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By Education Today

Posted on April 5, 2022


5 min read

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“Our right of interference is limited entirely to giving education. Women must be put in a position to solve their own problems in their own way. No one can or ought to do this for them. And our Indian women are capable of doing it as any in the world.”

-Swami Vivekananda

To empower women means, helping her to realise self-worth, allowing her to make own choices and decisions, treating her equally to influence social change. Gender equality is a fundamental right according to Article 14 of the constitution. Men and women must enjoy same opportunities as well as rights, for example, equal participation in decision making, access to education, choosing right career, economic status and social freedom.

In order to respond to the changing demands and challenges of the society, women empowerment through education is trivial. Education at the right time is a milestone which enables them to face the challenges they encounter in their traditional role and change their life. Education not only imparts knowledge, skills, abilities but also instill self-confidence thereby improving self-esteem of women. It is true that education to women not only helps them to enter developmental opportunities but also have ripple effect within the family and across generations.  Also, investing to educate girls is one of the most effective ways to yield high dividend and reduce poverty.

In spite of the measures taken to impart education to women and girls, we still see women’s literacy rate is significantly lower than men’s in most of the developing countries. High literacy rate among women improves quality of life, promote education of female children and reduce infant mortality. On the other hand, women who do not receive adequate education will have lower earning potential, inability to make decisions and inability to cope up with the life demands. As Swami Vivekananda, rightly said, “women have many and grave problems but none that cannot be solved by that magic word education.”

Achieving gender equality and women empowerment is possible only through education. Proper education to women, therefore, is necessary to facilitate the upward economic as well as social mobility in the country. In modern era, not only we see a rise of women in corporate world, but also there is a considerable progress in women’s education, employment, economic status. However, the overall statistics released by the United Nations is demanding attention of all stakeholders of the society. Two third of 750 million adults are women who remained illiterate until 2016, half of them lives in South Asia. About 260 million children were still out of school in 2018 and more than half of all adolescents and children globally are not meeting minimum reading and arithmetic proficiency. This is even more aggravated by COVID-19 pandemic as most of the schools were temporarily closed impacting more than 91 percent of children worldwide. This has also affected the source of daily nutrition for almost 369 million children. We need to recuperate from this current condition and improve education thereby empowering girls and women.

The United Nations reports also show that COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown has worsened domestic violence, child abuse, household burdens.  We can trace back and understand that women in India have remained in receiving end, ignorant of their fundamental constitutional and civic rights. The forced traditional practices not only spoil her life but also cause detrimental effect on children’s development. Irrespective of whether women belong to rural or urban, educated or illiterate, they experience helplessness to eliminate the gender inequalities posed by the society.

Multi-departmental support in an integrated way may help needed women and girls to deal with the challenges they face in the society. For example, innovative co-ordinated systems integrating society, government officials and the family may help her. Simple informal networks among friends, family and local community and responsible neighbours can help women who face domestic violence by just voicing their support to her. Women and girls must also be educated about their legal and human rights under Article 17 of the constitution.

In nutshell, we see inequalities, ignorance, ineffectiveness among most women, girls and society. The unequal growth distribution enabling some women to reach top of corporate ladder, academics, political representation, sports, entertainment and so on will not alone be the sufficient condition to claim women empowerment is accomplished. Millennium development goals on women’s empowerment and gender equality can be realised in India only when we completely eliminate domestic violence, child marriage, sexual abuse, female infanticide etc. Education must reach every single woman and girl across globe and only then women empowerment can become a possible reality.

“There are two powers in the world; one is the sword and the other is the pen. There is a third power stronger than both, that of women.”

-Malala Yousafzai

The author is Prof. Shameem S, Assistant Professor of Human Resource Management and Organizational Behaviour at Great Lakes Institute of Management, Chennai.