Women’s empowerment can be defined in very simple terms that it makes women powerful so that they can take every decision related to their life and live well in family and society. Empowering women to achieve their real rights in society is women empowerment. In other words, women’s empowerment means improving the social and economic status of women. In order, to achieve social freedom and progress we have to provide them equal opportunities for employment, education, economic growth, politics, etc. This is the way by which women too can fulfill their aspirations like men.
Women Empowerment – why is it necessary?
No doubt that women have been treated badly for centuries all around the world. And even today, their condition is pathetic in developing and under-developing countries. The women population is almost half of the population of the world. So no society, state, and country can be empowered without the participation of women in the decision-making process. However, every democratic country gives equal rights and opportunities in education, employment, politics, sports, etc. to all of its citizens. But it is not enough to make them equal to men.
The need for women empowerment arose because there was gender inequality and a male-dominated society since ancient times. Women were pressurized by their own families and society for various reasons and they were subjected to many forms of violence and discrimination in family and society, in almost all the countries of the world. Wrong and old trends in society since ancient times for women have been molded into new customs and traditions. Today, it is necessary that women are empowered in every field, which will become the basis of the development of the country.
Women Empowerment in India
When we talk about the conditions of women in India, India is no exception. Here too the condition of women is the same as in other developing and under-developing nations. Women have been given a different place in every religion, which has been helping people continue many wrong actions (physical and mental) against women. Ancient Indian society, along with other discriminatory practices, was the tradition of sati, dowry, sexual violence, domestic violence, female foeticide, veils, sexual exploitation at work, child labor, child marriage, and devadasi system, etc. Socio-political rights (freedom to work, right to education, etc.) were completely banned by male family members. Some bad practices against women were removed by open-minded people and great Indian people who raised their voices for discriminatory actions against women.
Raja Ram Mohan Roy played a crucial role in abolishing the practice of Sati. Later other Indian social reformers (Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, Acharya Vinobha Bhave, Swami Vivekananda, etc.) also raised their voice and fought fiercely for women’s upliftment. To improve the condition of widows in India, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar introduced the Widow Re-Marriage Act 1856 with his continuous efforts.
In India, to empower women, first of all, it is necessary to kill all those monstrous thoughts that kill their rights and values in a society like a dowry, illiteracy, sexual violence, inequality, foeticide, domestic violence towards women, rape, prostitution, human trafficking, and similar topics. Gender discrimination brings cultural, social, economic, and educational differences in the nation which puts the country backward. Empowering women to ensure the right to equality mentioned in the Constitution of India is the most effective way to eradicate such evils.
Prioritizing gender equality has given a boost to women’s empowerment across India. In order to achieve the higher goal of women empowerment, it should be promoted and broadcast in every family from childhood. It is important that women are physically, mentally, and socially strong. Since a better education can start at home from childhood, a healthy family is needed for the upliftment of women which is necessary for the all-round development of the nation. Even today, in many backward areas, due to illiteracy, insecurity, and poverty of parents, there is a trend of marriage and childbirth at an early age. To strengthen women, the government is taking many steps to prevent abuse, gender discrimination, social segregation, and violence, etc. against women.
It is often said that the status of women in India suffered from the advent of foreign rule. But the truth is that women all over India have always played a subordinate role. In the last fifty years, we have seen a tremendous transformation in the status of women. The status of women in society is recognized by the quality of participation by women in various nation-building activities. In this regard, India presents a unique paradox. In the past few decades, we have witnessed some essential changes in the status of women. National Commission for Women was established in 1998 to protect their rights. The Hindu Code Bill in 1956, Hindu Succession Act, Anti Dowry Act, Equal Pay Requirements, Right to Divorce all these laws have been formulated as corrective steps for their empowerment.
There are many laws to correct gender bias at ground level. 73rd Amendment in 1993 to the constitution has provided for reservation of seats for women in the Panchayats. Today women empowerment is an important feature in our plans at every level. We can expect that the Women’s reservation bill will be passed in the parliament very soon. It was introduced in Rajya sabha as ‘ Women’s Reservation Bill 2008’ under 108th Amendment to provide reservation of one- third of all the seats for women in the legislature at the centre and states level. The bill has been passed in the Rajya Sabha on 9th March 2010 but is pending in the Lok Sabha. Once it is passed by the parliament, the bill would spark thousands of opportunities for women to show their skill at the decision- making level.
Modern society especially urban and educated people are more open-minded and aware of the rights of women, as a result of which many self-help groups and NGOs, etc. are working in this direction. Women are more open-minded and are breaking social bonds to get their rights in all dimensions. However, crime is going on simultaneously.
The report of the gender gap index 2019 published by the World Economic Forum shows India has slipped to 112th position. And this report is enough to show us the mirror that what is the participation of women in the development of the country?
To bring true women empowerment in Indian society one has to understand and remove the main causes of bad practices against women, which is the patriarchal and male-dominant system of society. It is necessary that we change the old thinking against women and also change the constitutional and legal provisions. Given the way India has become one of the fastest-growing economies, India needs to focus on achieving the goal of women empowerment in the near future. We need to understand this work of women empowerment because it is only through this, gender equality and economic progress can be achieved in the country.