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Do Women Need Empowerment

Do Women Need Empowerment

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Published by Ramita Udayashankar

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Published by: Ramita Udayashankar on Mar 11, 2011
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02/02/2013

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Do women need empowerment?
“Empowerment of women is not just a goal in itself, but key to all global developmentgoals.”
Women empowerment
refers to increasing the political, social and economicstrength of women. It often involves developing of confidence in women in their owncapabilities. It is a process in which gender based discrimination against women in allthe institutions and structures of society and polity are challenged.Empowering women is also a necessary tool for advancing development and reducingpoverty. It contributes to the health and productivity of whole families andcommunities and to improved prospects for the next generation. Women are stillmuch more likely than men to be poor and illiterate. They usually have less accessthan men to medical care, property ownership, credit, training and employment. Theyare far less likely than men to be politically active and far more likely to be victims of domestic violence. Women's empowerment is vital to sustainable development andthe realization of human rights for all.Razia Sultana, Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi, Sarojini Naidu and Indira Gandhi aremotivating examples of women empowerment in India.Women across the world have fewer opportunities and suffer from exponentiallymore rights violations simply because they are female.
Women empowerment has 5 components -
Their sense of self-worth
Their right to have and to determine choices
Their right to have access to opportunities and resources
Their right to have the power to control their own lives, both within and outsidethe home
Their ability to influence the direction of social change to create a more just socialand economic order – nationally, internationally and universally.
Literacy rate
According to the 2001 Census, the percentage of female literacy in the country is 54%up from 9% in 1951.
Violence against women
- Violence against women is a major problem and aviolation of human rights. It is partly a result of gender relations that assumes men tobe superior to women. Lack of access to education and opportunity, and low socialstatus in communities are linked to violence against women. Violence by an intimatepartner is one of the most common forms of violence against women. A wide range of physical, mental, sexual and reproductive, and maternal health problems can resultfrom violence against women. Many women do not seek help or report violence whenit occurs. Appearance of violence include physical aggression, such as burns,attempted hanging, sexual abuse and rape, psychological violence through insults,humiliation, blackmail, pressure, economic or emotional threats and control over speech and actions.Violence against women and girls has been seen in every continent, country andculture. It is a direct result of unequal gender power-relations upheld by social
 
institutions. Many societies have now taken measures to prohibit such violence. Yetthe reality is that too often, it is covered up or silently ignored.A survey report published in 1999 found that 46% of all men surveyed in Uttar Pradesh admitted to physically abusing their wives. An earlier study found that menconsider wife beating as their natural right. Dalit women in UP have to contend withcaste-based violence. Women also are victims of communal violence and incidents of violence by state actors.
Situation of violence against women in India
Gender discrimination, including physical, sexual, emotional and economicviolence, son preference, unequal resource distribution and unequal decision-makingpowers (in both private and public spaces)
Caste discrimination, especially (but not restricted to) women from specific castes
Communal violence against women
Neo-economic policies impacting women’s lives in diverse ways (specific kindsof jobs for women, market impacting men leading to increasing violence againstwomen)
Violence against women
The questions regarding crimes against women are most entrenched, as most of them are committed within the family NCRB records that the highest percentage of crime against women is torture (37.7%) followed by Molestation (22.4%), Rape(11.8%), Kidnapping (8.8%) and immoral traffic (3.7%). 4.6 Dowry Death and 6.5%eve teasing were recorded.
NFHS 3: 1 in 5 women (20%) face domestic violence from their husbands (globalstatistics between 20-50%)
Problems of working women
Working women face problems just by virtue of their being women. Working womenhere are referred to those who are in paid employment. Social attitude to the role of women lags much behind the law. This attitude which considers women fit for certainjobs and not others colours those who recruit employees. Thus women findemployment easily in the caring and nurturing sectors such as nurses, doctors,teachers, or in the routine submissive sectors as secretaries or in factory assemblyjobs. But even if well qualified women engineers or managers or geologists areavailable, preference will be given to a male of equal qualification.Gender bias creates an obstacle for women at the initial employment stage itself.When it comes to payment, law declares equality but it is rarely put in practice. Theinherent belief that women are capable of less work than men or less efficient thanmen governs this injustice of unequal salaries and wages for the same job. The age oldbelief of male superiority over women creates several difficulties for women at their place of work.A woman has to almost always shoulder the burden of household chores as well. Awoman could still bear with these problems if she had control over the money sheearns. But in most families even now her salary is handed over to the father, husbandor the in-laws. So the basic motive of seeking employment for getting independence isnon-existent in many women’s cases.
 
Technological advancement results in retrenchment of women employees. No onethinks of upgrading their skills. Maternity leave is seldom given. It is much easier toterminate the woman’s employment and hire someone else. Women going to work areoften subject to sexual harassment. Public transport system is over crowded and mentake advantage of the circumstances to physically harass women. Colleagues offer unwanted attention which can still be shaken off but a woman is placed in a difficultsituation if the higher officer demands sexual favours. If refused, the boss can easilymake life miserable for her.Traditionally men are seen as bread winners and women as house-keepers, childbearers and rearers. This typecast role model continues to put obstacles before theworking women. A fundamental change is required in the attitudes of the employers,policy makers, family members and other relatives and the public at large.
Why do we need women empowerment?
Empowering the women in the family is equivalent to supporting an entire family
Men being the traditional bread winners, any employment for women meansadditional income for the home
They make up two-thirds of the estimated 876 million adults worldwide whocannot read or write.
They should be introduced into the mainstream of development.
Educational problems – social, cultural, environmental beneficiaries scheme
Society – Family, dowry, parda system
Gender prejudice – Suppressing the women
Low confidence
Lack of unity – Women vs. Women
Problem related with health – Social, cultural and gender differences
Poverty and Ignorance
Traditional barriers
Challenges
Cultural mindset about women
“Superiority” of men versus “inferiority” of women (both within private spaceslike the family, and public spaces like the workplace)
“Public” domestic violence (“honour” killings, community courts)
Myth of male marginalisation used to support withdrawal of progressivelegislation (like reservations)
Problems
Women work two-thirds of the world’s working hours and produce half of theworld’s food, yet earn only 10 percent of the world’s income and own less than onepercent of the world’s property.
Domestic violence is the biggest cause of injury and death to women around theglobe, killing more women aged 15-44 than cancer, malaria, traffic accidents, andwar.
75 percent of the one billion illiterate people around the world are women.
Solutions
Increase access to opportunities for women - empower women to avoid abusiverelationships, free them to leave behind abusive relationships

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