Women and Participation- The Indian Context
Women the very word reminds us of poor, needy, weak, and underprivileged so on. The scenario may not be same as I have quoted all across the globe but the situation is somewhat similar in India, south East Asian countries, African and other developing countries. The reasons for their situation are numerous and very much visible. If we talk in Indian context then women is Ardhangani (better half of husband) means she is half the portion of her husband. So she doesn’t possess her self identity. Those who don’t have their own identity in the eyes of the society what could be expected of them for the participation in political, economic, social agendas of the country. I may sound very traditional but since the beginning Indian women was supposed to do all the household chores but she didn’t have a say in the family decisions. Thus their participation gets a jolt at very initiation point.
Indian women the term has become both-a dragging cliché and a complicated puzzle. Try pinning down the Indian woman with definitive words and the semantic maze only gets hazier. The Indian woman's identity remained weak for ages because whether it was popular culture or mythology, women were more easily described as collective identities rather than as individuals. Most publicly written diaries of Indian women only have generalizations in their attempt to describe women emotionally sensitive, tolerant, brave, weak, fair, unsure, soft-hearted, sacrificing, pliant, and submissive. What was added every time, everywhere, was the term "ideal" It followed the Indian woman like a phantom even when she stepped out of limiting word warps. Has anybody heard so much fuss being made about the ideal British woman or the ideal American woman? But the "ideal Indian woman" is still out there, in fictional hypotheses, in cultural texts, in the layperson's imagination. And as Virginia Woolf once wrote, "It is far more difficult to murder a phantom than a reality." Yet there is one place where the ideal Indian woman doesn't exist, and that is in reality. What follows here is that grey area of reality and the prototypes listed are only those that are most commonly perceived in everyday life. The real Indian woman might be somewhere amidst all these, if at all. And please, none of these is ideal.
Empowerment of Women
The definition of empowerment can be understood by different people in different circumstances. In terms of women their empowerment should be like sustainable development for state. Empowerment by no stretch of imaginations is only political, economical, social, cultural, physical, mental etc. but it is the mixture of all these elements. As far as I am concerned unless and until all above essentials are placed simultaneously Women Empowerment will remain an issue of discussion for the intellects. With above postulates what needs special and immediate attention is variation in approach in the family. Indian family system is such which in no way can put women on same paddle as men, she is considered to be inferior to her husband. Empowerment refers to increasing the spiritual, political, social or economic strength of individuals and communities. It often involves the empowered developing confidence in their capacities.
Empowerment is probably the totality of the following or similar capabilities
# Having decision-making power herself
# Having access to information and resources for taking proper decision
# Having a range of options from which you can make choices (not just yes/no, either/or.)
# Ability to exercise assertiveness in collective decision making
# Having positive thinking on the ability to make change
# Ability to learn skills for improving one's personal or group power
# Ability to change others’ perceptions by democratic means
# Involving in the growth process and changes that is never ending and self-initiated
# Increasing one's positive self-image and overcoming stigma.
When these capabilities are recognized it can be concluded that women are getting empowered but same is not the case in India.
Political Empowerment through Economic Empowerment
Indian democracy is more than 60 years old now yet the ideals of democracy are far from destination especially for women in India. Women play a marginal role in politics. Their political participation is almost invisible, however, importance of women’s political participation for a viable democratic polity is being increasing realized in all the corners of the world, women section of society almost forms help of the population in any country and to think of a democratic government without their participation is unthinkable. To empower them socially, economically, educationally and politically will require there decision making capabilities.
Women’s participation in politics is bleak; in span of over 62 years of independence we could only produce one woman Prime Minister. This shows the poor percentage of women participating in mainstream politics. In 2009 general elections 9% of women turned on in the biggest democracy of the world (Indian Parliament). To generate political interest or political space the women need to be economically empowered too. It is well established fact in modern World that ‘Economy is the Root Cause of everything.’ Efforts must be taken to strengthen economic condition of women, which will provide assistance in self determination and will help in achieving self dependence. Self dependence will pave the way for free thought process and once your mind is free then you can analyze things in slightly better manner. After this contemplation we can expect a better political life for woman especially Indian women.
In my view empowering women economically and politically is not possible for government unless the common man plays his role in this regard. It should come within us that women should also be equipped with similar opportunities as man in all fields. They mustn’t leave behind in upbringing their status. Equal educational, professional, economic, development resources ought to be provided to women.
Women Organization for their Needs and Business Connection
Women Organizations are the institutions exclusively for women related issues. Generally they are governed by women itself. There are government’s body’s organizations and autonomous bodies also. Women organizations are contributing towards the plight of woman. NGO’s, National Commission for Women (NCW), Mahila Aayog, Mahila Mukti Morcha and so on. These organizations are making advancements in the development of women. Through such organizations the problem and voice of an ordinary woman gets noticed. Women organizations are doing their job for the advancement of backward section of women who are literally insignificant. It pays attention to the harassment as well as ill treatment which are faced by women in our country which none of us (elite class) even bother to take a note of.
I can’t comment that women organizations solved all the women grievances; it is like self made arrangement for countering the needs. But it needs more encouragement from government and public as well so that more and more under developed women fraternity can be benefited because generally Indians don’t try to persuade others matter, policy of Non Intervention is deeply rooted in our mind even at the cost of violation of basic inherent rights of others.
Now, we are witnessing more of women in direct Business like never before. Women have conquered post of Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Multi National Companies (MNC’s), Managing Directors (MD’s) of various institutes. It shows their active role in business life.
Primitive descriptions of the "manager of the future" uncannily match those of female leadership, "Consultants try to teach male managers to relinquish the command-and-control mode. For women that came naturally – many of the attributes for which women's leadership is praised are rooted in women's socialized roles. The traditional female value of caring for others – balanced with sufficient objectivity – is the basis of the management skill of supporting and encouraging people and bringing out their best, a skill now highly valued by management experts."It is said women are better administrators, now women have climbed the ladder of business world significantly.
Women empowerment and participation has seen remarkable shift from past, but still much needs to be put forward in this cause. Women organizations aren’t able to reach out each and every woman whose identity is lost some where. Many women are still lagging behind in development and their existence is next to non-existence in reality. Therefore, it is important that adopted initiatives in this direction must be implemented properly without any discrimination and favor. More women are required at global front their knowledge; experience coupled with administrative skills must be utilized for country’s progress.
Participation of Women in Economic Policy
Participation of women in the Economic Policy designed for them is all important. Women participation will prove to be major advantage for sufficient implementation of the economic policies framed from their progress. Women have started showing interest in policy framing; government too discusses the principles to women leaders and institutions, of policy which going to be adopted for women. So the importance of involving women in policies is now getting appreciated.
Women participation for enhancing economic policy is of great significance, without involving or listening the victim’s side a judge can never reach to correct conclusion or result of the case. Likewise no women participation in policy making lead to no outcome in regards their upliftment. Women are better acquainted with the barriers, problems, lack of opportunities faced by their fellow women and is more suited to take action and provide means through which women economic condition improves.
Participation in policy making is not only beneficial for women but for society at large. It is established now women have reasonably good managing skills with patience so they can handle situations properly and more often than not come out with a suitable result. This quality of women puts them up in the order and for that matter they should be given more important roles to play part in policy making and it will be a good cause for all. The best example is Role of women in Gram Panchayats, women have been given reservation in Panchayat elections and they came out with flying colors. When one of my relative became Jila Panchayat Adyaksh of Barabanki (a district of U.P.) at that time the area got developed with reasonable pace and all class of people got benefited.
In India there are associations and organizations that are raising voice for participation of women in business arena at political agendas, but nothing out of the box has been achieved. The women who are seen as business Professionals and Entrepreneurs it is because of their hard work, it is nothing like they reached there by the help of women associations and organizations. Take the case of Indira Nui, CEO of Pepsi Corporation limited and other known business women aren’t the product of any women associations because these associations aren’t free from corruption, sometimes they even try to fulfill their interest rather than working for empowerment of women.
Barriers in Women Participation
Role of women and its participation in economic and political arenas have strengthened immensely and there is no doubt in quoting that it will be at a greater level in near future, but the cultural and societal barriers at times create hindrance in advancement of women. This situation is witnessed at many parts of the world but for India restrictions on women are huge. It is traditional belief that women refrain herself from any sort of economic activity, males are made to earn and they are the ones who are responsible for taking all family decisions. Generally consent of women has no value. This behavior keeps women out from almost all important matters resulting in not enriching her political view.
Women could play a pivotal role in the growth and development of the country. It is however, seen that to the extent that women are part of the population in areas affected by development, they have been mostly associated though the degree of association has been of different scale.
India looses at many fronts just because half of its population (over 500 million) has very little say in our important political and economic decisions and no country move forward leaving half of its population. After 60 years of independence we not able to treat women equal to men in all departments. It is more so on the part of society as government can’t alter our thought process; it has to come from inner conscience. We have to develop mature thinking so that we can digest women at par men easily. Social stigma, cultural boundaries, patriarchal society with family pressures not allows women to participate actively in economic and political field.
Therefore, along side government every citizen including women (who have attained some ground) should make a constant effort to create such an environment where women feel free to involve her in every activity. Social scenario has turned in favor of women participation but it needs a U-Turn so that they feel to express themselves at all fronts without any obstruction from any side.
Essentials for Full Participation of Women
In order to effectively involve woman to enable them to be real partners in development, the following aspects needs to be considered:
# Their role in the household economy needs to be recognized. These economic functions are essential for the preservation and development of the family’s and human capital.
# In the transition from subsistence and reproductive activities to income generating ones, women have to be empowered first educationally and in skill formation and upgradation.
# Socio-cultural and institutional practices in ownership of property and/or access to land related resources, credit and technology, etc., must be women friendly.
# The women should have the possibility of making alternate choices in the paradigms of development. When shifts in economy take place, women in the agricultural sector should have opportunities in industrial sector occupations.
# The grass roots level local government institutions, i.e. the Panchayats and urban local bodies, where one-third elected members are women must be made functional through adequate delegation of powers
# The world is undergoing tremendous changes affecting every aspect of human development. It is no more possible, nor is it desirable to keep away half the population consisting of women from taking part in the development of a nation. The effort should be to remove all obstacles in the way of their active participation and empower them with all requisites to pave way for a better life for all.
Women and New Social Order
Cohen. Percy S. Modern Social Theory (London. ELBS, 1979) p.176
Diwan op. cit., p. 63, See also P.N. Luthra, “Equality to Women in social set up’. Social Welfare, June, 1975, p.8.
Upadhayaya, ‘Status of Women in India’, Vol, 1, Anmol Publica-tins, 1991, 9. 222.
Violet, Alva, Social Welfare Legislation” Journal of Social Welfare. March, 1960, See Sinha, B.S. op. cit., p.30.
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