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Empowerment of women has become a burning issue all over the world including India since last few decades. For centuries women were not treated equally to men in many ways. Today we can see that women occupy respectable positions in all walks of life. Yet, they are not absolutely free, due to discriminations and harassments of society. A few numbers of women have been able to establish their potentialities. So now we have come out of these dark days of oppression of women.
It is the present necessity to fight for the rights of women and to ensure that they get all the rights which men have or in other words a movement for the Empowerment of Women. This empowerment is possible only through education. So Empowering Women through Education is a need of the hour.
"If you Educate a man, you educate an individual; if educate a woman, you educate a family" -Mahatma Gandhi Education plays a very significant role in everyone's life.
It is a human right and an essential tool for achieving equality. One of the major recommendations of the National Policy on Education in 1986 is to promote Empowerment of Women through education. Empowerment is self-governance, self-sufficiency and self-maintenance. The concept of Women Empowerment was introduced at the International Women's Conference at Nairobi in 1985. Empowerment is a process which includes:
Really, education only helps to meet all these to women in society. It also ensures that women grow up with the knowledge of the world, the ability for critical thinking and practical skills which lead to self-confidence and self-respect. So education is a mile-stone for Women Empowerment because it enables them to respond to opportunities, to challenge the traditional roles and to change their lives. People must think that the education of women plays a pivotal role in improving living standards not only of their families but also of the nation. High women literacy rate improves the quality of life both at home and outside of the home, by encouraging and promoting education of female children, and in reducing the infant mortality rate. The lower level of women literacy rate results in higher levels of fertility and infant mortality, poorer nutrition, lower earning potential and the lack of an ability to make decisions within the household. So giving proper education to women is necessary for both the society and family.
The women in India enjoy a unique status of equality with the men as per constitutional and legal provision. But the Indian women have come a long way to achieve these positions. Gender inequality is the main problem, a female was always dependent on male members of the family. Female was not allowed to speak aloud in front of the elder members of her family. In the family, every fault had gone to her. In many social activities, she is not permitted to mingle with others. She has very little share in the political, social, and economic life of the society. National Movement acts as a light to eradicate such disabilities so far. Social Reformers like Raja ram Mohan Roy, Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar etc., stressed on women education, prevention on child marriage, Sati, polygamy etc. After the Independence of India, the constitution-makers and National Leaders recognized the equal social position of women with men. The position and status of women all over the world has risen incredibly in the 20th century. Now the status of women changed a lot. She has brought the property rights, voting rights, and equality in civil rights, matters of marriage, employment etc.
Women have given a prominent place in the family set-up by our heritage and culture. Today in the modern age women, has an important role to play in the national development at large. In this male dominating society, the education of women has been neglected for a long period of time. Insufficiency of education in women can adversely affect the health and living condition of children. For to achieve economic empowerment of women we should eradicate poverty, give chance for microcredit – Women's access to credit for consumption and production, women and economy, globalization, women and agriculture, women and industry support services etc., should be promoted. To achieve social empowerment of women we should promote education, health and sanitation, Nutrition, Housing and Shelter good environment, Science and Technology supporting hand in difficult circumstances, violence against women, protecting rights of girl child etc., are essential.
To achieve all these we should promote mass media. It will portray images consistent with the human dignity of girls and women. Their policy will specifically strive to remove demeaning, degrading and negative conventional stereotypical images of women and violence against women. Private sector partners and media networks will be involved at all levels to ensure equal access for women particularly in the area of information and communication technologies. The media would be encouraged to develop codes of conduct, professional guidelines and other self-regulatory mechanisms to remove gender stereotype and promote balanced portrayals of women and men.
We have to focus on Education and Empowerment of women in rural areas. Particularly those from socially and economically marginalized groups. It is necessary to create an environment for women to seek knowledge and information inorder to make choices at their own pace. It deals exclusively with the quality empowerment of woman's lives, emphasizing on process and internalizations responding to the needs of women and girls. As, women progress, everyone in society benefits, including men. Tapping into the limitless potential of women is not only the right thing to do but it is the smart thing. That is why the United States Government and our international partners are invested in a historic effort to empower women globally. We should give chance to a woman in every level then in all walks of life she can make her own foot prints. Providing proper counselling to parents in proper time will ensure the educational opportunity of a girl. Government also take initiative to give basic infrastructure and financial aid in the right time. Education has to provide girls with the capacity to analyze their situation, expose them to a new role, build up aspiration and see a different future. It is evident that the increase in enrollment and retention alone do not automatically result desirable changes in girls. It becomes important to move from the dimensions of input into education to outcomes, which are wider than academic attainment and include personality development, self-esteem, self-efficiency and skill of critical thinking and problem-solving. It is evident that programmes and project given over the years failed to bring desirable progress.
It is sure that an imperative need to develop an action plan for girls' education making it a priority area in school education. Education of the girl child needs special focus in the content of achieving universalization of Elementary education. The latest national programme on Education for Girls at Elementary level (NPEGL) itself is not capable of joining the gap between literacy rates of boys and girls at the school stage. A lot of issues are faced by the girls in the socio-cultural context and modernization. All the commissions stressed on the need for giving essential education to girls and focused on parents also through motivation campaigns. We should be aware of the following facts such as,
These factors are necessary to attain girls' education. We should utilise cultural, political and constitutional provisions to attain this.
There are many barriers to female education like parental preferences and social values. People think that to spend money or time on daughters would be in vain because they have to be at home. But their son would run their families. Most of the rural people give education to their daughters to learn read, write and count the money, then they think that it is sufficient and feel proud that they have done their duty very well. Some of the major barriers are listed below:
According to a 1998 report by U.S. Department of Commerce, the chief barrier of female education in India are inadequate school facilities such as sanitary facilities, shortage of female teachers, gender bias in curriculum and also conservative cultural attitudes
Some of the factors that may encourage women education is given below:
Education is one of the most important means of empowering women with knowledge, skills and self-confidence, necessary to participate fully in the development process. Educating women benefits the whole society. It has a more significant impact on poverty and development than men's education. It is also one of the most influential factors improving child health and reducing infant mortality rate. Educated women's responsibility is tremendous. Women have a significant role in shaping the behaviour and mental make up of the younger generation. She has the primary duty of nurturing and shaping the children, the leaders of tomorrow. Educated women are always cautious about the importance of health care and know how to seek it for themselves and their children. Education makes them able to know their rights and gain confidence. Educated parents have a good thought about their children's educational attainments. Mother's education will influence more in children's lives than their father's. The empowered women can stand with men. They are not inferior to men and they can do whatever the men can do, some times better than that of a man.
A number of great women have made themselves wonderfully powerful and successful in their lives through their individual efforts. They are the source of inspiration and motivation of the women of today. A woman can do whatever the man can do in this world. The self-confidence of them is an essential part of women empowerment. Educated women not only tend to promote the education of their girl children but also can provide better guidance to all their children. Moreover educated women can also help in the reduction of infant mortality rate and growth of the population.
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