Women’s empowerment will achieve greater results when approached and communicated in the way an average African man, woman, and girl child will understand and relate with.
Women globally convene today virtually to share their views on the concept of women empowerment, especially within the African context, and to map out ways through which women empowerment can be communicated differently to ensure greater adoption by women, men, and girls in the African continent. This will be during the launch ceremony of the Women Empowerment Report jointly prepared by Evolve Media Holdings Ltd and the African Institute for Research in Global Humanitarian issues and State Policy Assistance (AIRGLOBAL) Cameroon and Italy.
With a focus on reshaping the African perspective of women empowerment, the event will bring together women from across the globe- with all continents represented from 3 pm Universal Time.
Women empowerment has since been perceived as a gateway to achieving gender equality at all levels even though the concept is perceived differently by varied schools of thought and scholars have over time proposed different models to facilitate the empowerment of women. A few years ago, the average African man translated the word women empowerment to mean teaching women to disrespect men/ their husbands. With time, this perception has gradually changed among the younger generation of men who are beginning to understand what women’s empowerment could really imply. However, there is still a greater percentage of men and even women who interchange women empowerment for feminism.
Africa cannot afford to overlook women’s contribution to sustainable development. In fact, according to McKinsey, narrowing the gender gap in sub-Saharan Africa has the opportunity to add 12%, or an estimated $300 billion, to annual GDP by 2025. In the same vein, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) reports that closing the gender gap in agriculture can increase yields by 20-30%, raise agricultural output by 2.5% to 4% and reduce the number of hungry people by 12%-17%.
Women empowerment will resonate more within the African context if the heavy jargon around it was dropped and empowerment simply defined as equipping women and girls with all they need- financially, morally, psychologically, physically, and otherwise to become support systems for themselves, for each other, for their families and spouses.”
This will engender an entire mindset shift that will enable gender-related policies to be easily implemented and equally facilitate the attainment of SDG goal 5 of achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls. Empowerment being a gateway to achieving gender equality, the young girl in Africa will feel comfortable around the word empowerment and embrace it without feeling that society will translate that to mean she is a feminist- a word which has equally been greatly misunderstood and is often used negatively to connote women who do not want to submit under the authority of a man.
This does not in any way mean all previous efforts at empowering women and the girl child have failed, on the contrary, these efforts have contributed greatly towards building a new breed of women, especially in Africa who increasingly work towards the realization of their goals. We believe that this additional perspective could help to enhance the process and engender a new paradigm shift in the way women get involved in society, especially at the formal level.
The Women Empowerment Report looks at women’s empowerment from different standpoints, why it is important, how it can be measured and what can be done differently to obtain greater results.
Women empowerment is evidently inevitable as we strive toward an inclusive society. It is no doubt that, in some parts of the continent, women still prefer to step down from leadership positions or not compete at all because of societal stereotypes.
Getting these women to the point where they feel psychologically comfortable ascending positions of responsibility requires a lot of mentorships which in itself is a medium of empowerment. The good news is that we have many other women and men out there who will be willing to lend a helping hand and help empower a woman or young girl.
For us to bring men and even the young girl (who feels like being empowered will make her appear different), to that point where they feel comfortable around the word empowerment, we need to communicate this in a language they can understand. Not all parents are educated, yet they raise children and teach them what they are equipped with. These children just like those born in homes with educated parents will grow up to form part of our society. Chances are, they will miss out on what empowering the girl child truly means. Let’s bring the concept closer to them.
We cannot talk of inclusion when these are left out. Women empowerment should be able to reach the local population in the languages they understand. It equally has to reach them in a format that they can identify with. When people keep translating women empowerment to mean teaching women and girls to disrespect men, this will constitute a great setback. One way to achieve this will be to identify the concept in the local dialects.