In a country where over 80% of inhabitants worship Goddesses of different kinds, the way women are treated in our society varies greatly from ancient to modern times. During the Vedic Age, women were treated as equal to men. However, as time flourished and the influence of changing rulers in the medieval period from the Mughal empire, the Rajput and eventually the formation of the caste system has led to the deteriorated level where women stand today.
The Constitution of India has certain specific provisions that focus on women empowerment in India to prevent discrimination against women in society. Article 14 safeguards the right to equality and the following Article 15 enables special provisions can be made for women.
Today, the concept and meaning of women empowerment and gender equality is not only a basic fundamental human right but also a much-needed piece of foundation to establish a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world.
The present generation has witnessed progress over the past decades as more girls are going to school and completing their education, fewer girls are forced to get married at a young age, more women are involved and serving in the parliament at several prestigious leadership positions and numerous reforms have been made to advance these gaps.
Despite these gains, there are several odds that we still have to beat like: ill work-front opportunities, discriminatory social norms and laws, experiencing physical or sexual violence, underrepresentation at levels of political leadership and etc.
The Women’s Empowerment Principles –
The UN Global Compact and UN Women collaborated to create 7 major Women’s Empowerment Principles that serve as a yardstick to empower women in the marketplace, workplace and community.
The seven Principles are –
Principle 1 – Create high-level corporate leadership for gender equality
Principle 2 – Treat all people fairly at work, respecting and supporting non-discrimination and human rights
Principle 3 – Ensure the health, well-being and safety of all workers, whether male or female
Principle 4 – Promote education, training and professional development for women
Principle 5 – Implement supply chain, marketing practices and enterprise development that empower women
Principle 6 – Champion equality through community initiatives and advocacy
Principle 7 – Measure and report publicly on progress to create gender equality
These 7 principles lie as the basic parameter to accomplish and work towards achieving the women empowerment objectives.
Women empowerment can be defined as the promotion of women’s sense of self-belonging, self-worth, their ability to determine and decide their own choices and their own right to bring an influence and change in themselves as well as in others affecting society as a whole.
It may be further defined as a way of including and accepting women’s viewpoints, putting an effort to seek them, and raising the status of women in society and all other spheres through education, awareness, literacy, training and skill development.
Women’s Empowerment in the global arena –
Gender equality is a fundamental human right, and is essential to exist in a peaceful and prosperous world
However, in several parts of the world, girls and women still continue to face significant challenges. As women are typically underrepresented and suppressed in power and decision-making roles, they usually receive unequal pay for equal work, and often at times face several legal and other barriers that affect their opportunities at work and ultimately affect their confidence and dignity.
In the developing world, girls and women are generally given lesser value than males. Instead of encouraging them to go to school, they are often forced to or obliged to do household chores or are either married off for a dowry even before they reach that age. Almost around 12 million girls are married every year and are underage.
Why is empowering women so important?
Empowering women has become an essential factor in the health and social development of families, communities and countries as women are the pillars of our society. When they are safe and all their needs are voiced and fulfilled, they can reach their full potential as a result of contributing their skills to the workforce. This will fuel sustainable economies and manifest greater benefits of women empowerment to society and humanity at large.
Education plays a key role in empowerment. Well-educated women are literate enough to take decisions on their own and they can pursue their dreams and through the same contribute to their country’s economy later in life. Such women are four times less likely to get married young as when they receive the minimum basic education of at least eight years, they find the purpose of their life.
The government has come up with several women empowerment schemes in India. The major 7 women empowerment schemes introduced are as follows –
Mahila E-Haat –
This is a part of the ‘Digital India’ initiative and is an online marketing platform launched by the Ministry of Women and Child Development to support women entrepreneurs, Self Helf Groups (SHGs) and Non- Governmental Organisations (NGOs) to showcase products made and services rendered by them at a broader market.
Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao –
The Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao campaign is aimed at eradicating female foeticide and raising awareness on welfare services intended for young Indian girls to encourage education among them.
One Stop Centre Scheme –
Implemented on 1st April 2015, with the ‘Nirbhaya’ fund, this scheme is popularly known as ‘Sakhi’. The Sakhi scheme is established at various locations in India for providing shelter, police desk, legal, medical and counselling services to victims of violence under one roof.
Working Women Hostels –
The main motive of this scheme is to promote the availability of safe and conveniently located accommodation for working women, with daycare facilities for their children, wherever possible, in urban, semi-urban, or even rural areas where employment opportunities for women exist
Swadesh Greh –
Launched by the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development in 2002, the Swadhar scheme is for the rehabilitation of women in difficult circumstances and it provides shelter, food, clothing and care to the marginalized women/girls who are in need
Mostly, this scheme is implemented by women empowerment NGOs.
The Support to Training and Employment Programme for Women (STEP) Scheme aims to provide skills to offer employability to women and to provide competencies and skills that enable women to become self-employed/ entrepreneurs.
This sector includes various parts like Agriculture, Horticulture, Food Processing, Handlooms, Tailoring, Stitching, Embroidery, Zari etc, Handicrafts, Computer & IT enable services along with soft skills and skills for the workplace such as spoken English, Gems & Jewellery, Travel & Tourism, Hospitality, etc
Nari Shakti Purashkars –
The Nari Shakti Puruskars are national-level awards presented by the President of India every year on 8 March, International Women’s Day at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi, recognising the efforts made by women and institutions in rendering distinguished services for the cause of women, especially vulnerable and marginalised women
How is SENSED working towards women empowerment?
We believe in ‘Equitable Empowerment’ and provide skills and platforms to enhance the confidence of vulnerable sections.
“Investment in women is a proven path to diminish poverty”
We direct our efforts towards securing women’s rights and illuminating them about different aspects to improve their economic status through education, training and skill development. Our objective for women empowerment is to reinvigorate, regenerate, and “empower women and develop their status in society”.
Since our establishment in 2011, we have been throughout all these years, realising and achieving progress little by little in this sphere.
We initiated and still continue to observe several women empowering projects like “Nasha Mukti”, “ShikshanPrashikshan”, “Save Girl”, “Mahila Prashikshan Vocational Training for women empowerment”, “Hasthashlip Prashikshan”, “Mata AvamSishu Raksha”, and “Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM)” – to educate women about their rights and how they should treat themselves helping and contributing the society in the long run.
In the “Nasha Mukti” campaign, we successfully taught the adverse effects of substance use and made women from rural regions quit chain-smoking ‘beedi’. With our “ShikshanPrashikshan” programme, we were able to make an impact in the core areas of Environment, Health, Education & Community Development, as we taught women diversely about the basic yet significant factors required with an aim to bring positive change in their life and career.
Further, in our “Save Girl” campaign, we emphasised the importance of education, building up self-dignity, and self-confidence to improve their economic condition through self-employment and cooperative basis. Through this campaign, we ensured that the young girls are aware of their basic rights so that no one can exploit them against those rights.
We initiated the “Mahila Prashikshan Vocational Training for women empowerment” with the aim to impart specialized and practical knowledge to an individual in a particular field with an in-depth study of the specific subject. In our “Hasthashlip Prashikshan” programme, women were encouraged to pick up various handicraft training activities like toy making, drawing and painting, and decorating items of various raw materials.
Our “Mata AvamSishu Raksha” campaign is broadly aimed at both the mother and child to ensure that both get adequate quality health benefits and the children further receive improved education as they live in an enhanced and more positive environment.
And our “Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM)” programme was oriented to create awareness about adverse health consequences of unhygienic menstrual and promote hygiene practices among young girls and women.
Following our motive and objective of arranging women empowerment events, we aim to seek women’s rights and to improve the economic status of women to upgrade and alleviate their life. Focusing mainly to reinvigorate, regenerate, and empower women SENSED is continuously making efforts to develop their status in society through good health, domestic-violence-free life and self-awareness and will keep on contributing to the same in the coming years.
Also Read: SENSED’s contribution toward child education