While the country has grown from leaps and bounds since its independence where education is concerned, the gap between women and men is severe. While 82. 14% of adult men are educated, only 65. 46% of adult women are known to be literate in India. Not only is an illiterate women at the mercy of her husband or father, she also does not know that this is not the way of life for women across the world. Additionally, the norms of culture that state that the man of the family is the be-all and end-all of family decisions is slowly spoiling the society of the country. About a third of the country’s population lives on less than 1.25USD per day. The GINI index keeps rising slowly over the years, indicating that the inequality in the distribution of wealth in the country is increasing, currently hovering a little close to 33. 9. If poverty were not a concern, then the girl child will be able to follow her dreams without concerns of sexual exploitation, domestic abuse and no education or work. Actions Taken to Empower Women Millennium Development Goal-The United Nations Development Programme constituted eight Millennium Development Goals (MDG) for ensuring equity and peace across the world.
The third MDG is directly related to the empowerment of women in India. The MDGs are agreed-upon goals to reduce certain indicators of disparity across the world by the year 2015. The third MDG is centred towards promoting gender equality and empowering women: “Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005, and in all levels of education by no later than 2015” While India’s progress in this front has been brave, there are quite a few corners that it needs to cut before it can be called as being truly revolutionary in its quest for understanding what is women empowerment.
As UNDP says:- India missed the 2005 deadline of eliminating gender disparity in primary and secondary education. However, the country has hastened progress and the Gender Parity Index (GPI) for Gross Enrolment Ratios (GER) in primary and secondary education has risen. Given current trends, India is moderately or almost nearly on track. However, as the Government of India MDG Report 2009 notes, “participation of women in employment and decision-making remains far less than that of men, and the disparity is not likely to be eliminated by 2015.
” Achieving GPI in tertiary education also remains a challenge. In addition, the labour market openness to women in industry and services has only marginally increased from 13-18 percent between 1990-91 and 2004-05. Ministry for Women & Child Development-The Ministry for Women & Child Development was established as a department of the Ministry of Human Resource Development in the year 1985 to drive the holistic development of women and children in the country.
In 2006 this department was given the status of a Ministry, with the powers to:- Formulate plans, policies and programmes; enacts/ amends legislation, guiding and coordinating the efforts of both governmental and non-governmental organisations working in the field of Women and Child Development. It delivers such initiatives such as the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) which is a package of services such as supplementary nutrition, health check-ups and immunisation. As mentioned earlier, the empowerment of women begins with their safety and health and this Ministry is committed to providing them.
Swayamsidha Programme-Additionally, the Ministry is also implementing the Swayamsidha programme – an integrated scheme for the empowerment of women at a total cost of Rs. 116. 30 Crores. Core to this programme will be the establishment of women’s self-help groups which will empower women to have increased access to all kinds of resources that they are denied, in addition to increasing their awareness and skills. This programme will benefit about 9,30,000 women with the setting up of 53,000 self-help groups, 26,500 village societies and 650 block societies.
National Commission for Women-The National Commission for Women is a Department within the Ministry of Women and Child Development. It was set up exclusively to help women via the Constitution – by reviewing Legal and Constitutional safeguards for women, recommending remedial legislative measures, by facilitating quick redressal of grievances and by advising the Government of India on all policy matters affecting women. The website allows for online submission of complaints and fast redressal exclusively for women.
Additionally it is also a good resource of information for women and the Commission is committed to helping out women in need. The status of women in India has been subject to many great changes over the past few millennia.  From equal status with men in ancient times through the low points of the medieval period, to the promotion of equal rights by many reformers, the history of women in India has been eventful. In modern India, women have held high offices in India including that of the President, Prime Minister, Speaker of the Lok Sabha and Leader of the Opposition.
As of 2011, the Speaker of the Lok Sabha and the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha (Lower House of the parliament) were women. However, women in India continue to face atrocities such as rape, acid throwing, dowry killings, forced prostitution of young girls.  According to a global poll conducted by Thomson Reuters, India is the “fourth most dangerous country” in the world for women, and the worst country for women among the G20 countries.  Indira Gandhi, who served as Prime Minister of India for an aggregate period of fifteen years, is the world’s longest serving woman Prime Minister.
The Constitution of India guarantees to all Indian women equality (Article 14), no discrimination by the State (Article 15(1)), equality of opportunity (Article 16), and equal pay for equal work (Article 39(d)). In addition, it allows special provisions to be made by the State in favour of women and children (Article 15(3)), renounces practices derogatory to the dignity of women (Article 51(A) (e)), and also allows for provisions to be made by the State for securing just and humane conditions of work and for maternity relief.
(Article 42). The Government of India set up a High Level Committee on the Status of Women to undertake comprehensive study to understand the status of women since 1989 as well as to evolve appropriate policy interventions based on a contemporary assessment of women’s needs vide Ministry of Women and Child Development’s (Resolutions No. 4-5/2009-WW dated the 27th February, 2012 and 29 June 2012). The committee consisted of the Chairperson, Member Secretary and seventeen Members.
The High Level Committee presented its first copy of the Preliminary Report to the Minister for Women and Child Development, Krishna Tirath on 3 February 2014. The High Level Committee identified Violence Against Women, Declining Sex Ratio and Economic Dis empowerment of Women as three key burning issues which require immediate attention of the nation, and action by the government. The Committee also flagged 10 recommendations for immediate action .  The Hindu personal laws of 1956 (applying to Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains) gave women rights to inheritances.
However, sons had an independent share in the ancestral property, while the daughters’ shares were based on the share received by their father. Hence, a father could effectively disinherit a daughter by renouncing his share of the ancestral property, but a son would continue to have a share in his own right. Additionally, married daughters, even those facing marital harassment, had no residential rights in the ancestral home. Thanks to amendment of the Hindu laws in 2005, women now have the same status as men Acid throwing,dowry,child marriage,domestic violence,female infanticide,physical abuse,trafficking,.
The early twenty century, it was rise of the National Movement under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi who was in favor of removing all the disabilities of women. At the same time, Raja Ram Mohan Rai, Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar and various other social reformers laid stress on women’s education, prevention of child marriage, withdrawals of evil practice of sati, removal of polygamy etc. The National Movement and various reform movements paved the way for their liberations from the social evils and religious taboos.
In this context, we may write about the Act of Sati (abolish) 1829, Hindu Widow Remarriage Act’ 1856, the Child Restriction Act, 1929, Women Property Right Act, 1937 etc. After independence of India, the constitution makers and the national leaders recognized the equal social position of women with men. The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 has determined the age for marriage, provided for monogamy and guardianship of the mother and permitted the dissolution of marriage under specific circumstances. Under the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956, an unmarried women, widow or divorce of sound mind can also take child in adoption.
Similarly, the Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961 says that any person who gives, takes, or abets the giving or taking of dowry shall be punished with imprisonment, which may extend to six months or fine up to Rs. 5000/ or with both. The Constitution of India guarantees equality of sexes and in fact grants special favors to women. These can be found in three articles of the constitution. Article 14 says that the government shall not deny to any person equality before law or equal protection of the law. Article 15 declares that government shall not discriminate against any citizen on the ground of sex.
Article 15 (3) makes a special provision enabling the state to make affirmative discriminations in favor of women. Article 42 directs the state to make provision for ensuring just and human conditions of work and maternity relief. Above all, the constitution regards a fundamental duty on every citizen through Articles 15 (A), (E) to renounce the practices derogatory to the dignity of women. Empowerment of women would mean equipping women to be economically independent, self-reliant, have positive esteem to enable them to face any difficult situation and they should be able to participate in development activities.
The empowered women should be able to participate in the process of decision making. In India, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD- 1985) and the National Commission for Women(NCW) have been worked to Women Empowerment in India: A Brief Discussion 201 safeguard the rights and legal entitlement of women. The 73rd &74th Amendments (1993) to the constitution of India have provided some special powers to women that for reservation of seats(33%), whereas the report HRD as March2002, shows that the legislatures with the highest percentage of women are, Sweeden 42.7%, Denmark 38%, Findland 36% and Iceland 34. 9%. In India ‘’The New Panchayati Raj ‘’ is the part of the effort to empower women at least at the village level. The government of India has ratified various international conventions and human rights instruments committing to secure equal rights to women. These are CEDAW (1993), the Mexico Plan of Action (1975), the Nairobi Forward Looking Strategies (! 985), the Beijing Declaration as well as the platform for Action (1995) and other such instruments. The year of 2001 was observed as the year of women’s empowerment.
During the year, a landmark document has been adopted, ‘ the National Policy for the empowerment of women. ’ For the beneficiaries of the women, the government has been adopted different schemes and programs i. e. the National Credit Fund for Women (1993), Food and Nutrition Board (FNB), Information and Mass Education (IMF) etc. The most positive development last few years has been the growing involvement of women in the Panchayati Raj institutions. There are many elected women representatives at the village council level.
At present all over India, there are total 20, 56, 882 laces Gaon panchayat members, out of this women members is 8, 38, 244 (40. 48%), while total Anchalik panchayat members is 1, 09, 324, out of this women members is 47, 455, (40. 41%) and total Zila porisod members is 11, 708, out of this women members is 4, 923 (42. 05%). At the central and state levels too women are progressively making a difference. Today we have seen women chief ministers, women president, different political parties leader, well establish businessmen etc.
The most notable amongst these are Mrs. protiva Devi Singh Patil, Shila Dexit, Mayawati, Sonia Gandhi, Binda karat, Nazma Heptulla, Indira Nuye (pepsi-co), BJP leader Susma Soraj, railway minister Momta Benarji, ‘Narmada Basao’ leader Medhapatekar, Indiand Iron Woman, EX-prime minister Idira Gandhi etc. Women are also involving in human development issues of child rearing, education, health, and gender parity. Many of them have gone into the making and marketing of a range of cottage products-pickles, tailoring, embroidery etc.
The economic empowerment of women is being regarded these days as a sine-quo-non of progress for a country; hence, the issue of economic empowerment of women is of paramount importance to political thinkers, social thinkers and reformers. According to 2001 census, rate of literacy among men in India is found to be 76% whereas it is only 54% among women. Thus, increasing education among women is of very important in empowering them. It has also noticed that some of women are too weak to work. They consume less food but work more. Therefore, from the health point of view, women folk who are to be weaker are to be made stronger.
Another problems is that workplace harassment of women. There are so many cases of rape, kidnapping of girl, dowry harassment, and so on. For these reasons, they require empowerment of all kinds in order to protect themselves and to secure their purity and dignity. To sum up, women empowerment can not be possible unless women come with and help to self-empower themselves. There is a need to formulate reducing feminized poverty, promoting education of women, and prevention and elimination of violence against women. The Policy will be widely disseminated so as to encourage active participation of all stakeholders for achieving its goals.
Specifically, the objectives of this Policy include (i) Creating an environment through positive economic and social policies for full development of women to enable them to realize their full potential (ii) The de-jure and de-facto enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedom by women on equal basis with men in all spheres – political, economic, social, cultural and civil (iii) Equal access to participation and decision making of women in social, political and economic life of the nation (iv) Equal access to women to health care, quality education at all levels, career and vocational guidance, employment, equal remuneration, occupational health and safety, social security and public office etc. (v) Strengthening legal systems aimed at elimination of all forms of discrimination against women (vi) Changing societal attitudes and community practices by active participation and involvement of both men and women. (vii) Mainstreaming a gender perspective in the development process. (viii) Elimination of discrimination and all forms of violence against women and the girl child; and (ix) Building and strengthening partnerships with civil society, particularly women’s organizations.