Women are entitled to human rights like the right to an education, healthcare, and housing, but for centuries, progress has been slow. Barriers like sexism, racism, poverty, and climate change hinder women’s ability to achieve their goals, build economic independence, and gain political power. How do we change things? Empowerment is an essential solution. Women’s empowerment isn’t about “saving” women; it’s about increasing access to opportunities (like education and career training) and giving women power over their own lives. In this guide, we’ll cover topics such as why women’s empowerment jobs are important, what people in this field do, and how to become a women’s empowerment professional.
Why are women’s empowerment jobs important?
There’s a difference between helping someone and empowering them. Helping someone can include providing food through a food bank. This meets an immediate need – we all need to eat every day – but shopping at a food bank isn’t an empowering experience. It also doesn’t address the underlying issue, which is poverty. Empowerment looks like job training and organizing for higher wages (so people can afford to shop at a regular grocery store) or starting a community garden.
Empowerment helps everyone, but there’s a gender gap that makes women’s empowerment important. Metrics like education, health, and political empowerment show that gender parity has not been achieved yet. According to a 2021 report, it will take just over 14 years to close the global gender gap in Educational Attainment. In Health and Survival, 96% of the gender gap is closed. Political Empowerment has the largest gap with only 22% of it closed. The World Economic Forum estimates it will take 145.5 years to reach gender parity in politics. These gaps have huge effects on international development, quality of life for women and children, a country’s economy, and more. When women are empowered, everyone benefits.
What do women’s empowerment professionals do?
Women’s empowerment jobs are found in every field. Here are four examples:
Community health workers
Community health workers serve everyone, but because women experience higher rates of poverty than men, free/affordable healthcare and women’s empowerment are closely linked. Community health workers can also specialize in women’s reproductive care, maternity care, and so on. This job can vary depending on geography, but workers are typically from the area they’re serving. They work with people who lack resources or access to other healthcare. Health workers serve as a bridge between a community and medical system, making sure that language services are available and that care aligns with the community culture.
Responsibilities can include developing treatment plans, helping patients understand their medical rights and insurance, connecting patients with other needed social services, and making home visits when necessary. Language translation is also often a big part of the job. Community health workers can also be called health educators, health coaches, health interpreters, public health aides, and so on.
Education is essential to women’s empowerment. Tutors play a vital role in helping girls and women achieve their goals, especially in areas where girls aren’t receiving enough support at school or home. Tutors work independently, in schools, or with education nonprofits. When beginning in the field, most tutors need at least a high school diploma, though many have bachelor’s degrees. Specializations include math, science, and English. Some tutors are also teachers (or have been teachers), but tutoring work can be a person’s main job or even a supplement to another career.
Tasks include reviewing assignments; assisting students with homework, test prep, and projects; working with students on subjects they’re struggling with; and teaching strategies like note-taking and test-taking. Tutors can also work with adults learning a new language or preparing for specific tests, like the GED, graduate school exams, and more.
Nonprofits that focus on women’s rights and empowerment run a variety of programs. They need program officers. People with more experience and education tend to fill these roles. A master’s degree is usually preferred, as well as a few years of experience in project management. The specific degree may vary depending on the program, but most organizations want someone knowledgeable about women’s rights and empowerment.
Responsibilities can include monitoring programs, meeting with stakeholders, managing budgets, managing a program team, and creating progress reports. The goal is to design and implement effective programs while staying on top of the day-the-day management.
Women’s empowerment depends on thorough, accurate research. Without research, it would be impossible to measure metrics like Educational Attainment or Health and Survival. Women’s empowerment researchers consider many factors in their work, including women’s health, political influence, safety, education, jobs, and so on. They’ll also consider the impact that discrimination against women has on children and families. The issues that affect women never just affect women, so researchers consider this when compiling and analyzing data.
Researchers collect data through many methods, such as holding interviews and tracking media reports. They also need to know how to organize and analyze the data. Good methodology is key to this field. Researchers might also be responsible for presenting the data in reports, which come out at different times depending on the organization. Some organizations release annual reports while others come out every few years.
Where do women’s empowerment professionals work?
Women’s empowerment professionals work in places like nonprofits, government agencies, and schools. Here’s a brief list of organizations hiring these types of professionals:
Since 1987, the Global Fund for Women has supported women’s rights initiatives throughout the world. It provides support grants to activists and works in more than 170 countries on education, health and sexual rights, economic justice, and political participation.
UN Women is a United Nations agency that focuses on sustainable peace and resilience; women’s economic security and autonomy; women in leadership, and humanitarianism. The agency has a series of flagship human-rights-based programs that support ongoing programming work. UN Women also prioritizes tech innovation, intergovernmental support, and training for gender equality.
Focused on empowering girls and women during conflict and war, Women For Women International offers a year-long tiered program with job training, financial aid, and emotional counseling. The goal is to provide female war survivors with the tools necessary to move forward in their lives. As an international NGO, it’s empowered women around the world.
Since 1992, the Center has focused on reproductive rights and creating a world where all people have access to healthcare and freedom from discrimination. This global legal advocacy group has worked in 50 countries on strengthening reproductive rights through laws and policies. The Center also promotes human rights education and legal scholarship.
Many women’s empowerment jobs are found in smaller, local organizations. People with roots in the area and a deep understanding of the issues facing girls and women there tend to hold the positions. Based on grassroots organizing and collective power, local organizations are the bedrock of women’s empowerment. Some women’s empowerment professionals spend their whole careers in this work.
How do you become a women’s empowerment professional?
There are three parts to becoming a women’s empowerment professional: education, early experience, and essential skills.
The women’s empowerment field doesn’t require a specific degree. It depends on what you want to focus on. A tutor will need a different degree than a researcher or health worker. Whichever degree you get, take as many classes as you can that focus on gender, women’s rights, international development, or other relevant topics. This will give you the best foundation for women’s empowerment, no matter what field you go into.
Most entry-level jobs ask for some experience. That usually comes in the form of volunteer work, internships, or fellowships. Volunteer opportunities are not hard to find as most organizations always need help. Some degree programs require an internship, but if yours doesn’t, try to fit an internship in if you can. Unpaid internships are unfortunately still common, but many organizations pay their interns. Fellowships, which are paid merit-based programs, can also give you great experience and opportunities early in your career.
The skills needed for a job in women’s empowerment can vary depending on the field, but all women’s empowerment professionals have a few things in common. Excellent time management and organizational skills are a must. Most professionals also need good communication skills, especially if you’re working with the public in some capacity. Emotional resilience, patience, and perspective are also essential, considering how many years it will take to reach global gender parity. In some areas, those timelines are even longer. Women’s empowerment professionals need to be dedicated, but also able to manage the associated stress.
How much do women’s empowerment professionals get paid?
Women’s empowerment is a broad field with a broad range of salaries. According to Indeed, community health workers earn an average of $18.12 in 2021. Tutors, specifically private tutors, charge between $25-$65 an hour in the United States. It depends on how much education and experience the tutor has, as well as their specialization. Researchers (which is a broad tag that encompasses all types of research positions) make close to $68,000 a year in the US. Under the “women empowerment” tag on ZipRecruiter, salary ranges from $34,000 to $114,000 a year. Your field, location, education, experience, and the size of the organization you work for all affect your specific salary.