The notion of women empowerment began around the 1960s and 1970s. While the idea had previously been in existence in India, it was only then that the term was assigned sound meaning. India has come a long way in empowering its women. As we discuss empowerment, we must delve deep into their economic empowerment and financial stability. According to a 2019 study, only 20.7% of the Indian women population is employed. With employment comes financial stability, which means 79.3% of Indian women are financially dependent.
The issue of financial dependence can only get solved by economic empowerment. Economic empowerment of women refers to the right to acquiring economic resources and decision-making for the benefit of themselves and their families. It essentially is concerned with women being able to control their income and assets in the way they would like. Education, access to employment and financial services such as banks, and a safe work environment directly influence empowerment. While fiscal policies, gender norms, social discrimination, and government policies indirectly affect it.
Financial dependence curbs the growth of women to a large extent. Being financially dependent has been the norm for women for many years. Due to this dependency, women are not allowed to part in any decision taken in the family. The customs and society rob even their idea of dreams and goals for themselves that may fall ever so slightly beyond what society deems their roles to be. Economic emancipation helps women overcome all the drawbacks of financial dependence. Small steps usher in change. Let’s take the example of a few women from rural India. Mrs. Sathya Gunasekar attended school till grade 4 and married at the age of 16. Ms. Divya Rajavelu lost her husband to AIDS and remained unemployed. Mrs. Kannamma Gangadharan supported her arthritic parents with a meager construction day job. These women were facing tremendous financial challenges and were struggling to be self-reliant when opportunity knocked on their doors. Our Female Empowerment Project (FEP) offered them employment. Under the program, FEP helps equip rural women with the necessary skills small-scale entrepreneurs need. Each of these women makes more than INR 12,000 per month. They now enjoy the respect of their children. Some have even enrolled their children in English medium schools. They happily spend their money without any worry for their benefit.
Similarly, we never forget to promote the federal schemes that may serve underprivileged women. India’s rich culture has given rise to highly skilled women in handicrafts, tailoring, culinary arts, etc. The government of India has played an influential role in empowering its women. It has introduced several schemes to free women of financial dependence. Some such projects include Prime Minister Rozgar Yojana (PMRY), Annapurna Scheme, Mudra Yojana Scheme, Dena Shakti, and many more.