The Empowerment of Women (Kanwaljit Soin)


Soin (1998) is one of the scholars who argues there is no fixed definition of ’empowerment’, as she emphasizes the notion of power in ’emPOWERment’. Therefore for her, emPOWERment is struggling effort to gain balance of power. In women’s case, emPOWERment means to balance the power between men and women, as her opinion women has been tied to men’s control above traditional patriarchal control. There are several elements of patriarchal control over women (p. 19):

  1. over women’s body and her physical mobility. Guys, I believe when you reject to use savety rubber in your sexual activity you play great role in woman’s body controling🙂
  2. the right to abdicate responsibility for housework and care of the young, old and handicapped. Responsibilities for children and housework, I believe, is none of the nature of being a woman (kodrat wanita), yet is the fate of womanhood (nasib kaum wanita).
  3. the presume right to physically abuse or violate a woman. In the beginning of this week, one of my best friends intruduced me to the word of honor killing. I believe this practice is rooted in the presume right to women’s body (and soul).
  4. the right to spend family income on personal pleasures and vices
  5. the right to take unilateral decisions which affect the whole family.

 She mentions four resources over which control can be exercised (p. 16-17):

  1. physical resources, such as land and water
  2. human resources, such as human’s bodies, labour and skills.
  3. intellectual resources, such as knowledge, information, and ideas. I believe also, it includes education, access of information, and business opportunities.
  4. financial resources, such as money and access to money, including incomes.

She speaks out of redefining the terminology of power. She believes power is not something to control and to exploit other for personal benefit, but something to contstruct and to develop the pontential of human being. Only after the definition of power has redefined, women can be empowered. The problem is, patriarchy system has been practiced for ages, therefore, for her, it is very urgent to do interventions in empowering women, such as: through economic, education, awareness-building, and women’s organization.

personal note for today
Nobody can hurt me without my permission.
Gandhi (1869 – 1948)

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