Showing posts with label Society in India. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Society in India. Show all posts

Sunday, 20 February 2022

Changing Status of Women, Problem, and Empowerment

Without women, nothing is possible for men. A woman is the basic unit of society. She makes a family, the family makes a home, home society, and ultimately society makes a country. A country cannot progress until and unless its women take initiatives for development works. Swami Vivekananda has also said, ‘it is impossible to think about the welfare of the world unless the condition of women is improved.’ The status of women in India has been subjected to great changes over the past years.

The status of women-social, economic, political, and general in India today is much higher than in ancient and medieval periods. Though the status of women has been raised in the eyes of law, they are still much far from equality with males. Theoretically, the condition of modern women was high however practically it was low. Women are still exploited and humiliated in modern Indian society.

Historically, the period after 1750 AD is known as the modern period. The status of women in this period changes radically and can be studied in the following two stages.

  1. Status of women during British rule in India

After the fall of the Mughal Empire, the British established their supremacy over the Indian people. During British rule, lots of changes were made in the economic and social structures of our society. Though the quality of life of women during this period remained more or less the same, some substantial progress was achieved in eliminating inequalities between men and women. Social evils such as child marriage, Sati Pratha, devadasi system, Pardah or purdah, prohibition of widow remarriage, etc., which were great hurdles in the path of women’s progress, were either controlled by the efforts of reformers like Raja Ram Mohan Roy and Vidya Sagar or removed by suitable legislations. Many women reformers such as Pandita Ramabai also fight for the disabilities of women. Women like Bhikaji Cama, Dr. Annie Besant, Vijayalakshmi Pandit, Aruna Asaf Ali, Sucheta Kriplani, etc., played an important role in India‘s independence struggle. Sarojini Naidu, a poet and freedom fighter, was the first Indian woman to become president of the Indian National Congress and the first woman to become the governor of a state in India.

Let us analyze and discussion of the different aspects in which they are suppressed.

  1. Education of Women:

The British Government emphasized the education for girls. Of course, all the political thinkers stressed the girls’ education, but their views on the various aspects of education were different. It is noted that many of the colleges were established to provide education for girls in Sanskrit and social sciences.

Raja Ram Mohan Roy believed education to be an implementation for social reform. He protested against the government’s policy to strengthen the Sanskrit Colleges in the Presidency Towns of Calcutta, Benaras (Varanasi), and Madras and also urged for the establishment of more oriental colleges. He requested to promote western education in India. According to Ram Mohan Roy, the then education was of no use, as they were on old Vedantic principles and doctrines. He supported scientific learning. In that respect, he emphasized education in scientific and technical subjects such as Mathematics, Chemistry, Anatomy, Technology, Natural Philosophy, etc.

  1. Economic Freedom and Employment:

During the Vedic period, women enjoyed economic freedom. But during the medieval period, economic freedom and employment were rejected for women. Hence, during the modern period, many of the political and social thinkers blamed the orthodox and conventions that avoided women in economic activity.

It is noted that it was Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, who rightly diagnosed that illiteracy and economic dependence were the root cause of the serfdom of women. He not only emphasized education for women but also employment and economic independence. As such, his Indian National Army and Rani of Jhansi Regiment consisted of women. Bose treated women as equal to men in all respects.

  1. Right of Inheritance:

In the Vedic period, women were having the privilege and the right to own property. Further, they had equal rights to get property from their ancestors. In medieval society, the right of inheritance of property and ownership of property was not allowed. For this purpose, many of the social and political thinkers urged for the right to inheritance for women.

Raja Ram Mohan Roy was the first to fight for the right of Hindu Women to inheritance. According to him, both men and women should be treated equally and he strongly criticized the grave injustice done to women by the modern law of inheritance. His sympathy was unbounded, his heart grieved at the sufferings and the pitiable condition of his countrymen, and, therefore, he tried to devise ways for the welfare of the people, irrespective of nationalities and religions.

  1. Child Marriage and Polygamy:

The antecedents from the Vedic period disclosed that there was no practice of child marriage. But the practice of child marriage evolved during the medieval age. The practice of Child Marriage made the girls suffer a lot. Young girls had to bear the brunt of the family life, get children at an inappropriate age when they themselves were mentally immature, the problem of ill-health made them still weak. Those who were unfortunate enough to lose their husband at an early age had to spend the rest of their lives in the most pitiable manner as unwanted widows. This was the result of Child Marriage. Most of the social and political thinkers raised voices against the practice of Child Marriage.

In 1803 Ram Mohan Roy composed a tract denouncing religious segregation and superstitions, in which he mentioned the evils of child marriage. Further, he organized the movements to increase awareness against child marriage and polygamy. The role of Dayanand Saraswati against child marriage is memorable. He wrote a famous book, ‘Satyarth Prakash’ in which he emphasized the principles of Vedas.

In this respect, he opposed the practice of child marriage. He organized many conferences and speeches to increase awareness against child marriage.

  1. The evil of Dowry:

As a woman had no right to inherit a share of the ancestral property, Sreedharan was seen as a way by which the family ensures that she has access to some of its wealth. While opposing the Age of Consent Bill, Bal Gangadhar Tilak formulated constructive proposals for different reforms including the system of dowry. According to him, the system of dowry and liquor are social evils and should be banned.

Jawaharlal Nehru also condemned the evil of dowry. But his treatment of dowry revealed an utter failure to understand or loss of contact with the social process. Even caste councils had taken note of the negative aspects of this phenomenon and adopted resolutions to put a stop to it. While piloting the Hindu Code Bill, Ambedkar referred to dowry as ‘ a menace’ and suggested that all dowry paid should become the property of the woman. In other words, Ambedkar wanted dowry to be converted to Streedhan, to which Hindu orthodoxy could have raised no objection. This was not accepted. Later, the Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961 put equal liability on the giver as well as the taker of the dowry. Other flaws in the Act made it a dead letter from the beginning.

  1. The practice of Sati:

As revealed by the Vedic literature, the widows were allowed to get all privileges and rights in society. Even the young widows were allowed to marry if they wish. But such freedom of widows was curtailed and widows were treated as ill-omens and due to their bad luck, the husbands are going to die. For this purpose, the practice of Sati was developed during the medieval age. The practice of ‘Sati’ indicates the decline in the status of Indian women. ‘Sati’ refers to a horrible practice in which the married women used to jump into the funeral pyre of their husbands with the hope of attaining ‘Sadgati’ or ‘Moksha’. It was actually an act of self-immolation. The glorification of ‘Pativratya’ and the degraded and intolerable widow life made many women become ‘satis’, there were horrible instances in which women were forcibly pushed into the funeral fire of their husbands. This custom was very much prevalent, particularly in Rajputana and central India. There was also the horrible practice of “Johar” in which the Rajput women immolated themselves collectively with a view to protecting their chastity whenever it was endangered.

  1. Widows’ Remarriage:

In those days, Dharmashastras, religious customs, traditions, and social rituals strictly prohibited widow remarriage. Child marriage was also common. Due to these customs, there were young widows, who had a miserable life. They were denied Nation, public life, and most of the religious activities were tabooed for them. Their very presence on important occasions was considered to be disgraceful for they were treated as symbols of ill-omen. They were made to work like servants throughout their lives. Life for them made a few lead an immoral life and some even became prostitutes. To prevent such sex offenses child widows were forced to shave their heads, be restricted to come outside of their home, restricted to wear colourful clothes, ornaments, flowers, and forsake all types of beautification in order to make them sexually unattractive. Under these circumstances, the social and political thinkers have blamed the practice of forced widowhood. They have not only fought against child marriage but also encouraged and appreciated the widows’ marriage.

  1. Purdah (Veil) System:

In the Vedic period, women were respected in society. They have all kinds of freedom, including the freedom to move in the society without any kind of restrictions such as Purdah or any kinds of cultural restrictions. The medieval age developed the system of Purdah, so as to curtail the freedom of women in society. Purdah or Purdha system refers to the practice of women wearing a gown or veil to cover their face and upper part of the body. It was a common practice among Muslim women.

The Purdah system was in practice only in the wealthy and royal classes among the Hindus. But, after the Muslim invasion, the Hindu women were also forced to wear the ‘Purdah’ mainly to escape from the sexy looks of the invaders and to protect them from being kidnapped or seduced. The purdah system led to the complete seclusion of women. Hence, the facilities of education and public life were totally denied to them. Women had to confine themselves to their own world and their progress was halted. Women became the objects of exploitation.

  1. Devadasi System and Prostitution:

The Devadasi system represents another social evil that caused the degradation of Indian women. It is a custom that denies, in the name of religion, the marital opportunity to a few women, insisting on them to become devadasis or basavis to serve the god in the temple as dancers and singers. They were sometimes made to cater to the sexual needs of pilgrims. The devadasis and basavis thus were compelled by the circumstance to become prostitutes. This system grew into a social evil during the medieval age and spoiled the prospects of many young girls.

Of the 32 items raised by Justice Mahadev Govind Ranade during the first of the Indian National Social Conference in 1887 in Madras, the evils of the Prostitutes and dancing girls were a major one. His questions depicted the status of prostitutes and dancing girls and whether these women are acceptable in society. According to him this practice of prostitution and dancing in the ceremonies should be checked and banned.

  1. Political Empowerment of Women:

Noble status was given to women in the Vedic period, as many of the women like Sitadevi, Lopamudra, Draupadi, and such others were also involved in the political activities with their husbands. Even during the medieval age, many of the queens such as Rani Channamma of Kittur, Laxmibai of Jhansi, Razia Begum, Noorzahan, were prominently and equally participated in the politics and administration. But, still the historical records, present political trends, and issues reveal that the participation of women in politics is not equal or on par with men. Among other issues raised by the political thinkers about women in the modern era, political rights played an important role. It is noted that women have no voice or authority in the political aspects. That is women’s rights including suffrage was not provided during the early modern times. A few political thinkers urged the government to grant political rights equal to women. But still as noted in the first chapter, even though women constitute half of the total population, on average, there are only 8.00% are women members in the Indian parliament. It shows that even though the social and political thinkers stressed the equality of women in political matters, still there is a lot to improve on the political front for women to achieve equality. But regarding fundamental rights such as voting and equality, the social and political thinkers contributed much, to uplift the political status of women so far as liberty and fundamental rights are concerned.

  1. Equality of Women:

Swami Vivekananda stated ‘I have more opportunity than many other men to know women in general, from my position and my occupation as a preacher, continuously traveling from one place to another and coming in contact with all grades of society (and women, even in northern Indian where they do not appear before men, in many places would break this law for religion and would come to hear us preach and talk to us) still it would be hazardous on my part to assert that I know everything about the women of India...In each nation, man or woman represents an ideal consciously or unconsciously being worked out. The individual is the external expression of an idea to be embodied.

The collection of such individuals is the nation, which also represents a great deal; towards that, it is moving’ (Swami Mumukshananda, 2002). In this way Swami Vivekananda believed in the individual, it may be man or woman, all are equal in his view. Through his philosophical ideas, Swami Vivekananda made a series of speeches to highlight the equality of women and caste.

  1. STATUS OF WOMEN IN POST INDEPENDENT INDIA

Revolutionary changes have taken place in the status of Indian women after independence. Cultural and Structural changes reduce the exploitation of women to a great extent and provide equality of opportunities to women in various fields. The women have left the secured domain of their home and are now on the battlefield of life, fully armored with their talent. Now, there is no arena that remained unconquered by Indian women. Female activists also united over issues like female infanticide, gender bias, women’s health, women’s safety, and women’s literacy.

Some notable positive changes which took place during this period are as follows:

  1. In 1966, Indira Gandhi becomes the first- women Prime Minister of India and served on that post for an aggregate period of fifteen years, and becomes the worlds’ longest-serving women Prime Minister.

  2. In the field of politics, women like Indira Gandhi, Jayalalitha, Mayawati, Vasundhra Raje, Uma Bharti, Shiela Dixit, Mamta Banerjee, etc. proved themselves and make Indian women feel proud.

  3. From a time when there was no woman writer in India, today names like Arundhati Roy, Anita Desai, Kiran Desai, Jhumpa Lahiri, etc. can put any other writer to Shame.

  4. Kiran Bedi, Mother Teresa, Bachendri Pal, Kiran Majumdar, Kalpana Chawala, Meira Kumar, Pratibha Patil, etc. are those names from different fields which set examples for others.

  5. Along with being achievers, women of modern India are fulfilling their roles as wives and mothers.

  6. Women are now regularly performing duties that are traditionally assigned to males. The income of one man is no longer enough in the modern expensive culture, so fluctuations in the economy have made it necessary for a woman to obtain a career, in order to provide the essential funds to support and maintain the family.

  7. In the 1990s, grants from foreign donor agencies enabled the formation of new women-oriented NGOs. Self-help groups and NGOs such as Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) have played a major role in the advancement of women’s status in India.

  8. Many women have emerged as leaders of local movements, for example, Medha Patkar of the Narmada Bachan Andolan.

  9. The Government of India declared 2001 as the year of women’s Empowerment The National Policy for the Empowerment of women was also passed in 2001.

  10. Women are actively participating in the democratic process and elections which is quite impressive in enhancing their Status.

  11. Today modern women in India are entering into all kinds of professions like engineering, medicine, politics, teaching, etc. They are joining the universities and colleges in large numbers. In fact, India has the largest population of working women in the world and has more numbers of doctors, Surgeons, Professors than the United States.

Thus, on one hand, women are climbing the ladder of success; on the other hand, they are also suffering from atrocities of male-dominated Indian Society. Let’s now have a look at the darker Side:

  1. According to UNICEF’s “State of the World Children-2009” report, 47% of Indian women aged 20-24 were married before the legal age of 18, rising to 56% in rural areas. The report also showed that 40% of the world’s child marriages occur in India.

  2. The birth of the girl child was considered inauspicious. In villages as well as in cities, the girl child was killed before or after death.

  3. Common Indian sayings like, “May you be blessed with hundred sons” represent the low status of women in India.

  4. In 2011, Government stated India was missing three million girls and there are now 48 fewer girls per 1000 boys. The gap between the two genders is a direct response to the gender bias within India. Men and Women in India have unequal health and education rights. Male education and health are made more of a priority. So women’s death rates are increasing.

  5. A 1997 report claimed that each year at least 5,000 women in India die due to dowry. In 2011, the National Crime Records Bureau reported 8,618 dowry deaths.

  6. According to Renuka Chowdhary, former Union Minister of women and Child Development, around 70% of women in India are victims of domestic violence.

  7. 11,332 women and girls are getting trafficked every year.

  8. Rape in India has been described by Radha Kumar as one of India’s most common crimes against women.

  9. In India, acid attacks on women who dared to refuse a man’s proposal of marriage or asked for a divorce are forms of revenge. The number of acid attacks has been increasing.

  1. GOVERNMENT INITIATIVES FOR WOMEN

Numerous legislative measures have been enacted by the Government to uplift the status of women in India. Some of which are as follows:-

  1. The Employees State Insurance Act, 1948

  2. The Plantation Labour Act, 1951

  3. The Family Courts Act, 1954

  4. The Special Marriage Act, 1954

  5. The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955

  6. The Hindu Succession Act, 1956 with an amendment in 2005

  7. Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956

  8. The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 (Amended in 1995)

  9. Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961

  10. The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971

  11. The Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1976

  12. The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976

  13. The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006

  14. The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 1983

  15. The Factories (Amendment) Act, 1986

  16. Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition), Act 1986

  17. Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act, 1987

  18. The protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.

Besides legislative provisions, a number of welfare schemes and programmes, both at central and state levels have been operated by different departments and ministries. Some are as follows:-

  1. Mahila Samridhi Yojana (MSY), 1993

  2. Indira Mahila Yojana, 1993

  3. Swadhar, 1995

  4. Support to Training and Employment programme for Women (STEP), 2003

  5. Ujjawala, 2007

  6. Dhanalakshmi, 2008

  7. Sabla Scheme, 2010

  8. National Mission for Empowerment of Women (NMEW), 2010

  9. Integrated Rural Development Programme (IRDP)

  10. Women Development Corporation Schemes (WDCS)

  11. Indira Priyadarshini Yojana

  12. SBIs Stree shakti schemes.

Thus, a number of efforts have been made for women’s social, economic, and political benefits, yet they were never been effective, to bring a remarkable change in the situation. Yet one can’t deny that the situation has improved since the earlier times. As compared with the past, women in modern times have become powerful in various fields and have achieved a lot but in reality, they have to still travel a long way.

Increased awareness and education have inspired women to come out of the walls of the home. The modern woman has started caring for her social, emotional, cultural, religious, and economic needs. She has now become a tool for social change in India. It can be said that women have more freedom than earlier however not true in many respects because prejudice still remains in society. Though the status of today’s modern women in India is high, the overall picture of women’s position in India is not satisfactory.

If we look in every aspect progress of a nation cannot be achieved until and unless there is the active participation of its mothers, wives, sister, and daughters, So each and every man Should thoughtfully decide to bring a revolutionary transformation in his attitude towards women and accept the women to be the equal participants in the country’s progress.

WOMEN EMPOWERMENT

Women empowerment means the emancipation of women from the vicious grips of social, economic, political, caste, and gender-based discrimination. It means granting women the freedom to make life choices. Women empowerment does not mean ‘deifying women’ rather it means replacing patriarchy with parity. In this regard, there are various facets of women's empowerment.

  1. Human Rights or Individual Rights: 

A woman is a being with senses, imagination, and thoughts; she should be able to express them freely. Individual empowerment means having the self-confidence to articulate and assert the power to negotiate and decide.

  1. Social Women Empowerment: 

A critical aspect of the social empowerment of women is the promotion of gender equality. Gender equality implies a society in which women and men enjoy the same opportunities, outcomes, rights, and obligations in all spheres of life.

  1. Educational Women Empowerment:

It means empowering women with the knowledge, skills, and self-confidence necessary to participate fully in the development process. It means making women aware of their rights and developing the confidence to claim them.

  1. Economic and occupational empowerment: 

It implies a better quality of material life through sustainable livelihoods owned and managed by women. It means reducing their financial dependence on their male counterparts by making them a significant part of the human resource.

  1. Legal Women Empowerment: 

It suggests the provision of an effective legal structure which is supportive of women's empowerment. It means addressing the gaps between what the law prescribes and what actually occurs.

  1. Political Women Empowerment: 

It means the existence of a political system favoring the participation in and control by the women of the political decision-making process and in governance.

  1. The position of Women in India: 

The position enjoyed by women in the Rig- Vedic period deteriorated in the later Vedic civilization. Women were denied the right to education and widow remarriage. They were denied the right to inheritance and ownership of property. Many social evils like child marriage and the dowry system surfaced and started to engulf women. During the Gupta period, the status of women immensely deteriorated. Dowry became an institution and Sati Pratha became prominent.

During the British Raj, many social reformers such as Raja Rammohun Roy, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, and Jyotirao Phule started agitations for the empowerment of women. Their efforts led to the abolition of Sati and the formulation of the Widow Remarriage Act. Later, stalwarts like Mahatma Gandhi and Pt. Nehru advocated women's rights. As a result of their concentrated efforts, the status of women in social, economic, and political life began to elevate in Indian society.

CURRENT SCENARIO ON WOMEN EMPOWERMENT

Based on the ideas championed by our founding fathers for women's empowerment, many social, economic, and political provisions were incorporated in the Indian Constitution. Women in India now participate in areas such as education, sports, politics, media, art and culture, the service sector, and science and technology. But due to the deep-rooted patriarchal mentality in Indian society, women are still victimized, humiliated, tortured, and exploited. Even after almost seven decades of Independence, women are still subjected to discrimination in the social, economic, and educational fields.

MAJOR LANDMARK STEPS TAKEN FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT

Provisions made under the Constitution of India such as the Right to equality under Article 14 of the Indian Constitution guarantees to all Indian women equality before the law; Equal pay for equal work under Article 39(d), guards the economic rights of women by guaranteeing equal pay for equal work; and Maternity Relief under Article 42, allows provisions to be made by the state for securing just and humane condition of work and maternity relief for women.

  1. Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961: 

This prohibits the request, payment, or acceptance of a dowry. Asking or giving dowry can be punished by imprisonment as well as fine; Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, provides for more effective protection of the rights of women who are victims of domestic violence. A breach of this Act is punishable with both fines and imprisonment; Sexual Harassment of Women at Work Place (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act, 2013, helps to create a conducive environment at the workplace for women where they are not subjected to any sort of sexual harassment.

  1. Panchayati Raj Institutions: 

As per the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendment Act, all the local elected bodies reserve one-third of their seats for women. Such a provision was made to increase the effective participation of women in politics.

  1. Women’s Reservation Bill: 

It is a pending Bill in India which proposes to reserve 33% of all seats in the Lok Sabha and in all State Legislative Assemblies for women. If passed, this Bill will give a significant boost to the position of women in politics.

  1. Various Government Policies and Schemes:

The Government of India is running various welfare schemes and policies, both at State and Central levels for the empowerment of women. Some of the major programs and measures include Swadhar (1995), Swayam Siddha (2001), Support to Training and Employment Programme for Women (STEP-2003), Sabla Scheme (2010), National Mission for Empowerment of Women (2010), etc. All such policies and programs focus on the social, economic, and educational empowerment of women across various age groups.

Thus, there has been no dearth of social, economic, political, legal, and Constitutional efforts made for the empowerment of women both prior to and post-Independence. However, women in India continue to face atrocities such as rape, dowry killings, acid attacks, human trafficking, etc. According to a global poll conducted by Reuters, India is the “fourth most dangerous country in the world for women”.

WOMEN EMPOWERMENT — CHALLENGES/MEASURES

  1. Perspective: 

The most widespread and dehumanizing discriminations against women are on the basis of the biased perspective. The discrimination against the girl child begins from the birth itself. Boys are preferred over girls; hence, female infanticide is a common practice in India. The ordeal that an Indian girl faces at birth is only the beginning of a lifelong struggle to be seen and heard.

  1. Patriarchate Bottlenecks: 

The traditional Indian society is a patriarchal society ruled by the diktats of self-proclaimed caste lords who are the guardians of archaic and unjust traditions. They put the burden of traditions, culture, and honor on the shoulders of women and mark their growth. The incidences of “honor killing” reveal the distorted social fiber in the male-dominated society.

  1. Economic Backwardness: 

Women constitute only 29% of the workforce but form the majority of the destitute in the country. There has been a failure in transforming the available women base into human resources. This, in turn, has hampered not only the economic development of women but also of the country as a whole.

  1. Implementation Gaps: 

Through all these years, the attention is only on developing and devising new schemes, policies, and programmes and have paid less attention to the proper monitoring system and implementation short-sightedness, for e.g. despite the presence of The Pre-Natal Diagnostic Technologies Act and various health programmes like Janani Suraksha Yojana and National Rural Health Mission (NHRM), our country has a skewed sex ratio and a high maternal mortality rate (MMR).

  1. Loopholes in the legal structure:

Although there are a number of laws to protect women against all sorts of violence yet there has been a significant increase in the episodes of rapes, extortions, acid, attacks, etc. This is due to delay in legal procedures and the presence of several loopholes in the functioning of a judicial system.

  1. Lack of Political Will:

The still-pending Women’s Reservation Bill underscores the lack of political will to empower women politically. Male dominance prevails in the politics of India and women are forced to remain mute spectators.

  1. Way ahead: 

Starts with bridging the deep-rooted biases through sustained reconditioning. It is only possible by promoting the idea of gender equality and uprooting the social ideology of male child preferability. This concept of equality should be first developed in each and every household and from there, it should be taken to society. This can be achieved by running sustained awareness programs with the help of Nukkad Natak or dramas, radio, television, Internet, etc. across the country.

  1. Replacing ‘Patriarchy’ with Parity: 

A strong patriarchate society with deep-rooted socio-cultural values continues to affect women’s empowerment. The need of the hour is an egalitarian society, where there is no place for superiority. The Government should identify and eliminate such forces that work to keep alive the tradition of male dominance over its female counterpart by issuing inhumane and unlawful diktats.

  1. Education: 

Education is the most important and indispensable tool for women's empowerment. It makes women aware of their rights and responsibilities. The educational achievements of a woman can have ripple effects for the family and across generations. Most of the girls drop out of school due to the unavailability of separate toilets for them. The recently launched ‘Swachh Bharat Mission’ focusing on improving sanitation facilities in schools and every rural household by 2019, can prove to be very significant in bringing down the rate of girls dropping out of school.

  1. Political Will: 

Women should have access to resources, rights, and entitlements. They should be given decision-making powers and due position in governance. Thus, the Women Reservation Bill should be passed as soon as possible to increase the effective participation of women in the politics of India.

  1. Bridging implementation gaps: 

Government or community-based bodies must be set up to monitor the programs devised for the welfare of society. Due importance should be given for their proper implementation and their monitoring and evaluation through social audits.

  1. Justice delayed is justice denied: 

Efforts should be made to restructure the legal process to deliver fair and in-time justice to the victims of heinous crimes like rapes, acid attacks, sexual harassment, trafficking, and domestic violence. The idea of fast-track courts, devised to impart speedy justice to the victims of rapes and other crimes against women, is a good initiative taken by the judiciary and the Government of India.

Empowering women socially, economically, educationally politically, and legally is going to be a Herculean task. It is not going to be easy to change the culture of disregard for women which is so deep-rooted in Indian society. But it does not mean that it is implausible. Only revolutions bring changes in a day, but reforms take their time. This one, in particular, will take its time as well. The idea of women's empowerment might sound hard by the yard, but by the inch, it is just a cinch. All we need is a concentrated effort focused in the right direction that would rest only with the liberation of women from all forms of evil.