When we say “Empowerment”, what does it really mean?

Updated: Jul 6, 2019

Today, the word “Empowerment” is being used countlessly, time and time again. It has gone to a point in which appropriateness has become tainted with ideologies based on self-importance. These ideologies are mostly shaped by societal processes and existing barometers of the notion of “what should be”. Have we begun what “Empowerment” truly means through empty overuse?

We proceed with our lives inadvertently that our thoughts pertaining to the “self”, that is the “I” and “Me”, are constrained by selfish notions of individuality. This is hardly any fault of our own. Now, more than ever before, we are born into the world preconfigured by the architecture of collective consciousness. This is basically what being part of a “community” is; continuous participation in social and psychological processes.

Empowerment is moving away from this set of ideologies. We must proceed by first understanding the processes involved as being an individual part of society. To use the word “empower” means to challenge the conjectures of power and harnessing our experiences towards achieving and succeeding with our goals in life.

Single & Unattached 2017, Photo by: Arienne Antonio

Empowerment Begins With You

How can we lift ourselves and others in changing a mindset defined by divisiveness, limited perception and incessant deprecation of ideas challenging the mores?

The cycle of empowerment begins by taking a look at the self. To know that the "self" is a product of the human collective you are born into, combined with the ability to question, is how we move forward.

Today, there is a rise in the call for intentional and mindful living. You may have noticed this for yourself. Left and right, we see social media campaigns asking us to take a pause. We are encouraged to get involved in activities such as decluttering our surroundings, exercising and participating in interactive physical activities to choosing healthy options for our physical well-being. However, this is only the first step.

Wave Nomad, "Good Vibes Happen on the Tides" Photo by: Arienne Antonio

We need to go beyond the physical and get in touch with our mind and beingness--- our sense of self. To practice “self-awareness” outside of our surroundings is a habit, not an aphorism. With practice, we understand our thoughts, our concepts of the “I” and eventually how we see our world in the lens of compassion, grace, and direction.

While society dictates so much from us that unknowingly most of us go through our lives in a state of unawareness. The call to empower is to challenge. True empowerment begins with the conscious introspection of the self, and this is no easy feat.

Only with a knowing self, you can proceed with a purpose in your life.

Empowerment is Power

We cannot talk about empowerment without talking about power. To realize that power plays a significant part in the action and state of being empowered is a reminder that the end goal is to give a voice to those who would otherwise have none.

How many of us have fallen prey to malicious gossip? Have you endured the pain cast by stones of the self-righteous? Were you stripped off of economic opportunities for reasons beyond your control?

Mona Lisa Point, San Juan La Union, Photo: PJ Valenciano

Power comes with a price, most likely at the expense of others. This oppressive power can be seen in all the dynamics of our society: work, friendships, politics. Even in personal relationships, the power struggle is real. Defamation, judgment, alienation, and prejudice stems from this misguided version of power.

But power can be a blessing too when used to uplift rather than to dominate. When we follow a path of an empowered self, social change is possible, victories are won and balance is achieved.

You can see this shift of power in the emergence of social enterprises that are fair trade certified, for-profit businesses. Fair Anita, one of the organizations I work for, is an embodiment of this business model. By using entrepreneurship, it has become a tool to bridge the gaps in economic opportunities for women around the globe, especially for the disadvantaged and survivors of violence.

With a definite stand to fighting inequality and violence against women, Fair Anita was founded by Minnesota native, Joy McBrien. Her experience in connecting with women gave her the will and tenacity to run a business with purpose.

Through Fair Anita, women from Peru, Chile, India, Vietnam, to name a few, have become economically independent, resulting in better lives. Fair Anita’s work continues to make me proud of being part of a team investing in women, knowing that my work contributes to empowering women across continents.

As human beings, we constantly seek the “why.” In understanding how we play in this grand theater of life we begin being changemakers who advocate true empowerment.

Photo by: PJ Valenciano

Empowerment is Encompassing

Change is achieved with a changed self and accepting that others are partners. A collaboration must stand on mutual respect, diverse viewpoints and shared visions. We, as a collective whole, can create solutions to the impending issues of our time. There is no clear way to bridge all divides. Rather we should have a better understanding of this truth, and focus on meaningful coexistence.

An empowered self is nothing without connectedness to the communal and social. As a people, we are both individuals and social beings. To find a tribe that resonates with our purpose leads to shaping an authentic identity. Hence, we rise to the call of emancipation and build an “alternative culture that holds a greater authenticity compared to the indifference of the wider spectrum.”

This month is Women’s Month. While the focus is on women, we believe that empowerment is a process that involves the rest of the community, men included. As you proceed with life, we leave you with this thought:

“Empowerment is to question. Empowerment is to take action. Empowerment is for everyone.”

#empowerment #womensmonth #womenempowerment #insights #socialentrepreneurship #entrepreneurship


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