Feminism has transformed in different ways and its meaning has modified from generation to generation. There was a time when women’s right to vote was the utmost priority, now we are witnessing demonstrations like free the nipple movement. Just because we are witnessing new movements and issues from time to time, that doesn’t mean we have got past all those problems and prejudices that led to bringing women on the street in the first place. Because movements regarding freedom of women were never homogenous around the world and different women are facing multifaceted impediments according to their background, race, social context, and financial drawbacks. But no matter how much our problems have been reconstructing, one underlying predicament still and will always remain relevant, and that is – economic empowerment.
Money is an exchangeable element that in the current economic system gives a person to evaluate him/herself against their work, effort, idea, or product. The monetary value of a person gives him/her the freedom of options and dictating the world according to their own priority. Now let’s not get into that “capitalism” and “money is just an object” debate; because I’m completely open for that discussion but that will diverge my argument from here.
Financial freedom is mandatory for everybody, irrespective of their backgrounds. That’s why each human in this world is brought up with the idea of “doing something”; the means can be countless but the targets are mostly the same. Of course, where some are just happy to earn enough to secure food, some are maybe never content even if they’re billionaires. There are also a set of people for whom a decent income is enough with maximum job satisfaction – the point is everybody’s level of contentment can be different but these are all attainable because of money.
And the freedom of finance is most important for any dominated class who are struggling to make their mark on the world. If you look at all the revolutionary movements in the world against oppression such as, the feminist movement, the black movement, labor movement all encircled around oppression against opportunity which divided them from the rest because of having economic insecurity. This is not something you’re knowing new, I mean everybody knows that money is important. Why am I saying an already manifested information?
Because the evolution of feminism is not always bringing us positivity and glory. Sometimes it’s breeding a rather bizarre idea; and nowadays I hear one quite often – “I chose to be unemployed”.
I really get confused between should I be sad or feel funny when I hear this. Feminism enables a woman to choose from her options, that’s great! But you cannot choose something which you never had in the first place.
When I hear a woman is attaining higher education just to be better suited in the marriage market or giving up employment after marriage “by making a choice” – not only she is leaving her potential but also depending on someone else for her existence in this world. Now if someone has inherited enough wealth from her family or husband, I could question her self-integrity but cannot accuse her of being dependent on someone else, so that is an exception which is not really very common in our society. I’m talking about the rest, especially about those women who are “choosing to be housewives” despite having educational qualifications or access to opportunities. You’re choosing to depend on someone else financially, that’s not women empowerment that’s the opposite of it. No matter how much loving and caring your husband or boyfriend might be, at the end of the day he is the one who’s controlling the baton. He might never taunt you or forbade you from anything, but he’ll always have a sense of superiority over you knowing he earns your food.
Don’t be misjudged, I’m no way downplaying the job of a homemaker because that is one of the toughest jobs for a woman as I myself have taken that responsibility sometimes. Millions of women in our country have taken the role of a homemaker out of sacrifice or willingly for the development of her family or maybe forcefully. And their families live on the blood and sweat of the hard work of these women and I have nothing but unconditional respect for them. But we all have seen how this ends up, even the most responsible and concerned husband can make his homemaker wife feel inferior, unimportant, isolated, or not equal. He might not do it intentionally but that’s just a general notion of human beings when they achieve too much power over something or someone.
No matter how important the job of a homemaker is, this job in no way indicates the freedom of a woman. There might be hundreds of other reasons that a woman might feel compelled to take this job, she is not subjugated for any explanation. But what we should not do is glorify this position as a choice. Depending on someone should never be a choice if she can do better. Because billions of women around the world are fighting every day to have little freedom from their controller. Economic empowerment is the very first step to the stairway of women empowerment. When you say your sitting idle is a choice let alone celebrate it; that really degrades the constant effort of those countless strugglers who are trying to find a ray of sunshine. It’s because of financial independence that our rural women are now empowered and contributing to the economy – despite having no or less education. Some are really gaining the courage to break the shackle of patriarchy and taking control in their hand, some are dreaming to live themselves within the upcoming generations.
With this, another question arises, does economic freedom always ensure women’s empowerment? The answer would be, no it doesn’t. Because no empowerment just comes with financial stability rather it needs assistance from other variables such as education, recognition, support from the state and society, self-encouragement, etc. That’s why, even after being financially independent and sitting in superior positions in society, many women are not individually independent from their male domination. But that barrier is breakable if tried, it might be very difficult and painful but not impossible. Having said that, financial freedom is the first and foremost criterion to pinnacle women empowerment. That’s why it’s possible for a woman to be financially independent without being empowered but it is not possible to be empowered without economic independence. No matter what anybody else says, that’s a hoax.
About the writer:
A young passionate journalist. Enthusiast about gender roles and issues; international conflicts and politics. Loves to read and write in the hope to influence the way people think and react.