Authored by: Anuja Saklani
As said by Diane Mariechild “A woman is the full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture and transform.”
There are certain studies that shows that women empowerment means giving equal opportunities to the women to that of men. So, here are few definitions on women empowerment given by different online sources.
According to Wikipedia, “empowerment includes the action of raising the status of women through education, raising awareness, literacy and training. women’s empowerment is all about equipping and allowing women to make life determining decisions through the different problems in society.”
According to HuffPost, “empowerment is the process of increasing the capacity of individuals or groups to make choices and to transform those choices into desired actions and outcomes. empowerment is the process. Through the process, an individual becomes an agent of change. More simply put, it’s the “can – do “factor, going from “I can’t” to “I can”.
All the above definitions of women empowerment doesn’t mention about giving equal rights, opportunities to women to that of men. So, it can be concluded that women empowerment is not about women getting equal privileges and opportunities in comparison to men.
As said by Swami Vivekananda, “There is no chance for the welfare of world unless the condition of women is improved. It is not possible for a bird to fly on only one wing.”
WOMEN’S STATUS IN PRE- INDEPENDENCE ERA:
The position of women in pre-independence era was quite low. There were many social atrocities that put women at backward place. Social evils like Sati, purdah system, forced child marriage, female infanticide, polygamy etc. has led to the downfall of women’s position socially. Lack of education, lack of awareness of rights, lack of opportunities and lack of exposure hindered women from getting empowered.
Various social reformers like Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, and Keshab Chandra Sen along with Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi brought revolution and got successful in abolishing these evil practices in society.
WOMEN IN FREEDOM STRUGGLE:
Women contributed bravely in the struggle of getting freedom from the clutches of the British Raj. Rani Laxmi Bai is an epitome of courage, bravery displayed by a woman in the struggling times of India. She showed the society that a woman can also be equipped with skills that can change the scenario as well as the face of adverse time, transforming it into a fruitful one. Whereas women like Sarojini Naidu, Sucheta Kriplani, Vijay Luxmi Pandit also played a huge role in the struggle for independence.
We pray and bow our head in front of female deities asking the courage, patience, benevolence, fearlessness but somewhere or the other, the females of the country are been mistreated in the backward rural areas of Rajasthan, Bihar etc.
WOMEN IN MODERN ERA:
The women of modern era has transformed tremendously. In the cities and urban areas women have successfully shouldered the responsibilities of household as well as the of the professional front. Today, women are happy homemakers as well as the successful bureaucrats, counsellors, administrators and politicians. Women have developed the skills to face the adversities of day to day life, they are well adjusted for the need of the time, they keep themselves updated with every single incident and happening. They have become aware of their rights and perks. Women are now successfully handling all the matters inside as well as outside the house. She has honed the multi-tasking abilities to nailed on the responsibilities with best of their capabilities of each and every sphere of their lives.
Women like Kiran Bedi, Sudha Chandran, Nirmala Sitaraman, PT Usha, Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu and the list goes on with these names which made India proud as well as brought laurels and apparels to the country.
Successful women economists like Arundhati Bhattacharya, Shikha Sharma, Indra Nooyi, Vinita Bali, Kumud Shri Niwasan, Naina Lal Kidwai , Nisaba Godrej and many others are successfully contributing their part in Economic journey of India by being the CEOs or by being at administrative position in various prestigious organisations and financial institutions
Women are now independent of their decisions and choices. They are been applauded and praised for the efforts and for being the face of change. Earlier women were not able to achieve the goals as they were always given the backseat in comparison to their male counterparts.
ARE WOMEN REALLY EMPOWERED?
According to the National crime Records Bureau, crime against women is recorded every 1.6 minutes in India. Every 4.8 minutes a girl is subjected to domestic violence and every 13.5 minutes a rape case is recorded.
According to the NCRB Report of 2016 released in 2017, cases under ‘crime against women ‘increased by 2.9% in 2016 over 2015. A more appropriate measure of extent of safety enjoyed by women is the number of violence per unit population. According to this measure Delhi emerges as the most unsafe place with 160.4 incidents of violence per lakh of female population and Assam takes on the second position.
Daily newspapers and news channels are flooded with crimes that are rampant in India against women. The gang rape of a medical student on 16th December, 2012 by 6 persons under the influence of alcohol in a bus in Delhi has shattered the whole country.
According to the data by Economic times, Bengaluru is not far behind Delhi in crime against women. The crimes include Murder with rape/gang rape (100%), Dowry deaths (100%), Abetment to suicide of women (100%), Miscarriage (50%), Acid attack (50%), Attempt to acid attack (40%).
Report of National crime Records Bureau on October 21, 2019 reported 3, 59,849 cases of crime against women in the country. Uttar Pradesh topped the list with 56,011 cases. The number of crimes committed against women hasincreased in 2017 by 6% compared to 2016.
- GENDER DISCRIMINATION
According to the Global Gender Gap, report released by the World Economic Forum in 2017, India was ranked 108 on the Gender Gap scale among 144 countries.
The Constitution of India provides equal status to women. Article 15 says that no woman can be discriminated against on the ground of sex. Article 39(a) emphasise that the citizens men and women equally have the right to an adequate means of livelihood.
India has been a male dominated country from the beginning which put women as inferiors in the society. Women in the rural areas of the country are still been deprived of the equal opportunities in employment, education as well as the huge disparity in the pay scale.
As per the report of Ministry of Public Health, it is estimated that, despite the attempts to reduce the fluctuation between the birth of boys and girls, in 2020 there will be 4.3 million men more than women which might have tremendous repercussions.
Women are being denied and refused of several opportunities in rural and backward. The reasons are deprivation of education and absence of equal employment opportunities.
- EDUCATION AS THE EMPOWERING KEY:
It is said that, “if we educate a man, we educate a man only, but if we educate a woman, we educate the whole family.”
Napoleon, the ruler of France said that, “Nation’s progress is impossible without trained and educated mothers. If the women of my country are not educated, about half of the people will be ignorant.”
In the patriarchal and supressed society, women were been deprived of right to Education from the beginning. In rural and outdated areas, girls are been considered as ‘paraya dhan’by the parent since the time of birth till the end of her life. The mind-set is of getting the girl child married rather than educating her well. Parents still consider it as a wastage of money by investing in her girl’s education.
Education is the only key to empower women in every walk of life. Educating a girl child results in educating the family, society and nation. If a woman is educated, then she must be aware of all her rights as well as the rights of her child. Woman becomes independent of her decisions and choices after getting proper education. She can differentiate between the wrong and the right and gets successful in shouldering any kind of responsibility inside as well as outside the house.
STEPS TAKEN BY THE GOVERNMENT TO ENSURE GIRL’S EDUCATION
- Sakshar Bharat Mission for female literacy launched in 2008 for promoting adult education especially among women under which Lok Shiksha Kendras were set up.
- Kasturba Balika Vidyalaya for establishment of residential upper primary schools for girl.
- National Programme for education of girls at elementary level for reduction in the school dropouts by giving special attention to weak girls.
- Rashtriya Madhyamik Shikasha Abhiyan to provide infrastructure for girls’ hostel for secondary education.
- Ladli scheme to alter the position of the girl kid in family.
- Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao started in 2015 aims to generate awareness and improving the efficiency of welfare services meant for women.
- Sukanya Samridhi Yojana launched in 2015 under the Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao campaign to meet the expense of the girl’s child higher education and marriage.
- The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act,2006
- Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, 2013
- National Commission for Women Act, 1990
- Indecent Representation of Women ( Prevention) Act, 1986
- Equal Remuneration Act, 1976
- Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971
- Indian Divorce Act ,1969
- Dowry Prohibition Act , 1961
- Maternity Benefit Act, 1961
- Special Marriage Act, 1954
- Rajiv Gandhi scheme for Empowerment of Adolescent girls.
- National mission for empowerment of women.
Margaret Thatcher rightly said, “In politics if you want anything said, ask a man. If you want anything done, ask a woman.”
The study shows that at the one hand we are celebrating women empowerment but on the other hand there are only handful of women known in the field of sports and politics. women have not an impressive performance in the areas of politics. Politics is still an unexplored field for females.
Aristotle said, “It is important for women to know that they have to be there where it matters. Whether it is at the rural council or urban council or other levels of policy-making, they have to ensure that their lot is addressed.”
We boast about the empowerment of women but the reality is only the women in metropolitan cities and urban areas are been empowered. On the other hand the rural areas of Rajasthan is also the example of people with backward mind-set. Only rules and regulations are not enough but implementation is equally important.
Women needs to believe themselves and unleash their hidden potential. It can be concluded that the hand that rocks the cradle can rule the world too. The girl of today is the mother of tomorrow. So it is really important to give girl child equal opportunities, rights, necessary education to make sure the good growth of future generation. women empowerment can change the face of India with leading women all over the country.
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REFERENCES AND CITATIONS:
13. SC Gupta’s book “151 Essays”, Swami Vivekananda pointed out that “There is no chance for the welfare of world unless the condition of women is improved. It is not possible for a bird to fly on only one wing.”(Page No.3)
14. SC Gupta’s book “151 Essays”, Rabindranath Tagore pointed out that, “woman is the builder and the moulder of a nation’s destiny. She is supreme inspiration for man’s onward march.”(Page No.5)