WOMEN EMPOWERMENT IN INDIA
A woman is a full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture and transform – Diane Mariechild
Women empowerment is a highly discussed topic since ages not just in India but around the globe. But still is it showing required colours to the extent needed, is still women are heard, or just ignored and neglected? Have the civil, technological advancements brought the women into the light?
Here we are not just talking about women’s rights, but about gender equality and justice. Which has given rise to #MeToo movements, a very well known to everyone, as many prominent personalities have opened up about there sufferings due to this campaign. But still there are many areas to work on and like harassment is one of the major sectors but apart from it, inequality in education, lack of legal awareness, work-related inequalities, lack of attention in the health, lack of recognition, etc.
Women Empowerment Definition – Process by which women gain power and control over their own lives and acquire the ability to make strategic choices. (By Europa)
Women’s economic empowerment refers to the ability for women to enjoy their right to control and benefit from resources, assets, income and their own time, as well as the ability to manage risk and improve their economic status and well being. (By ResearchGate)
“We need women at all levels, including the top, to change the dynamic, reshape the conversation, to make sure women’s voices are heard and heeded, not overlooked and ignored” – Sheryl Sandberg
STATISTICS – What Numbers have to Say?
Percentage of Women with no Schooling
Relative Wage Gap Between Men and Women
Women Asset Ownership in India
Freedom of Movement Enjoyed by Women Across Religion
DESCRIPTION – Let’s take a Deep Dive
Women empowerment is a global problem and has rooted deep inside society. Bur still since ages there has been made major attempts to attack the inequality and injustice, Globally as well nationally. Some of which are:
- Year ‘2001’ was declared as the “Women empowerment year“.
- ‘Promoting gender equality and empowering women’ is one of the eight ‘Millennium Development Goals‘ (MDGs).
- “The Women, Business and the Law, 2012” is a law in Switzerland, specifically targeting the future prospects of women seeking jobs and promotions as entrepreneurs and business workers impeding the economic involvement of their husbands.
- Canadian Women’s Foundation is an initiative taken by the citizens of Canada which involves educating girls on the grounds of science and technology, critical thinking skills, leadership tasks, etc.
- Equality Pay Act – United Kingdom: is an act which focuses on trimming down the difference between a man and a woman’s average pay earned annually. This ensures gender equality by paying them as per the working hours.
- UN Women: is the UN organization entitled for the growth of women across every little corner of the world. This mainly aims at accelerating the women empowerment and helping them follow their dreams and aspirations.
Provisions in Indian constitution for women empowerment
- Article 14– Equality before law – Provides equal legal protection for women.
- Article 15(3)– Special provisions for women.
- Article 16– Equal opportunities for all citizens in public employment irrespective of caste, sex, religion.
- Article 23– Prohibits traffic in human beings & forced labour.
- Article 39– The citizen, men & women equally have the right to an adequate means of livelihood.
- Article 40– 1/3 rd of seats in panchayats shall be reserved for women.
- Article 42– State shall make provisions for just and humane working conditions & maternity relief.
- Article 44– Uniform civil code for the citizens throughout the territory of India to safeguard women from laws of religion.
- Article 51 A (e)– One of the duties of every citizen is to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of woman.
Government Acts for women empowerment
- Section 14 of the Hindu Succession Act 1956– Property of a female Hindu to be her absolute property.
- Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act 2005– Women get equal share in the ancestral property.
- Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961.
- Contract Labor Act, 1970 & Factories Act, 1948 – Women can’t be employed in the night between 9 pm to 6 am. – Women cannot be required to work for more than 9hrs.
- Equal remuneration Act, 1976.
- The indecent representation of women (prohibition) Act, 1986.
- Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act, 1987.
- Protection of women from domestic violence Act, 2005.
- Maternity Benefits Act, 1961.
- Child marriage (prohibition) Act, 1929.
- Hindu Marriage Act, 1955– This act was passed to stop polygamy and bigamy.
Government Schemes and Programs to empower women
- Beti Bachao Beti Padhao:- To eliminate female foeticide and to promote education for girl children.
- STEP (Support to training cum Employment for women)– To increase the self-reliance and autonomy of women by enhancing their productivity & enabling them to take up income generation activity.
- SSA (Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan)– For girl child education. It leads to an increase in the Gender Parity Index (GPI).
- The National Literacy Mission or Saakshar Bharat – Literacy of women. Literacy is a critical instrument of women’s empowerment.
- National Rural Health Mission – Educating women on health care. It has resulted in a decline in fertility rates, Maternal mortality rates (MMR), Infant mortality rates (IMR).
- SHG (Self Help Groups)– For economic development in women by giving micro finances.
- GB (Gender budgeting)– Identifying the felt needs of women and re-prioritizing and increasing expenditure to meet these needs.
- NMEW (National Mission for Empowerment of Women)– To ensure economic & social empowerment of women.
- Swayamsidha scheme– To ensures total development of women.
- The Swadhar scheme– Basic necessities to marginalized women & girls.
- Kishori Shakti Yojana– Empowerment of adolescent girls.
- Mahila Samridhi Yojana– For women empowerment.
- Maternity Benefit Scheme– Payment of Rs.500/- to pregnant women for the first two births only if the woman belongs to BPL (Below Poverty Line) category.
- Rashtriya Mahila Kosh – To provide microloans for women.
- Scheme for working women hostel – To promote the availability of safe & conveniently located accommodation for working women.
- Development of women & children in Rural Areas (DWCRA)– Creation of groups of women for income generating activities on a self-sustaining basis.
- SABLA– Empowerment of adolescent girls.
The 7 Principles of Women Empowerment:
- Create high-level corporate leadership for gender equality
- Treat all people fairly at work, respecting and supporting non-discrimination and human rights
- Ensure the health, wellbeing and safety of all workers, whether male or female
- Promote education, training and professional development for women
- Implement supply chain, marketing practices and enterprise development that empower women
- Champion equality through community initiatives and advocacy
- Measure and report publicly on progress to create gender equality(src)
Pros Of Women Empowerment in India
- Women are able to lead their lives with dignity and freedom.
- It adds to women’s self-esteem and self-confidence.
- Attempt to overcome major problems like female feticide, work harassment, wages inequality, education inequality, dowry, domestic violence, trafficking, crime against women and many more.
- Helped women to overcome fear and raise their voices.
- Has empowered women in almost every sector financially, emotionally, ethically.
- Has made women legally aware and active about there rights.
- Has given the power to fight for there rights and wellbeing.
Cons Of Women Empowerment in India
- The major disadvantage id that when we preach total equality, we lose gender identity. There are differences between men and women that should not be blanketed by extreme equality measures.
- In the endeavour to empower a particular group, sometimes people feel entitled simply because they belong to that group.
- There are many incidents in which the women have misused the facilities and provisions provided to her, for selfish interest.
- There are framed situations in which women have a threat to the opposite gender.
What the world needs is everyone, irrespective of their gender, to stand for gender equality. The former First Lady of the US said, “Let’s be very clear: Strong men – men who are truly role models – don’t need to put down women to make themselves feel powerful. People who are truly strong lift others up. People who are truly powerful bring others together.” That is exactly how equality should be viewed and unless we all stand together it might never be achieved.
And empowering women is the major step required.
Aap Kya Sochte Ho?
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Author – Bhavi Chauhan