ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Empowerment of Women

Celebrations and orientation programmes are certainly important for awareness generation and advocacy of grass roots democracy. But how far do they go in actually empowering women?

In spite of all the national and inter-national seminars and conferences on ‘women’s issues’, lately called ‘gender issues’, I have attended, I am still not clear about the buzz words ‘empowerment of women’. Last year I was invited by the Institute of Social Sciences (ISS) in Delhi to give the valedictory lecture to a group of 300 women members of Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) from all over India. George Mathew, the director of ISS, deserves full credit for conceiving the idea of celebrating April 24 as ‘Women’s Empowerment Day’, because it was on this day that the 73rd Amendment to the Constitution which reserved one-third of the membership of PRIs for women, became operational – a historic day indeed. Ever since 1994, ISS has been organising two-day meetings every year to make women ‘panches’ and ‘sarpanches’ aware of their rights and duties enshrined in the Constitution.

Unfortunately, the bill for reservation for women in parliament and state legislatures remains stalled because of the unhelpful attitude of some politicians and political parties. The prime minister is waiting patiently to garner consensus so that the bill has a smooth passage in parliament.

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