Empowering Ourselves and Others

Empowering ourselves and others is more than a catchy phrase. It’s our duty to ourselves. We have the power. If we have the confidence to accept ourselves as we are and to make our own decisions, we can change the world. We can give all people, regardless of race, religion or gender, the ability to embrace their power.

March is Women’s History Month. Back in 1981, Congress requested and the President decreed the week of March 7, 1982, as Women’s History Week. That was the beginning. In 1981.

Women have been making history since the beginning of time. Recognition of that fact didn’t come until 1981.  

Unempowering people happens the world over for no good reason. All people deserve empowerment regardless of race, religion, culture, or gender. But for March, the Women’s History Month, we will focus on women. 

Definition

Part of the discussion about empowerment must include the definition. Websters assigns empowerment two related definitions:

1. the act or action of empowering someone or something: the granting of the power, right, or authority to perform various acts or duties

2. the state of being empowered to do something: the power, right, or authority to do something

To clarify, here are some of the synonyms Thesaurus.com lists for the word empowerment.

  • acceptance
  • acknowledgment
  • admission
  • agreement
  • approval
  • concession
  • dispensation
  • endorsement
  • license
  • permit
  • privilege
  • recognition
  • warrant

Still not clear?  Perhaps discussing the types of empowerment will help.

Types of Empowerment

An article search shows there’s little agreement about how many and what types of empowerment there are. Five types cover the fundaments: economic, political, social, national, and personal.

Economic Empowerment

This type means the ability to take part in, contribute to and benefit from growth processes in a way that recognizes the value of our contributions. (adapted from The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

Don’t just stand for the success of other women – insist on it.     

Gail Blanke

Political Empowerment

This type refers to inclusive political institutions through which people’s interests can be meaningfully represented.

If women understood and exercised their power

they could remake the world.

Emily Taft Douglas

Cultural Empowerment

This type gives people the freedom to practice their culture, big or small. This includes everyday things such as food, language, clothing, spiritual beliefs, and ideas.

I raise up my voice—not so I can shout,

but so that those without a voice can be heard.

Malala Yousafzai

Societal Empowerment

This is about inclusive social systems and institutions through which people interact work, play, and live together. It’s about education. And it’s about the freedom and power to make changes to those systems. 

Women are the real architects of society.

Harriet Beecher Stowe

National Empowerment

This type is about a nation having the power to make decisions for itself. 

We realize the importance of our voices only

when we are silenced.

Malala Yousafzai

Personal Empowerment 

Arguably, the most important type of empowerment. This one involves developing the confidence and strength to set realistic goals and fulfill your potential. (from Skills You Need)

We do not need magic to transform our world.

We carry all of the power we need

inside ourselves already.

J.K. Rowling

History of

The first recorded use of the word empower was in 1645-1655. 

Think about that for a minute. 

Three hundred seventy-four years later, we still need to educate about empowerment. There remain people who are unempowered.  Three. Hundred. Seventy-four. Years.

The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn, but to unlearn.

We are filled with the popular wisdom of several centuries just past,

and we are terrified to give it up.

Gloria Steinem

Conclusion

It’s been a long time coming. Empowering ourselves and others isn’t a cool idea. It’s a responsibility. Our duty is clear—if we are empowered we must reach out and help others to recognize and exercise their own power. 

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