DMPQ-“Political and economic empowerment of women is necessary, but not a sufficient condition for improving social status of women in India.” Comment

Political empowerment is an organized effort to increase control over resources and regulative institutions on the part of groups and movements of those hitherto excluded from such control.

  • Political empowerment of women means to give political rights to women. These political rights include right to vote, right to get elected and equal participation and representation of women in public office. In India since independence there has been a sincere effort by the state to politically Empower women through measures like giving voting rights to women, Reserving seats for women in Panchayats and Municipal bodies.
  • Economic empowerment of women means giving adequate opportunities to women so that they can achieve financial independence. Government has started many programmes and schemes for promoting economic empowerment of women. These include promotion of SHG also distributing government subsidies into the accounts of women head of the household.
  • Both political and economic empowerment are necessary condition for improving status of women since without political empowerment there would be minimal representation of the women in parliament, state assemblies and local bodies and therefore women friendly acts and policies would hardly be passed which could improve the status of the women. For example progressive laws like 33% representation for women in parliament has not been able to get passed because of lack of support from parliamentarian which was due to less number of female MP’s.
  • While without economic empowerment women could never achieve financial independence and till she is dependent on male member of the family for her needs, her social status and her say in family affairs would be limited.
  • However both political and economic empowerment are only necessary and not sufficient conditions, since ultimately improvement of social status of women depends on social empowerment of women which would require changing mindsets of the people in the society so that they could accept the politically and economically empowered women.
  • For example even though after 73rd Amendment 33% sarpanch and municipal body members are women but still due to patriarchal mindset most of the women representatives are just pawns with real power being exercised by their husband which has given rise to the concept of sarpanch pati.
  • Even if women is economically empowered but if there is no social empowerment than even after achieving financial independence she would not have the access to many activities which are prohibited for them due to patriarchal reasons for example even a billionaire women is not allowed entry in many temples in India.
  • Similarly even though women have been empowered economically to some extent in India (especially in metro cities) but it has not reduced crimes against the women, in fact crimes against women has increased since patriarchal mindset could not accept a women which is successful and financially independent.

Therefore until social empowerment of women is not achieved economic and political empowerment of women could only have limited impact on increasing social status of women.

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