A CRITICAL ANALYSIS: CHALLENGES TO WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
Updated: Jun 16
Written by: Sandeep Rana, Chandigarh University
Women play various different great roles in our society from bread earners to caretakers for their families. A woman is that Diamond metal made by God who has the power to surge and is unbreakable in every situation but can take every form according to the situation. Let’s take examples of some great women of our country who have played a very vital role in our country’s Development and Growth. Mithali Raj, Prathiba Patel, Kiran Bedi, Justice S. Fathima Beevi, and many more. To educate and progressing a woman means to the overall progress of the family. to overcome the challenges of women empowerment and to the abolition of gender discrimination, not only the government, but public participation is also necessary. There cannot be any contribution to growth when there is no creation or achievement of equal opportunity. Gender inequality is not only pressing a moral or social issue but is a critical economic challenge. Over 2.8 billion women are restricted from having the same job as men, because of their family or societal pressure. In a patriarchal structure of society, it is taught to children that boys don't cry, instead of teaching them that don’t make girls cry.
Meaning of Women Empowerment
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines Empowerment as ‘the granting of the power, right, or authority to perform various acts or duties’[i] Empowerment aims at enabling or authorizing individuals to think or take actions in an autonomous way
The empowerment of women depends upon various factors like geographical location, education, caste, class and age and various policies that exist for their empowerment at national, state and local levels which includes the health sector, education sector, economic opportunities, women’s security and mobility. But there is a lot of gap between the implementation of these laws and policies and policy advancement at the ground level.
Challenges to women empowerment in India
Globally a country is losing a 160 trillion dollars wealth because of the difference in earnings between men and women. The government of India has made various laws and policies and created an initiative to promote skill and development so that women can be a part of the workforce.
But it observed that apart from technical skill, what women really need are the skills that will help them build self-confidence in self moral. They can progress up in their career. They must be having access to real world opportunities that will help them identify their skills. This article stated that India is one of the top countries in female workforce participation when we say top, it means backward. We were ranked 121 out of 131 countries in female work participation. Nearly 60 percent of women who find employment quit in the first two years. Only 10 percent of startup founders or co-founders are women.
A recent UNESCO report states that there are 481 million women who lack basic literacy skills. UN Conventions clearly reflect the issues faced by women all over the world[ii].
It’s amazing to say that year and year more girls and women are enrolling in schools and colleges, and girls are more successful in clearing class exams. However, more girls are studying but merely 84 percent of them drop out before graduating. Women are going to college but only a few are working after completing their education.
● violence in many sectors like domestic violence, Women suffer under witch-hunting, Acid attacking, Rape victims, Women in trafficking
● Due to the patriarchal structure of society, women are not having full decision making power.
● Discrepancy between men and women in the areas of health, education, political empowerment, and economic empowerment
● In labor sector like Domestic labor, Bonded labor and Destitute women who are homeless
● In health sector like Women affected by HIV/ AIDS, Women suffering from life threatening diseases, Women with Disabilities, elderly Women
● Hindrance of political participation at national, state and local governing bodies despite having reservation for women guaranteed under the Indian constitution.
● Furthermore, the level of women’s education also has a direct implication on maternal mortality rates, and nutrition and health indicators among children[iii].
● The women who are from lower caste, backward areas, are vulnerable to maternal mortality and infant mortality. They are deprived of their basic human rights and basic services such as clean water, sanitation and health facilities.
Reasons for discrimination
In a country with strong traditional influences from a young age, we often fail to question the concept of prejudice, a relatively rigid structure that has been imposed from such young age women come up with a being caretaker, where men are considered to be a decision-maker or provider.
Besides the social norms and other major factors contributing to discrimination is to lack access to real-world skills and role models. This is the problem women face globally which contributes to them thinking that they are not good enough or incapable of doing better.
Most women, both urban and rural are brought up with the preconceived notion that education is the stepping stone toward finding a good husband, apparently the ultimate goal of women's life. Parents feel that they have fulfilled their duty by educating their daughter and what is left is marrying them off?
Indian parents especially focus on saving all their lives for their daughter’s wedding rather than investing in her dreams and saving for her social growth.
Specifically talks about adolescent girls who drop out of school due to early marriage, early pregnancy, household chores (gender roles), and financial constraints.
Suggestions or measures
1. Not only the government can solve, but public participation is also necessary to overcome the issues and challenges to women empowerment.
2. It can be achieved only when the society will treat women with proper respect, dignity, and equality and without any biases regardless of their area, background, caste, creed, or color.
3. There must be a positive and supportive role of media regarding remove socio-legal constraints.
4. To ensure their basic necessities of life like Nutrition, Health, Safety, Sanitation, Housing. To develop ability among women to think critically and to make an informed choice.
5. Women empowerment can be achieved fully only after the fulfillment of these conditions - women’s security, decision making power, and mobility.
The SC, in Gaurav Jain v. Union of India[iv] highlighted the socio-economic plights of the women in prostitution and issued guidelines to prevent engaging women in various forms of prostitution.
As per the NFHS-3 survey on women’s decision making power, it is found that old aged women had more decision making power than young married women.
The only time they should be reminded of a woman when they are at home or at a social family gathering. How can we influence women from low socioeconomic backgrounds to have a voice?
In the case of A.P. v. P.B. Vijayakumar[v] held that the 30% reservation given to women under Andhra Pradesh was just and reasonable and hence valid.
The renowned swami Vivekananda quotes, “there is no chance for the welfare of the world unless the condition of women is improved; it is not possible for a bird to fly on only one wing”.
People should decide to create a talent pool of underrepresented students and provide them an opportunity without any bias, regardless of their background or gender. Our goal has been only to empower students regardless of cities or villages.
It comes to the conclusion that the empowerment of women leads to the progress of the family and society and contributes to socioeconomics advancement. It also acts as a sine qua non of empowerment of the entire nation. Gender discrimination, inequalities, harassment, and exploitation faced by women can be removed with the help of women empowerment. Neither governments nor NGOs can do this alone, public participation is also necessary to overcome the problem of gender inequality. People love her as a mother, as a wife as a sister, but why not as a daughter. Women now making up more than 40% of the global labor force and are at the steering system of major companies and organizations, despite these accomplishments, still, women remain far from equality in many countries and in many prospects of life[vi].
[i] Empowerment [Def. 1] In Merriam Webster Online, Retrieved January 01, 2020, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/empowerment.
[ii] Available at https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Events/WHRD/WomenRightsAreHR.pdf, Accessed on 01/01/2020.
[iii] NFHS 3! Data!analysis http://www.measuredhs.com
[iv] Gaurav Jain v. Union of India, 1997 (8) SCC 114
[v] A.P. v. P.B. Vijayakumar, 1995 (4) SCC 520.
[vi] Pluess JD, Mohapatra A, Oger C, Gallo K, Meiers R, Fritz K. Building effective women’s
Economic empowerment strategies: Sector-specific opportunities and the case for