1) INTRODUCTION 2) The women who blazed the trail 3) Microscopic Minority 4) Sad Plight of Women 5) Empowerment is the only answer 6) What is empowerment 7) Women who proved well due to political empowerment 8) Political Empowerment at the National Level 9) Position in Panchayats 10) Reservation in Parliament and Assemblies a myth ? 11) Social Empowerment 12) Role of NGOs in social empowerment 13) Steps taken by Govt for social empowerment: 14) Empowerment paves way for glory 15) CONCLUSION INTRODUCTION: “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,” said Swami Vivekananda. But through centuries, societies in the world over have been trying to fly on only one wing, denying women their rightful place. The greatest champions of women’s rights have been great men like Gandhiji, Raja Rammohun Roy, Ishwarachandra Vidyasagar, Maharshi Karve and ironically those who have systematically exploited and degraded them have also been of a largely-male dominated society. The very concept of women empowerment shows that society as such has given a raw deal to women – who comprise nearly fifty percent of the population and women themselves have to come forward to fight for their rightful place in all walks of life and prevent their exploitation in every field. Women, who number 498.7 million according to the 2001 census of India, represent 48.2 percent of the country’s population of 1,027.01 million. Let us analyse the ways and means for empowerment of women.
The women who blazed the trail
Quite often we are carried away by the roll call of honour – the name of few luminaries who have left their footprints on the sands of time or who are fighting lonely battles – Indira Gandhi, Sirimao Bandaranaike, the first woman Prime Minister of a country (Sri Lanka) in the world, Chandrika Kumaratunga, Golda Meir, the first woman Prime Minister of Israel, Margaret Thatcher, the first woman Prime Minister of UK, Vijayalakshmi Pandit, the first woman President of UN General Assembly and many others. As a supercop, Kiran Bedi even excelled her male colleagues in jail reforms for which she was awarded Magsaysay Award. Now one hears a lot about Nisha Sharma, the UP girl who sent her prospective groom and in-law to jail for making unreasonable dowry demands.
Microscopic Minority: All the names cited here have been empowered women and they made both the society and womenfolk proud of them. But they form a microscopic minority in a country where
even after more than half a century of Independence, women are still looked down upon as a lesser species,virtual second-class citizens.
Sad Plight of Women:Attitudes towards women have not changed; in fact, things have indeed gone from bad to worse after Independence. Despite law, such reprehensible practices as female foeticide, female infanticide and child marriage are still prevalent in many parts of the country. Dowry is a plague that stalks every family having marriageable daughters and like AIDS it has no cure. Incidence of sexual harassment, eve teasing, sexual abuse of female children and rape are on the rise. Women form a sizeable percentage of the workforce in the unorganized sector, but most of the labour laws do not cover them.Those who have been to the pilgrim centers of Matura, Brindavan and Varanasi would have noticed the large number of widows living in abject penury. These are the widows dumped here by their relatives from West Bengal and other States. In almost every sphere, the female species is the most vulnerable.
Empowerment is the only answer: Will the empowerment of women mean a difference to their present status? The answer could be mixed, though the positive side overshadows the negative side. with all the social attitudes towards women, an empowered woman is in a far better position than a lay, unlettered and helpless woman. And this empowerment...