Thursday, March 14, 2019

Empower Women through Education

Women's and gender studies are emerging and growing areas of academic enquiry today. To have a deeper understanding of formulation of empowerment, one must be exposed to cultural, literary, political and socio-economic dimensions within gender frame works. There is a need to deconstruct the complex power hierarchies and relationships operating in society, from the perspective of women and gender.
Development policies and practices have a different impact on women and men. This necessitates an understanding of the 'gender gap' in access to resources, privileges, entitlements and choices. Consensus has evolved around the need to explore the 'gender gap' in key development sectors and how this gap can be bridged. There is now greater emphasis on mainstreaming gender perspectives into the development process. This will contribute to building a gender-sensitive rubric of development, recasting development theory and action in the direction of improved living standards, socially responsible management and use of resources, elimination of gender subordination and socioeconomic inequality as well as to promote the organizational restructuring required to bring about desirable change.
Exploration of gender issues has become an important activity for most non- governmental organizations. Increasing emphasis is being laid in Governmental agencies on establishing gender-differential impacts and taking positive, affirmative action towards gender equality and equity. It is now widely acknowledged that gender considerations need to be reflected in all development plans, programmes and policies. There is growing concern over the isolation of women in so-called "soft" sectors in education, employment and development rather than mainstreaming gender concerns across all organizations, institutions and activities. While the concerns are clearly articulated, national goals and the UN millennium sustainable development goals cannot be achieved without concrete effort towards gender equality.
 Some of the Gender related courses offered through Open and Distance Learning System are:
* Master of Arts in Women's and Gender Studies (MAWGS)
* Master of Arts in Gender and Development Studies  (MAGD)
* Post Graduate Diploma in Women's & Gender Studies (PGDWGS)
* Diploma in Women's Empowerment and Development (DWED)
Now it is a known fact that if a female child is educated in the family, the education is useful for entire family. Women is the backbone of the family, if she is educated, the entire family is educated. In other words, the benefit of girl's education has directly or indirectly impact on entire family up-gradation process. It has strong multiplier effect in the family as well as society.
The upward movement from literate stage to empowered stage is geared-up by the education process. Swamy Vivekananda said, 'Knowledge is power', one way of acquiring knowledge is through education system. Today we need brain power than muscle power. Thus, educated women get gradually empowered in terms of economic status as well as social status.
Government of India provides many schemes to empower women; one such scheme is free education for 'single girl child' in Kendriya Vidyalayas. For few years, the government of Gujarat has offered free education opportunity for women applicants in IGNOU- Ahmedabad. It really boosted the educated population significantly. Giving equal opportunities for females has already crossed 33% quotes in many fields. This is well noticed in most of the employment notifications where sex is not a bar. To give importance for female candidates, some offices keep exclusive 'women' counters, thereby special services provided to them.
Our former Prime Minister Smti. Indira Gandhi says, 'Education is a liberating force, and in our age it is also democratizing force, cutting across the barrier of caste and class, smoothing out inequalities imposed by birth and other circumstances'. The Open and Distance Learning System provides education to all, with equal opportunities. Eliminating the sex bias in all the process is need of the hour. The education level of the society in general and employer in particular does the fading effect of sex-bias. In the developed countries, where the level of education is higher, the differentiation based on sex is low. The education changes the attitude very much.
Let us all try to minimize the sex bias and evolve bias free environments for all, as mentioned by Nelson Mandela 'education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world'.
(The authors are Dr.S. Ganesan, Regional Director of IGNOU, Regional Centre, Port Blair and Ms. Swaraja Laxmi Bai, Assistant of IGNOU, Regional Centre, Port Blair and can be reached at (M-8900936718)

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