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About Empowerment

(This is an article which I wrote to answer the question of the meaning of empowerment for women)

Where do I feel more empowered, in the country of birth or country of residence?

I feel more empowered in the place of residency. I had the opportunity to grow professionally and on my personality level. I am more independent and I have a variety of choices and options. There is no street harassment, there is special places for women in transportation but not totally separated and women are free to stand any where they want in a metro or bus. I was able to find a fulfilling job that enabled me to achieve an economic and personal autonomy, that enabled me to help my family, and that charged my experience.

I enjoyed a level of education empowerment despite the boundaries before many women in Syria, I wanted to do what I believed in and had the strength to pursuit my conviction, however, this ability of making a free choice was always confronted with attempts to enforce choices from society and family. Women's career choices usually limited in Syria, especially in conservative communities. But women have to be a housewife and must have one or two kids before the age of 30 or the society would look at her with an inferior attitude. Divorced young women are always looked at in a doubtful way, probably a thought like "she must be watched because she is not shy anymore." The streets and public places where infested with street harassment of all kinds. Women's salaries were less than men's and opportunities for promotion or a raise usually go to men. Women rights were not protected by the government nor law, women empowerment was a subject rarely tackled and the government wanted to sedate society by turning all kinds of traditions in a male dominant society, even the negative ones, into family laws. e.x: honor crimes law, this is when men can get a why with a murder of a woman if this was for protecting honor after a woman had an affair.

In my country, women are usually raised on fear, they are molded in a certain shape and role that all women expected to play. Most of the time, women take wrong choices out of fear and hesitation. Pain, and even death haunts many. Women are supposed to feel insecure all the time and the only thing that will make them feel safe and secure is the existence of a man in their lives (father, husband, brother, uncle), otherwise a woman will be just a prey.

In the place I live in currently, I have a since of autonomy, because it is a cosmopolitan place, the pressure of society is less than the pressure used to be on me when I was in Syria. There is an opportunity for growth and filling higher positions. I am more confident and my inner strength is boosted by the options allowed here. The laws are designed to protect everyone and held others the responsibility for their actions because there are people from all around the world with different traditions, cultures and viewpoints regarding women, and discipline must maintained. This was very comfortable to me.

What is empowerment to me?

It is self-fulfillment. A feeling of inner sufficiency.The comfort and self-confidence to say a firm NO. The ability to make decisions and choose freely the desired path without pressure from society or family. My body is my choice, I don't like to be told that I must have babies since I am above 30. Empowerment is mainly achieved by education and raising awareness. For me, it is the energy from inside that connects the strong points together in a woman and erase hesitation and fear.

Education, education, education. This is an important key to support women's knowledge about her rights, their bodies, their thoughts and their world.

Economic empowerment is one important aspect for solidifying the position of women. I wrote a long article about this issue before and I will take a paragraph from it: World Bank has shown that increasing women's access to quality education, good jobs, and other resources contributes to inclusive growth, sustainable development, and long-term prosperity. Limited access to land, prosperity, housing, credit, technology, markets and extension services have undermined women's livelihood and restricted their ability to benefit from growth they help to generate. It seems clear that women's economic empowerment in society stands side by side with education. Women's economic empowerment will reduce poverty and support economic growth in a society.


Cali gal Michelle's picture



Thank you for this look into who you are, what you are, and how you practice empowerment in your life. It is a thing which feeds on itself- the more steps we take to be empowered and subsequently act on it, the stronger it becomes within us. Empowering women by giving them the tools to take these actions, especially on the economic and educational sides, have immense effects which can not help but change entire communities. I have seen how just a seemingly small portion can be used, and therefore magnified, and transform lives.

I believe that if this empowerment comes from the inside of a person's soul, it is reflected in outward actions. The reverse is also true- that if it comes from without to enable economic independence or educational opportunity for instance, this transforms into inner confidence and freedoms, and on and on.

Let us all look for, and more importantly act upon, what we can do to provide practical and concrete empowerment to our sisters. As you mentioned, there are so many avenues through economy, technology, spirituality, property..... If just one woman can be provided these opportunities, be equipped and encouraged, wow!, what the inner and outer effects will be. Imagine many women with the same empowerments. We will rock the world!

Let us Hope together-
aka: Cali gal


Hummingbird's picture

I agree

Dear Michelle,

I agree with you that empowerment comes from inside and it can come from the outside. I believe that the world needs balance and empowering women can grant this balance, and I believe that someday women will rock the world and make it more logic and harmonious.


A drop of rain can revive the earth, be the drop.


Y's picture

What more can I do?

Today is a day of prayer for peace in Syria for the Roman Catholics of my country and the world. Educating myself and my friends on the emotions felt by my sisters in similar war-torn countries is my form of prayer-in-action. I have turned to WorldPulse to hear of the horrors of war from the perspective of women -- sisters, wives, mothers, grandmothers. This is my call to action, the wailing of those who are first-person witnesses, not those like me who sit in the comfort of my home and watch the silent screams in magazines.

I found a poem called "Syria- Rent the sky in every land" written by Kenyaby philo Ikonya Gacheri of Kenya on March 13, 2012 at 8:30 PM. This was a year and a half ago, and still the people of Syria are living in increasing terror. How is this possible in human society?

"Women are giving their wombs for tombs." This is a phrase from the poem that particularly strikes me, as I often ask my sisters why we women continue bearing children with abusive beasts calling themselves humans. Is it time for women, the world over to close their wombs in protest? Would this stop war?

It is not the men who are the best war correspondents, but their pictures and words seem to be most heeded. I salute the brave women telling these war stories from their wombs. I am old. My hips are weak from work and child bearing. My old husband needs my care at home. What more can I do in this effort?


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