India: Striving Towards Women Empowerment

Group of Five multi-ethnic women in an office or coworking shake hands. Empowered women, women entre

In India, gender equality has been a long-standing issue, with women often facing inequality in various aspects of their lives. The country is striving to promote and contribute to female empowerment by creating initiatives and opportunities that help women break through traditional gender roles and achieve their full potential.

Despite the progress being made, there are still many challenges that India faces in developing its women’s rights. These issues include;

  1. Access to Education
  2. Healthcare
  3. Employment
  4. Even Voting Rights

Furthermore, the legal system is often biased against women and their ability to receive justice for wrongdoings.

Overview of Women’s Empowerment in India

India is a country with a population of over 1.3 billion, and yet its women face challenges when it comes to empowerment. India is home to millions of women who are not only deprived of basic rights but are also denied access to education, health care, and employment opportunities.

Despite all the constraints and barriers, women in India are now emerging as powerful stakeholders in the socio-economic arena. Government initiatives such as the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP) scheme have helped to increase female enrolment in schools and reduce gender discrimination. The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) has provided job opportunities for more than 1.5 million female workers. In addition, women-centric programs such as Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY), Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY), and Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) have been successful in improving the living standards of rural Indian women.

However, there is still much work to be done to foster an atmosphere that fully empowers Indian women. To achieve this goal, greater efforts must be made to ensure equal access to education and health care and create economic opportunities for women in both urban and rural areas.

State of Women in India Today

In India, women are increasingly becoming more empowered, with more opportunities to pursue a career and become financially independent. However, this empowerment hasn’t come without its challenges. Despite the advancements made in recent decades, women continue to face a myriad of gender inequalities.

For instance, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2018, the estimated earned income of women in India is only 60% of that of men. Additionally, stereotypes about what roles men and women should play in society are still pervasive and limit some women from taking on certain jobs or positions of power.

Furthermore, issues such as domestic violence – with at least one in three women experiencing physical or sexual violence – as well as unequal access to health care for rural and urban mothers are also major obstacles. These realities serve as clear indications that more needs to be done at both the grassroots level and policy level to ensure real change is achieved for all of India’s citizens.

Challenges Faced by Women in India

The fight for women’s empowerment in India is fraught with many challenges, both political and cultural. Despite recent progress, women still face inequality that holds them back from achieving their full potential in the nation.

  • Cultural Factors- For centuries, traditional gender roles have been deeply rooted in India’s culture. These social conventions contribute to a deep-seated bias against women in the workplace and at home, leading to unequal access to education, healthcare, and economic opportunities.
  • Political Issues- Political issues also play a part in this struggle for female empowerment. In addition to laws that can limit the rights of women through religious or cultural codes, there are pervasive attitudes among officials and lawmakers that further impede any progress toward gender parity. This includes limited representation of women in decision-making bodies such as local councils and Parliament.

Despite these obstacles, India has been making great strides toward enhancing the status of women over the past two decades with new legislation and programs that aim to empower and protect them from discrimination and violence.

Social and Cultural Challenges

India has long been a country dominated by cultural and social norms that have hindered progress in empowering its women. Despite constitutional and legal protections, traditional views have often resulted in women being treated differently than men.

At the root of the issue is a lack of understanding about the value of women’s contribution to society. Women are often seen merely as wives or daughters, with little to no recognition for their economic or professional contributions. This view, combined with gender inequality and violence, has entrenched itself within India’s social structure.

India also faces economic challenges that limit women from reaching their full potential. This can include a lack of access to credit, lack of access to markets, and poverty levels that keep them from having the same opportunities as men.

These challenges must be addressed if India is going to make meaningful progress toward achieving gender equality and enacting real change for its female citizens.

Education Gap Between Men and Women in India

Education has long been recognized as a key factor in providing economic and social opportunities, especially for women. However, India still faces a significant gender gap when it comes to access to education.

According to the 2019 UNESCO Report on Gender Equality in Education, there are an estimated 68 million fewer girls attending school in India than boys. This huge discrepancy is largely due to two main factors:

Traditional gender roles where girls are expected to marry young and remain at home to do housework instead of attending school

The prevalence of poverty in rural India, where girls and their families cannot afford the costs associated with secondary education


These factors combined have resulted in an illiteracy rate among women greater than that of men. To close this gap and ensure that all women have access to education, the government is implementing several initiatives including:

  1. Improving access to scholarships and other financial assistance
  2. Opening more all-girls schools
  3. Introducing flexible learning options such as distance learning and part-time programs
  4. Focusing on adult education and vocational training for those who had to drop out at a young age
  5. Investing in technology that can help bridge the digital divide between cities and rural areas
  6. Promoting awareness campaigns that encourage parents to enroll their daughters in schools
  7. Prioritizing equal rights for women and eliminating gender bias within educational institutions

Political Participation and Representation of Women

Political participation and representation of women in India remain low. Although the number of women participating in politics has increased gradually, women are still greatly underrepresented throughout India’s political system. According to the Inter-Parliamentary Union, “Women’s representation in India’s national parliament remains stagnant at 14.4%.”

The main obstacles preventing greater representation of women in India include:

  1. Lack of access to education and health services
  2. Social and cultural norms that limit autonomy for women
  3. Gender inequality and pay gaps within the workplace
  4. Limited access to resources that are vital for political participation

To address these obstacles, it is important to invest in initiatives that empower women by providing access to education, health services, and resources necessary for political participation. It is also essential to implement gender-sensitive policies that promote equality between men and women within society, encouraging more female political participation and representation in India’s political system.

Solutions to Increase Women’s Empowerment in India

In India, there have been several initiatives in recent years to increase women’s educational attainment and economic empowerment. These initiatives take place at the local, state, and national levels, and aim to provide women with the tools needed to excel in their careers.

At a local level, organizations are helping to create employment opportunities for women in rural communities. For example, the Self-Help Group (SHG) movement has been successful in creating an enabling environment for women by providing them access to credit, vocational training, and livelihood support. In addition, Advancing Women’s Financial Equity (AWE) is guiding financial literacy and job training with a focus on female entrepreneurs.


At a state level, many governments have set up special funds or programs dedicated to increasing women’s education and employment opportunities. For example, the Rajasthan Government has launched the Rajasthan Women Empowerment Scheme (RWES) which provides financial assistance to support girls’ education, as well as vocational training to help rural women become self-sufficient.

At a national level, the Government of India has enacted legislation such as the Maternity Benefit Act 1961 which entitles working mothers to 26 weeks of paid maternity leave; and the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 which protects women from all forms of domestic abuse. The Government also provides reservations for women in higher education institutions and public sector employment opportunities through its various schemes such as the Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA).

By focusing on these three areas – local outreach programs, state funds or programs, and government legislation – more progress can be made toward achieving gender equality in India.

Impact of Women’s Empowerment on Indian Society

Women empowerment has been playing a significant role in driving socio-economic development in India. According to the International Labor Organization, women account for 27% of India’s total workforce and contribute 8% of the country’s GDP. Women are increasingly moving out of their traditional roles and taking on positions in civil service and decision-making roles across various industries, thus changing their economic and social status. The impact of women’s empowerment is far-reaching, leading to several positive effects in society.

Increases Literacy and Education Levels

Women empowerment encourages more girls to attend school, which has resulted in an increase in the literacy rate as well as education levels for both genders. Furthermore, studies have shown that when more women are present in leadership positions within an organization, there is increased collaboration and a heightened level of productivity.

  1. Reduces Gender Disparity- Women’s empowerment also leads to a reduction in gender disparity as it allows women to have access to employment opportunities and greater financial independence. This has led to increased bargaining power for women and given them the ability to make their own decisions without relying on their male counterparts.
  2. Enhances Gender Equality- It leads to greater gender equality as both genders begin to be seen as equals with different strengths that can be leveraged for social progress. This shift helps break down stereotypes associated with certain genders while creating a safe space where everyone has equal opportunities regardless of gender.

The Future of Women’s Empowerment in India

While the challenges faced by women in India are plentiful, the future of women’s empowerment in India is extremely promising. With an increasing number of young people becoming aware of the need for gender equality and taking measures to achieve it, the country has seen exponential growth in initiatives geared toward empowering women.

For instance, programs such as Skill India and Beti Bachao Beti Padhao have taken immense strides in pushing for equal rights for women. These programs are focused on providing education and job opportunities to empower women to be financially independent and live with dignity. With such initiatives gaining momentum, there is a great potential for positive changes to come about in terms of gender parity.

Moreover, the government has taken steps to ensure that law and order are upheld when it comes to upholding the rights of women by introducing numerous regulations related to sexual harassment, dowry demands, etc. This has created a better environment for women who can now report crimes against them without fear of reprisal or societal backlash.

Despite having a long way to go before achieving true gender equality in India, the efforts that have been put forward so far by both the government and citizens are evidence that we are on the right track toward realizing this goal.