WOMEN EMPOWERMENT IN INDIA
Women Empowerment is a process to make the women financially independent, educated and progressive, enjoying a good social status. The term women empowerment refers to empowering women with education, employment, decision-making and better health conditions along with men in the society. Women empowerment is the empowerment of women, which helps them to take their individual decision by breaking all the barriers in the family and society. The status of Indian women has declined from ancient period to medieval period. Though in modern era the scenario has been, changed presently Indian women have held significant positions in political and administrative spheres. Still majority of women are confined to their homes and do not have access to even basic health amenities and education. The literacy rate of female according to the 2011 census is 64.63% whereas the male literacy rate is over 80% in India. The Female labour force participation in India has fallen to 26% in 2018 from 36.7 % in 2005 which amid lack of access to quality education and underlying social, economic barriers restricting the opportunities for women. Women empowerment is very necessary to make the bright future of the family and society in the country. Empowering women means to make women independent in all aspects from mind, thoughts, rights, decision etc by leaving all the social and family limitations. Education is the milestone of women empowerment because it enables them to respond to the challenges to confront their traditional role and change their life.
KEYWORDS: Women, Empowerment Education, Economic. Social.[1)
Women empowerment is a global issue and was introduced at the International Women Conference at NAROIBI in 1985. Women Empowerment is the process of providing rights, powers, opportunities and responsibilities to women so that they are able to develop their potential ideas, and perform freely along with men equally in the society .It is the expansion of women’s ability, freedom and to control over their action. Empowerment of women is essentially the process of upliftment of social, economic and political status of women and involves the building up of a society where women can live peacefully without fear oppression, exploitation and discrimination that go with being a woman in a traditionally male dominated society. According to World Bank definition “Its approach to empowerment of economic growth and poverty reduction, describes empowerment as the expansion of assets and capabilities of poor people to participate in negotiate with influence, control and hold accountable institution that affect their lives. According to the census 2011, 74.04% of the population literate, comprising 65.46 % females and 82.14% of males. As per UNDP report 2013, Human Development Indicator, women constitute 48% of the population in India of which 29% is national workplace and 26% women have access to formal credit. Vivekananda said, “There is no chance for the welfare of the world unless the condition of women is improved.” w Women’s position in India the status of women refers to the position of women in society in relation to men. During the Vedic period women enjoyed all sorts of necessary rights which were essential for a human being. Especially in Rig Vedic period, women enjoyed equal status along with men. They had a respectable place in the society. Women along with men freely participated in public life, studied the Vedas and composed hymns. However, slowly during the post-Vedic period the status of women started deteriorating. The social status of women was undermined many restrictions were imposed on the women and they were deprived of basic human rights. Brahminical rules and codes of conduct, rigid restrictions imposed by the caste system and joint family system were the root reason for lowering of their status in India. According to Manu’s Dharamshastra women is object to seduce men, they should never be given independence. Manu clearly said that a widow should never ever dream of remarriage. Even the Golden Gupta Age kings strictly practiced the Brahminical law by upholding certain rules forwomen like Sati and celibacy of widows. The Medieval period proved highly disappointing for the Indian women for their status further deteriorated the position of women due to the impact of Muslim culture. The Islamic custom of purdah forced the public world to be separated from the private world, with women confined to the latter. Muslim invasion of India changed the direction of Indian society. In the latter half of the eighteenth century when the British came to India, women’s status had dropped to worst level. The introduction of British Raj after ages of sufferings, suppression and enslavement the new hope dawned in the lives of women. During the British period, some progress was achieved in eliminating inequalities between men and women in matters of education, employment, social and property rights. During the British period, there were two movements, which affected the position of women. These were social reform movement and Bhakti movement of nineteenth century. Hence, in this context an attempt has been made in this paper to depict the present scenario of women empowerment in India. The objectives of the present study of women empowerment as follows:-
- To examine the need of women education in empowerment of women,
- To analyse the decision making power of women in India,
- To estimate the women labour force participation rate ain India
Empowering women is empowering the women to take their own decisions for their personal dependent. Empowering women is to make them independent in all aspects from mind, thoughts, rights, decisions etc by leaving all family and social limitations. According to the provision of the constitution of India, it is legal point to grant equality to women in the society in all aspects just like men. The Department of Women and Child Development, functions well in the field for the proper development of women and child in India.
NEED FOR EDUCATION:-
Education is milestone of women empowerment because it enables women to respond to the challenges, to confront their traditional role and change their life. Education of women is the most powerful tool to change the position in the society. Women empowerment is a tool of development not only of women but also of whole families and thereby a nation.
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru said “ To awaken the people, it is women who must be awaken; once she is on the move, the family moves, the village moves and the nation moves.”
Education empowers women more effectively which would help to abolish gender inequality, develop their potentials, increase social and economic return, improve the quality of life, produce educated and healthy children and reduce fertility and mortality rates. Education is key to empowering women’s participation in decision-making in democracy, dynamic transformation of society and shaping the destination of future generations. Women education in India has been a need, as education is foundation stone for the empowerment of the women. Education also brings a reduction in inequalities and functions as a means of improving their status within the family and develops the concept of participation.
Education plays an important role. Especially women education depicts the empowerment of
status of women to achieve their desired goals along with men equally. Education used as an agent of basic change in the status of women in India.
LITERACY RATE IN INDIA:
Source: Census Data 2011.
The above table observes the literacy rate of women along with that of men. After years of independence, still women occupying secondary position when compared with men in our social hierarchy in India. The literacy rate of female was 0.7 percent, which increased to 7.3 in 1961. Especially since 1971, the education of women was18.7 increased but still behind in comparison to that of men. However, in 2001 the literacy rate of women increased to 54.0 percent but even lagging behind men education level, which was 76.0 percent. According to 2011 census development of women education level is inspiring enough but absolutely lagging behind men literacy rate, which constitutes 65.46 percent of women literacy rate whereas constituting 82.14 percent literacy rate for men. The lower level of literacy rate of women depicts that education is one of the major obstacle in the process of empowerment of women in India. Empowerment is the process that creates power in individuals over their own lives, society and in their communities. Women are empowered when they are able to access the opportunities available to them without limitations and restrictions such as in education, profession and lifestyle. Empowerment includes the action of raising the status of women through education, raising awareness etc.
DECISION –MAKING POWER OF WOMEN:-
The ability of women to make decision that affects the circumstances of their own lives is an essential aspect of empowerment. Participation is common house hold decisions where women are considered to participate in household decisions if they make decisions alone or jointly with their husbands in all three of the following areas:
- Woman ‘s own healthcare
- Major household purchases and
- Visits to the woman’s family or relatives.
WOMAN PARTICIPATION IN DECISION MAKING:-
Woman participation in household decision-making has increased since NFHS3. The major increase of 21 % was observed in woman’s participation in household purchases about 53% in NFHS3 to 73% in NFHS4. An only slight increase was identified for woman’s participation in their healthcare from 62% in NFHS3 to 75% in NFHS4. However, the woman participation in decision about visits to family and relatives increased from 61% in NFHS3 to 75% in NFHS4.Decision making power is the ability to influence decision that affects one’s life both private and public. Formal access to positions of authority and to decision-making processes is an important if insufficient, condition for women to have decision-making power in the public domain. In fact decision –making is a composite of access, capabilities and actions that shape whether women have influence over the polity or decision about their private life. According to Economic Survey, 2018 the representation of women in decision- making process in the country and their political participation has low despite them accounting 49% of the population. Due to domestic responsibilities, prevailing cultural attitudes regarding role of women in the society and lack of support from the family were among the main reasons that prevailed women from entering politics. According to the Survey report, the developing country like Rwanda has more than 60% of women representation in the parliament. Countries like Egypt, India, Brazil, Malaysia, Japan, SriLanka and Thailand has less than 15% of representation of women this is due to lack of confidence and finance which are the main deterring factors that prevent women from entering politics.
FEMALE LABOUR FORCE PARTICIPATION RATE:-
Female Labour Force Participation is an engine of growth and participation rates indicates the potential for a country to grow more rapidly. The participation of women in the labour force varies considerably across developing countries and emerging economies. In Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia, less than one-third of women age participate whereas, the proportion reached around two-third in East Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. The gap narrowed because of economic and social factors including economic growth, increasing educational attainment, and falling fertility rate and social norms. In India, most noticeable fact is the falling of women in the labour force, which occurred despite strong economic growth and rising wages and income.
FEMALE LABOUR FORCE PARTICIPATION RATE IN INDIA.
Source: National Sample Survey
It is evident from the above table,3 that female labour force participation in India has fallen to 26% in 2018 from 36.7 in 2005, the tables reveals that lack of access to quality education and underlying social, economic barriers limiting the opportunities from women. Stressing, on the need to increase women participation in labour force because lower engagement adversely affects the growth potential of the economy. In India, the gender gap in labour force participation rate is more than 50%. Women’s labour force participation and access to decent work are important and necessary elements of an inclusive and sustainable development process. Women continue to face many barriers to enter labour market and to access decent work and disproportionately face a range of multiple challenges relating to access to employment, choice of work, working conditions, employment security, wage parity, discrimination, and balancing the competing burdens of work and family responsibilities. In addition, women are heavily represented in the informal economy where their exposure to risk of exploitation is usually greatest and they have the least formal protection.
GOVERNMENT POLICIES TOWARDS WOMEN EMPOWERMENT:-
The of India , since independence launched many policies, schemes, and programmers’ to develop the status of women in India. Different governments in India established even several policies and schemes. Several policies were revised for better results. Some policies are:-
- Rashtriya Mahila Kosh(RMK)199:;
RMK is a National credit fund for women under the aegis of the Ministry of Women and Child Development. It was established in 1993 for socio-economic empowerment of women. It aims to provide financial services with backward and forward linkages for women in unorganized sector through intermediary Micro Finance Organisation and Women Self Help Groups. RML also extends micro-credit to the women in the informal sector.
- Swayam Siddha 2001:
It is a flagship programme of Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India. It is an integrated women empowerment programme initatited in 2001. The objectives of the schemes include empowerment through creation of confidence and awareness among members of SHGs regarding women’s status, health, nutrition, education, sanitation and hygiene, legal rights, economic upliftment and social, economic and political issues. Strengthening the savings habit among rural women and their control over economic resources, improving access of women to micro credit, involvement of women in local level planning.
- Development of Women and Children in Rural Areas(DWCRA)1982:
This scheme was launched by the Government to improve the socio-economic status of the poor women in the rural areas.
- Support to training and employment Programme(STEP)
The Ministry of Women and Child Development has launched this programme with the aim of developing skills of women for self and employment. The main target of this scheme is rural women and urban poor. This scheme provides fund to help the women and poor.
- National Mission for Empowerment of Women(NMEW):
The Indian Government has launched the National Mission for Empowerment of Women(NMEW) for comprehensive empowerment of women.
It is a sponsored scheme coordinating all the women’s welfare and socio-economic development programmes across ministries and departments. The mission contributes to empowering women socially, economically; erase crime and violence against women, to educate women.
- Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao:
Save the Girl Child movement was launched on 22 January 2015, jointly initiated by Ministry of Women and Child Development, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and Ministry of Human Resource Development.
- One Stop Centre Scheme:
Popularly known as “Sakhti” it was implemented on 1st April 2015 with “Nirbhaya” fund. The one-stop centers are established at various locations in India for providing shelter, police desk, legal, medical and counseling services to victims of violence under one roof integrated with a 24 hours helpline.
Challenges of Women Empowerment:
Inherent superiority complex among males often does not allow the women counterpart to rise as high as them. Due to high domestic responsibilities, women are unable to compete with men. Still in some areas, women are restricted to participate in social, economical and religious activities. Even today in India in some places preference for male child exists among many families.
Women Empowerment irrespective of cast, creed, religion and gender is a constitutional mandate, a basic human right and a decisive force of national development. In spite, of constitutional guarantees, legislative provisions, judiciary mandate and administrative efforts, the women empowerment in India is still lacking in some areas. Proper education is an important key to improve health, nutrition and education in the family and empowering them in decision-making. Moreover, education enables women to not only secure knowledge but also help them to achieve economic security, self-confidence, vocational and technical skills and guidance. Education can be used as a tool for reducing inequalities and gender bias so that women can move from weak position to execute their power or capabilities in the society. The efforts of women empowerment by the government and social reformers will not be up to the mark unless women are educated, self-supportive and independent in all the aspects of life.
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- Government of India, Census of India2011.
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- Suguna M.(2011), Education and Women Empowerment in India. International Journal ofMultidisciplinary Research. Vol.1, Issue,8.
 **Assistant Professor, Dept of Economics, Andhra University, Visakhapatnam.
*Research Scholar Dept of Economics, Andhra University Visakhapatnam.