Empowerment or Equality: Which “E” are we Striving for?

Recently, while driving in the district, I came across an advertisement for a plumbing, heating, and air conditioning company.  The right side of the advertisement read: “A Women- Owned & Managed Company!”  The phrase was intended to be seen and obviously posted with pride.  Further, the company’s website states: “behind every highly trained plumber, HVAC technician, sewer, drain cleaning and repair person is a women of integrity who loves her customers and wants them to be happy with our service.”

Over the past 50 years the workforce has shifted from a male dominated arena to a nearly equal presence of men and women. More women are in the workforce now than ever before. Much credit can be given to feminist of the past who pioneered the women’s right movement and those of the present who persistently advocate for women throughout the years.  During the primitive phases of the women’s right movement, women strived to be empowered-there was a sense of pride and determination to reach a level of equality between them and their male counterparts. The fundamental strategy was to break down the social norms of their time. I venture to say; most women in the United States know what it means, and in some cases, know how feels to be empowered. Empowerment isn’t a new or innovative concept. Women have been introduced to aspects of empowerment throughout history.

Earlier this year, on the other side of the world, Italian women came together to protest against their Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi. Along with protesting his charges of paying for under-age sex and abusing office; women also used this opportunity to protest for dignity and raise issues of equality in the family, economy, and society.  Furthermore, work for women in Italy is limited and most are left with temporary underpaid jobs. The two options for a woman living in Italy is to become a lifelong housewife or a lifelong worker.

As shown above, equality is still very much required in many parts of the world. Very often, equality is recognized as being achieved when social norms are redefined and gender roles have reached an even balance. However, equality for women in both cases, may be defined differently. Women of Italy may define equality as gaining dignity and respect, and here in America equality could be defined as a woman owning and managing a company.

Regardless of how equality is defined in a society, the true essence of equality can be recognized when women throughout the world empower themselves and fight for the rights they deserve.  May be the question of empowerment and equality must be answered individual. In one sense empowerment is needed to unite and fight for a cause; and similarly equality is how women continue to feel empowered. These two concepts may in fact be concurrent; however, we as women should strive for one or the other, or both. Again I ask, which “E” are you striving for?

 -LaShontae Norman

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  • gwmchstudents

    Tae-this is a great dichotomy to look at, empowerment and equality, which comes first? It seems as though certain areas of the world have no problem with empowerment of women which inevitably plays into the achievement of gender equality. But, what of those parts of the world that cannot even show their female pride and empowerment and thus have a longer way to get to equality?


    A. Pakstis 

  • gwmchstudents

    Thanks Ms Tae, that was a very thought provoking piece you wrote. As I read your piece I remembered an article I read on March 7th 2011, about the recession hitting women hard. The rate at which women’s jobs are being cut is not similar to the rate at which they are being rehired; for every 3 positions lost only 1 is being hired.

    Our pay is not commensurate with men’s pay, yet we have the same qualification! Women are often exploited because they do not like to negotiate! What does that tell me about equality? It tells me that equality for women is still behind. Now that attention is being brought to it, let’s see if there will be true equality.

    I will keep my fingers crossed because nothing is impossible!

    ‘S. Awe

  • gwmchstudents

    Tae- You raised an excellent question and point to ponder. Although in the US, women have experience far less outward gender inequality and discrimination there still exists issues of both equality and empowerment.  As minorities in general begin to become the majority in many cities across the U.S., minority women will face many more obstacles and hurdles to overcome as it pertains to equality and empowerment.  


    As rightfully stated in your blog, women in different countries have different expectations for equality but and overall standard, I believe is respect.  This respect can be in the home and or the workplace. Women across the globe desire to be seen as integrap and contributing citizens of their country.


    L. Williams

  • gwmchstudents

    Your point about the definition of equality being different for women in the U.S. vs. other parts of the world is definitely spot on. I would go even further and suggest that the definition of equality for American women is not the same. Our society has transitioned in a way that women seek respect and dignity, not just as the CEO of companies, but also mothers, caregivers, and heads of households. The larger issue is that a women’s work, in whatever capacity, is essential to our society and demands the same respect as a man’s.

    A fight that we are all still fighting.

    E. Jordan