Women across the world have always been considered the weaker sex. The status of women is well expressed in a quote by the United Nations, back in 1980 that reads – “Women constitute half of the world’s population; perform nearly two-thirds of its work hours; receive one-tenth of the world’s income; and own less than one-hundredth of the world’s property.”
After even four decades the quote is still very much relevant to the present status of women in the world. The statement precisely describes the status of women and the social status they are entitled to. Even after four decades, the figures haven’t changed much and today women own below 20% of the world’s land.
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Introduction – Women Empowerment Meaning
As the name clearly suggests, women empowerment is empowering women and bringing them at par with men in terms of social status, financial independence, gender equality, exercise of fundamental rights, employment opportunities, etc.
The goal of women empowerment is to make the women financially independent and capable of taking their own decisions.
Need for Women empowerment
Despite being equally capable as men, women didn’t get fair chance on several spheres including social status, financial decisions, employment opportunities, etc. Facts pressing the need for women empowerment are listed below.
Around 35% of women in the world have faced in-house domestic violence or violence by a live in partner.
Women constitute over 65% of world’s work force, yet they earn less than 10%.
Women lacking behind men in fronts like education, health, employment, social status, etc.
Women and girls constitute almost 60% of chronically hungry people in the world.
Women in West Asia and North Africa represent less than 5% of agriculture land holders.
The stake of women in the world’s land holder’s category is below 20%.
Women in Sub Saharan Africa spend around 6 to 10 hours per week for collecting water as compared to 2-3 hours of men.
Women constitute over two-thirds of world’s 796 million illiterate people.
Wages of women in different unorganized sectors is way more less than their male counterparts.
The representation of women in elected councils is very much low than males.
Methods of Women Empowerment
Women empowerment is a continuous process involving different methods to raise the status of women on various spheres. Some important methods for women empowerment are listed below.
1) Educational empowerment of Women
Constituting for two-third of the world’s total illiterate population, women are vulnerable to unemployment and poverty. Educating girl child and even grown up women could prove to an effective tool in making them employed and independent.
2) Social Empowerment
In many societies, even employed women don’t enjoy the same social status as their male counterparts. They are not allowed to take significant financial decisions for the family, etc. This mind set needs to be changed and the societies must be made aware of women social rights through regular campaigns.
3) Gender Equality
Gender discrimination is one of the greatest problems faced by the both employed as well as unemployed women. Many societies still consider women inferior to men and don’t allow them equal chances. Women are paid less despite giving in number of more working hours. Creating a society where women are given equal chances like the men is a major method to achieve women empowerment.
4) Creating Job Opportunities
This is another significant milestone on the path of women empowerment. We need to create more job opportunities for women. This will go a long way in making them financially independent and thereby improving their social status.
5) Addressing Women in Agriculture Sector
Agriculture sector employs around two-third of the total working women in the world. Despite giving in the same working hours as men, the wages earned by women in this sector is fairly low. The government needs to look into the grievances faced by the women in this sector.
Advantages of Women Empowerment
Women empowerment leads to an equal and unbiased society where both men and women enjoy equal opportunities, status and privileges.
Increase in productivity of the country, through channelizing the potential of the women.
Improved living standard of the family, as an employed woman contributes to the family’s expenses.
Better health and sanitation conditions in the family and hence the society as well.
An educated woman makes sure that her children also get good education opportunities.
Significant reduction in the numbers of crime against women.
Women empowerment is one of the United Nations’ sustainable Development Goals or SDG Goal number 5.
Women Empowerment in India
Several governments of India have taken distinguished steps for women empowerment in past decades.
Free and compulsory primary education for children of the age of 6 to 14 years, both boys and girls has been made mandatory under the constitution.
Currently there are several schemes running by the Ministry of Women and Child Development. Some of the important schemes for women empowerment are –
Mahila E Hat – an online platform launched to promote women entrepreneur ship.
Beti Bachao Beti Padhao – targeting female foeticide and the education of girl child.
One Stop Center Scheme or ‘Sakhi’ – Providing shelters, police help desk, legal, medical and counseling services to the women.
Working women Hostels with day care facilities for the children.
Swadhar Greh – A scheme to provide shelter, food and counseling marginalized girls and women in need or facing difficult circumstances.
Women empowerment is the prerequisite for a balanced and happy society. Unless the women are empowered and enjoy equal status and opportunities as men, the dream of achieving sustainable development goals will remain a distant dream.