They are the women

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They are the caretakers, the educators, and the entrepreneurs. They are the solid foundation on which our global well-being stands upon. They are the women.

Although women around the world are not all granted equal opportunity currently, their contributions to a country’s economy is significant. In the last few decades, this fact has softened the hardened gender traditions and cultures of some countries, and slow progress has begun. As more have realized the deeply rooted influence women have, communities are slowly beginning to evolve to meet the growing demand for female equality, both privately and publicly.

In a census of 135 countries, it was statistically proven that stronger and greater economies are often derived from greater empowerment and freedom for women. While there is a strong stigma in many developing countries that women are less, various organizations like UN Women are working toward protecting, promoting, and educating the women to make them leaders among their communities.

Women in developing countries are consistently trapped in the vicious cycle of poverty and abuse, striking a feeling of being powerless and inadequate in them. For them, little to no education is a given, and all of their dreams lie in a small realm of possibilities. They lack hope and are waiting for someone to help them to relieve them of their situation. What they need is strength.

After being struck by the devastating blow of civil war, Liberia was thrown into chaos and violence. Although men were the ones fighting in the war, the women were the ones who were truly hit with the brunt of the force. Their civil war paved the way for domestic violence against women in Liberia.

In response to the utterly painful chaos, the women fought back and formed the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace in 2003 through the UN Women. Together as a united front, they ultimately ended the civil war, installed a justice system for those who were abused through peace huts, and cultivated greater leadership roles for their women. Because of the push for equality, Liberia started upon the road toward a better economy and greater sustainable development.

The women of Liberia are prime examples of strength when it comes to gender equality. Their advocacy for those around them and passion for justice should be an inspiration for women in other countries to stand up as well. Their acknowledgment that change was not coming unless they did it themselves was particularly moving because often times, people wait for something that is long overdue and never take initiative to be the change.

Instead of shying away, those trapped by their circumstances should strive to be like the women in Liberia. Like them, the question on their hearts should be what are we waiting for?

Interestingly, the word empowerment means “power or authority given to someone.” When we say women’s empowerment, the phrase entails that power needs to be given to them or that they were waiting to be bestowed power. In reality, what we should really be putting forward is that they are finding strength within themselves to fight for their beliefs and for their rights against all odds. So really, what are we waiting for?

Rather than pushing women away with the preconceived notion of inadequacy, countries should turn their focus more on the wellbeing of their women, through legal acknowledgement, medical attention and provisions, and fair treatment.

They are the leaders, peacemakers, and the revolutionaries. They are the women.

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