Rural Women Empowerment
"I measure the progress of a community by
the degree of progress which women have achieved." - Dr. B.R. Ambedkar
- India is a land of diversity. Among all the types of varieties,
rural-urban divide is the most glaring one. Indian women, no doubt, face
discrimination and inequality in every walk of life. However, the kind of
problems face by an urban woman is totally different from that of a woman
living in rural area.
- Rural women suffer from acute poverty. The over-dependence on
agriculture along with less authorities and sayings related to land rights
is the cause of their less economic productivity. The workforce
participation of rural women is higher than their urban equals, but most of
them are involved in low income jobs of unorganized sectors, agriculture or
other allied activities.
- In agriculture itself, women play the major role as they are nearly 70
percent of total workforce involved in farm sector. Despite this these women
are not recognized as farmers. Besides, the work of women in farm sectors is
less mechanized and mostly of drudgery types.
- There occurs a question in our mind, why are the rural women not moving
towards more productive sectors of economy? The reason is the lack of work
opportunities for women in other economic activities. Because of their
lagging in economic empowerment, the social and political empowerment of
rural women will remain a myth.
Challenges and way forward--
- Poor literacy rate— Low level of education among rural women can be
considered as the single most important cause of their dismal participation
in developmental activities. Because of their illiteracy, they are not
considered in decision making process, neither at family nor at village
The following chart can help in understanding the actual level of illiteracy
persist among women--
- Census 2011 clearly indicates the vulnerable situation of women's
education in comparison to male counter-part. Even among the women, rural
women are way lower in literacy than their urban equals.
- It is considered that digital literacy can help women to leverage their
full potential, but poor accessibility in rural India make them more
vulnerable towards discrimination.
- Government come up with a number of programs in order to improve the
educational level of girl child. The most widespread and effective is—Beti
Bachao Beti Padhao Abhiyan. This comprehensive campaign tries to impact the
mindset of society towards the girl's education.
- Ministry of Women and Child Development has already come up with Mahila
Shakti Kendras (MSK) that focuses over the digital literacy at gram
Lack of skills—Rural women involve mainly in agriculture or household kind
of enterprises. That's why any skill training program is having hardly any
female participation. Due to the lack of skill, women have very limited
opportunities in other sectors of economy like construction, trade,
- Deendayal Upadhyaya Antyodaya Yojana—Ajeevika is one such program
of government of India that tries to tackle the low skill issue among the
rural women. The two components under Ajeevika are worth noticing--
- I. Deendayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushal Yojana which aims to skill
rural youths that are poor. It is being made mandatory in this scheme that
one-third of the persons covered should be women.
- II. The other component is Mahila Kisan Sashaktikaran Yojana,
which aims to improve the present status of women in agriculture and to
enhance the opportunities for empowerment.
- Poor accessibility and support— Lack of credit access, extension
services and inheritance rights over the land are some of the important
reasons why women have no other opportunities but to be an agricultural
labor, who work for mere subsistence. In agriculture itself, there exists
poor linkages between farm and non-farm activities. Women, therefore, are
rarely involved in any linkages associated with agriculture.
- Government is promoting the formation of women Self- help group (SHG)
under the National Rural Livelihood Program (NRLM). These self-help group
are provided with formal credit facilities. Besides, MoWCD also form
Rashtriya Mahila Kosh. The fund provides micro-credit facilities to the
women in informal sectors of the economy. These loans are hassle free and
are being given without any collateral.
- Government is also promoting a digital marketing portal—Mahila e-Haat.
This portal is launched for women entrepreneurs. The intention is to provide
more market accessibility to women entrepreneurs for their products.
- Lack of adequate convergence of scheme—There exists a large
number of schemes, distributed among various ministries, for the empowerment
of rural women. With this lack of convergence, the wholehearted efforts for
the development would not take place and the aims remain scattered. In
addition, it also impedes the optimum utilization of resources.
- Scheme of Mission for Protection and empowerment for women is a
step in converging all the women centric scheme, so that better
implementation can be done. Convergent support is being proposed for equal
access to healthcare, quality education, career and vocational guidance,
social security and digital literacy at gram panchayat level.
- More vulnerability towards climate change—Rural women are
affected differently and severely by climate change. Pradhan mantri Ujjawala
Yojana is a good step of the government in this regard. Under the scheme,
rural women are provided with free LPG connection in their kitchen. That
will make their kitchen smokeless and improve their health condition.
- The empowerment of women is a continuous process. India has historical
background of gender discrimination. The Government also understand that
there is a need of multidimensional war against the gender inequality that
persists in rural Indian society. The recently introduced National Policy
for Women, 2016 recognize many problems associated with women and aim to
work for the development of rural women specifically.
- However, making policy documentation and program framework is only the
first step and the easiest task. The real efforts lie in its implementation.
The holistic empowerment of rural women possible when all the women related
schemes converges through a single channel.
- It should be understood that there exists diversity even among rural
women as well. The problems faced by women belongs to SC/ST group are
different from what the upper-class women face. Therefore, one size fits all
approach cannot be the solution.
- It is to be noted that empowerment of women is not discretionary, but it
is the need of this hour. This is why the first year of new Milennium 2001
was declared as "Women Empowerment Year". Our half population need to
be empowered, not only for the wellbeing of the individual or family, but
also for the economic productivity of the nation.
Q. Which of the following is/are true regarding Mahila e-Haat digital
i. It is launched by commerce ministry in government of India.
ii. The funding for this portal is being done from the Rashtriya Mahila Kosh.
iii. Women of any age group can register their product on this online
platform without having to pay any listing fees.
(1). Only II
(2). Only I and II
(3) All I, II and III
(4) None of the above
Answer (1). The portal is being launched by Ministry of Women and Child
Development. The funding for this portal is being done from Rashtriya Mahila
kosh. The Women only above 18 years of age can register in this portal free of
cost. It is done in order to prevent child labor.
Remember that, We do not need to mug up all the data, but these things
need to be considered when read about any scheme.
Q. The support to Training and Employment Program for women (STEP) scheme
is intended to benefit women. Which of the following is/are correct regarding
i. This scheme is intended to benefit women of the age group of 16 years and
above across the country.
ii. The grant under the scheme is given to the states/UTs, and not to the
iii. The assistance under the scheme will be available in any sector for
imparting skills related to employability and entrepreneurship.
(1) Only i
(2) Only ii
(3) Only i & iii
(4) Only ii & iii
Answer is (3). The grant under the scheme will be provided to
institutions, including NGOs but not to the states/UTs.
Q. Among all form of empowerments, economic empowerment is the most
important one. Both the social and political empowerment of a section depends
upon its level of economic empowerment. Discuss it in the backdrop of women
Hint—Write by yourself. Whole article is dedicated to economic empowerment of