Essay on Women Empowerment In India
This is the article by Prof. V.P. Gupta, Director, Rau’s IAS Study Circle, New Delhi
Women Empowerment itself elaborates that Social Rights , Political Rights , Economic stability , judicial strength and all other rights should be also equal to women.There should be no discrimination between men and woman. Women should now there fundamental and social rights which they get once they born.
- There should be respect and dignity towards Women.
- Have total independences of their own life and lifestyle inside the home and also outside at their work.
- They should make their decision , by their own choice.
- They should have a high social respect in society.
- They have equal rights in society and other judicial works .
- They should not be discriminated while providing any type of education.
- They should select their own economic and financial choices by their own.
- There should not be any discrimination between woman and man while giving jobs and employment .
- They should have safe and secured Working location with proper privacy.
This article caters to the ‘Role of Women’ , Women Empowerment In India and ‘Social Justice’ portions of General Studies – Paper I & II and also for Essay Paper in UPSC Main Examination.
“We cannot all succeed if half of this are held back.”
There is no denying the fact that women in India have made a considerable progress in almost seven decades of Independence, but they still have to struggle against many handicaps and social evils in the male-dominated society. Many evil and masculine forces still prevail in the modern Indian society that resists the forward march of its women folk. It is ironical that a country, which has recently acclaimed the status of the first Asian country to accomplish its Mars mission in the maiden attempt, is positioned at the 29th rank among 146 countries across the globe on the basis of Gender Inequality Index. There has been amelioration in the position of women, but their true empowerment is still awaited.
Swami Vivekananda, one of the greatest sons of India, quoted that, “There is no chance for the welfare of the world unless the condition of women is improved, It is not possible for a bird to fly on only one wing. ” Therefore, the inclusion of “Women Empowerment’ as one of the prime goals in the eight Millennium Development Goals underscores the relevance of this fact. Thus, in order to achieve the status of a developed country, India needs to transform its colossal women force into an effective human resource and this is possible only through the empowerment of women.
Empowering women to participate fully in economic life across all sectors is essential to building stronger economies, achieve internationally agreed goals for development and sustainability, and improve the quality of life for women, men, families, and communities.
What is women empowerment?
Women empowerment means emancipation of women from the vicious grips of social, economical, political, caste and gender-based discrimination. It means granting women the freedom to make life choices. Women empowerment does not mean ‘deifying women’ rather it means replacing patriarchy with parity. In this regard, there are various facets of women empowerment, such as given hereunder:—
Human Rights or Individual Rights: A woman is a being with senses, imagination and thoughts; she should be able to express them freely. Individual empowerment means to have the self-confidence to articulate and assert the power to negotiate and decide.
Social Women Empowerment A critical aspect of social empowerment of women is the promotion of gender equality. Gender equality implies a society in which women and men enjoy the same opportunities, outcomes, rights and obligations in all spheres of life.
Educational Women Empowerment It means empowering women with the knowledge, skills, and self-confidence necessary to participate fully in the development process. It means making women aware of their rights and developing a confidence to claim them.
Economic and occupational empowerment It implies a better quality of material life through sustainable livelihoods owned and managed by women. It means reducing their financial dependence on their male counterparts by making them a significant part of the human resource.
Legal Women Empowerment It suggests the provision of an effective legal structure which is supportive of women empowerment. It means addressing the gaps between what the law prescribes and what actually occurs.
Political Women EmpowermentIt means the existence of a political system favoring the participation in and control by the women of the political decision-making process and in governance.
The position of Women in India: The position enjoyed by women in the Rig- Vedic period deteriorated in the later Vedic civilization. Women were denied the right to education and widow remarriage. They were denied the right to inheritance and ownership of property. Many social evils like child marriage and dowry system surfaced and started to engulf women. During Gupta period, the status of women immensely deteriorated. Dowry became an institution and Sati Pratha became prominent.
During the British Raj, many social reformers such as Raja Rammohun Roy, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, and Jyotirao Phule started agitations for the empowerment of women. Their efforts led to the abolition of Sati and formulation of the Widow Remarriage Act. Later, stalwarts like Mahatma Gandhi and Pt. Nehru advocated women rights. As a result of their concentrated efforts, the status of women in social, economic and political life began to elevate in the Indian society.
Current Scenario on Women Empowerment -. Based on the ideas championed by our founding fathers for women empowerment, many social, economic and political provisions were incorporated in the Indian Constitution. Women in India now participate in areas such as education, sports, politics, media, art and culture, service sector and science and technology. But due to the deep- rooted patriarchal mentality in the Indian society, women are still victimized, humiliated, tortured and exploited. Even after almost seven decades of Independence, women are still subjected to discrimination in the social, economic and educational field.
Major landmark steps taken for women empowerment.- Provisions made under the Constitution of India such as: Right to equality under Article 14 of the Indian Constitution guarantees to all Indian women equality before law; Equal pay for equal work under Article 39(d), guards the economic rights of women by guaranteeing equal pay for equal work; and Maternity Relief under Article 42, allows provisions to be made by the state for securing just and humane condition of work and maternity relief for women.
Acts like the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, prohibits the request, payment or acceptance of a dowry. Asking or giving dowry can be punished by imprisonment as well as fine; Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, provides for a more effective protection of the rights of women who are victims of domestic violence. A breach of this Act is punishable with both fine and imprisonment; Sexual Harassment of Women at Work Place (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act, 2013, helps to create a conducive environment at the workplace for women where they are not subjected to any sort of sexual harassment.
Panchayati Raj Institutions As per the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendment Act, all the local elected bodies reserve one-third of their seats for women. Such a provision was made to increase the effective participation of women in politics.
Women’s Reservation Bill: It is a pending Bill in India which proposes to reserve 33% of all seats in the Lok Sabha and in all State Legislative Assemblies for women. If passed, this Bill will give a significant boost to the position of women in politics.
Various Government Policies and Schemes-. The Government of India is running various welfare schemes and policies, both at State and Central levels for the empowerment of woman. Some of the major programs and measures include Swadhar (1995), Swayam Siddha (2001), Support to Training and Employment Programme for Women (STEP-2003), Sabla Scheme (2010), National Mission for Empowerment of Women (2010) etc. All such policies and programs focus on social, economic and educational empowerment of women across various age groups.
Thus, there has been no dearth of social, economic, political, legal and Constitutional efforts made for the empowerment of women both prior to and post-Independence. However, women in India continue to face atrocities such as rape, dowry killings, acid attacks, human trafficking, etc. According to a global poll conducted by Reuters, India is the “fourth most dangerous country in the world for women”.
Women Empowerment — Challenges
Perspective: The most widespread and dehumanizing discriminations against women are on the basis of the biassed perspective. The discrimination against the girl child begins from the birth itself. Boys are preferred over girls; hence, female infanticide is a common practice in India. The ordeal that an Indian girl faces at birth is only the beginning of a lifelong struggle to be seen and heard.
Patriarchate Bottlenecks The traditional Indian society is a patriarchal society ruled by the diktats of self-proclaimed caste lords who are the guardians of archaic and unjust traditions. They put the burden of traditions, culture, and honor on the shoulders of women and mark their growth. The incidences of “honor killing” reveal the distorted social fiber in the male-dominated society.
Economic Backwardness: Women constitute only 29% of the workforce but forms majority of the destitute in the country. There has been a failure in transforming the available women base into human resource. This, in turn, has hampered not only the economic development of women but also of the country’ as a whole.
Implementation Gaps Through all these years, the attention is only on developing and devising new schemes, policies and programmes and have paid less attention to the proper monitoring system and implementation short-sightedness, for e.g. despite the presence of The Pre-Natal Diagnostic Technologies Act and various health programmes like Janani Suraksha Yojana and National Rural Health Mission (NHRM), our country has a skewed sex ratio and a high maternal mortality . rate (MMR).
Loopholes in the legal structure Although there are a number of laws to protect women against all sorts of violence yet there has been the significant increase in the episodes of rapes, extortions, acid, attacks etc. This is due to delay in legal procedures and the presence of several loopholes in the functioning of a judicial system.
Lack of Political Will: The still- pending Women’s Reservation Bill underscores the lack of political will to empower women politically. The male dominance prevails in the politics of India and women are forced to remain mute spectators.
Way ahead starts with bridging the deep-rooted biases through sustained reconditioning. It is only possible by promoting the idea of gender equality and uprooting social ideology of male child preferability. This concept of equality should be first developed in each and every household and from there, it should be taken to the society. This can be achieved by running sustained awareness programs with the help of Nukkad Natak or dramas, radio, television, Internet, etc. across the country.
Replacing ‘Patriarchy’ with Parity: A strong patriarchate society with deep- rooted socio-cultural values continues to affect women’s empowerment. The need of the hour is an egalitarian society, where there is no place for superiority. The Government should identify and eliminate such forces that work to keep alive the tradition of male dominance over its female counterpart by issuing inhumane and unlawful diktats.
Education is the most important and indispensable tool for women empowerment. It makes women aware of their rights and responsibilities. Educational achievements of a woman can have ripple effects for the family and across generations. Most of the girls drop out of schools due to the unavailability of separate toilets for them. The recently launched ‘Swachh Bharat Mission’ focusing on improving sanitation facilities in schools and every rural household by 2019, can prove to be very significant in bringing down the rate of girls dropping out of school.
Political Will: Women should have access to resources, rights, and entitlements. They should be given decision-making powers and due position in governance. Thus, the Women Reservation Bill should be passed as soon as possible to increase the effective participation of women in the politics of India.
Bridging implementation gaps: Government or community-based bodies must be set up to monitor the programs devised for the welfare of the society. Due importance should be given for their proper implementation and their monitoring and evaluation through social audits.
Justice delayed is justice denied. Efforts should be made to restructure the legal process to deliver fair and in- time justice to the victims of heinous crimes like rapes, acid attacks, sexual harassment, trafficking and domestic violence. The idea of fast-track courts, devised to impart speedy justice to the victims of rapes and other crimes against women, is a good initiative taken by the judiciary and the Government of India.
Conclusion: Empowering women socially, economically, educationally politically and legally is going to be a Herculean task. It is not going to be easy to change the culture of disregard for women which are so deep-rooted in Indian society. But it does not mean that it is implausible. Only revolutions bring changes in a day, but reforms take their time. This one, in particular, will take its time as well. The idea of women empowerment might sound hard by the yard, but by the inch, it is just a cinch. All we need is a concentrated effort focused in the right direction that would rest only with the liberation of women from all forms of evil.
‘There is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women.”—Kofi Annan
Some More Detail Overview on Women Empowerment
Women empowerment a much raised and discussed topic around the globe? But why is it necessary? Why are we trying to fill this gender gap? What is gender gap? Why are women not given that equality level and trust in the society ! it is 21st century and women still have to run for their rights? If we ourselves could try to get the balance then there would be no need for this whole campaign for women empowerment. A house maker can anytime be a corporate leader! And we have series of example in our country itself ! then why do we yet need this women empowerment concept? Well is this gender gap filled in all states? Are women in the country getting their deserved rights? And are they educated till the age boys are? Are they forced to get married at a young age? Well staying in urban areas we have forgotten this topic! But the reality check says that this topic needs much more attention than it is getting. Women empowerment is not only to be known topic but it is that one should bring in practice. If u aim to empower women you will be an indirect force to empower a family. Women form a chain of knowledge that she has. It is always passed on to someone ! yes, you read it right a house maker is a dynamic source of knowledge! And she is the one who can bring society to betterment . don’t you remember Indira Gandhi , Mother Teresa , Lakshmi bai ( Jhansi ) Savitri bai Phule and Sarojini Naidu?
They were the ones that irrespective of their profession worked for the mankind and their work is yet appreciated by us . why? Ever wondered? What will happen if we decide to educate all the women in the country? Well, I think the country will finally be tagged as Developed instead of developing.
Empowerment is not just a word or to provide facilities it is beyond that . many of us use this word casually or really do not know what the word empowerment stands for? Well
Empowerment is a multi-dimensional process which should enable individuals or a group of individuals to realize their full identity and powers in all spheres of life.
According to websters dictionary the word empowerment indicates the situation of authority or to be authorized or to be powerful . in other words, empowers means to authorize . so empowerment is a process which gives women power or authority to challenge some situation.
The term empowerment indicates a process of giving to developing conditions for generating power within . therefore conceptually the term empowerment has multi-dimensional focus and can be described as a process wherein a group or individuals are able to enhance their status in the society on the hand and overall participation and growth in the other. Empowerment is an active multi-dimensional process which enables women to realize their identity , position, and power in all spheres of life. Empowerment provides greater making the process at home and in the matters autonomy in the decision-making the process at home and in the matters concerning society and freedom from customs , beliefs, and practices.
Empowerment demands a drastic and basic changes in the system or marriage and family , husband and wife relationship and attitude towards the socialization a remarriage.
Empowerment is a process that gives a person freedom in decision making .
definition of empowerment -: Keller and me we – “empowerment is a process whereby women become able to organize themselves to increase their own , self-reliance to assert their independent right to make choices and to control resources which will assists in challenges and eliminating their own subordination
P.K.B Nayar – empowerment is an aid to help women to achieve equality with men or at least to reduce gender gap considerably.
Now, what is women empowerment? What are its features? And what are the schemes that are provided to the women in India to grow? What should women do in order to feel empowered to reduce this gender gap? Is education enough? Or do they need to be balanced economically as well as socially? And if yes what do they do to get that economic balance? Start their own ventures or go for a job?
Will the society accept them as an entrepreneur? Or they will again have to give up on their dreams! Well, this one answer my article won’t be able to answer you! It is something you got to discover yourself. Of the fear of society is what haunting one person then nothing can help him to overcome him except the persons will power. Women should not stand for their rights but also help the ones who are deprived of these rights and can not speak for them. Working hand in hand can be more beneficial . “ unity is strength” a not to be explained phrase . and it works wonders . women can get hold of their rights by being empowered together. But before that one should know what does this term “ Women empowerment “ actually means ?
Women empowerment is a prerequisite for creating a good nation . if a women empowered her competencies towards decision – making will need to promote women empowerment among the rural women. Empowerment includes higher literacy level and education for women , better health care for women and children equal ownership of productive resources , their rights and responsibilities , improved standards of living and acquiring empowerment include , economic empowerment social empowerment and gender justice that is to eliminate all types of discrimination against women and the girl child.
Women empowerment is not a new concept it is quite a well-known concept around the globe. Women all over the world have been challenging and changing gender inequalities since the beginning of history . these struggles have also been supported by many men who have been outraged at injustice against women and thereupon the consequences for the society. The goal of women empowerment is simply providing strength to them. The strength may be giving political or economic authority or provision of health and nutrition of health and nutrition care or social element in the poverty eradication. Empowerment of women , particularly rural women has become an important issue in the strategies of balanced development with social justice. Economic empowerment results in women’s ability to influence or make a right decision, increase self-confidence better status and role in household etc.
I bet if everyone in the country started thinking like The country’s first prime minister , Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru who said “when women move forward the family moves , the villages moves, and the nation move” employment gives economic status to women , economic status gives way to social status and thereby empowerment” then no one can stop women to grow in our country and take the country along with it to new heights.
It is believed that economic strength is the basis of social , political a psychologically power in the society . thus the lower strata of women mostly stem from their low economic status. And subsequent dependence and lack of decision-making power. Therefore if women gain economic strength they gain visibility and voice.
Women have a unique position in the economy . in our country with an unfavorable woman – man ratio and strong patriarchal roots . entrepreneurship and assets to funds have been difficult.
Facilitating that women’s direct participation in decision-making capacity and income generation activities can make significant contributions towards women empowerment . this will enable women to take the initiative for their development into their own hands. And entrepreneurship can help women to gain economic development and improve their social status . once they attain development of women entrepreneurship enables society to understand and appreciate their abilities. It enhances their status and leads to the integration of women in nation building and economic . it provides the needed psychological satisfaction and imbues them with a deep sense of achievements to create their enhanced identity in society.
Characteristics of women empowerment.
The following are the characteristics of women empowerment.
- Women empowerment is giving power to women. It is making women better off. It enables a greater degree of self-confidence and sense of independence among women.
- Women empowerment is a process of acquiring power for women in order to understand their rights and to perform her responsibilities towards oneself and others in a most effective way. It gives the capacity or power to resist discrimination imposed by the male dominated society.
- Women empowerment enables women to organize themselves increase their self-reliance and it provides greater autonomy.
- Women empowerment means women’s control over material assets intellectual resources and ideology . it challenges traditional power equations and relations.
- Women empowerment abolishes all gender base discrimination in all institutions and structures of society . it ensures participation of women in policy and decision-making the process at domestic and public levels.
- Women empowerment means exposing the oppressive powers of existing gender social relations.
- Women empowerment makes women more powerful to face the challenges of life, to overcome to the disabilities , handicaps, and inequalities . it enables women to realize their full identity and powers in all spheres of life.
- Empowerment also means equal status to women . it provides greater access to knowledge and resources greater autonomy in decision making greater ability to plan their and freedom from the shackles imposed on them by custom belief and practice.
- Women empowerment occurs within sociology , psychological , political cultural , familial and economic spheres and at various levels such as individual, group and community.
- Women empowerment is an ongoing dynamic process which enhances women’s abilities to change the structure and ideologies that keep them subordinate. Women empowerment is a process of creating awareness and capacity building .
In the process of empowerment women should consider their strengths and weakness opportunities and threats and move forward to unfold their own potential to achieve their goals through self-development . in our country empowering women through enterprise development has become an integral part of our development efforts due to three important advantage entrepreneurs , economic growth an social stability .
The promotional schemes available in the country in order to develop women entrepreneurship are as follows.
- Mahila Nidhi.
- Mahila vikas Nidhi
- Priyadarshini yojana .
- Trade-related entrepreneurship assistance and development ( TREAD).
- Special programs conducted by the SIDO ( small industries development organization)
- CWEI ( the consortium of women entrepreneurs of India.
- WIT ( women India trust).
- SWEA ( self-employed women association) .
- SHG’s ( self-help group)
- FTWE ( federation of women entrepreneurs)
- Income generating schemes by Department of women and child development.
- KVIC ( khadi villages industries commission)
- DIC ( District industrial centers )
- Women cell
- Women industries fund schemes.
These schemes can financially help the women but she has to take her own decision! Step out motivate each other and let the stars work for you! And of course, our government who is coming up with various schemes to make women socially and economically strong.
This is all about women empowerment a topic which really needs to be known to all the people out there. It is not about just handful but for the 586.47 million which is nearly 48,5% of women in the country.
I m sure working for such a huge crowds development will make our country reach new heights of development.
Success Story of Women
SHANTA PHUYAL JITPUR SUCCESS STORY
Shanta Phuyal working on the farm
Three years ago, the villagers didn’t want their daughters and daughter in laws to spend time or even to speak with Shanta but now she has been an inspiring figure for all. People wish that Shanta is a part of their daughter’s daily lives. Unexpected changes have occurred in Shanta Phuyal life who resides in Jitpur VDC-5. The Volunteer Initiative Nepal helped bring changes to her life.
She was married for nine years. After marriage, Shanta had to face many challenges because of the big family and traditional agriculture system. Though her family owned 20 ropanis of land, the yielding was not enough for their daily food requirements were selling the crops was not even imaginable. Shanta recalls the past.
Three years ago Volunteer Initiative Nepal conducted various training for farmers about off seasonal vegetable cultivation, not using pesticides, high yielding seeds production, women empowerment etc. Shanta got an opportunity to take part in the training program. And that opportunity became a great cause that brought her to this empowered condition.
Now she cultivates various seasonal and off seasonal vegetables and the yielding doesn’t only fulfill their daily flooding requirements for her family of 8 members but she has also been able to sell vegetables worth 1 lakh rupees yearly.
According to her, she cultivates vegetables like pumpkin, spinach, potatoes, radish, cauliflower, bitter gourd, cucumber etc. “In the past yielding from the same land was not enough for meals,a” she says ” but now since we have started commercial farming, the yielding is high and also the earning”.
Shanta being the chairperson of Adarsha Mahila Samuha, a local women empowerment group, aims to merge the other two groups and register asanagriculture group developing her village as an model village. She also wishes to rare cows and start commercial dairy sales and be equipped with the instruments required for modern farming.
All the requirements of her in-laws and other members of the family are being fulfilled and she gives all the credit for her progress to the trainings provided by Volunteer Initiative Nepal.
She asks all women not to limit themselves in home but be open to new opportunities and learn more in the field of their interest. She says” so, we should participate in various programs and trainings, this will help us learn new ideas”.
In the past though we spent a lot of time in the field, the outcome would not be as expected. But now we cultivate using the modern ideas and techniques and this gives high yielding with minimum labor, time and investment. This also helps save the income. ” major cause for remaining underdeveloped is lack of knowledge. Now the trainings have aroused confidence in us and people praise my work” she says. In the past I had to ask for economical help but now I have been able to help others” she adds.
Training alone is not enough but practicing the techniques learnt in training is the matter that matters” says Shanta. Shanta plans to participate in all the training programs in future. The accomplishments that Shanta made in such a short time has been a key inspiration to all the women in Jitpur village.
|Products||3 YEARS AGO||NOW|
|Pumpkin||just enough for home||sales worth 50-60 thousand rupees|
|Spinach||just enough for home||yearly sales worth 30 thousand rupees|
|Potatoes||just enough for home||sales worth 3 thousand rupees|
|Cauliflower||not cultivated||sales upto 10 thousand rupees|
|Bitter gourd||just enough for home||sales worth 20-30 thousand rupees|
|Cucumber||cultivated only for food||sales worth 4-5 thousand|
Story Number 2
DIL KUMARI LAMICHHANNE
Empowering marginalized communities is one of VIN’s main goals. This can be achieved not only with the help and work of staff and volunteers but also with the support from community villagers (among others). When this support is recognised, we think it’s necessary to highlight its importance.
In Phedi, DIL KUMARI LAMICHHANNE, aged 62 years old belongs to Mukteshwor Women’s Empowerment group. She is illiterate, lives with her eight family members and has 5 ropani (land) where she farms peas, potato, spinach and radish. Among her skills (daily work), we can mention Goat keeping, Candle making (small amount for selling), Housework and Organic pesticide preparation (she has used it on her field). With her income, she runs her family though her son helps her as well.
She is a proactive person, who is really interested in women’s work and involvement as a group. She believes that underdeveloped people live in the dark, while developed people “bright” in a certain way. She would like to see all women under “bright light”.
She is satisfied with the work VIN has been performing in the community, as she can see how things have improved. Before VIN started working, there was no education and no skills in general. After VIN’s arrival, women have committed in groups, involved in literacy classes as well as different trainings (life skills trainings, vegetable farming –seasonal and off seasonal-, etc.).
She is always encouraging women to participate in the different activities and to work together as a group (as an example, last Phedi women’s group formation has been done at her house). She is involved in Women’s Cooperative activities, have opened and account and taken a loan (15000 Rs for vegetable farming).
According to some women who live in Phedi (some belongs to her women’s group, others to different ones), Aama is always thinking about them, not only regarding their personal situation but their families as well. Whenever there is training in Phedi, she goes house by house and encourages them to assist. They like the way she is, they said she has a lot of knowledge and she’s always sharing information with them; they are inspired by her and think if she wasn’t there, maybe there wouldn’t be any group work. All of them agreed she is a role example for them.
As we can see, her main focus is Women’s development (she is the president of Single Women Group in Jitpur Phedi VDC as well). She is known by everybody in the community and is a respected person, playing a leading role among her people. She is always willing to help, encouraging people and supporting them for their own improvement.
Here we will take some International Example of Women’s
STATUS OF WOMEN IN NEPAL
Nepalese society is dominated by a patriarchal worldview. Land and property inheritance is patrilineal, residence patterns are patrifocal and women are heavily dependent on male family members regardless of their education or economic attainment. Women also lag far behind men in education, health care, employment, politics and decision making. Illiteracy, poverty and conservative social taboos continue to limit women’s abilities to lead happy, productive lives. VIN understands that an empowered woman means an empowered community, so we strive to equip women as leaders and change agents. By offering education, income generative skills, microcredit and dedicated health care to women, we lay the foundation for better communities.
Women’s empowerment is central to prosperous communities. In Nepal, the national government, local and international NGOs have facilitated significant gains in women’s social indicators, such as increased literacy, increased mean age of marriage and declines in fertility, maternal mortality and gender discrimination. Women’s life expectancy is also on the rise. Despite these achievements, persistent problems remain and new issues are emerging. VIN’s efforts target the following key sectors:
Women and Health:
According to the United Nations, Nepalese women remain at the lower end of the scale of the Human Development Index (HDI) and the Gender Inequality Index (GII) in South Asia. The general immunization, health, and nutrition situation of women in Nepal remains very poor, particularly in rural areas. Statistics shows that one out of every 24 Nepali women will die during pregnancy or child birth, making reproductive health care a major focus of intervention.
Major Issues in women’s health
- Shorter life expectancy
- Elevated infant and child mortality rates and neglect of girls’ health
- High maternal mortality rate
- High male to female sex ratio. Women die earlier and more often. Families prefer male offspring.
- Lack of access to adequate health services, especially reproductive health care and contraceptive devices.
Women and Education
Overwhelming gender gaps in literacy, enrollment and attainment offer a clear picture of gender disparity in the educational sector. Social, economic, and cultural factors exacerbate the situation and illustrate the need for a holistic response. As few Nepali women enter skilled work and leadership in the private and public sectors, it remains difficult for women to find role models, champions and new opportunities.
Major Issues in women’s education
- Low absolute levels of female education (literacy rates and educational attainment)
- Poor enrollment rates due to lack of household resources; lack of sense of importance since girls will marry; girls’ workload at home; high school fees; lack of female teachers or adequate facilities
- Significant gender gaps in education
Women and Economy
According to the United Nations, Nepal is the second poorest nation in Asia by per-capita GDP. While 40 percent of women are economically active, their role as manual laborers and mentors is discounted. Limited access to education and productive assets such as property and credit confines many to menial jobs in the agricultural sector. Working women are often self employed, but cannot rise above subsistence farming without credit or training in modern farming practices.
Major Issues in women and economy
- Women as unpaid family workers in subsistence agriculture
- Low level of technology and primitive farming practices
- Long work hours; carrying the double burden of work in the family and farm; their contribution to income and economic wellbeing of the family is not recognized
- Poor access to credit and marketing networks
- Poor self-confidence
- Social and cultural barriers such as exclusive responsibility for household work, restrictions on mobility etc.
VIN’s Women’s Empowerment Program is one of four pilot projects launched in rural Jitpur Phedi V.D.C, on the outskirts of Kathmandu Valley and planning to extend its project in Okhaldhunga. Since day one, this program has addressed women’s education, health and economic issues using a holistic, sustainable approach. We believe that an empowered woman can create an empowered community.
WHO ARE THESE WOMEN?
VIN works with women from the ages of 14 to 45. We focus on communities in Jitpur Phedi that:
- Suffer from acute poverty
- Depend on subsistence farming
- Suffer from poor health and sanitation
- Show evidence of gender discrimination
WOMEN’S EMPOWERMENT PROGRAM GOALS
Improved quality of life for Jitpur Phedi’s women through:
- Economic tools (Income generation, microcredit, marketing networks, new technology)
- Education that focuses on individual rights and life skills
- Improved health (via the Community Health Program)
The Women’s Empowerment Project aims to achieve the following objectives:
- A fully autonomous and sustainable microcredit system
- An Income Generation Program (IGP) that provides 80 percent of women beneficiaries with a sustainable, local source of income
- Increased agricultural and non-agricultural income sources by 85%
- Promotion of specialty non-agricultural products that generate sufficient income during the off-season (e.g. hand-crafted products)
- Promote organic farming techniques through the demonstration of our pilot project
- Over 95% of the women aged 14 to 45 achieve at least a fifth-grade education in order to participate in IGP
- Provide life-skills training to 95 percent of women in VIN’s working areas
- Establish social groups for women, which create solidarity and reinforce microcredit, life-skills training and income generating efforts and ultimately grow women leaders
BENEFICIARIES/ TARGET GROUP
VIN is working to reach 95 percent of women in Jitpurphedi VDC through women’s groups. There are currently 35 women’s clubs, each with nine to 11 members. Each group covers a particular subject, such as:
- Vegetables farming (25 groups)
- Goat keeping (5 groups)
- Candle-making (2 groups)
- Sewing and knitting (3 groups)
HOW WILL WE MEET THE TARGET?
VIN has identified three key problem areas for intervention:
|Area of Intervention||Approach|
|Women and Economy||Supply women with economic tools through the Income Generation Program and microcredit cooperative|
|Women and Education||Literacy, life-skills, gender and legal rights classes etc|
|Women and Health||The Community Health Program|
WHAT ACTIVITIES WILL BE CONDUCTED?
There are four components of the Women’s Empowerment Project:
- COMPONENT 1: Microcredit/Cooperative
- COMPONENT 2: Income Generation Program
- COMPONENT 3: Women’s Education, Legal Rights and Life Skills Training
- COMPONENT 4: Women’s Health (through the Community Health Program)
ARE THERE ANY VOLUNTEER OR INTERNSHIP PROGRAMS AVAILABLE IN WOMEN’S EMPOWERMENT PROJECT?
Yes! VIN offers volunteer and internship opportunities for individuals or groups seeking to volunteer abroad in Nepal or Intern abroad Nepal with and / or for women.
Volunteers and interns can work with us in these three areas:
- Income Generation Support Program
- Microcredit/Cooperative Support Program
- Women’s Education, Rights and Life-Skills Support Program
If you are interested in volunteering or interning for women’s health, check out our Community Health Program
Click Here to Apply
Shord Vedio Deepika Padukone – “My Choice” Directed By Homi Adajania – VOGUE Empower
Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai famously quoted “I raise up my voice—not so I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard…we cannot succeed when half of us are held back.”, and that sentiment precisely outlines the basis of new age women empowerment. Discrimination against women is rampant all over the world even in this 21st century. Patriarchal societies in most countries are adept at exploitation as well as victimization of women. Even though about 50% of the world’s population consists of women, but unfortunately most of them are denied basic rights education, freedom of speech, voting power and even independent identity. Crimes directed specifically against women are reported from all over the world. There still remain questions about acceptance of women empowerment in the most advanced of countries, while developing nations and nations under political duress are far from achieving the desired status.
In India, in theory, women enjoy a status of equality with the men as per constitutional and legal provisions. Arguably, our country has taken enormous strides towards inclusion of women with the fairer gender excelling in diverse fields, from literature to astrophysics to finance. But with headlines about dowry killing, female foeticides and domestic violence still making the newspapers, put a silent question mark behind the two words. Here, in this current age, true development and growth can only be achieved by taking successful strides in eliminating deep-rooted ideologies of gender bias and discrimination like the confinement of women to the private domestic realm, restrictions on their mobility, poor access to health services, nutrition, education and employment, and exclusion from the public and political sphere
Meaning of Women Empowerment
If it is to be elucidated beyond the two self-explanatory words, ‘Women Empowerment’ refers to complete emancipation of women from socio-economic shackles of dependency and deprivations. Often made synonymous to gender equality, the term women empowerment encompasses a much larger set of principles that needs whole-hearted attention. The concept of empowerment flows from the word power. Empowerment of women would mean encouraging women to be self-reliant, economically independent, have positive self-esteem, generate confidence to face any difficult situation and incite active participation in various socio-political development endeavors. The growing conscience is to accept women as individuals capable of making rational and educated decisions about them as well as the society, increasing and improving the economic, political and legal strength of the women, to ensure equal-right as men, achieve internationally agreed goals for development and sustainability, and improve the quality of life for their families and communities. The various facets of women empowerment that needs to be addressed for a rounded out development are listed as:-
Human Rights or Individual Rights: A woman has the right to express her thoughts and opinions freely, without any restriction. Individual empowerment may be achieved by imparting self-confidence to articulate and assert the power of independent decision making. Women should be aware of their rights and social positions that they are entitled to constitutionally.
Social Empowerment of Women: The most critical aspect of social empowerment of women is the promotion of gender equality. Gender equality implies that in society women and men enjoy the same opportunities, outcomes, rights and obligations in all spheres of life.
Educational Empowerment of Women: It means enabling women to grab the knowledge, skills, and self-confidence necessary to participate fully in the development process. Giving preference to the girl child for educational opportunities is a start.
Economic and Occupational Freedom: It means reducing the financial dependence of women on their male counterparts by making them a significant part of the human resource. A better quality of material life, within the family as well as for the overall society, can be achieved through promotion of sustainable livelihoods like cottage industries, small entrepreneurial efforts owned and managed by women.
Empowerment Through Legal Knowledge: Not only does it suggest the provision of an effective legal structure which is supportive of women empowerment, there also is the need to spread awareness among women about their legal rights and laws preventing their exploitation. It means addressing the gaps between what the law prescribes and what actually occurs.
Political Empowerment of Women: The existence of a political system encouraging the participation of women in the political decision-making process and in governance. Indian constitution has provided the bulwarks for gender equality in the country in the following articles:-
Article 14 – Equality before law “The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth”
Article 16 (2) – Equal Opportunities “No citizen shall, on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, descent, place of birth, residence or any of them, be ineligible for, or discriminated against in respect or, any employment or office under the State”.
Article 23 – Prohibition of traffic in human beings and forced labour.
Article 39(a) – The citizen, men & women equally have the right to an adequate means of livelihood.
Article 40(after the 73rd Amendment) – 1/3rdof seats in panchayats shall be reserved for women.
Article 42 – State shall make provisions for just and humane working conditions & maternity relief.
Article 51 A (e) – One of the duties of every citizen is to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of woman.
Government Laws and its subsequent amendments have seen larger inclusion of women with respect to their standing in the society. The Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act 2005 stating that women get equal share in the ancestral property or the Equal remuneration Act, 1976, has contributed towards a better footing in the society. The Dowry prohibition Act, 1961, Child marriage (prohibition) Act, 1929, The indecent representation of women (prohibition) Act, 1986 and the Hindu marriage Act, 1955, preventing polygamy and bigamy, and their strict enforcements has to a large extent contributed towards lessening women exploitation. Various government schemes like Rastriya Mahila Kosh and STEP (Support to training cum Employment for women) have managed to bring financial development of rural women through self-sustainable employment. The recent Beti Bachao and Beti Padhao scheme as well as the SABLA scheme has been aimed at reducing female infanticide and promoting the importance of educating the girl child. A number of councils and bodies have been established for the well-being of women such as the National Commission for Women, Department of Women and Child Development and the Parliamentary Committee on Empowerment of Women which has reviewed various laws and recommended amendments. The National Policy for Empowerment of Women (2001) is aimed at addressing all forms of violence against women including physical, mental and that arising from customs and traditions.
Why Women Empowerment is Important
A strong patriarchal society with deep- rooted socio-cultural values continues to affect the progress of women’s empowerment in the country. The need of the hour is an egalitarian society, where there should be no place for gender superiority. Aim of Government policies should be to identify and eliminate forces that are directed towards keeping the tradition of male dominance over its female counterpart alive.
Women constitute roughly 50% of the nation’s population and a majority of them remain economically dependent, without employment. Many of them are even unaware of the fact that they are eligible for positions that men enjoy. The result is that the economy of the country is skewed due to underutilization of available human resources. Women are generally considered less competent, both intellectually as well as physically as compared with men. As a result the opportunities extended towards them become biased and obtrusive without actual evaluation of their competencies. While scientific data proclaims women to be more adept at multi-tasking than men, they still remain the second choice for employers in the country.
In major parts of India as well as the world, women are still denied basic education and are never allowed to pursue higher education despite possessing the acumen needed. This colossal waste of talent is definitely holding economies backward.
Women empowerment in its actuality is synonymous with complete development of the society. An educated woman, with knowledge about health, hygiene, cleanliness is capable of creating a better disease-free environment for her family. A self-employed woman is capable of contributing not only to her family’s finances, but also contributes towards increment of the country’s overall GDP. A shared source of income is much more likely to uplift the quality of life than a single income household and more often than not helps the family come out of poverty trap. Women aware of their legal rights are less likely to be victims of domestic violence or other forms of exploitations. Their inherent aptitude towards organization and well-rounded maintenance of home makes them uniquely suited for political and civil leadership roles. The 73rd & 74th Amendments (1993) to the constitution of India have provided some special powers to women – reservation of seats(33%) and the ‘New Panchayati Raj’ – to empower women at least at the village level, is a prime example of the point in discussion. Participation of women in political and social positions of power has seen marked reduction in corruption in those specific areas which adds another advantageous point in favor of women empowerment.
Women empowerment is currently a burning issue on the minds of nation’s policymakers as it commands a lot of media attention and international focus lately. It is a fact that women are built different than men by nature yet this difference cannot be translated to mean inferiority. In the few last decades, India has witnessed some changes in the status and role of women in our society. There has been shift in policy approaches – what was focused on ‘welfare’ in the seventies, ‘development’ in the eighties and ‘growth’ in the nineties, has now been tagged with the contemporary term of ’empowerment’. Empowering women socially, economically, educationally, politically and legally is going to be a Herculean task. It will not be easy changing the deep-rooted perception that women are inferior, dependent and dispensable, resulting in a culture of disregard for women in Indian society. But it does not mean that change is implausible. Time is needed to eradicate the perception. But with the push towards the right direction and a lot of effort directed, this task might just be achievable. All we need is an organized approach from the Government and law enforcement agencies of the country focused in the right direction that would rest only with the liberation of women from all forms of evil.