Women empowerment in India means giving power to women – the power to help them make use of their rights, power to not to fall victim to any physical or sexual assault and power to make them stand independently in society.
Women’s empowerment is their ability to exercise complete control on one’s actions. A lot has been done for women empowerment in India since we achieved independence, but Indian women still have a long way to go if we want to call ourselves empowered.
Women are 52 per cent of the total population of India. India has seen a powerful woman prime minister and women chief ministers of the states. But the truth is that women are still helpless in Indian society. Many women are still living below the poverty line, have no access to education facilities, have minimum lifestyle and have zero financial independence.
However, times are changing and that can be noted in the basic changes that have been brought about in the role and status of women in Indian society. There has been a major shift in the policy from the concept of “welfare” in the 1970s to “development” in the 1980s and now from 1990s “empowerment”.
The government is not focused on women’s empowerment in India which they comprehend as women being “equal partners like men.” They have run many programmes nationwide whose purpose is to spread awareness and capacity building involving their greater participation in society.
These programmes aim to make women educated, effective decision-makers with significant control that results in transformative action. With education and occupation training, women are becoming aware of the discrimination done towards them in many areas of family and society.
There is a great divide between rural and urban women. Urban women are educated, independent, smart and are in a financially strong position. This situation is a distant dream when it comes to rural women.
Many rural women are deprived of basic facilities such as food, cloth, shelter, health and education. However, the urban women too are not as empowered as they would like to be, what with growing rape, sexual harassment at workplace and domestic violence incidents.
Much has been done on the part of government and non-government organizations to grow women’s empowerment in India, but obviously it has not been enough.
The review of several hundred of the government’s programmes for women empowerment in India – such as Streeshakti and Balika Samrudhi Yojana – reveal that very little has been done or achieved. The discrepancy in the implementation of empowerment policies is mainly due to the fact that women in India continue to be socially and economically backward.
The idea of women empowerment in India would be more relevant only when Indian women are better educated, informed and in the position of taking rational decisions for themselves and their families. Abuse and exploitation must be stopped.
Women must be given better health facilities and Indian males need to be sensitized to women’s issues. There can be no achievement of women empowerment in India unless our basic needs are met first.
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