Women empowerment can be defined as bestowing women with rights to decide and steer their political, economic and social life for their own benefits that indirectly extends to the society. Since time immemorial women in India Women have been bound to follow a particular set of practices pre-decided by the patriarchy which many times includes their own self interest. It’s a sad reality that we still witness such perilous situation around us.
The ancient Vedic texts depicts matriarchal society, where women were equal to men which changed after introduction of famous treatise of Manu i.e. Manusmriti, after which the status of women was relegated to a subordinate position to men. The society was infiltrated with evil practices like child marriage, devdasi pratha, nagar vadhu system, sati system etc which curtailed the basic fundamental rights including the rights to work and education, socio-political rights making men as a dominant upper hand which worsened after invasion of advent Muslim rulers in India.
The British Raj had brought in new western views and ideas and influenced the Indian society on a different level. Few eminent social reformers like Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, Swami Vivekananda, Acharya Vinoba Bhave etc worked for the upliftment of women. Indian National Congress supported the first women’s delegation which met the Secretary of State to demand women’s political rights in 1917. The Child Marriage Restraint Act in 1929 was passed due to the efforts of Mahhommad Ali Jinna, Mahatma Gandhi called upon the young men to marry the child widows and urged people to boycott child marriages.
Post Independence, the leaders found it essential to include provisions that would improve and eliminate the age old traditions that exploited women and their rights and helped in empowering women socially, economically and politically.
The Indian document is regarded as the finest quality document in the world was designed by the founding fathers of the nation in a manner which would secure equality (gender equality in specific). The preamble of our constitution stands, as evidence to the thoughts of our founding fathers assuring justice, social, economic and political; equality of status and opportunity and dignity to every individual, thus treating both the genders equally.
The united nations describes 5 main fundamentals that define women empowerment which include Generating women’s sense of self-worth; Women’s right to have and to determine their choices; Women’s right to have access to equal opportunities and all kinds of resources; Women’s right to have the power to regulate and control their own lives, within and outside the home and Women’s ability to contribute in creating a more just social and economic order.
The specific laws in India which were enacted by put parliament in order to fulfill Constitutional obligations of women empowerment include:
According to the Global Gender Gap Report 2016 by World Economic Forum in which 144 countries were assessed , India ranked a 136 in economic participation and opportunity for women, 113 in educational attainment for women, abysmally low of 142 in the health and survival rate. The only bright sight is ranking 9th as far as the political empowerment is concerned. This alarming rankings show that India still has miles to go despite multiple polices implemented by the government.
The concept of empowerment does not only involve providing equal rights and justice to women but also stresses upon educating men and inculcating an understanding of the social scenario, which will indirectly give an impetus to the growth of nation.
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