Women empowerment: Prospects and Challenges

The goal of development is to raise the standard of living in all its aspects with a view of changing the quality of life of the people. No meaningful development could be made neglecting the better half of the family-the women who bear and rear the children and manage most of the household affairs. Society, politics and economics are inter-related. One influences the course of others. So it is easily understood, if women have no right in social and political platform, who will take the lead to claim economic rights for them. Regarding deprivation of economic rights many examples can be cited.

Few topics today consume the attention of researchers in social sciences, government, planning groups, social workers and reformers as the problems of women do. Approaches to the study of women’s problems range from the study of gerontology to psychiatry and criminology. But one important problem relating to women which has been greatly ignored is the problem of violence against women. Violence towards women in the context of marriage becomes more significant when a husband who is supposed to love and protect his wife beats her. For a woman, being battered by a man whom she trusted most becomes a shattering experience. The violence can range from slaps and kicks to broken bones. They have been victims of verbal, psychological, religious, sexual, emotional and economic abuse. In the Indian culture, we rarely hear of a wife reporting a case of battering to police. She suffers humiliation in silence and takes it as her destiny. Even if she wants to revolt, she cannot do it because of the fear that her own parents would refuse to keep her in their house permanently after the marriage.

Empowerment of women may be taken to mean strengthening women’s position in the socio-political power structure of the society. But empowerment in this sense cannot be achieved without strengthening women’s position in the existing economic system. This means creating both more social opportunities and capacities for women so that they can participate in effective significant manner in the functioning of the economic system of the society. While these provide necessary conditions for women’s empowerment, the targeted outcome of such empowerment is supposed to be the creation of conditions that would enable women to play decisive roles in the family and society equally with their male counterparts, so that question of oppressions, discriminations, injustice, deprivation and degradation for women as a group would turn to be totally irrelevant.

The source of empowerment should not remain confined to the domain of governmental machinery alone. Empowerment will remain a distant dream unless the governmental programmes on empowerments are combined with a change in the social attitude and a re-reading of women’s position. There is need to change the self-perception of women as the second sex or a weakling who needs protection of the male members of the family no matter what may be his age. Self-confidence and self-reliance are essential conditions for empowerment, which no super-imposed programs can inculcate in them. In the realization of this inner strength, lies actual empowerment.

Women are the sufferer in the hands of men all over the world. The fact remains that the paths of women are still beset with several difficulties. Violence against women is largely a manifestation of their lower status in the society.  Women intend to bear responsibilities of in house activities like handling home, health, husbandry, health care, hospitality, hubby and hoards. They are naturally efficient in taking care of nutrition, nurturing and nourishment of each and every member of the family, group or the community. As they play the key role in forming family very often they contribute to unpaid labor and do not expect social justice. Females have more tolerance, patience, docility and ability to adjust, power of bearing, rearing and steering and sacrifice as compared to the male counterpart. Participation of women in different activities is essential for socio-economic development of our country. Participation leads to empowerment of women, which generates self-respect, self-confidence, self-discipline and self-sufficiency. Self-help groups will help the women to come out from social limitations such as superstition and dormant role in the decision-making.