The corruption of true female empowerment
The corruption of true female empowerment
Ask people what the 'empowerment’ of women' means to them and you will get a variety of answers because the subject is so diverse. Yet what if ‘female empowerment’ was referring to women simply having a sense of self-worth set within a foundation of self-love, self-care and self-nurturing?
Most people would agree that these elements are core empowerment essentials, but the problem is that the way society currently functions, women are struggling to find ways to build such a way of living. What’s even more insidious is that few are willing to honestly acknowledge the magnitude of what’s going on, which really amounts to the corruption of womanhood worldwide.
Financial inequality between men and women is a key example that highlights how the current world setup is well entrenched to sustain the lack of women’s rights, which reinforces the disempowerment, devaluation and inequality of women.
Women around the western world now return to the workforce in record numbers after having children and it is widely accepted households need more than one wage to run with any measure of financial security.
However, while working mothers are considered the norm in our society, what isn’t usually discussed is that in addition to paid employment, women are still performing the bulk of child caring, rearing and home duties.
Added to this situation is the fact that people are living longer these days and many women are also finding themselves part of the ‘sandwich generation’, with caring for children at one end of the spectrum and ageing parents at the other. There is an assumption that women will fit in paid work around these other duties and consequently, women are often limited to part-time work and low paid jobs. While this may suit some families, it does not work for all and has long-term implications for women, especially financially, mentally, socially and health-wise.
Statistically there are far less women than men in senior positions in the workforce, which over the lifespan results in women having less accumulated long-term savings and superannuation funds at the end of their working life. The ‘motherhood penalty’, where women take time out of the workforce due to childbearing and rearing, has been identified as the primary reason for this gap. One significant implication of this setup is that it has left women dependent on men for financial security. This is a form of corruption that has also put women at a disadvantage should the relationship break down.
Consequently, what has also emerged in Australia has been a significant group of single older women who have found themselves homeless for the first time in their lives. It’s not hard to recognise how disempowering this situation is for women and the barriers such women face in terms of self-nurturing themselves through self-love and appreciation.
What I have commonly found in my role as a counsellor working with women with young children is that if women wish to leave a relationship for whatever reasons, the majority have less material means of support for themselves and their children than their partners. While women have legal rights, pursuing these options requires a certain amount of money and support services are limited and temporary so any disadvantage is amplified.
This can mean that women return to their partners for the sake of financial security for themselves and their children, or struggle with an existence down around the poverty line because of their limited workforce experience, skills and qualifications. Whichever way women go, the health and wellbeing consequences are potentially enormous, especially if there is violence involved, not just for themselves but also their children.
To deal with the stress of their lives, women are seeking relief wherever they can – through drug (legal and illegal) and alcohol use, junk food, self-harming behaviours, new age therapies, gambling, social media addiction, study, pornography, sexually uninhibited behaviours, exercise, cosmetic surgery; in fact, the list is endless. The long-term implications of this setup are substantial, yet the real corruption is that everything is kept in separate silos and no one is willing to stop and join the dots and expose the magnitude of what is going on here with women.
Billions are spent on research, yet despite this, women’s physical and mental health has deteriorated alarmingly. Little wonder that any sense of self-worth gets lost along the way.
The solutions simply aren’t working, yet as a society we are stubbornly refusing to take off our rose-coloured glasses and stop the pretence, thereby completely overshadowing even the slightest inkling of true female empowerment.
While the balance of power worldwide is definitely in the hands of men, many men are not deliberately setting out to manipulate women and would also like a more fair and just society. Both men and women hold responsibility for changing the current status quo.
Yet how can women do their bit when the world is pushing them to fit a mould that everyone knows, but won’t fully acknowledge, doesn’t work? You may also ask, “what can one person do to change the world?”, but in recent years I’ve actually discovered the answer is “quite a lot!”
The key here is that the empowerment of women is a process of return – not one of trying to get somewhere. I have found that it comes back to taking responsibility for the choices I make in each and every moment; learning to self-nurture and appreciate myself for who I am and not for what I do.
Over time I realised that I had enjoyed a certain comfort in being the self-sacrificing one who was always looking after others and putting myself last. I got recognition from others in response, which I took as a reward for my effort. I dismissed and overrode the signals from my body at every turn and now have osteoporosis to show for it.
This scenario highlights just another level of subtle corruption that women find themselves caught in, i.e. the nervous, ‘drive’ energy we women run ourselves in as we busily tick off our ‘to do’ list, even though our bodies are exhausted. It all becomes normal life, but the joy and freedom of living as our true selves is lost from sight.
Setting a new foundation takes time and commitment, but the first step is stopping and admitting that things are not working as they should and that we are exhausted from trying to keep up. Then, without perfection, we can support ourselves through the use of various modalities, such as Esoteric Yoga, and the OurCycles App to connect more intimately with our bodies and how they are truly feeling. Getting to the core – the root source of issues – requires an honesty that can be painful yet offers powerful healing opportunities.
Female empowerment strategies can also be as simple as focussing on making our breath gentle. Learning that the sky doesn’t fall in when we respectfully say ‘no’ and appreciating the setting of limits and boundaries with others, is a huge learning experience for many women. Leaving work on time, taking time and care with how we dress, gently brushing our teeth and combing our hair, asking for help when we need it, seeking medical assistance and resting when we are unwell are all small, simple ways for women to re-set their lives over time with self-love.
These examples may be quite different from some ideas on self-care, but when we put time and effort into such ways, our sense of self-worth steadily builds, and self-nurturing deepens as a result.
Women have so much delicacy and grace within them and when these natural qualities are allowed to flourish and flow, others readily notice.
When not met by hardness and the emotional traps of resentment, frustration, anger, busyness, drive and so forth, it changes the core of relationships with more authentic levels of communication and intimacy being experienced. From there, the potential for changes in other spheres are endless as people start to drop to a new level of honesty and care for one another.
Truly, such genuine female empowerment is a game changer – not just at the individual level but in terms of dismantling the systemic corruption of womanhood worldwide, with men, women and children all set to reap the benefits equally.