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.
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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?