Empowering Women: Alternate Endings

January 28, 2020
photo of a lady sitting on grassy hills looking at a view

Have you ever watched a movie that has an alternate ending?  The first time you watch the movie, you may be able to predict the ending, may be surprised by the ending or disappointed in the ending.  But a good director knows there are many ways a story can end.  He or she has filmed other endings as well.  The ending changes, because the main character does something different.

In real life, scripts are often dependent on gender.  Women have a role to play.  The director says, “You can’t do that, you’re a girl” or “When you grow up, you’ll find a husband and have children”.  As a result, women consequently tell their stories according to a script.

In a piece published by the New York Times entitled Because I was a girl, I was told.… several women shared how their story could have been shaped by gender bias, their own beliefs and the beliefs of those around them.  These women, conversely, were empowered either by their convictions or by the people around them to overcome how the world saw them.  They were able to rewrite their stories.

Studies show that several factors reveal how a woman’s story plays out.  In a study done by Huis et al. [1] the authors determine the three dimensions of empowerment in women.  One dimension represents a woman’s personal beliefs and actions on personal empowerment. The second dimension represents a woman’s beliefs and actions and how it relates to those around them.  The last dimension represents societal outcomes.

These three dimensions have an impact on how empowered a woman is to take control of her own life and reach her full potential. A woman’s empowerment is multifaceted, it is a combination of embedded beliefs, cultural context and the social structure of her environment.

Feda Adra, the CEO of ComLink, gives an example of how her own beliefs moreover the people around her dictated her narrative:

“When I was younger, I remember having really great ambitions.  I really wanted to be a human rights lawyer, make a difference to the world.  I got told by another female do not waste your time with this education or this career path, you’re going to be a wife and a mother one day.  And I listened to that and I believed that story that I was told from television, just generally, my parents and friends and what I saw.  So, we are an example often of what we want women to be.”

Ms. Adra realised that her beliefs, the people close to her and her environment played a part in her decision not to pursue a career as a human rights lawyer.

As women, we tend to accept the story we’ve been handed at birth and play the role that everyone expects us to play.  Being empowered means crossing out the clichéd lines from our script; it means rewriting the lines.   To be empowered, we must become the director of our own movie.  To be empowered, we must write an alternate ending to our story.


[1] Huis et al, “A Three-Dimensional Model of Women’s Empowerment: Implications in the field of Microfinance and Future Directions,” Frontiers in Psychology, 28 September 2017.

Link to ‘Because I was a girl’ https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/12/us/because-i-was-a-girl-i-was-told.html

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