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  1. 1. Walk to Equality: Ensuring Safety and Empowerment of Women Women constitute nearly 50% of the population, undertake most of the work (two thirds) but only receive one tenth of the total income rather than men. The working hours of women are longer than that of men, often 12-16 hours per day. In addition to their domestic responsibilities in child care, women have to be responsible for housework, such as fetching firewood, water and
  2. 2. cooking and even hard work as ploughing and raking, planting, transplanting and harvesting. Women have to suffer from continuing under nutrition and two thirds of them are anemic. Rural women lack sex education and have poor health due to frequent pregnancies. The illiterate women especially lack of information on balanced diet, family planning,house cleaning and other information to improve their health and the quality of life. They have lower status and low paid occupations, lower economic positions so they are less conscious and lack self-confidence. They have a few books and a little time to read so they can not appreciate the benefits of reading and have no motivation for reading. The term "empowerment" has become one of the most widely used development terms. Women's groups, non-governmental development organizations, activists, politicians, governments and international agencies refer to empowerment as one of their goals. Yet it is one of the least understood in terms of how it is to be measured or observed. It is used precisely because this word has now been one of the fashionable concepts to include in policies/projects that there is a need to clarify and come up with tentative definitions • The Concept of Empowerment • Empowerment has become a widely used word. In spheres as different as management and labor unions, health care and ecology, banking and education, empowerment also taking such place. It is also a concept that does not merely concern personal identity but brings out a broader analysis of human rights and social justice. • Constraining Factors for Women Empowerment :
  3. 3. • Heavy work load of women; • Isolation of women from each other;. • Illiteracy; • Traditional views that limit women's participation; • No funds; • Internal strife/militarization/wars; • Disagreements/conflicts among women's groups; • Structural adjustment policies; • Discriminatory policy environment; • Negative and sensational coverage of media The Basic Problem – Women have many stages in their lives . They do come across many ups and downs . First they are small children and then teenagers, then comes the phase of young women . After that they are married, have children, take care of them, and as the process proceeds, they finally become old
  4. 4. ladies. In every phase of this process they have big roles to play, many sacrifices to give. • What is the need for women empowerment? • Because the condition of women has become worse than ever before. In this contemporary world, women need to gain the same amount of power that men have. Now, it is time to forget that men are the only holders of power. In India, women are still facing different obstacles in male-dominated cultures. The things are related to o e ’s status a d their future. Ho e er, I elie e that Indian women are slowly getting empowerment in the sectors like education, politics, the work force and even more power within their own households. The worth of civilization can be arbitrated by the place given to women in the society. Gender discrimination is a root cause of hunger and poverty. Women and girls—the majority of the poor—face a lifetime of marginalization, often reinforced by violence or the threat of violence. As pointed out 40 years ago by Ester Boserup, development activities that fail to deliver the majority of their inputs to females are actually making things worse by widening the gender gap. • Progress is ei g ade, parti ularly through i reasi g girls’ enrollment in school. Far too little progress, however, has been ade i other riti al se tors su h as a o a ’s health a d nutrition, income generation and having voice in the decisions that affect her life. Here are ten vital interventions (not in any necessary order) that are making a difference. • 1. Gender analysis. Too often, gender is an afterthought in project design. Projects that intend to include women are designed to
  5. 5. work within a prevailing culture that advantages men and prese ts u erous o sta les to o e ’s parti ipatio —not the least of hi h is o e ’s triple urde of i o e ge eratio , subsistence farming and caring for the family. Often, mid-project it is discovered that women are not participating and then steps are taken to empower women to participate in a program that simply does not work for them, only adding further burden and anxiety. • 2. Reducing drudgery. Wo e do ’t ha e time for development. They are the first to rise and the last to go to bed, working on average twice the hours of men, often with the most backbreaking work: hauling water and firewood, pounding grain, weeding farms using short-handed hoes and with children on their back, head-carrying produce to market and working as laborers.*Technology is only appropriate if it is appropriate for women. Investments in daycare centers, grain mills, wheeled carts, nearby water supplies and sustainable woodlots can free up o e ’s ti e for trai i g, leadership a d e e terprises. • 3. Rights awareness. Ma y of the orld’s ost i po erished women are confined to their households. They lack mobility and freedom of association and have no opportunity to learn their rights and take action to improve their lives and those of their family members • One successful strategy implemented by The Hunger Project in Ba gladesh is ourt yard eeti gs led y Barefoot La yers. I this program, at least two of the most dynamic women volunteers in each village receive intensive training in the legal and
  6. 6. reproductive rights of women. Given the trust and respect they already have in the village, they bring rights awareness to the doorstep of women currently confined to their homes. The Barefoot Lawyers become the one link impoverished women have to the worldwide movement for social justice, as well as to resources and educational opportunities. • 4. Equal leadership. Women are denied a voice in the decisions that affect their lives. The best way to transform this condition is to uncompromisingly require that at least 50 percent of leadership positions be reserved for women: from village councils to parliaments. Studies show that when women becomes leaders in their local community, they transform the development agenda—focusing on water, sanitation, health, education and nutrition, and combating corruption, social exclusion and domestic violence. • A o a ’s jour ey i fi di g her leadership oi e a e greatly accelerated by mentoring, building an organized constituency among the women of the community, leadership training and building federations with other women leaders • 5. Organize. In unity, there is strength: economic, political and social. Investments in building strong grassroots women's organizations, federations and cooperatives provide women sustainable platforms for advocacy and mutual empowerment. • 6. Financial services. Muhammad Yunus has called access to financial services a human right. The recent book, Portfolios of the Poor shows how women need credit not only for starting or supporting small enterprises, but also for coping with great
  7. 7. seasonal fluctuations in family income. Poor women often juggle multiple loans at usurious rates just to survive. • Numerous studies show that when women control money, it is far more likely to be invested in the health, nutrition and education of children than when men control the money. And in cultures where women even touching money has been taboo, the visible presence of women as economic players in the community, to the benefit of all, catalyzes progress towards social and political equality. • 7. Functional adult literacy. Hundreds of millions of women have never had the opportunity of formal education. Women are twice as likely to be non-literate as men. Literacy is more than skill acquisition; it is the reclamation of autonomous selfhood and agency. This means women experiencing themselves as makers of history rather than the victims of it. It means they can avoid being cheated in the marketplace, learn far more rapidly, and connect and find themselves in the great currents of human discourse worldwide. Recent innovations are speeding the end of illiteracy, such as subtitling Hindi films in Hindi, so that women learn to read as they sing along. • 8. Health services. Access to affordable health services is a fundamental human right for women and their children, a right that is out of reach for hundreds of millions of women. Treating the illness of a child can bankrupt a family. The lack of prenatal care and attended childbirth can be fatal. Most women are constrained by the distance they are able to walk back and forth in a day with their child—meaning it is vitally important that
  8. 8. health care be within 10 kilometers, including reproductive health and pre-natal care, nutrition training and micronutrient supplements. • Expanding the number of nurse midwives and providing them with a suitable clinic, housing, basic supplies and regular supervision can meet the vast majority of unmet medical needs— and is already doing so for millions of people. Governments have learned that if they train middle-aged women as nurses, they will likely stay in the community where they have roots. When equipped with cell phones and access to physician consultations, they can save even more lives. • Scarce professional skills can be greatly leveraged by the voluntary efforts of community health committees and trained volunteers who can fan out from the nurse midwife and bring health education and services to the remotest locations • 9. Halting child marriage. Marriage before age 18 is a profound iolatio of hu a rights. It uts short a girl’s edu atio a d freedom of choice. It also often costs her life, because early pregnancy is a leading cause of maternal mortality. As women have organized and gained voice, they have made halting child marriage a top priority. Awareness campaigns are coupled with direct action to intervene and halt child marriage. • 10. Prosecuting gender-based violence. In many cultures, domestic violence (including rape, incest and murder) is endemic a d early al ays o urs ith i pu ity. Wo e ’s fa es are burned with acid when they spurn romantic advances; honor killings occur if women fall in love. In many areas, if a woman
  9. 9. were to report abuse or rape at a police station, she may be attacked again or imprisoned for having had unlawful sex. • Today, as women organize, they are finding others with whom they feel safe to reveal their secrets of abuse. They can act collectively to demand justice from the police. Women are connected to networks that can draw public attention to cases; and this glimmer of a chance for justice is encouraging more women to step from the shadows.  References:  Afshar, H. (Ed. 1991) Women, Development and Survival in the Third World. New York: Longman.
  10. 10.  Anand, A. (WFS/Women's Feature Service) (Ed. 1992) The Power to Change; women in Third World Redefine Their Environment. New Jersey: Zed Books Ltd.  Azad, N. (1986) Empowering Women Workers: The WWF Experiment in Indian Cities. Mylapur, India: WWF.  Denison, R. (1995) Call Us Survivors! Women organized to Respond to Life-threatening Diseases (WORLD) in Schneider, Beth E. and Stoller, Nancy E. (Ed.) Women Resisting AIDS: Feminist Strategies of Empowerment, pp. 195-207. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.  Gutierrez, G. (1994) Mothers of East Los Angeles strike back, in Bullard, Robert D. (Ed. 1994) Unequal Protection, Environmental Justice and Communities of Color. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books.  McFarlane, J. and Fehir, J. (1994) De Madres a Madres: a community, primary health care program based on empowerment. Health Education Quarterly, 21(3): 381-94.