Women's empowerment is the universal goal of gender equality. Yet, in developing countries such as the Philippines, women are often deprived of the same opportunities enjoyed by their counterparts in other parts of the world. Women's empowerment should not be limited to political empowerment, economic development and workplace violence against women. The fight for gender equality in the Philippine context is being taken up by women themselves. In a world where people are spending hours online searching for information on “how to make money” or going through “home-based business ideas,” the need for women's leadership and economic participation is more urgent than ever.
A gender-balanced economy promotes the economic development of women in different ways. Gender equality in education is not only important for economic growth and social progress, but also for individual empowerment. A high level of education leads to higher economic status and opportunities. A well-educated woman can seek higher positions in government as an entrepreneur, join the corporate world as a vice president, hold key managerial positions in major companies, and pursue a career in fields as varied as medicine, law, engineering and dentistry. Education does not only make one competitive in employment; it also opens new doors of opportunity for women globally.
On the other hand, lack of education reduces a country's ability to market itself internationally. A nation that does not educate its women can only attract domestic and foreign investors who see women as the primary breadwinners in their families. This means that unless the economy has greater educational attainment among its citizens, it will be unable to sustain the rate of economic development that it needs to achieve. It can only cater to the domestic market by promoting jobs for men.
Educational programs that train women and the necessary infrastructure such as universities, colleges and schools also contribute to the improvement of the economy. By increasing the number of skilled women, the economy is able to employ more men and women from disadvantaged backgrounds to take up high-paying jobs. Gender equality is thus promoted as both an individual and collective effort through education and training.
Being categorized as a privileged group by the society, women are expected to perform better than men in every endeavor they decide to pursue. Women are considered to be successful when they have reached the level of success seen only by men. Being a competent member of a working family, women are expected to perform efficiently and productively at home, in the office, and anywhere else they go. For these reasons, educational institutions should provide specialized courses to hone the skills of women so that they can cope up with the demands of the labor market and excel professionally. Without equal educational opportunities, the rate of economic development will be slow, if not halted altogether.
Women's empowerment is also needed for promoting gender equality. Through it, women can learn how to negotiate professionally, pursue higher education, join the workforce, and advance in their careers. Women should also be aware of their rights. They should know their legal standing and what resources they can access, especially those that are empowering or . . . . . . protecting them. With these in hand, women can ensure fair treatment by men in the workplace and at the hands of the government.
The promotion of gender equality helps women escape from the shackles of traditional gender roles. It promotes the idea that women are equal, capable, and able to contribute equally to the economic, political, and cultural arenas. The unequal treatment of women in the past has caused many to perceive women and gender as a weaker segment of the population. But this belief can be shattered. Equal rights for women now gives them a strong foothold in the world.
In order for gender equality to occur, there must be a conscious effort on the part of everyone, especially men. The promotion of gender equality in education, businesses, and society is the first step to achieving the ideal gender equality. And in order for this to happen, more effort, time, and financial resources need to be dedicated to achieving this goal. We must all be committed to providing opportunities to girls and women so that they have greater access to educational opportunities, economic opportunities, and political empowerment. And to realize these dreams of gender equality, there needs to be consistent efforts from all parties towards gender equality.