‘To awaken the people, it is the women who must be awakened. Once she is on the move, the family moves, the village moves, the nation moves,’ — Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.
Education lays the basis for women empowerment as it encourages them to react to difficulties, arms them to face challenges and offers an opportunity to change their life. Also, it has been noted that the empowerment of women in the 21st century plays an important role in the overall development of any country. Women constitute almost half of the population in the world and access to education has been one of the most pressing demands of various women's right movements from time to time. Women's education has also been a major preoccupation of both the government and civil society as educated women can also play a vital role in uplifting socio-economic factors.
Moreover, education is vital in spreading the message of women empowerment. However culturally rich and humongous our country may be, no real progress can be suitably made without implementing effective educational policies that are specifically aimed towards introducing gender equality. A woman realises her true potential through education and thus she begins to associate herself as a vital and productive part of society. Occupational achievement, self-awareness and satisfaction are among the key drivers that can be ensured by effective implementation of education policies that underline the idea of women empowerment. Guidance and counselling also provided through education, helps women become capable of selecting their jobs, besides in effectively choosing their career paths. It is through the power of education that women can make a difference in this technologically advanced world and make themselves capable to face every challenge thrown at them. In fact, education is the key to understanding the difference between right and wrong, standing up against oppression and gender discrimination and making correct choices in life. In a way, education bestows a power in a woman that enables her to take decisions and accept responsibilities at home or in the outside world. Further, education helps a woman to be enlightened about her rights with regard to equal treatment in the society of this nation.
All these years, the issue about women education in India has faced different levels of challenges due to prevalence of various societal pressures under a patriarchal society. Therefore, India’s journey on the route to women empowerment has its fair share of ebbs and flows. The positive influence of international conventions and formulation of domestic policies intended to end gender inequality introduced a ray of hope, though.
There is no doubt in the fact that in order to collectively evolve as a society, women need to be empowered. However, in the case of India, women’s empowerment is highly dependent upon various factors such as geographical location–rural and urban divide, educational and social status, among others. Currently, a framework has been set with the introduction of policies on women empowerment, both at the national and local levels in various sectors, including education, economic opportunities, healthcare and political participation. However, there are substantial gaps between the formulation and implementation of said policies at the community level.
In conclusion, I can say that the number of women in the education world has been steadily increasing. Now, in the 21st century when women are successfully making an entry in every field, empowering them is truly essential. By 2022, India is poised to regain its title of a progressive country and hence we cannot ignore the importance of women education in reference to women empowerment. Moreover, education is a woman’s birthright and it is high time the society acknowledges that.
The author of this article, Dr Reeta Sonawat, Member, Advisory Council Association of Indian Schools (AIS)