The roles of women are gradually evolving to embrace what modern society offers them. Women are becoming empowered through education, jobs, promotions, through law and many other forms. It is not only seen in developed countries, it is also seen in developing countries as in the Pacific. Women are progressively being empowered to hold positions other than their traditional ones. Women being empowered have many advantages and disadvantages but it all comes down to three things: economic, social and political advantages and disadvantages.
Firstly, the economic advantage of empowering women is that it helps improve their families’ living standards. Whether married or single, empowering of women, through an education or other means, helps to improve their family’s economic and financial standing. For example, according to Leach (1986, pp. 55-56), an estimated one-third of global households are headed by women, and they are responsible for feeding their families. Empowerment in the form of an education can secure for them a job, and hence ensures the continuance of their households.
It is therefore clear that an empowered woman is important for the vitality of her household. Furthermore, empowered women are socially advantaged because it upgrades their social standing in society. In many countries, women are thought inferior to men, especially in developing countries. For example, “Swargo nunut neroko katut” means “Going to heaven or hell, a woman will merely go along with her husband” (Chrysanti 1998, p. 87). From this Javanese saying, it is possible to say that a married woman is limited by having no say in matters of the Javanese society, as even to the afterlife she is to follow her husband.
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Their being empowered may allow people in their society to seek advice from them, as they may be considered higher in standard by others. It is then safe to say that when women are empowered, they may have a higher standing in society than if they were not empowered. Moreover, involving women in politics is advantageous as women may provide fresh views. Politics is generally “male dominated” and decisions made are predominantly from a male point of view.
A male cannot hold both male and female opinions and it is best that both genders be present in politics. For example, empowering women has provided for the need for equality to be heard. In the past, female doctors were unheard of and as time passed, the gradual empowering of women has led to women triumphing in medicine as doctors, nurses, lab technicians and so on. Once again, it is an advantage to a country and its citizens to promote female politicians in the government for the balance between views and opinions of males and females.
However, being female disadvantages women economically as “women’s nature” may hinder success. A “woman’s nature” is generally thought of as emotional and hormonal, and, although not true for all, it may be for some. For example, Chrysanti (p. 93) says that a typical Indonesian woman [manager]… does not rely on her gut feeling and is uncomfortable with taking risks. Chrysanti further says “While this may serve her well in most instances, she would probably find it harder to make quick, aggressive decisions”.
This implies that risks and aggressive decisions may do well to save companies, however the typical Indonesian woman might not take risks and her decisions might cost her and her company. So in order for a woman to succeed economically, she may have to put aside her emotions. Although empowering women may uplift them socially, discrimination from males is still evident. As aforementioned, women may be highly regarded in society due to their empowerment but due to male discrimination, it may be difficult socially.
History has proven that only the male had paid jobs, whereas the female performed domestic duties. As Moengangongo (1986, p. 88) stated, “The traditional ideal is that the male has always been the provider and the female the homemaker…” and this is a common understanding in many countries, making it harder for women to be employed or empowered, and if they did, some men may make it hard for them at the work place. As Kibel (2012) reports, “Certain forms of discrimination against women remain widespread. Out of 121 countries covered in the 2012 SIGI, 86 have discriminatory inheritance practices or laws. This thus proves that male discrimination is still evident today. So although women are gradually being empowered, men become obstacles in their empowerment. Additionally, there is a lot of competition in politics making female empowerment difficult. Since politics is male dominated, there is already existing competition between male politicians; women entering politics can be sure of an abundance of competition, and as the saying goes “whatever women do, they must do twice as well [as men] to be considered half as well [as men]”.
For example, in Tonga, women rarely hold high positions in the government because numerous male competitors prevent it. ‘Alisi Taumoepeau is an example of a rare successful woman in politics, and this may only have been due to her doubled efforts. Therefore, no matter how qualified or empowered a woman may be, she will still face competition and she may have to work twice as hard to even be considered in politics. To conclude, there are many advantages and disadvantages of being empowered as a woman, the three main reasons being economically, socially and politically.
As can be seen, empowering of women helps financially; it helps women gain respect and gives women a voice. We can also see that although empowering women is widely promoted, there are still many obstacles for women to overcome. It is strongly suggested that each country have or support programs that are dedicated to empowerment of women, so that women can be empowered for benefits of home and country. A country with empowered women is compared to a household headed by an empowered woman: wealthy, organized and cooperative.
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