Today the term ‘Women Empowerment’ is so cliched that a mere mention of it elicits a yawn from the audience. But why is it that so many empowerment programs and campaigns end up in unsatisfying results. The fact that we are having hot debates around this topic even in twenty first century is very baffling in itself. First we need to see how exactly women became ‘disempowered’. In the beginning of human civilization, the women in the family were allotted the role of home manager and men were delegated the role of bread winner. Nothing wrong here, as this division of labor was based purely on the skill set of both sub-species. Now in an organization, the marketing manager is equally important as a production manager or a finance manager. But this is not the case in a lot of households today. To begin with, men had more physical strength as compared to the women. As the society progressed, and homo sapiens moved gradually from gathering to hunting to agriculture and then trading, money became power. As men had traditionally been the earning members of the family, they automatically became powerful by virtue of possessing money.
When power increases, ego gets inflated. Obviously men started dominating the other gender in virtually every aspect of life. Thus, women started to get ‘disempowered’. But this is just first half of the story. The other half is more intriguing. It’s pure psychology that when anybody is ruled over for a long time, he or she starts thinking of himself or herself as inferior. And here we are talking about an entire sub-species being subjected to subordination from the beginning of mankind. Hence, women are also very much responsible for their own dis-empowerment. Let’s look at a few examples -:
1. In case of dowry demands, the women members of the family like, the prospective mother-in-law, sister-in-law etc. are equally interested in receiving dowry.
2. In areas where female foeticide is rampant, again the females of the family are more inclined towards male child.
3. Mothers with only male children have a very care free attitude while bringing up their offsprings. Seldom do we hear a mother telling her son to respect women and not try to subjugate them.
4. Mothers are over protective of their daughters. This inculcates a sense of weakness and inferiority in the girl child since childhood.
5. If a woman tries to break the traditional social barriers, the female members of the family and society criticizeher.
6. If a woman in a family is being oppressed by any man in the family, other female members quietly witness the situation without raising their voices against the atrocities being committed.
In all the above scenarios, whether women are active participants or passive witnesses, they forget that their attitude or action towards other women is responsible for their own progress. When one lady progresses or moves ahead, it is not just an individual but the whole society which moves a step ahead. Women will have to understand that their empowerment is very much in their own hands. They need to change their psychology and overcome the inferiority complex that has been embedded in their genes. Rallys and campaigns definitely bring awareness, but to change the thinking pattern of half of Earth’s population, a more intense approach is required.
Vinoba Bhave Research Institute (VBRI) and Women Empowerment
Various regional restrictions act as a limiting factor for the up-gradation of women’s life in rural area. This is where VBRI comes into picture. It is committed to work on building the self-esteem of rural women.
Let’s look at some of the programs run by VBRI for the betterment of ladies in villages: –
1. Launching skill development courses like tailoring, embroidery, packaging, artificial jewellery making.
2. Building better coordination between rural women and micro financing organizations.
3. Encouraging rural women to become entrepreneurs by providing training on professional achar, murabba making.
4. Providing growth opportunities for handicrafts making and selling.
5. Making rural women tech savvy through imparting training on using smartphones and internet.
6. Helping rural women reach out to national and international markets through creating Whatsapp groups.
7. Conducting classes on financial awareness in villages and imparting knowledge to rural women on basic banking.
VBRI is also working on some ideas which are new for rural women. For example: –
8. Teaching techniques of self-defense to the women folk.
9. Conducting classes on food and nutrition.
10. Organizing inspirational sessions for women where any successful women is called from another village and she shares her success story, struggles and goals.
Even if fifty percent of the women are able to think without the aid of any inferiority complex, women empowerment would become the norm.</
The above programs denote that VBRI is contributing towards empowerment of rural women at the very grassroot level and marching forward to fulfill its mission ‘to afford technological assistance for national campaigns like Make in India, Swachch Bharat (Green and Clean India), Skill India and Digital India, etc. It goes on to prove without saying that VBRI is one of the pioneers in advancement of rural women.