What is there to write about women which have not been said until now? A woman is a being with senses, imagination and thoughts and she should be able to express them freely.
“In our society, the women who break down barriers are those who ignore limits.”- Arnold Schwarzenegger
Empowerment can be defined as a “multi-dimensional social process that helps people gain control over their own lives. Women’s empowerment refers to “women’s ability to make strategic life choices where that ability had been previously denied them” (Malhotra et al., 2009) (Kabeer 1999).
Accordingly, empowerment is central to the processes of maintaining the benefits of women at an individual, household, community and broader levels (Malhotra et al., 2009). It involves the action of boosting the status of women through literacy, education, training and raising awareness (Alvarez and Lopez, 2013). Hence, women’s empowerment is all about allowing and equipping women to make life-determining choices across different issues in the country.
We all know the ratio of girls is less as compared to boys in our country, India. And it is due to the orthodox mentality of society who wants to have boys and not girls. In true sense, patriarchy has decided the course of women’s lives throughout ages.
The need for women empowerment arose because of the gender discrimination and male domination in the Indian society since ancient time. Women are being suppressed by their family members and society for many reasons. They have been targeted for many types of violence and discriminatory practices by the male members of the family and society in India and other countries as well. Wrong and old practices in the society from ancient times have taken the form of well-developed customs and traditions.
Women enjoyed a better position in the Rig-Vedic period which deteriorated in the Vedic civilization. Vedic civilization onwards, women were denied the right to education, right to widow remarriage, right to inheritance and ownership of property.
Social evils like child marriage and dowry system worsen the situations more for women. During the Gupta period, the status of women deteriorated extremely and institutions like dowry and Sati Pratha became more prominent.
During the British Raj, many social reformers such as Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, and Jyotirao Phule started agitations for the empowerment of women and as a result of their efforts Sati was finally abolished and the Widow Remarriage Act was formulated.
Later, stalwarts like Mahatma Gandhi and Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru advocated women rights and as a result of their concentrated efforts that the status of women in social, economic and political life began to elevate in the Indian society.
Although women in India have made a considerable progress in the seven-decade of Independence still the battle is only half won.
They still have to fight against many social evils that are oppressing them and deteriorating their status. Still, there are people or groups that create hurdles and resists women progress in India.
Women empowerment is not a new concept and its need was sensed much earlier, even before independence. Not only in India but all over the world women have faced atrocities and thus since the beginning of its history they have been challenging gender inequalities. The struggles for women empowerment have also been supported by many men who have been outraged at injustice against women in society.
The renowned Swami Vivekananda quoted, “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.”
Women empowerment has become a much raised and discussed topic around the globe. But why is it necessary and 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! Why even in the 21st-century women still have to run for their rights?
In India, women have always been a victim of honour killings. They have been bereft of basic rights for proper education and freedom for years. In this male-dominated and patriarchal society, they face violence, abuse and other ill-treatment.
All the evil practices that are deteriorating the status of women need to eliminate from our society if we really want to empower women of our nation. Gender inequality still prevails in India because of which women are maltreated not only by outsiders but by family members too.
The irony is that although India has acclaimed the status of the 1st Asian country to accomplish its Mars mission in the maiden attempt is positioned at the 29th rank in the world on the basis of gender inequality index.
Empowerment of women is essential to have the bright future in family, society and country. Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru had said that to awaken the people, first awaken the women need to be awakened, because once a woman has been awakened then the whole nation and family gets awakened with her.
Women no longer need men to rely on. They need support and society with right senses can only provide women with it. Nothing is beatable for a woman. All she needs is support and lots of love.
I believe a woman is a most powerful creature in this living earth. Not only she compromises her family, but in the time of need, she tends to have such energy to make things go in a right way whether the cost to it is they themselves! The aim of women empowerment is providing strength to them.
The principle of gender discrimination and equality is already engraved in the Indian Constitution in its Preamble, Fundamental Rights, Fundamental Duties and Directive Principles of State Policy. To safeguard the rights and legal entitlements of women the National Commission for Women was set up by an Act of Parliament in 1990.
To uplift the status of women, the government of India has adopted and ratified different schemes and programs and international conventions and human rights instruments to secure equal rights for them, for example, the National Credit Fund for Women (1993), Convention on the Rights of the Child, Food and Nutrition Board, Information and Mass Education, the Nairobi Forward Looking Strategies (1985), Convention on All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, 1993, the Mexico Plan of Action (1975), International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD+5). To empower women at the village level the Panchayati Raj system was introduced by Government of India.
‘There is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women.”—Kofi Annan
In conclusion, I believe if we want to bring about women empowerment in the true sense, there is a dire need for the elimination of the male superiority and patriarchal mindset.
Also, women need to be given equal opportunities for education and employment without any form of discrimination. Merely arming women with legal and constitutional rights will be simply inadequate unless and until there does not come an attitudinal change in society towards women.
Patriarchy is a social system in which males hold primary power and predominate in roles of political leadership, moral authority, social privilege and control of the property.
It is because of patriarchal nature of our society that is oppressing women from years. Although after many measures and initiatives taken by women associations and organizations, government etc.
The condition and status of women is somehow improving in our society but it is still not up to the mark. They still face gender inequalities and many other atrocities whose scale differs for different class and region of people.
Yes, I agree that there are caste oppressions around the world but in caste discrimination also there are women which are the most discriminated against. This is the reason why there is a dire need for women empowerment.
There is no single oppression faced by women in our country but there is an endless list to it. Starting from their birth to death there are thousands of atrocities faced by women even now. First of all, they are not even allowed to take birth, thanks to various pre-natal determination techniques.
And if somehow they take birth then they are killed by their very own family members. Don’t be shocked to listen to that as it is not something that took place in past times only but it still happens in India even after so many laws and legislation against it!
If they are allowed to live after their birth then also they have to face gender inequalities and they have to survive through it because that is what our patriarchal institutions teach us. For example, in a family, a son is given more preference for education and health care rather than a girl child because a girl is considered to be a burden on the family.
They think why to educate a girl when she is supposed to do household chores only after marriage. The story does not end here because after marriage also a women’s life is no simpler.
She faces domestic violence for various nonsensical reasons like dowry. Let me tell you another real incident, once it was inscribed on the maternity clinic board in Haryana “Pay Rs500 now rather than paying Rs50000 later”, Yes it was to encourage parents to abort the girl child as later parents will have to give dowry for their daughter’s marriage.
Despite the fact that there is no fault of a mother if she gives birth to a baby girl as the male chromosome is responsible for determining the gender of the child, it is always seen that the mother is blamed for that as if she has committed a heinous crime.
All these are a result of our strongly established and perpetuated patriarchal institutions that people still follow blindly for no reason.
To eliminate all these evils from our society and to make our society a better place to live for both men and women, women empowerment is necessary because unless and until a place is not safe for all the members of society it can’t be a better place.
Women empowerment helps women to look upon their lives as a confident being. It encourages women to stand and fight for their rights and live a worthy life. There is not a radical but a little bit of change in the mindset of people that are allowing women to walk on the pathway of development.
Women are leaving no stones unturned to prove themselves to the world and despite many hurdles, they turn out to achieve respectable and notable positions.
Originally published at www.startupopinions.com