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Deblina and Debjani’s research shows that women are in better position than before, which was unimaginable even two or three decades back. They talk about the various initiatives taken by the government to empower women. A Different Truths exclusive.
Education and employment are the two major milestones of women’s empowerment because they enable women to respond to the challenges, to confront their traditional roles and change their life. Education plays important role in our life as it is one of the confounding factors of human development. On the other hand, employment has given women economic independence and the feelings of self-esteem.
Women in India, like other developing countries, are lagging behind at all levels of education as a result of which gender inequality has been increased. Before 1986, India Government has taken many policies, laws, formed various commissions for the development of status of women in our community.
The National Policy of Education (NPE), 1986 is called for special emphasis on the removal of disparities and to equalise educational opportunity first time in all educational levels especially for Indian women.After NPE, 1986, various commissions, committees, policies and five-year plans over time have been emphasised for the development of status of women in reference to education and employment for empowering women of our society. In 1985, the Department of Women and Child Development was set up. The Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh Five Year Plans (1997-2002) focused on free education for girls in elementary to the higher level and to provide free vocational and professional training for girls, free school dress, books, scholarships to reinforce girls’ education.
After the enactment of the Right to Education (RTE) (2009), significant progress has been made on enrolment at primary level schooling. Maternity Benefit Act (1961), Equal Remuneration Act (1976),Legal Services Authorities Act (1987) provides free legal services to Indian women, Swa-Shakti, Swayamsiddha have been implemented to reduce the gender gap in workplaces. In 2011, the female literacy rate in India was 64.6% with a gender gap of 16.3%, while in 1951 gender gap in literacy rate was 18.3%.
Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) at the primary level was only 60% for girls compared to 96% for boys in 1970-71, but after 2010-11, GER for both girls and boys are near about 100 per cent. Girls drop-out rate in 1960-61 was very high (85 %, whereas, for boys, it was 78%). After NPE’1986, it declined at 65% (1990), and now it has become 32%, where the same for boys is 39%. In 2004-05 girls’ GER at lower Secondary level was below 50%, while for boys’ GER at the same was above 60%. In 1980-81, the dropout rate for female and male was 86% and 80% respectively whereas, in the year 2013-14, it has become 46% for girls and 48% for boys.
Women enrolment in higher education increases from 6.7 % to 20% since 2001 to 2012. Work Participation Rate (WPR) of women was much lower previously. Between 1991 and 2001, WPR took a steady jump from 15.9 % to 25.6 %. But in 2011, female WPR became 25.5 % denoting slight fall. In 2011, the number of main and marginal female workers was 14.7 % and 10.3 %respectively, which was decreased from 15.2% and 11%, as in 2001.
Many policies and recommendations have been adopted by various government agencies for the improvement of the status of women in India especially for education and employment of women. Both education and employment, two factors of women’s empowerment show positive trend than ever before indicating towards a better condition of women. Overall participation of women in education and employment has gone up which is much evident from this study.
Women are in better position than before, which was unimaginable even two or three decades back. Government steps for the improvement of women in India have a long way to go to provide our women additional safeguards towards an equal society without any gender inequality and discrimination.
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©Deblina Ghosal & Dr. Debjani Guha
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