A recent article I read questioned the courage with which we used the word ’empowerment’.
Merriam-Webster dictionary defines empowerment as “the granting of the power, right, or authority to perform various acts or duties.” This had struck me in my college years when this much sought after word meant a lot in the development sector. And it continues to do so! I started to question the intentions behind the use of the word. Who are we to empower the ‘underprivileged’? Have we placed ourselves on a higher pedestal and decided to grant them the power to access their rights? If you and I are born with better privileges and feel the urge to ’empower’ the ‘poor’ and the ‘needy’, why can’t we just inspire them? Or for the lack of a better word, why can’t we just support them?
I expect a few bricks and bats for my thoughts. But, what happens when we call them ‘differently-abled’, and not disabled? What happens when we call them visually-impaired, and not blind? What happens when we call them survivors? What is the level of impact when we change the jargon? I assume the society started to use dignified words with a good intention for an inclusive community. But, have we expected far too much from the society just by changing our words?
I still see a severe lack of better facilities in metropolitan cities, even after we changed from disabled to differently-abled. I still see rapes being called a woman’s fault, even after we switched to calling them survivors. The fight may be long and arduous. But let’s not get stuck in the web of jargon.