Diksha Singh Rathore writes about Women Empowerment in India.
“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am free human being with an independent will.”
– Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre
All over the world the concept of women empowerment is strongly dealt, as the major population of Human Race has been deprived of their rights, freedoms, and liberties for a very long time. Not only in India but in western countries also the rights of females were shunned. Starting from America, England, and France to Asian Countries females were deprived of their basic human rights, they had to live under the control of their master, that is, men.
In late 18th century, women started demanding their human privileges as in the case of France, in pre-Revolutionary France women were given no political rights, they were regarded as passive citizens and all their work was determined by men folk. This situation changed rapidly and there was rise in feminism. Feminism arose in France as part of both social and political reform. The women demanded equal rights as were given to men and then demanded for the end of patriarchy. The women started actively taking parts in social movements and demanded for equal rights in votes. The literature also developed as many females contributed towards it. This had a great impact on Indian society where Patriarchy is so strongly embedded that it took nearly 1 century for the women to ask for the powers which was their basic human right.
In Vedic period women enjoyed a lot of rights and were regarded as “Devis” and worshipped by the society. They had a great say in political affairs and were equal to men but the condition has deteriorated such that in present world we people are demanding for Women Empowerment. In Indian context the Women who in herself is regarded as “Shakti” (power) is in dire need of Empowerment, This is the irony of our society.
“The term “Women Empowerment” refers to the increasing of the spiritual, social, political or economic strength of all women. It is frequently seen that the empowered in their capacities develop confidence.”
The question arises in our minds is, why the women empowerment is so essential for our society? The answer to this question is out of the total human population, half of it is women and their deterioration will deteriorate society and their development will develop society. So, women empowerment is necessary for society as a whole, on a national as well as on international basis. As they are 50% of the total world’s population and economies of several countries are suffering as female labour participation is minimal and only men are earning so this leads to economic deterioration. If educated they can also participate in economic activities of society, political activities and actively take part in society and can lead to economic betterment and reduction in poverty, over population, female foeticide and infanticide, health relating issues, eve teasing domestic violence and other crimes against women.
Not only economic and social factors are necessary for their empowerment but they should be politically strengthened as all the societal aspects are inter-related. If they are only politically strong and not socially then they cannot contribute towards societies and their own development. They need to have a combination of social, economic, political and spiritual rights for their over-all development.
Although Indian society is developing and we can see that child mortality rate has decreased, education for girls has increased but still there are many challenges were are yet to be curbed.
“India is one of those countries where labour participation rate of women is lowest in the world that is only 29% of women over the age of 15 working and 94% of all women workers are engaged in the informal economy- the highest of informal employment in the world. And 40% of all women workers in India, outside agriculture, are engaged in private homes.”
India is one of the few countries in the world where widow remarriage rate is the lowest and widows are required to mourn for the rest of their lives.
So, Indian Government has adopted few measures to make Indian Women Empowered. Many provisions in the Constitution of India are present, such as “Article 14 states that the state shall not deny to any person equality before law. Article 15 states that the state shall not discriminate against any citizens on grounds of religion, sex etc. Article 15(3) states that states that nothing in the Article 15 shall prevent state from making any special provision for women and children. Article 16 states that there shall be equality of opportunity in matters of public employment. Article 21 states that no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty.”
Directive Principles of State Polices also gives rights to state to ensure that there is equal pay for equal work, both men and women equally have the right to an adequate means of livelihood, provisions for humane conditions and maternity relief and many others. PCPNDT Act, 1994 has also helped to cure the Female foeticide.
Many other schemes of Government of India for women empowerment are-
- “Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Scheme
- One Stop Centre Scheme
- Women Helpline Scheme
- UJJAWALA : A Comprehensive Scheme for Prevention of trafficking, Rehabilitation and Re-integration of Victims of Trafficking and Commercial Sexual Exploitation
- Working Women Hostel
- Rajiv Gandhi National Creche Scheme For the Children of Working Mothers
- Ministry approves new projects under Ujjawala Scheme and continues existing projects
- SWADHAR Greh (A Scheme for Women in Difficult Circumstances)
- Revision under IGMSY in Accordance with National Food Security Act, 2013 in XIIth Plan
- Support to Training and Employment Programme for Women (STEP)
- NARI SHAKTI PURASKAR
- Awardees of Stree Shakti Puruskar, 2014 & Awardees of Nari Shakti Puruskar
- Awardees of Rajya Mahila Samman & Zila Mahila Samman
- Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana (IGMSY) – A Conditional Maternity Benefit Scheme
- Mahila police Volunteers”
This had helped Indian women to perform well in various fields like sports, politics, and economics etc. but many these provisions are enjoyed by women of urban strata, many women of rural communities are still in need of the recognition of the self and this can be done by educating them, giving them decision making power, improve their health conditions. To make this possible Indian Government had started reservation of seats for women even in the third tier of governance, i.e. Panchayats.
This can be said very evidently that if a Nation wants to develop and prosper, the basic need is to avail to all its citizen equality of rights, resources and the condition of women should be improved as they constitute half of the population of world and development, without their development is close to impossible.
 Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre 268 (Steve Davis ed., Penguin Books, 2006).
Puja Mondal ,Essays on Women Empowerment, Women empowerment( Sep. 30, 2016, 7:08 PM), http://www.yourarticlelibrary.com/essay/essay-on-women-empowerment-in-india/31317/.
 Sonali Das, Sonali Jain-Chandra, Kalpana Kochhar, and Naresh Kumar, Women Workers in India: Why So Few Among So Many? IMF Working Paper, Asia and Pacific Department, March 2015.
 INDIA CONST. art. 14, art. 15,art. 16, art. 21.
 Govt. of India, Women Empowerment Schemes, Ministry Of Women & Child Development( Sep. 30, 2016, 11:59 PM), http://wcd.nic.in/schemes-listing/.