History shows that among all underprivileged groups in the world, women have suffered the most. There was no limit to their suffering regardless of culture, race, region, and religion. They have experienced abuse, aggression, violence, rape, poverty, malnutrition, abuse – in a world of all sorts of deprivation. However, until recently, researchers have not been sufficiently focusing on topics related to women’s empowerment.
In India, women have made great strides between the sages and scholars of the Vedic era of Rig and the women of the armed forces, IT sector, politics, industry, and other relevant fields while balancing their roles as daughters, wives, and mothers. It has not been an easy path to modernization. The constant fight against the patriarchal society to emerge as strong and more independent beings has been going on for a long while.
It is evident enough that women fall victim to social, political, religious, and economic subordination and deprivation in the Indian society. Moreover, they regularly face discriminatory treatment in even the everyday aspects of life. Democracy becomes meaningless and paralyzed if 50% of its population cannot participate in the democratic decision-making processes and join in the economic, social, and political activities. That is why, for democracy to be sustainable, women and men are to be given equal opportunities in every possible field.
Where India Stands
India’s journey towards the emancipation of women has its ebbs and flows. It has made progress in ratifying international treaties and formulating national policies to end gender inequality. The government has established a space where international organizations can collaborate with state governments, local non-government organizations, and private corporations on a plethora of initiatives to support women from various socio-economic backgrounds. Despite these efforts, India’s ranking in the global gender equity surveys has not improved substantially over the years.
The five categories overlap, but it is also necessary to consider them separately. Knowing the work to be done in those five categories can help in the right direction and empower not only women but every single human.
TYPES OF EMPOWERMENT
Nowadays, empowerment of women can be broadly categorized into five main parts – social, educational, economic, political, and psychological.
Social Empowerment refers to the enabling force that strengthens women’s social relations and their position in social structures. It might be one of the most prominent forms of empowerment shown in the mainstream media. It also takes intersectionality into account and fights back against discrimination, no longer letting people of different disabilities, races, ethnicities, religions, or genders be walked over by what’s considered normal.
Traditional concepts acknowledge that higher education is a personal development tool. It helps to develop the intellectual horizons, well-being, and empowerment of an individual. It is considered the principal instrument of socio-political and economic transformation. India was recently listed in the United Nations Development Report as 134 out of 187 countries in HDI
(Human Development Index) one of the key elements of which is education. Without adequate education for all children, including girls, empowerment of women and men is not possible.
A significant population of young girls drop out of school every year for several reasons, ranging from lack of menstrual hygiene to child marriage. Addressing such secondary issues can also play a major role in improving the quality of education our girls receive and overall raise awareness about the importance of personal emancipation.
Economic empowerment is what we need today. Wage labor means economic authority. Through employment, women can earn money, and this allows them to become ‘bread earners’ contributing members of households with a strong sense of economic autonomy. Not to mention that most of the household work that women do on a regular basis go unnoticed and unpaid. However, a general awareness along with proactive policies to empower women economically is certainly what the nation requires right now.
Women’s participation in politics and a variety of decision-making bodies is a significant enabler of empowerment. Politics determines who will receive and how much. Without political involvement, it would be arduous for women to enhance their efficiency, ability, to question the power structure and patriarchal ideology. The political empowerment of women is, therefore, the greatest need at the moment. It’s an ascending mobility scale in society.
Lastly, through psychological empowerment, women not only violate traditional, patriarchal taboos and social obligations but also transform themselves. Further, it provides them with satisfaction in various ways concerning professional life, learning, and adaptation to personal and financial situations.