WOMEN EMPOWERMENT IN INDIA-A CHANGING SCENARIO

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1 KAAV INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF ARTS,HUMANITIES & SOCIAL SCIENCES WOMEN EMPOWERMENT IN INDIA-A CHANGING SCENARIO Dr. P. SURESH (M.Com., NET., M.Phil., MBA.,SET., Ph.D.) Assistant Professor in the Department of Commerce SRM University, City Campus, No. 1, Jawaharlal Nehru Road (100 Feet Road, Near Vadapalani Signal) Vadapalani, Chennai , Tamil Nadu MR. T. SIVAKUMAR (M.Com., NET., SET., M.Phil.,B.ED.) Assistant Professor in the Department of Commerce SRM University, City Campus, No. 1, Jawaharlal Nehru Road (100 Feet Road, Near Vadapalani Signal) Vadapalani, Chennai , Tamil Nadu ABSTRACT The development of any nation primarily depends upon its industrial development. It makes rich contribution to the growth of a nation. The economic role played by the women cannot be isolated from the framework of development. In India with its diversity and rich heritage has an ugly side to it. If women have been worshipped as Goddess, there has been sati too. A silent witness, the oppressed women have come a long way. Though the situation has improved some facts (education rate, sexual harassment among others) are daunting. Many women have broken the barriers and we would still witness a lot more. Women 335

2 Empowerment is the vital instrument to expand women s ability to have resources and to make strategic life choices. Empowerment of women is essentially the process of upliftment of economic, social and political status of women, the traditionally underprivileged ones, in the society. It is the process of guarding them against all forms of violence. To help women is to help society. The contribution of women to socio-economic development, particularly in rural areas, has been vital one. But, they have not been recognized by the man dominated society. Women must have more equitable access to assets and services; infrastructure programmes should be designed to benefit the poor, both men and women, and employment opportunities must be improved while increasing recognition of women s vast unpaid work. Innovative approaches and partnerships include increased dialogue among development actors, improved co-ordination amongst donors and support for women organising at the national and global level. KEY WORDS: Women Empowerment, Education, Socio Economic Status, etc., INTRODUCTION In the history of human development, woman has been as important as man. In fact, the status, employment and work performed by women in society is the indicator of a nation s overall progress. Without the participation of women in national activities, the social, economical or political progress of a country will be stagnated. Women constitute half of the humanity, even contributing two-thirds of world s work hours. She earns only one-third of the total income and owns less than one-tenth of the world s resources. This shows that the economic status of women is in pathetic condition and this is more so in a country like India. Among total Indian population of million, women constitute million. Therefore, women constitute nearly 50 per cent of population, perform two-thirds of the work and produce 50 per cent of food commodities consumed by the country. They earn one third of remuneration and own 10 per cent of the property or wealth of the country. Education is the most important requirement and the fundamental right for any citizen. It helps the individual to reduce inequality and play a central role in human development that impacts the overall social economic development. Higher level of literacy and education leads 336

3 to better attainment of health, nutritional status, economic growth, population control, empowerment of the weaker sections and community as a whole. In context to this over the decades societies have been trying to develop without giving any rights to women. There has always been gender discrimination toward the development of women. Men are empowered in the society and women are considered as their servant. Women do not have their rights and neither are considered independent to take any decision. In order to provide equal status in the society women need to be empowered. Empowerment is a process of acquiring knowledge and awareness which enable them to move towards life with greater dignity and self assurance. Women empowerment includes women awareness of their rights, self-confidence, to have a control over personal and professional lives and their ability to bring a change in the society. Empowerment has many elements i.e. economic, social, political and personal. Economic empowerment means to give woman her rights in the economy. Social empowerment means status of woman in the society should be equal to man by eliminating injustice and inequity. Political empowerment means women should have seats in provincial and national assemblies and giving one woman right of one vote. Personal empowerment means women should have freedom in their personal matters. Women contribute to their families, societies and countries financially. This brings development in the economy. SIGNIFICANCE OF WOMEN IN SOCIETIES Entire nations, businesses, communities and groups can benefit from the implementation of programs and policies that adopt the notion of women empowerment. Empowerment is one of the main procedural concerns when addressing human rights and development. The Human Development and Capabilities Approach, the Millennium Development Goals and other credible approaches/goals point to empowerment and participation as a necessary step if a country is to overcome the obstacles associated with poverty and development. Most women across the globe rely on the informal work sector for an income. If women were empowered to do more and be more, the possibility for economic growth becomes apparent. Empowering women in developing countries is essential to reduce global poverty since women represent most of the world's poor population. Eliminating a 337

4 significant part of a nation's work force on the sole basis of gender can have detrimental effects on the economy of that nation. In addition, female participation in counsels, groups, and businesses is seen to increase efficiency. Therefore, women can also help businesses grow and economies prosper if they have, and if they are able to use, the right knowledge and skills in their employment. Empowerment of women is essentially the process of upliftment of economic, social and political status of women, the traditionally underprivileged ones, in the society. It is the process of guarding them against all forms of violence. Women empowerment involves the building up of a society, a political environment, wherein women can breathe without the fear of oppression, exploitation, apprehension, discrimination and the general feeling of persecution which goes with being a woman in a traditionally male dominated structure. Womens' empowerment has become a significant topic of discussion in development and economics. It can also point to approaches regarding other trivialized genders in a particular political or social context. Women Empowerment refers to increasing and improving the social, economic, political and legal strength of the women, to ensure equal-right to women, and to make them confident enough to claim their rights, such as: freely live their life with a sense of self-worth, respect and dignity, have complete control of their life, both within and outside of their home and workplace, to make their own choices and decisions, have equal rights to participate in social, religious and public activities, have equal social status in the society, have equal rights for social and economic justice, determine financial and economic choices, get equal opportunity for education, get equal employment opportunity without any gender bias, get safe and comfortable working environment The following table show that total workers in India as per the censes taken in the year 2011 and also exhibit the level and percentage of women workers in India % of the women 338

5 workers working in various activities in India out of women in India. In rural areas, the women workers are in higher participating in their family development and also the economic development of the nation as compare to urban areas. TABLE :- TOTAL WORKERS IN INDIA CENSUS Population/ Workers Persons Male Female Population Total 1,21,05,69,573 62,31,21,843 58,74,47,730 Workers 48,17,43,311 33,18,65,930 14,98,77,381 Percentage of Workers Population Rural 83,34,63,448 42,76,32,643 40,58,30,805 Workers 34,85,97,535 22,67,63,068 12,18,34,467 Percentage of Workers Population Urban 37,71,06,125 19,54,89,200 18,16,16,925 Workers 13,31,45,776 10,51,02,862 2,80,42,914 Percentage of Workers Source: Office of the Registrar General, India. The following table exhibits the percentage of female main workers to total female population from 1981 to The female workers acting as cultivators is more in 2011 as compare to 1981 cences that % increased. Regarding the percentage of agricultural labour also increased from 339

6 1981 to 2011 is the women participating in household industry also increased upto % percentage from 1981 to Female workers in other work also increased in enormous level that is % So the women workers participate in the various levels of activities is in increasing level. Because the freedom of working and the need for earning to maintain their family as the better economic level. PERCENTAGE OF FEMALE MAIN WORKERS TO TOTAL FEMALE POPULATION Census Year UNDER BROAD CATEGORIES TO 2011 Percentage to Total Female Population Female Cultivators Agricultural Household Other Main Labourers Industry Workers Workers Source: Office of the Registrar General, India. 340

7 TABLE WORK PARTICIPATION RATE BY SEX IN INDIA ( ) Total/ Rural/ Year Urban Persons Males Females Total Rural Urban Total Rural Urban Total Rural Urban Total Rural Urban Total Rural Urban Source: Office of the Registrar General, India. Women make up a vital part of the economic and social fabric that holds their communities together, yet that work is rarely valued at the same level as is men s work. Much of this has to do with what opportunities are available to them. Women are disproportionately likely to be poor, under-educated, employed in low-wage or unpaid work, and subject to 341

8 dismissal for getting married or having children. In many industries, female workers are systematically denied their rights to regular pay and regular working hours; equal pay for equal work; permanent contracts; safe and non-hazardous work environments; and freedom of association. Egregious abuses, including sexual violence, harassment and forced pregnancy tests, are all too common. Moreover, the social status of women has not opened up at the same pace at which women have been brought into the workplace. They may have increasing opportunities at work, but they are prone to domestic violence and unequal expectations at home. It has become a mantra at development organizations, including the World Bank and United Nations, that investing in women is the best way to improve a range of societal concerns and that women s full participation in society is a critical factor in economic development. But more importantly, women s rights groups have long recognized that full equality is not possible unless women can speak out for themselves. ILRF is committed to helping women do just that at work. We are continuing a long tradition of women pushing forward labor rights. With the Rights for Working Women Campaign (RFWW), ILRF has been at the forefront of securing fair treatment and wages for women in the global workplace. We also work with partners to help women around the world organizing industries with predominantly female workers. CHALLENGES There are several challenges that are plaguing the issues of women s right in India. Targeting these issues will directly benefit the empowerment of women in India Education: While the country has grown from leaps and bounds since independence where education is concerned. the gap between women and men is severe. While 82.14% of adult men are educated, only 65.46% of adult women are known to be literate in India. The gender bias is in higher education, specialized professional trainings which hit women very hard in employment and attaining top leadership in any field. Poverty: Poverty is considered the greatest threat to peace in the world, and eradication of poverty should be a national goal as important as the eradication of illiteracy. Due to this, women are exploited as domestic helps. 342

9 Health and Safety: The health and safety concerns of women are paramount for the wellbeing of a country and is an important factor in gauging the empowerment of women in a country. However there are alarming concerns where maternal healthcare is concerned. Professional Inequality: This inequality is practiced in employment sand promotions. Women face countless handicaps in male customized and dominated environs in Government Offices and Private enterprises. Morality and Inequality: Due to gender bias in health and nutrition there is unusually high morality rate in women reducing their population further especially in Asia, Africa and china. Household Inequality: Household relations show gender bias in infinitesimally small but significant manners all across the globe, more so, in India e.g. sharing burden of housework, childcare and menial works by so called division of work. WAYS TO EMPOWER WOMEN Changes in women s mobility and social interaction Changes in women s labour patterns Changes in women s access to and control over resources and Changes in women s control over Decision making Providing education Self employment and Self help group Providing minimum needs like Nutrition, Health, Sanitation, Housing Other than this society should change the mentality towards the word women Encouraging women to develop in their fields they are good at and make a career CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS FOR EMPOWERING WOMEN IN INDIA Equality before law for all persons (Article-14); Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth (Article 15(i)); However, special provisions may be made by the state in favour of women and children Article 15(3); 343

10 Equality of opportunity for all citizens relating to employment or appointment to any office under the state (Article 16); State policy to be directed to securing for men and women equally the right to an adequate means of livelihood (Article 39(a); (v) equal pay for equal work for both men and women (Article 39(d); Provisions to be made by the state for securing just and humane conditions of work and maternity relief (Article 42); Promotion of harmony by every citizen of India and renouncement of such practices which are derogatory to the dignity of women Article 51A(e) Reservation of not less than one-third of total seats for women in direct election to local bodies, viz; Panchayats and Municipalities (Articles 343(d) and 343 (T). REASONS WHY EMPOWERING WOMEN SHOULD BE THE WORLD S TOP PRIORITY Women start small businesses faster than men. From home-based micro-businesses to small start ups and shops, women will create over half of the 9.72 million new small-business jobs Forbes is predicting we ll have by Not only are women creating more jobs, the National Federation for Independent Businesses says women-owned small businesses weather recessions more effectively and show more adaptability than men-owned small businesses. Want to have more jobs and more stability in the workforce? Support women s business! Insane innovation comes from women! If the pee-powered generator built by a group of 14-year-old girls in Nigeria wasn t enough, what about this Turkish girl who figured out how to turn bananas into bioplastic or Ada Lovelace, who invented the first computer program? Women have been innovating and excelling in the fields of science and math for hundreds of years despite facing harassment and discrimination. More empowerment means more women in science, which means more life-saving inventions. 344

11 Half the world s population are women. Literally half of the seven billion people on the planet are female, yet a white woman in the United States makes 80 cents for every dollar a white man makes (black women make 70 cents and Hispanic women make 60 cents, by the way). If 50% of global population suffers daily discrimination, increased risk of assault, and all kinds of other delightful problems just by virtue of being female, we can say that empowerment should be a top priority. Save your country s economy! Financial empowerment of women spurs economic growth within a country which can lead to the country becoming more stable, reducing poverty, and becoming a bigger player in the global market. Having more bargaining chips on the table can help a country s leaders make better deals with other governing bodies, as well as receive aid and support more effectively. Bottom line: More empowered women means more safety and security. We ll see more and better food, for everyone. The vast majority (80%) of agricultural workers in the world are female. Empowerment to grow, buy, and sell the crops they want decreases malnourishment in producing countries and increases the amount of food available for export. Did you eat today? Thank a (female) farmer. Better lives for men! If women are empowered, that frees men from the pressure to be the primary wageearner and shows little boys they can explore all aspects of who they are, without paying attention to roles that are traditionally masculine or feminine. Men will have more freedom to work part-time or take care of children, which frees them up for other, more interesting activities. What s the advantage to this? Society loosens up, and everyone is free to be who they truly want to be. Sounds pretty amazing. Political empowerment means more and better policies. When policymakers are mostly men, it seems like the needs of women (and a lot of other people) get thrown by the wayside. When women stand up in political forums, we get legislation that can save lives, protect young girls, and provide access to needed 345

12 healthcare. If we want our daughters to have the care they need in the future, we need more women in political power now. Empowerment for everyone! Down with capitalism! Are you a social activist? Do you hate big corporations like Coca Cola and Unilever? Did you camp out in Zuccotti Park with the rest of Occupy? The social, political, and financial empowerment of women would require massive shifts and changes to the status quo you know, the patriarchal hegemonic white supremacist capitalist situation we have going on right now. What would we get in its place? Who knows, but it couldn t be worse, right? Better literature! Two-thirds of the 774 million adult illiterates across the world are women. Imagine if the best book you ve ever read was going to be written by a woman who hasn t yet been taught to read? Women s empowerment will lead to more journalism, better books and movies, and more interesting stories being told. As a kid who grew up with my nose in a book, this sounds like the best possible outcome for everyone. Overturn nasty beauty standards for everyone. Everyone s seen beauty magazines, with their focus on hairless, sculpted, unreal, bleached and plucked specimens of humanity and that s just the men. The current beauty standards teach everybody to hate themselves because they re too fat, too hairy, too old, or just plain not airbrushed enough. If we re willing to empower women to accept who they are and how they look (beautiful!), men will reap the benefits and stop having to worry about their appearances and feel bad too. Throw the beauty magazines away before we all feel ugly. Disappearing indigenous cultures could get a new shot at surviving. In Canada, the Idle No More movement, started by four women, grew to be an international rallying point for indigenous rights and activism and Chief Theresa Spence of Attawapiskat went on hunger strike for six weeks to convince the Prime Minister to discuss the dangerous poverty her community was enduring. Australia just elected its first Aboriginal Parliamentary member in 2013, while New Zealand had a 346

13 Maori transwoman as an MP for the Labour Party from All these loud women mean native cultures are getting revitalized in new and exciting ways. Save the planet! If fertility rates continue the way they are now, scientists estimate the world s population will swell to 10 billion by That s 10 billion people competing for food, water, and other resources. One of the best ways to ensure that we live in a safe, healthy, and sustainable world is to support women who want reproductive healthcare and effective contraception. Nobody wants to worry about fighting for fresh water, and empowering women with voluntary family planning is a sure-fire route to a happier, healthier planet. CONCLUSION The women play a vital role in the socio economic progress of not only in India but also in all over the world. For the development of the economy women and men both should work together and women should utilize their skills. Women empowerment is an essential element in national development. Since women constitute half of the population there can be no development unless the needs and interests of women are fully taken into account. Empowerment of women could only be achieved if their economic and social status is improved. The first and foremost priority should be given to the education of women, which is the grass root problem. Swami Vivekananda had said That nation which doesn t respect women will never become great now and nor will ever in future and in pursuit of making India a great nation, let us work and strive hard in empowering women to the maximum. REFERENCES 1. Rameshwari Pandya,(2008) Women in changing India Serials publications, Delhi 2. Sen, A. (1999). Women s Agency and Social Changeǁ Development as Freedom. Oxford University Press. New York. 3. Nagaraja, B. (2013). Empowerment of Women in India: A Critical Analysis. Journal of Humanities and Social Science (IOSRJHSS), 9(2),

14 4. Kochurani Joseph(2005) Women Empowerment A conceptual Analysisǁ, Vimala Books and Publications, Kanjirapally, Kadam, R. N. (2012). Empowerment of Women in India- An Attempt to Fill the Gender Gap. International Journal of Scientific and Research Publications, 2(6), Goswami, L. (2013). Education for Women Empowerment. ABHIBYAKTI: Annual Journal, 1, Baruah, B. (2013). Role of Electronic Media in Empowering Rural Women Education of N.E. India. 8. ABHIBYAKTI: Annual Journal, 1, Ganeswamurthy,(2008) Empowerment of Women in India Social Economics and Politicalǁ, New Century Publications, New Delhi, p Deshpande, S., and Sethi, S., (2010). Role and Position of Women Empowerment in Indian Society. International Referred Research Journal, 1(17), [WWW page]. URL http: 348

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