SELF HELP GROUPS
Mrs. REBECCA THOMAS
Lecturer in Commerce
NES Ratnam College,
WOMEN EMPOWERMENT AND SELF HELP GROUPS
Women and children, who represent more than two-thirds (67.7%) of the country's total population, constitute the most important target group in the context of the present day developmental planning. Therefore their concerns are placed on the priority list of the country's developmental agenda.
For more than a decade' the term 'empowerment' has been widely used in relation to women as well as marginalized community in India, Today one hears this term much more often than terms like women's welfare, upliftment,development are awareness rising .how ever ,in spite of the growing popularity and widespread usage of the term, there have been few conceptual explorations of what exactly empowerment means, and even more, what the empowerment of women implies in social, economic and political terms. Women’s empowerment is a global issue today and discussion on women's political rights are at the fore front many formal and informal campaigns world wide.
Empowerment in its simplest form means "the manifestation of redistribution of power that challenges patriarchal ideology and the male dominance" .becoming powerful is the literal meaning of the term 'empowerment’. These are being used today in spears of life as a process to strengthen the elements of society. It is both processes as the results of the processes. It is transformation of the structures or Institutions that reinforces and perpetuates gender discrimination. Empowerment is the process that enables women to gain access to and control of materials as well as information resources, the empowerment approach was first clearly articulated in 1985 by Development Alternatives with Women capital for a new era ( DAWN).This term received prominence in early 90's in western countries.
Empowerment is the process of challenging existing power relations and of gaining greater control over the sources of power. The goals of Women’s empowerment are to challenge patriarchal ideology to transform the structures and institutions that reinforce and perpetuate gender discrimination and social inequality and to enable poor women to gain access to and control of both material and informational resources. It can change existing power relations by addressing itself to the three dimensions of material, human and intellectual resources. Empowerment cannot occur as a revolution but only as evolution.
Appointing a committee on the status of women in India in 1971, the report of towards Equality (1974) which finally led to the preparation of the National Perspective Plan for Women 1988-2000.This plan puts together almost all that Women have aspired for and what has been formally promised to them. Though the plan claimed to provide an alternate strategy of national development, so far as the upliftment of women and their emancipation are concerned,
it was admitted that no additional financial outlays were proposed for programmes specifically designed for upliftment of women, who are supposed to be woven into the social fabric in what was called an Integrated National Developmental Strategy. In the then prevailing social, economic and political environment when there was no commitment on the part of the political and administrative machinery such a tall claim and any expectations on that basis appeared to be misplaced. The report of the National Commission for self-employed women and women in the informal sector also authenticated many realities about the conditions and contributions of women in this sector. NGO’s working with women gained much strength and confidence from this report. The appointment of the National Commission for Women (NCW) in 1992 and the Rashtriya Mahila Kosh (RMK) in 1993 are part of the overall strategy of an integrated...