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  • Category:
    Nursing
  • Document type:
    Essay
  • Level:
    Masters
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    2187

Empowerment

Empowerment

This refers to the powers or strengths given to individuals or groups enabling them to make their own decisions. It is about the extent to which some categories of people are able to control their own destinies, even when people with whom they interact oppose their interests. People are not empowered or disempowered in a vacuum, rather they are empowered or disempowered relative to other people or groups whose lives intersect with theirs and whose interests differ from theirs, at least in part (Ahmad & Oranye 2010, p. 582-591). Empowerment is a property of social or cultural systems rather than of individual experiences and traits. This means that groups shared values, norms, beliefs, traditions, and practices give some members a greater right to exercise power than other members or better access to the means of to exercise power. Individuals with certain traits, for example, those who are male will be more empowered than other members of the group, but the point is that this is precisely because there is some degree of consensus within the group that they have the right to greater power or the right to control resources, and activities that are power bearing, not because individuals who have particular traits or experiences, thereby, gain power automatically (Johnson et al 2012, p. 1-7). Thus, women empowerment is likely to involve not only their gaining new individual capabilities, but also the emergence of new beliefs about their right to exercise these capabilities and take advantage of opportunities in their community. To be sure, in addition to the variation in, power that can be predicted from a group’s culture and experience there is always unexplained variation among individuals in the exercise of power that reflects the personality and other personal characteristics and experiences. From a developmental perspective, then, what is critical in conceptualizing and measuring empowerment is a focus on groups or categories of persons and the cultural precepts under which they operate (Johnson et al 2012, p. 1-7).

Individual experiences and traits may provide insights into outcomes associated with empowerment, but they are not the ultimate determinant of the extent to which women are or not empowered in a given social context. Empowerment is multidimensional, with imperfect associations among its different dimensions. This is particularly clear in the case of gender relations, which san the private and public spheres and the social, economic, political, and psychological sectors. Levels of women empowerment in the private and public sectors are often different: there are many cultures that give women domestic powers of certain types, but dent them power in the public sphere (Upadhyay & Karasek 2012, p. 78-89). Moreover, the extent of women’s power is not necessarily the same in the social, economic, and political spheres.

Triggering factors that can lead to disempowerment in women or communities

The concept of disempowerment can be contextualized as deprivation of sufficient influence to share equitably the community resources or powers. In many societies, the different dimensions of gender inequality are correlated and mutually reinforcing. Women’s relative lack of education often results in their lives having fewer job opportunities and lower incomes than men enjoy; this, in turn, perpetuates their dependency on men’s earnings and a consequent need to be submissive to men’s decisions and desires. But, conceptually, the different dimensions of inequality between women and men are indeed different and are by no means perfectly correlated with each other. This insight suggests the need to identify types of empowerment if the impact of public policy or development interventions on women’s empowerment is to be fully understood.

Further evidence shows that women’s empowerment reflects community norms rather than women’s individual traits (Speer et al 2013, p. 103-113). This factor is attributed for the intercommunity variation in women’s reported domestic empowerment. It shows that the importance source of intercommunity variation in women’s empowerment is community values and norms about gender roles.

Cultural and traditional practices such as early marriages and female genital mutilation, victimization of the girl child have been the major factor resulting to disempowerment of women especially in the remote areas. First, it denies them education opportunities, which means a more dependent life style under men. This factor also denies women leadership opportunities this makes it difficult in making of decisions that help in giving women progressive opportunities and instead enables proliferation of a male dominated society (Upadhyay & Karasek 2012, p. 78-89). Corruption denies the empowering opportunities to those deserving the opportunity. This vice is attributed to underdevelopment and poverty. Since corruption involves embezzling or misuse of public resources it negatively impacts on these resources, and, as a result, it raises the taxes charged on the common people to replace or maintain them. On the other way, it denies them an opportunity to make good use of the resources they are being taxed for. In this way, corruption acts as a channel, by the influential and powerful to disempower, the society so as to continue dominating over them.

Activities that enable empowerment people or communities

Any conception of empowerment has to grapple with the concept of power. Therefore, for effective empowerment to take place, all efforts directed towards achieving it should conceive power in a relation mode. First way to ensure there is empowerment of people is providing them with political stability and peaceful environment. This gives people an opportunity to focus on the developmental activities that ensures they are economically empowered. Political stability ensures social systems such as the media schools among other institutions are in a point of giving the society the necessary services for their empowerment (De Villier & Stander 2011, p. 405-412). Development is another factor that empowers the society. Through well-developed infrastructures such as the transport system, hospitals and schools, people are in position of receiving high quality services. Better education and health care, which results from the better developments, are the basis of a well empowered society. Empowerment is thus about changing dynamics of this relationality in favor of the hitherto disadvantaged, or the less powerful. A Human poverty perspective, with explicit attention to gender equality issues, should be incorporated into the design and implementation of all mainstream programmers for poverty eradication. The social economic structures and processes which caused differing rates and levels of poverty among women and men, differential impacts and unequal potential for coping with and overcoming poverty, need to explicitly identified and addressed (Stewart et al 2010, p. 27-3).

Gender mainstreaming in poverty eradication required specific support to women in a number of areas. Women needed training in economic literacy and access to viable self-employment opportunities. Equitable access to education and health services across the life cycle needed to be guaranteed. There should be policies put up to provide the disadvantaged with opportunities that will enable them to be economically and socially empowered (Casey, Saunders & O’Hara 2010, p. 24-34). Financial institutions should be established to assist women in the coming up with financial support programs. Microcredit and savings and social security are essential inputs. Small scale business enterprises are the major sources of economic stability for a majority of the middle and lower classes. Therefore, better legislations and policies should be put up to ensure a good operating environment thus empowering this populous group. Another factor is ensuring transparency and accountability of the national resources by those in leadership. This ensures there is less burden in terms of taxes on the societies, therefore, they can use these resources in developing other sectors.

Social justice within a community or gender add to empowerment and disempowerment

The social justice has made provisions ensuring that women and the less powerful have equal access to resources ad does the powerful. There is continuing gap between macroeconomic policies focused on economic growth and social policies focused on the larger goals of gender equality and social justice (Medatwal 2013, p. 139-147). Greater integration of economic and social policies is needed for successful eradication of poverty. There is a need to incorporate gender perspectives in the overall macroeconomic framework for development. Lack of a legal system that advocates for the empowerment of women can act as a cause of women disempowerment.

Despite most of the constitutions across the world requiring a minimum representation based on the genders, some parts of the world have no legal system that empowers women. This has resulted in unequal representations of women as well as unequal sharing of the natural resources making men more superior at the face of the women. This has also prompted overreliance on the traditional and customary legal system which had low regard on the women. Majority of the tradition legal systems were categorical that women had no role in the process of national building rather their place was at home.

The rise of activism groups in the society has in great ways influenced the empowerment of the less powerful in the community (Chang, Liu & Yen 2008, p. 278-279). They have acted as the voices of the less privileged in the society. Social activism has influenced empowerment by ensuring that these groups are given equal opportunities as the powerful in the society. Some of this activism groups have even filed suits requiring legally recognition of the groups they represent. In majority of the democracies, the legislations, which are put in place, offer numerous opportunities to empower the less powerful with intentions of reducing the gap between the haves and the have-nots’, in the society. The legal system ensures there is no discrimination of the society members based on their economic or social status. There are punitive actions taken against those who engage in vices such as corruption which disempowers the society members.

Role of nurses in ensuring empowerment within the society

As a matter of necessity, health inheres in human functioning’s; because good health is such a thing that when it is lacking the human person cannot function well, human empowerment cannot be full without promoting good health (Sharma 2012, p. 1-5). It is also obvious that human health cannot simply be reduced to commodities and desires; it goes beyond them because humans have various health preferences. Therefore, holistic empowerment must include health care. Designing a proactive, positive health system requires leadership by people who understand clients and the full range of care and services they might need, nurses, and particularly community health nurses, understand the human ecosystem and the holistic nature of health care services. In addition, community health nurses should thus play a primary role in defining new paradigm in health care (Casey, Saunders & O’hara 2010, p. 24-34). Membership on local, state, and national governmental and private health planning boards and committees can afford community health nurses an opportunity to speak to the character of care and services needed. Since women will be significant players within any redefined system because they are the primary purchasers and managers of health care for their families and themselves, community health nurses must, therefore, help educate women to be informed,, and assertive consumers empowered to make choices and able to manage the health status of themselves and their families (Stewart et al 2010, p. 27-3).

Another factor is the cultural and race diversities in the community. Nurses should educate on the negative impacts of some of the cultural practices observed by this communities or races. This, in turn, leads to empowerment of women since it gives them equal opportunities as the male counterparts. Their main role is creating awareness among the diversity genders and cultures on the impact of their actions.

List of references

Ahmad, N & Oranye, NO 2010, “Empowerment, job satisfaction and organizational commitment”, Journal of Nursing Management, Vol. 18, no.5, p. 582-591.

Casey, M, Saunders, J & O’hara, T 2010, Impact of critical social empowerment on psychological empowerment and job satisfaction in nursing and mid wifely settings. Journal of Nursing Management, Vol. 18, no. 1, p24-34

Chang, L, Liu, C & Yen, E. 2008. “Effects of an empowerment based education program for the public health nurses”, Journal of Clinical Nursing., Vol. 17, no. 20, p. 278-279.

De Villiers, JR, Stander, M 2011, “The role of leader relations and role clarity in a financial institution”, Journal of Psychology in Africa, Vol. 21, No. 3, p. 405-412.

Johnson, MO, Rose, CD, Dilworth, SE, Neilands, TB & Baradaran, HR 2012, “Advances in the conceptualization of measurement of health care”, PLoS ONE, Vol. 7, no. 9, p. 1-7.

Medatwal, C 2013, Womens Empowerment Programmes. Researchers World: Journal of Arts, Science & Commerce, Vol. 6, No. 1, p. 139-147.

Sharma, S 2012, “Women empowerment through self-help groups”, Indian Streams Research Journal,
Vol. 2, No. 9, p. 1-5.

Speer, P, Peterson, N, Armstead, T & Allen, C 2013, “Influence of participation, gender and organizational sense of community on psychological empowerment”, American Journal of Community Psychology, vol. 51, no. 1/2, p. 103-113.

Stewart, JG, McNulty, R, Quinn Griffin, MT & Fitzpatrick, JJ 2010. “psychological empowerment and structural empowerment among nurse practitioners”,
Journal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, Vol. 22, No. 1, p. 27-3.

Upadhyay, UD, Karasek, D 2012, “Womens empowerment and ideal family size”, International Perspectives on Sexual & Reproductive Health, Vol. 38, No. 2, p. 78-89.