Let’s talk about empowerment. Empowerment. It is such a big word isn’t it? Where do we even begin? Well, according to the Oxford Dictionary empowerment denotes “the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one’s life and claiming one’s rights. And now let’s move on to the topic of women empowerment. What on earth does an empowered woman even mean?
I’m not dissing the same narrative that is perpetually thrown every year but perhaps there is a missing perspective in defining an ’empowered’ woman. Does empowered mean that you’re holding a high position in a corporation and having an independent income within your shared households and having the capacity to spend the money according to your unwarranted will based on the latest trends? Yes, of course. Does it mean that you’re now able to do all of the conventionally male dominated occupations? Sure. Why not? Does it mean that you can now perpetuate yourself to be ‘stronger’ and ‘masculine’ in your characteristics and personalities so that you will not be deemed weak and shy? Perhaps.
But here I would like to argue that what is the point of being empowered externally when we are chained and shackled internally? Ask ourselves an honest question. What do we enslave ourselves to? We might hold an important position, owning a big car and a luxurious home, but inside we are EMPTY. Thus, we fill our souls with materials. Things that we think ought to make us happy. We might be empowered materially but we are void spiritually. This dunya shackles our very core. And we’re deceived that we’re empowered. We feel that we’re now empowered, having an independent income, nobody dares to question our decision. But we succumb to however strange society decides what ‘beautiful’ is supposed to look like. You’re not beautiful enough if you don’t have that particular skin complexion, that ideal body shape or that specific hijab style. Nothing will ever be enough. You hate looking at yourselves in the mirror. You wish you look a little bit like that person that everybody calls sweet and beautiful. How can we still dare to call ourselves confident? We think that by flaunting our endless selfie shots on Instagram, we are being confident and thus will be accepted within the community. But, we are deceived. The truth is you don’t need to do any of that to be accepted or to be confident with yourselves. Self-confidence is not about what you display on the outside, but it is the beauty that emanates from within, giving you the unprecedented and everlasting radiance. Just stop pretending. Make people fall in love with the humanness of your beauty, not the plastic image of beauty that media perpetually perpetuates. And remember when He azza w jal said: “We have certainly created men in the best of stature.” (al-Tiin:4) He is reminding us that it does not matter if you are imperfect in the eyes of the creations but you certainly are PERFECT in the eyes of the Creator.
Besides that, does an empowered woman denotes a woman that is able to hold back her tears and be rational all the time? So a woman that is naturally tearful and soft-spoken and well, cries and talk all the time, possessing all the conventional feminine characteristics is deemed weak? I would argue that the ability to be yourself and adhere to your natural feminine traits bestowed within you from God is the epitome of empowerment in and of itself. Who can argue that a woman who decides to be a full-time mother has a lesser function within a society and a less complicated job than those who clock in 8 to 5 daily? The confidence to be proud that you are a woman who is definitely different than the other kind, men, is a true definition of empowerment that we need to seek and imbibe within ourselves.
Seek the source of power in He, the Most Powerful Himself, then that is when you will be truly empowered.
And Allah knows best.