A Study On Challenges of Women Empowerment

Dr Anju Bala
Associate professor
Department of commerce
Arya Girls College
Ambala Cantt
E Mail:anjubathla2010.gmail.com
Mob : 9416327518


This paper attempts to analyze the status of Women Empowerment in India and the challenges of women empowerment. Today empowerment has become the most important part of 21stcentury.
Since the older times, women have been treated as second rate citizens of all across the globe. The situation is almost the same everywhere irrespective of the developed country or the developing country-caste, community, colour or creed a position that is comparable in many ways, with that of racial minorities. Women have been relegated to secondary position despite the fact that they numerically constitute about half the world population today.This situation has caused immense loss to their self-dignity as human beings and also their independent entities, associated with men, apart from other matter, in context with intellectual and professional capability. 
It is really ironical that superiority is not accorded to the fair sex who are responsible for carrying forward lives on this planet but to men who have muscle power with the help of which they can subjugate others. 
During the course of social development, the position of women also changed.. Gradually, males became dominant in society. They were to write the codes for all times and obviously women were given a subordinate position. A prominent feature of hegemonic ideologies is the projection of the dominant viewpoint as universally true.
Empowerment of women needs to begin with her participation in different spheres of life. Education is a great determinant in this regard. To achieve empowerment women have to be educated to be aware of their rights and privileges in a modern society. It is education which can bring about awareness in them related to their social status, injustice and differentiation meted out to them. Besides, economic independence is a major factor which can contribute in empowering women. India in the very beginning realised this need. 
It was really a first step towards the recognition and empowerment of women in India. This gives a woman right to property, which undoubtedly strengthens her social position. Despite all these political measures, women’s empowerment remains a distant dream in India. In fact, political empowerment is a key to development in this society. It is a must for an all- around development of women. It is the need of the hour to ensure her participation in the decision-making at home, in community and at the national level. It is for the fulfillment of this need that the Women’s Reservation Bill was introduced in the Parliament by the BJP Government. But since then, ruling parties changed in power but the Bill could not see the light of the day.
Therefore, our efforts should be directed towards the all- around development of each and every section of Indian women, not confining the benefit to a particular section of women in society, by giving them their due share. It is a must to protect their chastity, modesty and dignity and ensure their dignified position in society. Without removing social stigma, enduring progress and development could not be achieved. For this, the governmental and non-governmental organisations including media should come forward and play an active role in creating awareness in society.
The study concludes by an observation that access to Education, Employment and Change in Social Structure are the only enabling factors to Women Empowerment. Hence, the women’s empowerment is the need of the hour.


Women Empowerment refers to increasing the spiritual, political, social, educational, gender or economic strength of individuals and communities of women. Empowerment of women is essentially the process of upliftment of economic social political status of women, the traditionally underpriviledged ones, in the society. Women constitute almost 50% of the world’s population but India has shown disproportionate sex ratio whereby female’s population has been comparatively lower than males. As far as their social status is concerned, they are not treated as equal to men in all the places. In western societies, the women have got equal right and status with men in all walks of life.
Empowerment of women is essentially the process of upliftment of   economic, social and political status of women, the traditionally underprivileged ones, in the society.  It is the process of guarding them against all forms of violence. Violence against women takes various forms such as : domestic violence, rape, trafficking in  women , forced prostitution and violence in armed conflict ( such as murder, systematic rape, sexual slavery and forced pregnancy ) and honour killings, dowry related violence, female infanticide and parental sex selection in favour of male babies, female genital mutilation and other harmful practises and traditions “  .  Women empowerment involves the building up of a society, a political environment, wherein women can breathe without the fear of oppression, exploitation, apprehension, discrimination and the general feeling of persecution which goes with being a woman in a traditionally male dominated structure. “ Empowerment as the expansion of assets and capabilities of  poor people to participate in, negotiate with, influence control and hold accountable institutions that affect their lives “
Gender inequalities in economic life also become a causal factor in the chronic poverty of all household members, not just of women, in poor households and the intergenerational reproduction of poverty. Norms about child marriage of girls, gender biases against girls education, women’s limited mobility, women’s lack of control over fertility decisions, gender gaps in wages and employment, all contribute to difficulties of escaping  poverty intergenerationally through vicious cycles between poverty  and gender inequalitiesWomen empowerment involves the building up of a society, a political environment, wherein women can breathe without the fear of oppression, exploitation, apprehension, discrimination and the general feeling of persecution which goes with being a woman in a traditionally male dominated structure. Policies on Women’s empowerment exist at the national, state and local (Panchayat) levels in many sectors, including health, education, economic opportunities, gender based violence and political participation. However there are significant gap between policy advancements and actual practice at the community level. .  Women empowerment involves the building up of a society, a political environment, wherein women can breathe without the fear of oppression, exploitation, apprehension, discrimination and the general feeling of persecution which goes with being a woman in a traditionally male dominated structure. Empowerment is the expansion of assets and capabilities of  poor people to participate in, negotiate with, influence control and hold accountable institutions that affect their lives. Broadly there may be two ways for bringing about gender equality and women empowerment —  a ) through inducting women in the mainstream of development and assuring their access to productive assets and (b)  through legislation for ensuring them equal social and political status and assuring their participation in political decisionmaking and thus providing them a platform for venting their grievances , integrating their issues into the mainstream of the decisionmaking process and fighting for the cause of female community in general and of the poor and oppressed women in the society in particular. However in both the strategies providing education is the crucial link which holds the key.

Subrahmanyam (2011) compares women education in India at present and Past. Author highlighted that there has a good progress in overall enrolment of girl students in schools. The term empower means to give lawful power or authority to act. It is the process of acquiring some activities of women. M. Bhavani Sankara Rao (2011) has highlighted that health of women members of SHG have certainly taken a turn to better. It clearly shows that heath of women members discuss among themselves about health related problems of other members and their children and make them aware of various Government provisions specially meant for them. This study is an empirical analysis suggesting that money in the hands of mothers benefits children. This study developed a series of non cooperative family bargaining models to understand what kind of frictions can give rise to the observed empirical relationship. A Study on Issues and Challenges of Women Empowerment in India Women’s Empowerment and Economic Development, National Bureau of Economic Research Cambridge The study argues that the inter relationships of the Empowerment and Development are probably too weak to be self sustaining and that continuous policy commitment to equally for its own sake may be needed to bring about equality between men and women. Sethuraman K. (2008) The Role of Women’s Empowerment and Domestic Violence in child Growth and Under nutrition in a Tribal and Rural Community in South India. This research paper explores the relationship between Women’s Empowerment and Domestic Violence, maternal nutritional status and the nutritional status and growth over six months in children aged 6 to 24 months in a rural and tribal community. This longitudinal observational study undertaken in rural Karnataka. India included tribal and rural subjects. Venkata Ravi and Venkatraman (2005) focused on the effects of SHG on women participation and exercising control over decision making both in family matters and in group activities.

III. Objectives of the Study

1.      To know the need of Women Empowerment.
2.      To assess the Awareness of Women Empowerment in India.
3.      To analyze the Factors influencing the Economic Empowerment of Women.
4.      To study the Government Schemes For Women Empowerment.
5.      To identify the Hindrances in the Path of Women Empowerment.
6.     To offer useful Suggestions in the light of Findings.
7.       To understand the conceptual framework of womenempowerment in Indian context, various policies and programmes, basic issues and keychallenges.
8.      To pay due attention to make some recommendation for accelerating thewomen            empowerment drive in India and thereby pave the way for further study in this area.


1.      The study is based on secondary data. Secondary data were collected from several working papers on women empowerment, articles published in reputed journals like kurukshetra, yojana and other related websites of Ministry of Rural Development, Ministry of Women and Child Development, Govt. of India. This paper is basically descriptive and analytical in nature. In this paper an attempt has been taken to analyze the empowerment of in India. The data used in it is purely from secondary sources according to the need of this study.


Six Domains of Empowerment 

Domain Expressions
1. Sense of Self & visionof a future
Assertiveness, plans for the future, future-oriented actions, relativefreedom from threat of physical violence, awareness of own problemsand options, actions indicating sense of security.
2. Mobility & visibility
Activities outside of the home, relative freedom from harassment in public spaces, interaction with men.
3. Economic Security
Property ownership, new skills and knowledge and increased income,engaged in new/non-traditional types of work
4. Status & decision-making power within thehousehold
Self-confidence, controlling spending money, enhanced status in thefamily, has/controls/spends money, participation in/makes decisionson allocation of resources, not dominated by others
5. Ability to interacteffectively in the public sphere
Awareness of legal status and services available, ability to get accessto social services, political awareness, participation in credit program, provider of service in community.
6. Participation on non- family groups
Identified as a person outside of the family, forum for creating senseof solidarity with other women, self-expression and articulation of problems, participating in a group with autonomous structure.
Challenges of Women Empowerment in India: The total of 2,44,270 Incidents of Crime against Women (both under IPC and SLL) were reported in the country during the year 2012 as compared to 2,28,649 in the year 2011 recording an increase of 6.4% during the year 2012. These crimes have continuously increased during 2008-2012 with 1,95,856 cases in the year 2008. 2,03,804 cases in 2009 and 2,13,585 cases in 2010 and 2,28,650 case in 2011 and 2,44,270 cases in the year 2012. The proportion of IPC crimes committed against women towards total IPC crimes has increased during the last 5 years from 9.2% in the year 2009 to 11.2% during the year 2013.  Present Situation of Women New Delhi: Being equal to their male counterparts is still a far cry for Indian women. Not only are they marginal as public figures an average Indian women can hardly call the shots at home or outside. In 2012, women occupied only 8 out of 74 ministerial positions in the union council of ministers. There were only 2 women judges out of 26 judges in the Supreme Court and there were only 54 women judges out of 634 judges in various high courts. Shocking Facts: According to 2013,UNDP report on Human Development Indicators, all south Asian Countries except Afghanistan, were ranked better for women than India It predicts: an Indian girl child aged 1-5 years is 75% more likely to die than the boy child. A women is raped once in every 20 min and 10% of all crimes are reported. Women form 48% of India’s Population, only 29% of the National workforce, only 26% women have access to formal credit.
 Why Need of Women Empowerment? Reflecting into the “ Vedas Purana” of Indian culture, women is being worshiped such as LAXMI MAA, goddess of wealth; SARSWATI MAA, for wisdom; DURGA MAA for power. The status of women in India particularly in rural areas needs to address the issue of empowering women. About 66% of the female population in rural area is unutilized. This is mainly due to existing social customs. In agriculture and Animal care the women contribute 90% of the total workforce. Women constitute almost half of the population, perform nearly 2/3 of its work hours, receive 1/10th of the world’s income and own less than 1/ 100th the world property. Among the world’s 900 million illiterate people, women out number men two to one. 70% of people living in poverty are women. Lower sex ratio i.e. 933, The existing studies show that the women are relatively less healthy than men though belong to same class. They constitute less than 1/7th of the administrators and mangers in developing countries. Only 10% seats in World Parliament and 6% in National Cabinet are held by women.
Hindrances of Women Empowerment: The main Problems that were faced by women in past days and still today up to some extent: 1. Gender discrimination 2. Lack of Education 3. Female Infanticide 4. Financial Constraints 5. Family Responsibility 6. Low Mobility 7. Low ability to bear Risk 8. Low need for achievement 9. Absence of ambition for the achievement Social status Dowry Marriage in same caste and child marriage (still existing) Atrocities on Women (Raped, Kicked, Killed, Subdued, humiliated almost daily.) Need for Women Empowerment : Women are deprived of Decision Making Power Freedom of Movement Access to Education Access to Employment Exposure to Media Domestic . Ways to Empower Women Changes in women’s mobility and social interaction Changes in women’s labour patterns Changes in women’s access to and control over resources and Changes in women’s control over Decision making Providing education Self employment and Self help group Providing minimum needs like Nutrition, Health, Sanitation, Housing Other than this society should change the mentality towards the word women Encouraging women to develop in their fields they are good at and make a career
Government Schemes For Women Empowerment The Government programmes for women development began as early as 1954 in India but the actual participation began only in 1974. At present, the Government of India has over 34 schemes for women operated by different department and ministries. Some of these are as follows; 1. Rastria Mahila Kosh (RMK) 1992-1993 2. Mahila Samridhi Yojana (MSY) October,1993. 3. Indira Mahila Yojana (IMY) 1995. 4. Women Entrepreneur Development programme given top priority in 1997-98. 5. Mahila Samakhya being implemented in about 9000 villages. 6. Swayasjdha. 7. Swa Shakti Group. 8. Support to Training and Employment Programme for Women(STEP). 9. Swalamban. 10. Crèches/ Day care centre for the children of working and ailing mother. 11. Hostels for working women. 12. Swadhar. 13. National Mission for Empowerment of Women. 14. Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) (1975), 15. Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment of Adolescence Girls (RGSEAG) (2010). 16. The Rajiv Gandhi National Crèche Scheme for Children of Working Mothers. 17. Integrated Child Protection scheme (ICPS) (2009-2010). 18. Dhanalakahmi (2008). 19. Short Stay Homes. 20. Ujjawala (2007). 21. Scheme for Gender Budgeting (XI Plan). 22. Integrated Rural Development Programme (IRDP). 23. Training of Rural Youth for Self Employment (TRYSEM). 24. Prime Minister’s Rojgar Yojana (PMRY). 25. Women’s Development Corporation Scheme (WDCS). 26. Working Women’s Forum. 27. Indira Mahila Kendra. 28. Mahila Samiti Yojana. 29. Khadi and Village Industries Commission. 30. Indira Priyadarahini Yojana. 31. SBI’s Sree Shaki Scheme. 32. SIDBI’s Mahila Udyam Nidhi Mahila Vikas Nidhi. 33. NGO’s Credit Schemes. 34. National Banks for Agriculture and Rural Development’s Schemes The efforts of government and its different agencies are ably supplemented by nongovernmental organizations that are playing an equally important role in facilitating women empowerment. Despite concerted efforts of governments and NGOs there are certain gaps. Of course we have come a long way in empowering women yet the future journey is difficult and demanding.
 The status of Women Empowerment cannot be visualized with single dimension rather multidimensional assessment in terms of various components of women’s life and their status would bring a clear conception. So, this paper tries to give a basic idea about the condition and status of women in terms of The ranking and scores for India amply proves that it is found in the lower rank even compared to Sri Lanka in all sub-indexes of gender equality. India gained eight places (from 113 rank in 2011 to 105 rank in 2012) as a result of improvement in the educational attainments and political empowerment. Keeping aside the Political Empowerment, the other three indices is all above the rank of 100. The Political Empowerment ranks quite high may be due to the 73rd and 74th Constitution amendments of India providing greater opportunity to women to take part in active politics.
Reasons For The Empowerment of Women Today we have noticed different Acts and Schemes of the central Government as well as state Government to empower the women of India. But in India women are discriminated and marginalized at every level of the society whether it is social participation, political participation, economic participation, access to education, and also reproductive healthcare. Women are found to be economically very poor all over the India. A few women are engaged in services and other activities. So, they need economic power to stand on their own legs on per with men. Other hand, it has been observed that women are found to be less literate than men. 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 problem 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.

Challenges :- There are several constraints that check the process of women empowerment in India. Social norms and family structure in developing countries like India, manifests and perpetuate the subordinate status of women. One of the norms is the continuing preference for a son over the birth of a girl child which in present in almost all societies and communities. The society is more biased in favor of male child in respect of education, nutrition and other opportunities. The root cause of this type of attitude lies in the belief that male child inherits the clan in India with an exception of Meghalaya. Women often internalize the traditional concept of their role as natural thus inflicting an injustice upon them. Poverty is the reality of life for the vast majority women in India. It is the another factor that poses challenge in realizing women’s empowerment. There are several challenges that are plaguing the issues of women’s right in India. Targeting these issues will directly benefit the empowerment of women in India Education: While the country has grown from leaps and bounds since 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. The gender bias is in higher education, specialized professional trainings which hit women very hard in employment and attaining top leadership in any field. Poverty: Poverty is considered the greatest threat to peace in the world, and eradication of poverty should be a national goal as important as the eradication of illiteracy. Due to this, women are exploited as domestic helps. Health and Safety: The health and safety concerns of women are paramount for the wellbeing of a country and is an important factor in gauging the empowerment of women in a country. However there are alarming concerns where maternal healthcare is concerned. Professional Inequality: This inequality is practiced in employment sand promotions. Women face countless handicaps in male customized and dominated environs in Government Offices and Private enterprises. Morality and Inequality: Due to gender bias in health and nutrition there is unusually high morality rate in women reducing their population further especially in Asia, Africa and china. Household Inequality: Household relations show gender bias in infinitesimally small but significant manners all across the globe, more so, in India e.g. sharing burden of housework, childcare and menial works by so called division of work
 Constitutional Provisions For Empowering Women In India Equality before law for all persons (Article-14). Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth (Article 15(I)). However, special provisions may be made by the state in favors of women and children Article 15(3). Equality of opportunity for all citizens relating to employment or appointment to any office under the state (Article 16). State policy to be directed to securing for men and women equally the right to an adequate means of livelihood (Article 39(a); (v) equal pay for equal work for both men and women (Article 39(d). Provisions to be made by the state for securing just and humane conditions of work and maternity relief (Article 42). Promotion of harmony by every citizen of India and renouncement of such practices which are derogatory to the dignity of women Article 51A(e). Reservation of not less than one-third of total seats for women in direct election to local bodies.


Findings of The Study
1.      Globalization, Liberalization and other Socio - Economic forces have given some respite to a large proportion of the population. However, there are still quite a few areas where women empowerment in India is largely lacking.
2.      There needs to be a sea – change in the mind set of the people in the country. Not just the women themselves, but the men have to wake up to wake up to a world that is moving towards equality and equity. It is better that this is embraced earlier than later for our own good.
3.      There are several Government programmes and NGOs in the Country, there is still a wide gap that exists between those under protection and those not.
4.      Poverty and illiteracy add to these complications, The Empowerment of Women begins with a guarantee of their health and safety.
5.      Empowerment of Women could only be achieved if their economic and social status is improved. This could be possible only by adopting definite social and economic policies with a view of total development of women and to make them realize that they have the potential to be strong human beings.
6.   In order to create a sustainable world, we must begin to Empower Women.


  1. The first and foremost priority should be given to the education of women, which is the grassroots problem. Hence, education for women has to be paid special attention.
  2. Awareness programmes need to be organized for creating       awareness among women especially belonging to weaker sections about their rights.
  3. Women should be allowed to work and should be provided enough safety and support to work. They should be provided with proper wages and work at par with men so that their status can be elevated in the society.
4.  Strict implementation of Programmes and Acts should be there to curb the mal-practices prevalent in the society.
5        Empowerment of women could only be achieved if their economic and social status isimproved by adopting definite social and economic policies with a view for bringing phenomenal change in the plight women's education and empowerment in India
6.        Steps should be taken to improve the health status of women, reduce maternal mortalityespecially in the areas which do not have good medical facilities.
7.      Awareness programmes need to be organized for creating awareness among womenespecially belonging to weaker sections about their rights.
8.      Strict implementation of programs and acts should be there to curb the mal-practices prevalent in the society.
9.      The Ministry of Education both at Centre and State level should work out strategic stepsto stop firmly the ongoing high drop outs among girls especially in rural areas to realizezero drop-out among girls.
10.  Women should be allowed to work and should be provided enough safety and support towork.


 Thus, the attainment in the field of income / employment and in educational front, the scenario of women empowerment seems to be comparatively poor. The need of the hour is to identify those loopholes or limitations which are observing the realization of empowerment of women and this initiative must be started from the women folk itself as well as more importantly policy initiative taken by the state and society. Let us take the oath that we want an egalitarian society where everybody whether men or women get the equal opportunity to express and uplift one’s well being and well being of the society as whole. Women’s empowerment is not a Northern concept women all over the world, including countries in South, have been challenging and changing gender inequalities since the beginning of the history. Women represent half the world’s population and gender inequality exists in every nation on the planet. Until women are given the same opportunities that men are, entire societies will be destined to perform below their true potentials. The greatest need of the hour is change of social attitude to women. “When women move forward the family moves, the village moves and the nation moves”. It is essential as their thought and their value systems lead the development of a good family, good society and ultimately a good nation. The best way of empowerment is perhaps through inducting women in the mainstream of development. Women empowerment will be real and effective only when they are endowed income and property so that they may stand on their feet and build up their identity in the society. The Empowerment of Women has become one of the most important concerns of 21st century not only at national level but also at the international level. Government initiatives alone would not be sufficient to achieve this goal. Society must take initiative to create a climate in which there is no gender discrimination and women have full opportunities of self decision making and participating in  social, political and economic life of the country with a sense of equality. . We have to keep in mind that the whole sky
will never show the ‘glitter’ till the gloom and darkness of ‘half of the sky’ is disengaged.


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