to information and education, to social security and health-care and not through reassuring the enslavement. Empowerment involves encouraging and developing the competencies in order to make their own choices and not impose highly sexualised role models, created by a narrow vision of femininity. So, let’s not leave that a fashionable term like “empowerment” bring back the same old stereotypes. Let’s create a trend of real empowerment and make a positive change in the world.
Written by Diana-Adela