Women Empowerment

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The National Policy for Empowerment of Women 2001 aimed at bringing about advancement, development and empowerment of women in all spheres of life. However, a close examination of social and economic status of women, especially in the rural areas shows unsatisfactory achievements in most human development indicators. Citing published facts and figures, evaluate the reasons for the failure of the government of India in areas such as growing feminization of poverty; exploitation of women in low paid, hazardous and insecure jobs in the unrecognised sector; wide gender laps in literacy and in wage rate; and escalating violence against women and the rising incidence of female foeticide and infanticide. What concrete steps should the government take to address this issue?

The First Five Year Plan, 1951: highlighted the need for organizing women.

The Second Five Year Plan, 1956-61: made an attempt to protect women against unsafe work, stressed for maternity benefits and crèches for children. It also suggested speedy implementation of the principle of equal pay for equal work and provided for training to enable women to complete for high level jobs.

The Fifth Five Year Plan (1974-79): brought in a comprehensive policy for women''s employment. It provided for special steps for admission for women to educational institutions on a strictly non-discriminatory basis and recommended a programme of functional literacy. In 1976, a National Plan of Action was evolved based on the United National World Plan of Action for Women. A Women''s Welfare and Development Bureau under the Ministry of Social Welfare was established to serve as nodal point to coordinate programme of other Ministries and to collect relevant data.

The Sixth Plan: stressed the need for greater attention to the economic emancipation of women along with access to health care and family planning services. It further stipulated that women were to form at least one third of the beneficiaries under the scheme of Training of Rural Youth for self-employment (TRYSEM). A special women''s income generating programme was also introduced in 1982 (DWCRA). The Plan emphasized that the women workers would require new skills and that the existing skills need to be upgraded.

The Seventh Plan: envisaged to instill confidence and the generate awareness amongst women and to open up new avenues of work by expanding access of women to critical resources such as land, credit, training, etc. Women''s Development Corporations were to set up and training and employment programmes were started to promote self employment and wage employment.

The Eighth Five Year Plan (1990-95): In order to increase the visibility and acknowledge women''s contribution, the plan stated that steps will be taken for identification and registration of women workers. They also decided that obstacles will also be removed to expand women''s access and control over resources, better wages and improved access to social security. The 73rd and the 74th Constitution (Amendment) Acts have made provisions for reserving 1/3rd seats for women in election in local self-Government.


Women in India have always been issues of concern. The folks and society at large consider women as second class citizens. Though we admire and preach them in the name of Durga, Saraswati, Parvati and Kali, we also abuse her in the form of Child-marriage, Female infanticide, Sati, Sexual harassment, Dowry and so on. The status of women in India has been subject to many great alterations over the past few millenniums. From a largely unknown status in ancient times through the low points of the medieval period, to the promotion of equal rights by many reformers, the history of women in India has been lively. The status of women has varied in different time periods.

In this presentation, I would focus on the following topics:

Status of women :
In Ancient India
In Medieval India
Before independence...
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