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   November 02, 2014



Women empowerment a key change agent:

Women bear almost all responsibilities for meeting basic needs of the family, yet are systematically denied the resources, information and freedom of action they need to fulfill this responsibility. Around the world, millions of people eat two or three times a day, but a significant percentage of women eat only once. Many women deny themselves even that one meal to ensure that their children are fed. These women are already suffering the effects of even more severe malnutrition, which inevitably will be their children's fate as well.

Experience shows that when women are supported and empowered, all the society benefits. Their families are healthier, more children go to school, agricultural productivity improves and incomes increase. In short, communities become more resilient. World health organization (WHO) defines empowerment; it refers to increasing the spiritual, political, social or economic strength of individuals and communities. It often involves the empowered developing confidence in their own capacities. (Aftab & Khan, 2011, p.8-12)

Thus, the purpose of this paper is to highlight the impacts of women empowerment to provide awareness in our society. This paper focuses on types, causes, overall health consequences, and prevention by integrating Pakistanís Prevention and Protection Act (2002) for women empowerment and some recommendations too.

Globally women empowerment is getting rise just to look in to the literature that Womenís Leadership Workshop was held in India empowered 83,000 women elected to local councils to be effective change agents in their villages. They are forming district- and state-wide federations to ensure that their voices are heard at top levels of government. In Bangladesh, we catalyzed the formation of a 300-organization alliance that organizes more than 800 events across the country. (UNDP National Conference 2012)

Moreover, Women empowerment generally has three components. Firstly, womenís sense of self worth. Secondly, their rights to have a power of control on their own lives both within and outside home. Lastly, their ability to influence the direction of social change to create a just social and economic order nationally, internationally and universally. So empowerment has multiple, interrelated, interdependent dimensions: economic, social, personal and political dimensions. Economic empowerment means to empower women economically by giving her rights of properties, lands, financial responsibilities, adequate shares in jobs, business opportunities etc. In social dimensions, it means women's social status should be equal to that of man by avoiding all discriminations based on injustice and inequality, accordingly the women are required to have respectable status in society, opportunity to raise voice, struggle etc. Politically women should be empowered by reserving their seats in national as well as provincial assemblies and providing their independent right of one woman one vote. Personally they should be given equal liberty and freedom in their personal affairs such as ,in case of marriage, vocational pursuit etc. As a whole, women empowerment aims at providing women with their social, economic, political and personal rights.

On the other hand Islam empowers women in the personal, social, economic and political sphere of life. In economic sphere of life, women have also been empowered. In this regard, Islam gives them a number of rights that were not even enjoyed by the western women until the 19th century. For example, until 1889 the property of women in England was given to their husbands on their wedding ceremony, but Muslims always favored the women in this respect and gave her due share in inheritance of the property of her husband or father. In market place, women have also been empowered to do business and trade on the basis of morality. Hazrat khadijah-the first and beloved wife of the holy prophet (pbuh) was a wealthy business woman of Makkah. Hazrat Umer (RA)-the second caliph of Islam appointed a women Saffah bint Abdullah to control the market place.|

In political dimension, women are allowed politically to participate in political affairs of the state. The historical example of it is the Battle of Camel which was fought in the companions of the holy prophet(PBUH) and in the reign of Hazrat Ali(R.A)one of the four Orthodox caliphs of Khulfai Rashideen (an ideal Islamic state). When Hazrat Aisha(R.A)-the favored wife of the holy prophet (PBUH) assumed the leadership of the battle, many Sahibs including Talha and Zubair(R.A)-two of the ten Ashra-e-mubashira fought under the leadership of Aisha(R.A).This event shows the possibility of leadership of woman in the time of need and also allows the women to take part in the military services of the country. The life of Hazrat Aisha (R.A)is an example of the woman who can be far more learned than man and can teach the scholars and experts. She narrated 2210 Ahadith of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and authenticated a number of traditions in Islamic fikah and jurisprudence as an authority over them.

In Pakistani context factors leading to women empowerment are manifold. Among all the other factors, as we are living in a masculine centered society in Pakistan so womenís are the main source of generation growth they can support the whole family, they will be the right hand of their husbands at home. Psychologically women have different characteristics such as shyness, passiveness and frequently changing temperament whereas, man has different characters such as aggression, boldness, strength, hardness and rudeness etc.Due to these positive women are exempted from jihad(Jihad bil saif)and congregational prayers. In the same way women are made free from certain obligations during their particular days. It is a crime against humanity that our women are shut up within the four walls of the houses as prisoners."Quid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah (1942).

Women empowerment is not an easy task; it requires time and consistent efforts both at the individual and governmental level. The effective way of empowerment will be in three stages which are primary, secondary and tertiary. In primary stage all women should be educated or given knowledge so that they shall be aware of their right of equality of the humanity as men or women. Though women should be provided job opportunities and provided training on various kinds of income generating activities. This can be achieved through organizing awareness programs both for men and women and other members of society by involving human resources like nurses, doctors and psychologists working at different governmental and non-governmental institutions. Thus, such professional personals will provide teachings and counseling in different cultural setups. Moreover, education should be made available for all throughout the country promoting gender equality from their childhood. This can be done through advertisements, banners and announcements by involving the media.
In conclusion women empowerment has an immense impact on overall society; Empowered women can support the family in a better way. She can catter the children and other family members according to the recent standard of life. Knowledgeably empowered women can manage the time as well as the other resources and may arrange to teach her children side by side other fields of life.

Hawa Gul
Lecturer at Alliance Health sciences
Peshawar Pakistan



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