Gender equality: Women Empowerment
This article discusses the issue of gender equality and women empowerment in India. This article is written by Aradhaya Singh, a 1st year law student from Indraprastha Law College, Greater Noida.
Gender equality means that women and men, and girls and boys, enjoy the same rights, resources, opportunities and protections. It does not require that girls and boys, or men and women, be the same, or that they be treated exactly alike. Gender equality is also a precondition for all round development and reducing poverty in India. Gender equality and women empowerment are two sides of the same coin. The women who are empowered can easily give their contribution in the fields of education, defence, agriculture etc and which in turn will help future generations. It is accepted that gender equality and women empowerment are the fundamental cornerstones for achieving development in India. In this article attempt is made to present some inequalities that exist in our country and so as to have an idea about to what extent the women are empowered.
Gender equality is a human right which is provided to each and every individual and which entitles all persons irrespective of their gender to live with dignity, peace and freedom. It is also a factor for an all round development and reducing poverty worldwide. Women who are empowered makes valuable contribution in the field of education, health, games and sports and also set example for future generations to come. The Millennium Development Goal also puts emphasis on the gender equality and women empowerment. It is now accepted worldwide that gender equality along with women empowerment are the fundamental corner stones for achieving development results of the nation.
UNICEF says gender equality means that women and men, and girls and boys, enjoy the same rights, resources, opportunities and protections. It does not require that girls and boys, or women and men, be the same, or that they be treated exactly alike.
The principle of gender equality is enshrined in the Indian Constitution in its Preamble, Fundamental Rights, Fundamental Duties and Directive Principles. The constitution not only grants equality to women, but also empowers the state to adopt measures of positive discrimination in favour of women.
Gender equality and women empowerment are two sides of the same coin. If one is affected the other is affected too. Gender equality is a belief that both men and women should receive equal treatment. People should not be discriminated on the basis of gender. There should be no gender biasness. It can also be called sex equality, or equality of genders.
Gender equality will only be achieved when all men and women are treated equally, equal opportunities must be provided to both of them in all spheres of life. Equal claim on education and career prospects will enable women to realize their personal ambitions and goals. When women are empowered, the benefit is provided to all the members of the family, thus benefitting the society as a whole and these benefits often have a ripple affect on future generations.
According to census of 2011, India has reached a population of 1210569573 as against 301 million in 1951 of which 587447730 (48.53%) were females. The population of India accounted for 17.5% of the total world population and occupied second place after China which is on top spot. The sex ratio was 930 in 1971 during which high rapid growth (stage of population explosion) was there but the sex ratio increased to 943 according to census of 2011. The female literacy was 53.67% in 2001 census but increased to 65.4% in 2011. There is a difference of 11.8% in these years while there is a decrease in male- female literacy gap from 26.6% in 1981 to 16.7% in 2011. In India mainly women empowerment is dependent on geographical locations (urban/rural). Many schemes launched for improving the economic, social condition of women and to protect gender equality. The following schemes are aiming at women empowerment and gender equality in India:
- Integrated child development services (ICDS)- 1995
- Swadhar- 1995
- Swayam Sidha- 2001
- Support to training and employment programme for women (STEP)- 2003-2004
- Rajiv Gandhi scheme for empowerment of adolescent girls (RGSEAG)- 2010
- The Rajiv Gandhi national creche scheme for children of working mothers
- Ujjwala- 2007
- Integrated child protection scheme (ICPS)- 2009-2010
- Short stay homes
- Dhanalaxmi- 2008
- National mission for empowerment of women- 2010
- Nai Roshni- 2012
- Rashtriya mahila kosh- 1993
- Scheme for gender budgeting (XI Plan)
- Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao- 2015
Inspite the implementation of these schemes, there is not so much of effect on the empowerment of women. The Global Gender Gap Index (2019) says that India is not doing much for women as it ranks 112th rank to a worst rank, ranked lower than many of its international peers due to rising disparity in terms of women’s health and participation in economy. According to World Economic Forum (WEF), Iceland remained the world’s most gender neutral country while Yemen at 153th place, the worst. The WEF Gender Gap Index ranks countries according to calculated Gender Gap between men and women in four key areas: health, education, economy and politics. It measures women’s disadvantage compared to men and is not a measure of equality of the gender gap.
Results and findings:
- Gender Equality in various sectors of education: Education is the most important basis for gender equality. Enrolment of girls in various educational institutions will lead to gender parity in education. Substantial progress can be seen during last 10-11 years towards gender parity education as said by different educationists. Here Gender parity is the key word which needs to be explained
- What is Gender Parity Index?- It is the ratio of the number of female students enrolled at primary, secondary and tertiary levels of education to the corresponding number of male students in each level. During the last few years there has been an increase in gender Parity education in India.
- Gender Equality and share of women in economics and various fields: Women participation in labour force is a sign of declining discrimination and increasing empowerment of women. Recently it can be seen that Mrs Nirmala Sitaraman was given charged as the finance minister of India in the 17th Lok Sabha cabinet and she is India’s first full time female finance minister. Sub lieutenant Shivangi becomes first woman pilot for Indian Navy who hails from Bihar. There are lots of examples which women had set in India through their talent.
- Gender Equality and women access to resources: Access to resources is important for economic freedom of women as freedom of movement is linked with their economic independence. Recently a survey identified five important variables namely: knowledge of loan programme, get loans, having a back account, high educational attainment.
Issues to be tackled for women empowerment and gender equality:
The difference between men and women can be seen at every level of the society. Majority of women are poor, uneducated and not trained sufficiently. They often end up their lives surviving for their families. Although lots of things are happening and large amount of resources and money are being spent in the name of women empowerment in India, but the actual situation just remains same year by year and condition of women is getting bad day by day.
- Eliminating gender differences should be there for attaining gender equality and reducing disempowerment of women. Education should be given equally to both men and women. No discrimination should be made.
- Child marriage, which is still prevalent in our society, must be stopped. This is because an early age at marriage of women is an indicator of low status of women in society and also her education is stopped or not given.
- Violence against women must be eradicated from the society. Apart from strict laws and regulations the violence against women ca
n only be tackled through a change in attitude that needs to take place in the family, in the society and female members of the society as well. Gender training programmes are also important.
- Moreover women’s empowerment cannot take place unless women come together and decide to self empower themselves. Women should come together in unity and initiate self empowering actions at the ground level.
As women constitute almost one-half of India’s population, without their engagement and empowerment, rapid economic growth and development is not possible. Still large part of women do not have sufficient autonomy regarding the value of choices for their own life. There is a need to take various other measures for women empowerment.
Along with government, civil society organisations and all other organizations must come forward and involve in the women empowerment process is the need of the hour.
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Government of India Human development report (2019)
Government of India National family health survey (4), Ministry of health and family welfare, New Delhi
Global Gender Gap Index (2019)
Dr B. Nagaraja (2013) Empowerment of women in India: A critical analysis. IOSR Journal of humanities and social science, Volume 9, Issue 2.