When we study the nature and significance of empowerment we often look for the framework of power which is its root impression. It is not just initiating the right to decision making but all that leads people to identify themselves as knowledgeable and experienced human beings. There are two aspects of empowerment, namely individual and collective. It is usually thought that economic wellbeing leads to social wellbeing, political wellbeing, cultural wellbeing, and what not; for the reason the economic power is the root cause of all other power forms. One enjoys ample power if one is very much economically stable. But keeping in view other factors especially detailed associations governed by culture, class or caste, sex, and gender, power may fail to come only through economic power. While talking about empowerment, it is the women empowerment that is very important for the reason that the economic welfare of every country depends upon the welfare of women. In COVID-19 much focus should be drawn towards the empowerment of women in every sector of the economy especially the health sector.
According to Jean Dreze and Amartya Sen (1995) women empowerment is an art of defining choice and egocentricity which is why it looks women as an able human being who is entitled to make choices. Under a shock or pandemic, it is very important to reduce inequality of any sort especially gender inequality in health (natality and mortality rates) for improving women’s empowerment. It improves the quality of life of people and increases their capability to make planned and calculated choices in life thereby making them economically better. For understanding empowerment, we need to know and analyze the environment, resources, institutions, and accomplishments. Resources are very important for empowerment. Institutions process the empowerment and take care of activities such as cooperation, bargaining, fraudulence, management, etc. In this pandemic, it becomes imperative to draw a line of demarcation between different determining activities cum factors of empowerment so that standard of living and quality of life of people improves to a great extent. In addition, in every sector of the economy, we should distinguish between gender-favored accomplishments indicating value choices and differences especially that highlight skill and knowledge differences to make choices.
COVID-19 is part and parcel of our society nowadays and an important constituent of our anthropological situation. Women empowerment is a part of sociological inception or conception and at the domestic level, it affects their competence level to take decisions and their level of freedom from being dictated by other family members. It is very important to keep a note of the community changes while measuring women’s empowerment. COVID-19 has rapidly brought significant changes in the communities and imposed social distancing thereby changing our culture.
There should be proper access to education attached to professional training. Also, there should be a right to employment together with property ownership and household decision making in order to improve women’s empowerment level. Many empirical results of the research studies confirm that women’s education and female literacy rates have the tendency to reduce child mortality rates. Furthermore, female labor force participation too has the trend to reduce female child mortality rate. Thus, the process of empowerment is enhanced through proper access of women to education and employment. It has a dual effect. On one hand, it improves the quality of life of the country and on another hand, it increases the efficiency level of the people. If any pandemic hits an economy, quality of life has to be improved which is why the process of empowerment is very important. Likewise, COVID-19 which is a pandemic as declared by WHO demands all inclusive empowerment.
Binish Qadri is ICSSR Doctoral Fellow pursuing Ph.D. in Economics at Department of Economics, Central University of Kashmir; Quarterly Franklin Member, London Journals Press.