“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”. – Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.
Empowerment is multifaceted & multidimensional concept. It is the process by which the powerless gain greater control over the circumstances of their lives. It includes control over resources (physical, human, intellectual, financial) and ideology (beliefs, values, and attitudes), decision making in home, community, society and nation and to gain power to empower herself. It means greater Self confidence and an inner transformation of one’s consciousness that enables one to overcome external barriers to accessing resources or changing traditional ideologies.
And also it does not mean to give them power to dominate others or use power to establish their superiority over others. “Empowerment comes from ‘inside’, from the individuals themselves, it cannot be granted by others”. An educated woman knows her responsibility towards their family and society more than a man. In reality women empowerment meant to empower herself not to overpower men. Usually empowerment for women involves opening up more opportunities, greater access to and control over resources and equal participation with men in decision-making.
Our society can be viewed as a wall and men & women are analogous to brick and concrete respectively. Women participation in our society has significantly increased since last decades. Their participation is crucial and desirable also to build a peaceful society. There are innumerable hurdles in the women empowerment process. Besides all these beautiful data, the status of women is still not that to which it is meant for. There are still a lot to do for their empowerment.
The cases of child marriage, deteriorating maternity rate, anaemic pregnancies, eve teasing, molestation, harassment, rape, exploitation, trafficking, Domestic violence, human right infringement, lax judiciary process to punish the perpetrators, trafficking, unawareness of basic rights etc. are some of alarming issues that a modern woman confronts, when goes out of the home and so many more are such an inventory of non-social impediments which are still prevailing in an alarming rate.
Various steps have been taken by the government to prevent such abuses and to empower women. Criminal laws against sati, dowry, female infanticide and foeticide, ‘eve teasing’, rape, immoral trafficking and other offences relating to women have been enacted in addition to civil laws like the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act 1939, the Hindu Marriage Act 1955 and other Matrimonial enactments. The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act has been passed in 2005. A National Commission for Women (NCW) has been set up.
Other measures by the government include provision of reservation in representation and education, allocation for the welfare of women in the five year plans, provision of subsidized loan facilities and so on. The year 2001 has been declared as the ‘women empowerment year’ by the Government of India and 24th January as the National Girl Child Day. Women participation in all levels of governance is essential for their empowerment and for making the society more humane.
Women in India now participate in all activities such as politics, sports, education, media, art and culture, service sectors, science and technology, etc. Indira Gandhi who served as prime minister of India for an aggregate period of 15 years is the world’s longest serving women prime minister and the influence of women in politics is at its apex in the present context strongly supported by the incumbent president of India Pratibha Devi Singh Patil, incumbent Speaker of Lok-Sabha Mira Kumar, incumbent railway minister Mamta Banerji and leader of opposition Sushma Swaraj & Sonia Gandhi leader of the one political party.
Besides these names of women holding major authorities in the politics, the other fields are also have women ascendants like Indira Nooyi CEO of PepsiCo, Chanda Koochar CEO of ICICI bank, Shikha Sharma of axis bank and so on. The constitution of India guarantees to all Indian women equality (Article 14), no discrimination by the state (Article 15(1)), equality of opportunity (Article 16) and equal pay for equal work (Article 39(d)).
In addition it allows special provisions to be made by the state in favour of women and children (Article 15(3)), renounces practices derogatory to the dignity of women (Article 51(A)(e)) and also allows for the provisions to be made by the state for securing just and humane conditions of work and for maternity relief (Article 42). Man and woman being complimentary physically, emotionally and morally and there is no scope for comparison.
One has no existence without the other. They are interdependent. Together their life is whole and meaningful. Each has their own duties, roles and responsibilities. The 8th of March is Women’s Day. A day to celebrate women and all they have accomplished in their struggle for independence, equal rights and opportunities. It is also the day to show appreciation to all the women dear to you.
The 108th Constitutional Amendment Bill, popularly known as the Women’s Reservation Bill which seeks to reserve one-third of seats for women in the Lok Sabha and the State Legislative Assemblies has been a highlight in the recent times & it is highly appreciated in the direction of women empowerment. It was ‘passed’ in the Rajya Sabha on March 9th 2010 one day after international women’s day. Though well intended, it can have little, if any, tangible consequences for the real empowerment of women since it does not touch upon the core issues which plague them.
The solution must envisage a two-pronged attack, on the one hand, on tradition which is responsible for assigning a low status for women in the society and on the other hand, the outrages perpetrated against them. The proposed ‘Prevention of Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace’ Bill, 2010 is a good move in that direction. Mass campaigns need to be organized especially in the villages in favour of survival of the female child and provision of human rights for her, including education and health.
It is essential to dispel the ghosts of the past and place women on an equal footing with men in order to pave the way for their empowerment, social, economic and educational. The Chinmaya Rural Training Centre (CRTC) was founded by, Swami Chinmayananda, a revered Hindu spiritual leader in one of the most depressed areas of Himachal Pradesh. Sustainable development he believed was only possible if local women, generally belonging to lower castes and tribes, were able to take charge of their own lives and development.
Empowering women and thus rebuilding the society would take the nation on a path of greater development as Swami Vivekananda says, “Countries and Nations which do not respect women have never become great nor will ever be in future”.
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