(Sample Material) Gist of IIPA Journal: Women and Empowerment Shanta Kohli Chandra

(Sample Material) Gist of Important Articles from IIPA Journal

Topic: Women and Empowerment Shanta Kohli Chandra


Empowerment in its simplest form means the manifestation of redistribution of power that challenges patriarchial ideology and the male dominance. It is both a process and the result of the process. It is transformation of the structures or institutions that reinforces and perpetuates gender discrimination. It is a process that enables women to gain access to, and control of, material as well as informational resources. The concept of women’s empowerment, throughout the world, has its roots in women’s movement. It is since the mid 1980s that this term became popular in the field of development, especially in reference to women. In India, it is the Sixth Five Year Plan (1980-85) which can be taken as a landmark for the cause of women. It is here that the concept of ‘women and development’ was introduced for the first time. It was realised that no more piecemeal strategies but an integrated approach would deliver the desired goods. The realistic and regenerative developmental efforts in the direction of progress, in terms of economic independence for women and educational advancement of them is what would answer the basic questions raised for empowering women.

Need for Change in the Right Direction Participation in Decision-Making

Gender discrimination is a universal phenomenon. Both inside and outside the households women are excluded from positions of power. They are denied opportunities to participate in the decision-making process. Even when the decisions are to affect their well-being, they are only passive observers. The primary challenge facing women today, therefore, is to increase their participation so that they get hold of the situation and become actively involved in the process of decision-making.

Participation has two dimensions-quantitative and qualitative. Many a time only the quantitative aspect of participation is taken care of. Peoples’ participation in terms of mere numbers has no meaning. Women often make up majority of the rank and file and comprise a minority as far as decision-making process is concerned. Today, there is a need for change-change in the right direction-change from quantitative to qualitative. As long as women would be left behind in the process of decision-making, it would be hard to get the democratic process started. Active participation in social, economic and political spheres would help in enhancing the process of empowerment and it would also give women the desired self-respect and social dignity, and these, of course, are the pre-requisites of empowerment.

Obstacles and opportunities in the direction of empowerment need to be looked into in depth so as to give meaningful interpretation to the term participation. “An idea which is gaining momentum these days is that increased participation of women in decision-making at all levels will help to ‘adjust’ the goals pursued through development”.

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