Women Empowerment

There is no chance for the Welfare of world unless the condition of women is improved. Is not possible for A bird to fly on only one wing” said Swami Vivekananda. But throw centuries societies the world over have been trying to fly on only one wing, denying women their rightful place. Latest champions of women’s right have been great man like Gandhiji, raja Ram Mohan Roy, ishwar Chandra vidyasagar, maharshi karve. The very concept of women empowerment shows that society as much has given a raw deal to women who comprise nearly 50% 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 2011 Census of India, representing 48.2% of the country’s population of 1027.01 million.
The woman to Blaze the trail
Quite often we are carried away by the call of honour the names of few luminaries healthcare footprints on the Sands of Time and who fought lonely battles indira Gandhi, Sirimavo Bandamaike, the first woman Prime Minister of the 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 super cop, 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 laws to jail for making unreasonable dowry demands.
The names cited here have been empowered women and they made both the society and women folk 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.
Attitudes towards women have not changed; in fact things have ended gone from bad to worse after independence. Despite laws, such reprehensible practices as female foticide, 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 from a sizeable percentage of workforce in the unorganised sector, but most of the labour laws do not cover them. Those who have been to the pilgrim centres of Mathura, brindavan and Varanasi would have noticed the large number of Widows living in abject penury. These are the widows dumped here by there relatives from West Bengal and other states. In almost every sphere, the female species is the most vulnerable.
Will the empowerment of women make a difference to their present status? The answer could be mixed, the positive side of overshadows the negative side. With all the social attitudes towards women, and empowered women is in a far better position than a lay, unlettered and helpless women. And this empowerment has to cover the political economic, social and legal fields.
Regards political important we have come a long way. We had an Iron Lady in Indira Gandhi, women like Sarojini Naidu, vijayalakshmi Pandit, rajkumari Amrit Kaur, dr Sushila Nayar how then not a little to mould modern India. There are veteran MP’s and ministers in the centre and the states. Miss Mayawati, mS jayalalitha and miss Mamata Banerjee have proved to be astute politicians and of course our foreign minister Sushma Swaraj.
Political empowerment at the national level
All the same women empowerment in National and state politics have just been a non starter. It has taken 62 years and 13 in Lok Sabha nexans force the percentage of women members in the house to move up partially from a 4.4% in 1952 to 8.8% in 2004, A figured that is for below the average of around 15% in countries which have elected legislature. Though our dismal record is comparable to Brazil 8.6%, indonesia 8%, russia 7.6 %, japan 7.3%, sri Lanka 4.4% and Bangladesh 2 percent, yet we are far behind countries like Sweden 45.3%, cuba 36%, germany 32.3 %, china 21.8%, pakistan 21.6%, uK 17.9% and France 12.2%.

Of course, we made a bold beginning in respect of the political empowerment of women at the gross root level during the Rajiv Gandhi regime. During his regime, the 64th constitutional amendment bill for reservation for women in Panchayat was introduced. Also it failed In Rajya Sabha, it was Re introduced during Narasimha Rao tenure. In December 1992 parliament passed the 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments providing for 33% reservation for women in Panchayat Raj bodies. In the last decade after the Legend legislation came into force, the woman as presidents and members of panchayats have played a significant role in local bodies. women have stoned male bastions of power not only in the village panchayats but in the Municipal Council and Municipal corporations in the town and big cities.
Woman elected to panchayats and Municipal Council because of reservation policy on our setting themselves” sudha Mohan who teaches urban studies at Mumbai University Department of civics and politics. All the women are still under represented in the national political Arena the 73rd and 74th constitutional amendment have increased their access to decision making at the local level. This has resulted in practical changes according to actress and Rajya Sabha member Shabana Azmi. For instance, she said, government tender to take up basic issues like water, health facilities and education even as their male counterparts seemed more interested in building marriage halls and community centres. Large scale entry of women in local self government institutions in rural and urban India has changed the face and tenor of the elected bodies. For instance, for a change one can feel the predominant presence of women in the brihanmumbai municipal Corporation. This civil body had approximately 5 women corporators before the 1992 elections. In 2002, 78 women entered the 227 member house because of the reservation policy.
Right from 1996, the woman of India have been waiting for the clearance of the Women’s Reservation Bill that would give them one third reservation in Parliament and state legislatures. This bill was introduced several times since then but because of the lack of political will, it will remains in the gestation phase. Can we ever expect the menfolk who dominate parliament and state legislatures with more than 90% majority to surrender their privileges and positions overnight. On some plea or the other. The ball started rolling from days of Gujral regime , got stuck up during the Deve Gowda rule and started moving again after the advent of Vajpayee government. They have been ugly scenes in the Lok Sabha when irate members tore up the bill or snatched it from the Minister introducing the bill. Nonetheless almost all parties even those opposed to the bill in its present form do agree that women should be given greater representation in Parliament and the state legislatures. Ultimately what form the bill when it comes to the Lok Sabha remains to be seen.
1. Every successive government in at the centre is trying to pass the Women’s Reservation Bill which was first introduced in parliament in 1996. Due to vested interest of each party. It could not get the consensus and there is no further movement in this direction. The bill was introduced by United front government in 1996, mr IK Gujral government in 1998 and NDA government in 1999 but without any success. The present UPA government has also promised for the same but could not get consensus.
2. Romantic wanted to Reserve 33% of seats in Parliament and state assemblies for women. it is also suggested that the constituency can be rotated for reservation some political parties apprehend that this will only benefit educated women who will have an upper hand against SC OBC woman.
3. The consensus between political parties could not be reached due to apprehension that the bill in the present form will only benefit women for upper classes. Some political parties want a separate quota for obcs and minorities is misplaced as it will lead to division of the society on caste and communal lines. The political parties should ensure adequate representation for these categories.
Arguments In favour of reservation for women
a. After 70 years of independence women representation in Parliament and assembly is under represented.
b. It will open up opportunity for women in public life.
c. Reservation for women main break up Nexus between criminal and politicians.
Government against reservation
5.a. Women do not need reservation as they have made a lot of progress in education and are competing with men at every stage successfully.
b. Separate constituency for women would narrow their Outlook and  might precipitate similar demands from other interest, threatening national integration.
c. As women are not concentrated in certain areas of activity, there could be no National basis for reservation for women.
d. Reservation for women will only help women of a particular class who are already privileged.
6. The present government is trying to reach consensus, maybe by lowering the percentage.
Social attitudes must change
Political empowerment of women is only a part of the overall mainstreaming of women. At the political level only a microscopic minority of women, at the helm of affairs , can affect the change in the life of women. It is the economic and social empowerment of women that needs to be given greater importance. This could be achieved a lot through education. Education of women means greater Awareness of their role in society, Awareness of their rights, better knowledge of Housekeeping and better performance of their roles as a housewife and mother. Education and training have opened up the Avenue of employment and self employment in the organised sector. As never before women are working in diverse field as doctors engineer IAS officers, iPS officers, bank officials and in a wide range of sectors in the unorganic sector. In non governmental organisation are playing a significant role in the empowerment of disadvantaged women. Just a few years after the Independence, the government set up the central social welfare board, and body of voluntary sector that aids more than 10000 NGO across the country, helping women stand on their own through such programs as socio economic programme, vocational training and other similar programs.
The department of women and child development has been implementing social program for the Holistic development and empowerment of women with major focus to improve their socioeconomic status. There have been policies shift from time to time based on the shifts in emphasis. While the focus earlier was welfare and development of women now the focus is on women’s empowerment. In fact the year 2001 was declared as women’s empowerment year to bring greater focus on the programs for women.
A program of support to training cum employment for women was launched in 1987 to strengthen and improve the skills of women below the poverty line. The scheme was essentially designed for marginalised and assetless women, female headed households and other for womens. Other major government programs to empower poor women have been the SwayaSidha launched in March 2001 and the Sabha Shakti project launched in October 1998. All these projects are designed to empower the lower socio-economic groups in the country.
MI note place women on an equal footing with men. The greatest need of the hour is change of social attitude to women. take the Classic case of dowry. Dowry is still rampant in a virulent from even among the highly educated classes. However educated a girl maybe dowry is still demanded. We have seen the case of Nisha and she and her parents too were willing to pay the dowry. Only when the demands cross the limits she fought back. Women’s empowerment means a lot but the ultimate goal of the equalization of men and women would materialize only when her complementary role is recognised by the society.

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