It's Time We Focused on Empowering Women
There has recently been a surge in conversations regarding domestic abuse and the collective need in society to discuss women’s rights. As more women begin to tell their stories, as more women feel emboldened instead of silenced surrounding experiences with violence and abuse, it is time to use this momentum to work towards change.
If we have learned anything about women’s empowerment recently it is that creating a dialogue surrounding the realities of abuse is of the utmost important. Let’s continue the conversation.
A group of women gathering to discuss micro-loans, business growth, a step towards independence, and yet domestic abuse still crept its ugly head smack into the middle of progress. One of the group members had been abused to the point of near death the night before, with nowhere to go her and her three children had to hide out in the woods behind her house, too terrified to return. Luckily, solace existed within this group of nine women seeking financial stability and also emotional support.
Without financial independence however options were limited. As a prominent male figure in the community his actions would have no repercussions. The women had two options; leave her husband and her children or return to rape and abuse. She chose to return.
Outside of the city of Iquitos deep in the Peruvian Amazon a women sits talking about the effects that alcoholism has had on her family and the abusive ways of her husband. As the discussion unravels, as tears start to stain her cheeks, there comes the distinct sounds of fist on face. A scramble of someone trying to run, the scuffle of furniture as if to block further violence. A man is seen fleeing from the scene, the women stays with her children, who are also in the house.
She sits and waits, she waits for her husband to return. She cannot leave, she has nowhere to go. The question is raised, should she go over and help? No. It would cause embarrassment, she wouldn’t be able to do much of anything, no one really can. She sits and waits for him to come home.
The United States
The middle of the night, three am, jolted out of sleep. Screams of, “I can’t breathe.” A couple standing in their driveway not far from other houses, many still awake able to hear the commotion. She threatens to leave, to jump in her car and drive away. He threatens to never talk to her again, to bash in her windows, to take her keys. Nobody can see what is going on but it can be heard, wails of despair, threats, struggle. Until it ends, the voices fade, a door shuts. They both retreat back inside.
Where do the Issues Lie?
These situations represent isolated stories, they represent societal issues, they are not at all meant to villainise men.
Men are not the problem. Women abuse men as well, the only difference is that society typically offers men more ways out. Whether this is due to financial opportunity, maternal responsibilities, a decreased stigma surrounding independence, or a greater access to educational resources.
The problem is the messages that we send women about their worth, it is about the number of women who hold leadership roles worldwide, it is about the subpar education that many women receive.
Society needs a big shift in regards to the emphasis that we put on empowering women. We need to re-evaluate the messages both implicit and explicit that we are constantly feeding women about their worth. We need to provide women with the options, resources, and education necessary to leave abusive situations.
What Can We Do?
If we are talking solutions it’s easy to see that there is not one clear cut answer. There is not simply one area of society in which we need to invest.
What we need to do is to continue the conversation.
We need to keep telling these stories.
We need to give voice to the realities.
And then we need to get involved in whatever way possible. Whether it involves education, self-defence workshops, career development, or healthcare.
The task is all of ours.
Find out more about GVI’s international, award-winning women’s empowerment programs and internships. Assist with CV writing, self-esteem building workshops, English lessons, and more. Programs are located in various locations including Nepal, Laos, India, and South Africa!
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