Women have always been portrayed as their own enemy. Owing to the patriarchal upbringing, they always had to fight for their rights, often against other women. Not only has this made the women cynical towards other women, but also competitive.
Women empowerment is an important factor in the development of any nation. In order to achieve an impact, more women need to get a more powerful position in the corporate, political as well as social arenas. It is therefore important for women to break this stereotype, understand why women should support other women and implement it immediately.
Strength in Unity
An individual woman is powerful, but collectively, they can move mountains. Women that support each other have proven to be a very strong unit. This has been observed in the economic model of working of Self Help Groups (SHGs) in India. A poor woman on her own faces difficulty in getting a loan, but collectively, they do very well.
A woman has a responsibility to manage several things at a time. From working, managing the household, dealing with families and relatives to parenting the offspring, women have multiple responsibilities. Only a woman can empathise with the woes of other women. If they help other women, not only does their work get easier, but it also becomes enjoyable. This also sets a good example to the offspring who tomorrow will grow up to be a responsible and respecting citizen of the country.
It has been observed that many times, a woman reprimands other women who have been victims of eve-teasing or any form of sexual assault. This causes women to lose their self-esteem and self-worth. Standing up for one another, on the other hand, boosts their confidence.
According to the National Family Health Survey, one-third of women age 15-49 have experienced physical violence and about 1 in 10 have experienced sexual violence. In total, 35 per cent have experienced physical or sexual violence. This figure translates into millions of women who have suffered, and continue to suffer, at the hands of husbands and other family members.
In order to empower these women, they need to come out of their patriarchal mindset which compels them to keep tolerating the violence. This could be possible only when women stand up for each other, educate each other, and support each other. For this, more women need to be at positions of power. Because women are always more affected in any event, be it climate change, war, or economic slowdown.
Former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, during her career in the foreign service, had observed that women are critical of other women and have a tendency to make each other feel guilty. In her ted talk, she said, “I think ‘guilt’ is every woman’s middle name. And so we need to help other women. And my motto is that there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.”
This article is part of our series on the international 16 Days of Activism campaign with the theme “Orange the World”.