When I was getting married, I told my Father-in-Law that “I will leave your son, but not my job.” Now it’s been 25 years since we were married and I have kept both.

Empowerment is not only keeping the job and being mentally and financially independent, but also keeping the marriage, maintaining good relationships with in-laws and your side of the family. I value both. One without the other is incomplete and meaningless.

We hear a lot about the words ‘Women Empowerment’ these days. Everyone throws this phrase around. Everyone mistakes it that women are fighting for equality with men and want to be in a position of power. What does Women Empowerment mean to me? I will share my views.

For me, being a woman means I am a creation of God with special added qualities given to us. The first thing that comes to mind about being a woman is nurturing, bearing babies and being a mother to the house and children. It’s the design created by nature for the majority of the female species. Let’s celebrate that first.

Empowered women define their attitude. They are fearless. Empowered women are strong and capable of facing pressures independently. Yes, it is important to be financially independent or in a situation where your worth is valued and respected. Your own earned money gives you freedom, confidence, protection and security. However, it doesn’t mean that if you are a housewife and your husband is taking care of you with love and respect, you are not empowered. They derive their strength from the very families they build and nurture.

At any given time, you should not feel threatened, exploited, demeaned, worthless and disrespected. If you feel any one of these, then it’s time to think and take measures. If you remain uptight and think this is how it is and it is your fate, then you very well deserve what’s happening to you.

Let’s talk about the tools of how to be Empowered. The first thing that comes to my mind is financial independence. Sometimes it’s not possible due to the circumstances and the place you live in. Self confidence and self-esteem play an important role. We need support groups, like-minded people coming together, sharing and caring for each other. It’s easier said than done in patriarchal societies and conservative communities. Women can come together, support and help each other and take a stand.

Secondly, education for girls. I strongly believe India will become a developed country when we spend more on our daughter’s education than on her marriage. Empowered women are assets to the developing societies and building nations. Education is the key. We must educate our girls. Only then can they go forward and become stronger and forthcoming.

For the women who are at home with limited means, they need to step out and hone their skills. They can use their talents to live a fulfilling life. Women need to make their own decisions, make their own choices, choose their own partners and say no to female infanticide. Speak your mind and live a life of your own values and beliefs.

It’s not always necessary that an educated mind is able to think. Any mind which has an inner will and desire to stand up for herself, and wants to live a life with self-respect and dignity, is Empowered. Don’t take life for granted and surrender yourself to fate. Take charge of your life. A small change in your thinking and actions will have an enormous impact on your being. This is the beginning.

Capt. Manjeet Lamba Hirani, Senior Commander, Trainer and Deputy General Manager with Air India. Author of the book, How to be Human.