HOW BIG OF A DEAL IS FEMALE EMPOWERMENT?
"I raise up my voice—not so I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard...we cannot succeed when half of us are held back."
Today, we recognize the potential in empowering girls and women around the world as the key to economic growth, political stability and most of all social transformation. This has made room for more projects, motivated people, and initiatives such as TodoSuma to step up and help human capacity improve day by day.
Empirical work in recent years has shown clearly how women's well-being is strongly influenced by such variables as women’s earning power, economic role outside the family, literacy and education, property rights, ETC. All of these factors share their positive contribution to women’s increased voice and agency through independence and empowerment (Sen, 2000).
Seen from Sen’s approach, freedom in being able to work outside the household and generate income seems to help foster freedom and development in other aspects like reduction of hunger, access to education, and more.
What has been done about it?
Currently, there are a lot of women’s empowerment promoters who use different scales and approaches. For instance, UNICEF and UNDPhave several activities concerning women’s empowerment. Some will be discussed below.
UNICEF biggest concern is related to education. If education is seen as relevant to the daily struggle for survival, ensuring universal schooling has to engage every social strata and age. Efforts made to enhance education outreach are expected to have an effect on poor women and future generations in particular.
The Mahila Samakhya Programmerecognizes education as an effective tool for women’s empowerment.
“"Education will be used as an agent of basic change in the status of woman. In order to neutralise the accumulated distortions of the past, there will be a well-conceived edge in favour of women. The National Education System will play a positive, interventionist role in the empowerment of women. It will foster the development of new values through redesigned curricula, textbooks, the training and orientation of teachers, decision-makers and administrators, and the active involvement of educational institutions. This will be an act of faith and social engineering…”"
-National Policy on Education, 1986
Promoting decentralized educational planning offers excellent opportunities for women to participate more meaningfully in local governance, as well as in demanding quality education for their daughters as a right. For example, Indo-German Social Service Society (IGSSS) is a development organization which strives for human social order based on principle of justice, equity, and freedom.
Regarding health issues, the Women’s Empowerment and Reproductive Health Initiatives in Tonk, India were launched in 1998. It covers a population of 7,27,000 people spread across 720 villages, 5 cities, and 7 towns. It endeavors to empower women and girls to become self-reliant and active decision – makers, improve immunization coverage of expectant mothers, and bring high quality sexual and reproductive health including family planning service to the people (Van Kessel, 2004).
Additionally, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) implemented 21 pilot projects in Qeno, Egypt to promote youth and women’s socioeconomic empowerment; through job creation, vocational training, and literacy. The total estimated budget for this project is 4.7 million US dollars with sponsorship from United Kingdom, UNDP, Sweden, Sawiris Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation and UN Women.
The major input came from crafting training program for households led by women, with the UNDP support. Egypt Network for Integrated Development (ENID) offers training four topics: business management, basic services, agricultural development, and opportunities for women and young people. The initiative also helps create youth centers, preschools, and even mobile health care units in the most disadvantaged villages of the region.
The initiative continues and is currently expanding the vocational training to include painting, patchwork, beads and molten glass. The goal is that by the end of the project, 45 products will be created in 45 villages in the province of Qena and, in the near future, will cover other provinces of Upper Egypt.
What do we expect from Bolivia?
According to the Human Development Report on Gender 2003 (UNDP), from the beginning of the 1990s to the present, feminine participation in economic decision making, in both the public and private sectors, has increased by 70 percent. Also, as from 1992, their participation in national and local political representation has increased by 16 percent.
In Bolivia, as in many countries, there are many organizations working to make a difference in the lives of Bolivian women. Some of them are related to building political participation such as FIMI, THE International Indigenous Women’s Forum in Spanish, Change for Children Association WHICH improvES food security and nutritioN, women’s empowerment THROUGH Pro Mujer, THE FIGHT FOR women’s rightS AND sexual equality THROUGH Women’s House, and income generation of household made by TodoSuma.
Therefore, what can we say about women’s empowerment?
This being said, economic participation can be seen as a reward on its own because of its relation to the reduction of gender bias in the treatment of women in family decisions. It could also be seen as a major influence for social change in general.
Women are increasingly seen as active agents of change. Dynamic promoters of social transformations that can alter lives. Indeed, the empowerment of women is one of the central issues in the process of development for many countries in the world today.
- Sen, AMARTYA ). Development as freedom.
- VAN KESSEL, KITTY . WOMEN'S EMPOWERMENT AND HEALTH.
- Ministry of human resource development government of india . http://mhrd.gov.in/mahila-samakhya-programme
- United nations development programme . http://www.undp.org/content/undp/es/home/ourwork/ourstories/new-opportunities-for-women-artisans-in-upper-egypt.html
- UNICEF .https://www.unicef.org/bolivia/children_1538.htm