“Women Empowerment” - is the empowerment of women which helps them to take their own decisions by breaking all personal limitations of the society and family. Women Empowerment is an essential tool to get the goal of development.

It is to bring equality in the society for both male and female in all areas. India is a very famous country known for its cultural heritage, traditions, civilization, religion and geographical features from the ancient time. On the other hand, it is also popular as a male chauvinistic nation. Women are given first priority in India however on the other hand they were badly treated in the family and society. They were limited only for the household chores or understand the responsibility of home and family members. They were kept totally unaware of their rights and own development. People of India used to say this country as “Bharat-Mata” however never realized the true meaning of it. Bharat-Mata means a mother of every Indian whom we have to save and care always.

According to the provisions of the Constitution of India, it is a legal point to grant equality to women in the society in all spheres just like male. The Department of Women and Child Development functions well in this field for the proper development of the women and child in India. Women are given a top place in India from the ancient time however they were not given empowerment to participate in all areas.

Women need to be progressed in the number of spheres. There is a high level of gender inequality in India where women are ill treated by their family members and outsiders. The percentage of illiterate population in India is mostly covered by the women. The real meaning of the women empowerment is to make them well educated and leave them free so that they can be capable to take their own decisions in any field.

The most famous saying said by the Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru is “To awaken the people, it is the women who must be awakened. Once she is on the move, the family moves, the village moves, the nation moves”. In India, to empower the women, first it needs to kill all the demons killing women’s rights and values in the society such as dowry system, illiteracy, sexual harassment, inequality, female infanticide, domestic violence against women, rape, prostitution, illegal trafficking and other issues. Gender discrimination in the nation brings cultural, social, economic and educational differences which push country back. The most effective remedy to kill such devils is making women empowered by ensuring the Right to Equality mentioned in the Constitution of India


Need for Women Empowerment

There exists gender inequality even in this 21st century.

“There is no chance of the welfare of the world unless the condition of women is improved. It is not possible for a bird to fly on one wing “ – Swami Vivekananda.

There are so many women, who are silently baring the harassment of their life partners because of the lack of education, lack of legal awareness and lack of empowerment in women.

When women are empowered, all the society benefits.

Educating women about health care promotes healthier families.

Even though a woman works 24/7 to raise her children and to maintain her family, she is not getting recognition for her work at least in her home.

Points to be known

Year ‘2001’ was declared as the “women’s empowerment year”.

Challenges

Female Foeticide.

Dowry.

Restriction on widow remarriage.

Gender Bias.

Neglect during childhood.

Childhood marriages.

Gender specific specialization at work.

Cultural definition of appropriate gender roles.

Belief in the inherent superiority of males.

Notion of the family as the private sphere and under male control.

Limited access to cash and credit.

Limited employment opportunities.

Limited access to education.

Right to property is still exists only for sons.

Female infanticide.

Poverty effects women more.

India’s maternal mortality is highest in South Asia.

Domestic violence.

Crimes against women.

Honor killings.

Trafficking of women.

Lack of awareness of Govt. programs.

Constitutional provisions

Article 14 – Equality before law – Provides equal legal protection for women.

Article 15(3) – Special provisions for women.

Article 16 – Equal opportunities for all citizens in public employment irrespective of caste, sex, religion.

Article 23 – Prohibits traffic in human beings & forced labour.

Article 39 – The citizen, men & women equally have the right to an adequate means of livelihood.

Article 40 – 1/3 rd of seats in panchayats shall be reserved for women.

Article 42 – State shall make provisions for just and humane working conditions & maternity relief.

Article 44 – Uniform civil code for the citizens throughout the territory of India to safeguard women from laws of religion.

Article 51 A (e) – One of the duties of every citizen is to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of woman.

Government Acts

Section 14 of the Hindu Succession Act 1956 – Property of a female Hindu to be her absolute property.

Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act 2005 – Women get equal share in the ancestral property.

Dowry prohibition Act, 1961.

Contract Labor Act, 1970 & Factories Act, 1948 – Women can’t be employed in the night between 9pm to 6am. – Women cannot be required to work for more than 9hrs.

Equal remuneration Act, 1976.

The indecent representation of women (prohibition) Act, 1986.

Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act, 1987.

Protection of women from domestic violence Act, 2005.

Maternity Benefits Act, 1961.

Child marriage (prohibition) Act, 1929.

Hindu marriage Act, 1955 – This act was passed to stop polygamy and bigamy.

Government Schemes and Programs

STEP (Support to training cum Employment for women) – To increase the self-reliance and autonomy of women by enhancing their productivity & enabling them to take up income generation activity.

SSA (Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan) – For girl child education. It leads to increase in the Gender Parity Index (GPI).

The National literacy Mission or Saakshar Bharat – Literacy of women. Literacy is the critical instrument of women’s empowerment.

National Rural Health Mission – Educating women on health care. It has resulted in the decline in fertility rates, Maternal mortality rates (MMR), Infant mortality rates (IMR).

SHG (Self Help Groups) – For economic development in women by giving micro finances.

GB (Gender budgeting) – Identifying the felt needs of women and re-prioritising and increasing expenditure to meet these needs.

NMEW (National Mission for Empowerment of Women) – To ensure economic & social empowerment of women.

Swayamsidha scheme – To ensures total development of women.

Swadhar scheme – Basic necessities to marginalized women & girls.

Kishori Shakti Yojana – Empowerment of adolscent girls.

Mahila Samridhi Yojana – For women empowerment.

Maternity Benefit Scheme – Payment of Rs.500/- to pregnant women for the first two births only if the woman belongs to BPL (Below Poverty Line) category.

Rastriya Mahila Kosh – To provide micro loans for women.

Scheme for working women hostel – To promote availability of safe & conveniently located accommodation fro working women.

Development of women & children in Rural Areas (DWCRA)– Creation of groups of women for income generating activities on self sustaining basis.

SABLA – Empowerment of adolscent girls.

How can we take part

First of all, woman must have the will to be independent & to be the best of herself, then rest of everything follows.

Creating legal awareness among women about their rights.

Educating women. Education makes them independent.

Providing health & economic security.

Skill development programs.

Forming groups. Unity gives strength to everyone.

And many more little things which makes significant difference and leads to the great future.

Conclusion

The Government and we, the people have responsibility towards women empowerment. And we can achieve this ‘Millennium Development Goal’ definitely. One day will come, when gender inequality will only be present in the history books.