Essay on Women’s Empowerment: Challenges and Prospects
Women have generally been looked upon with contempt for centuries with various strictures inflicted upon them reducing their status to the mercy of men.
They have been confined to hearth and home. But now the perspective of the society has changed and a general thinking to work for the emancipation and empowerment of women is being developed so that they could also contribute in the enhancement and welfare of the society.
But their emancipation is not without challenges. Breaking the age old barriers, storming into a predominantly male bastion are something they have to fight for. Even as they are becoming aware about their rights and demands, the violence and crime against women is on the increase.
History is the witness that the women had enjoyed a privileged position in ancient India. It is definitely a matter of pride that there existed a culture and them a respectful
Living in the social life. However, the woman lost their status with the coming up of Brahminical traditions and with the advent of Islam, they were further pushed into the background. They were left secluded, devitalized and sheltered and these practices slowly turned into customs which have now become traditions.
It was in the medieval period that the social evils like female infanticide, child marriage, purdah. Jauhar. Sati and slavery emerged. Such evils and ill- practices were imposed upon them in the name of customs. They were reduced to the mere household obligations and with this the Indian society plunged into abysmal darkness.
The Britishers introduced a few measures to raise the status of women in the society and they initiated the legislation to ban the Sati and to limit the child marriage.
With women’s participation in the struggle for India’s independence, there ushered a new age and a recognizable future for them in India. Putting aside the veil they came in the forefront of the national movement for India’s liberalization.
A new chapter was added into the history of women’s empowerment with India gaining independence. The norm of their less, unimportant of secondary role to that of men was withdrawn.
When the new constitution was formed, the constitution makers took into account the Women’s plight and asserted by introducing various measures in the constitution to hold their rightful place in the society. They were given freedom to participate in the social, political, economic and cultural life of the nation.
During 1960s and 1970s the movement by the women to seek equality with men gained ground all over the world. With this movement called feminism, the educated women in particular and poor rural women in general realized the need to break the old shackles to breathe in the open space.
Still the experience shows that man’s tyrannical hegemony is overwhelmingly strong and deep rooted to allow for any change in the short run. In India a crime is committed against a woman every seven minutes.
Every 26 minutes a molestation take place and every 54 minute somewhere a woman is raped. The burning of brides for dowry continues unabated in the various parts of the country.
The condition of rural women is still more deplorable. The various women’s movements are led and organised by white collared middle class women and social workers from upper and upper middle class non-working women who are unaware about the ground realities existing in the rural structure of Indian society and are not concerned to the rural women’s miserable conditions.
Women’s organization have lobbied heavily for the introduction of Women Reservation Bill for 33 per cent reservation in Lok Sabha and in state assembly seats.
In the Panchayats and municipalities the reservation has already been provided. They have said that the reservations would give them political platform to work for the rest of women for their emancipation.
The government has also taken various measures like committee on statues of women in 1974, followed by National Plan of Action for women and the National Perspective Plan for women in 1988.
However despite of these measures, the challenges before the women for their emancipation has remained still an uphill task and their conditions still remained the same. What is required is the seriousness of the various government agencies to work for the women’s empowerment by spreading awareness through various educative programmes.
However, in spite of the constitutional and legal guarantees aiming to eradicate the inequality and discrimination in any form, the plight of women still remained far from improved. Even today the evils like child marriage, eves teasing, sexual assaults, wife beating, female infanticide and gender discrimination are widely prevalent in the society.
However, still the realization is taking roots in the various structures of the society and the women themselves try to raise their voice against the discrimination and violence by the male dominated society.