This article is written by Harshit Khandelwal, 2nd year Law student currently pursuing BBA-LL.B(Hons.) from Unitedworld School of Law, Karnavati University . In this article, the author discusses meaning of women empowerment, stages of empowerment, characteristics and much more. LinkedIn Profile – https://www.linkedin.com/in/harshit-khandelwal-8694651ab
In general words, empowerment means giving power. As per the International Encyclopedia, power means having the capacity to direct one’s life towards desired social, economic goals and status. Power means control over intellectual resources, ideology, and material assets. Empowerment helps people gain control over their own lives and it is also a multi-dimensional social process. Empowerment takes place within the psychological, sociological and economic spheres at various levels such as group, community and individuals and challenges the assumptions about asymmetrical power relationships, status quo and social dynamics.
There are various ways to define empowerment, but when it comes to women empowerment, it means allowing and accepting women and making them a part of the decision-making process. The word “empowerment” has been largely used with women. For the overall development of the country, women empowerment is the most crucial point which needs to be considered. Empowerment of women is all about allowing and equipping women to make important decisions of life by facing difficult problems in society.
In development and economics, the empowerment of women has become an important topic of debate. For the sustainable development of the country, it is very essential to achieve gender equality and women empowerment. Even it is argued by many scholars and world leaders that without women empowerment and gender equality sustainable development is not possible. It will not be beneficial to sustainable development if only men’s participation is acknowledged.
Characteristics of Women Empowerment
1. It provides greater autonomy for women
2. Women Empowerment is making women better off, it is giving power to women
3. It provides a greater degree of self-confidence and a sense of independence
4. It helps women to increase their self-reliance
5. It means giving control to women over intellectual resources, ideology and material assets
6. It gives them power and capacity to resist discrimination imposed upon them by the male dominant society
7. It challenges traditional relations and power equations
8. It means challenging the difficulties faced in life, to overcome inequalities
9. It is a process of capacity building and creating awareness
Need and Importance of Women Empowerment
Empowerment of women and gender equality is something which is globally recognised as a key element to achieving progress in every field. Charter of United Nations which was signed in 1945 was the very first International Agreement which proclaimed gender equality.
The average earnings of women’s are consistently lower in comparison to those of men.
Admissions and attendance stats at hospitals are comparatively lower for women. A very systematic sex bias is reflected in caloric deficiency and higher nutritional among boys as well as girls. It was estimated by the U.N. Development Fund for Women that more than 50% of the women in Africa and Asia are malnourished.
The school enrolment stats for girls are still lower than boys at all ages and stages, and the drop out rates for girls are higher from primary to high schools.
Steps in Women Empowerment
The following are the steps to achieve women empowerment-
1. The first step starts at personal level. A woman develops feelings of command, personal power, and self-efficiency over inherent and material choices she has to make.
2. In the second step, at impersonal level empowerment takes place. At this level, one woman influence the decision making power of another woman through working together and their making contacts.
3. In the third step, empowerment emphasis on social change and social action. Through group effort, a community development program develops. Community development can lead to interpersonal empowerment and individual empowerment.
Stages of Women Empowerment
There are three stages of women empowerment according to Sushama Sahay-
1. The first step starts with empowerment only visible when women distance themselves from a particular situation and understand the structure of power and look at them without fear. In this stage, women learn how to analyse the situation and in this way, the fear starts turning into an understanding.
2. In the next stage, women can experience the courage to protest.
3. In the next stage, women develop a more mature stage of life. Confidence is generated by collective support of the group, which develops a learning spirit in themselves.
Strategies of Women Empowerment
The strategy which is adopted empowerment of women is classified into three categories:
1. Economic Approach
This approach is particularly based on the economic interposing is regarded as necessary because of their consequent dependence and low economic status as due to their lack of decision making power.
2. Integrated development approach
It is an assumption that women disempowerment is due to their low economic status, lack of education, low decision-making power and lack of access to resources.
3. Consciousness rising-cum-organising approach
This approach suggests that empowerment can be achieved through awareness building. This disempowerment may result in a complex interplay of cultural, social, historical, political and economic factors.
Ways of Achieving Women Empowerment
Empowerment of women can be achieved through employment, education, women’s organisation, Science and Technology, Information Technology, Law and Agriculture.
Employment is referred to as economic power. It means earning by one’s ability and hard work. Employment whether in business or trade or a job pots constraints on women and gives economic dependence to men. Lack of earning is the main reason why women have to silently endure and tolerate harassment, that’s why they are ill-treated by their husbands.
Education plays a very crucial role in empowering women. It not only sustains the empowerment process but also generates momentum in the long run. There are five dimensions within empowerment, every dimension is equally important. Several concepts need to be introduced at proper levels to achieve empowerment through education. When referring to schooling, girls can develop skills and knowledge to encounter stereotypes. Another important way of empowering adult women is distance education.
c) Women’s Organisation
The main source of position, power and strength for women in modern India is recognized as Women’s Organization. A woman cannot single-handedly or alone fight against the injustices against them in this male-dominant society. From all the different sections of the society, women’s are brought together to fight against the age-old practices such as polygamy, wife-beating, child-marriages, dowry, etc.
The sole aim of women empowerment is to make them realize their power, identity and potentiality in every sphere of life. Women Empowerment consists of five dimensions, i.e. political, economic, social/cultural, familial and personal. Empowerment of women is possible only when in each dimension a woman has increased access.
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