When we talk about “economic empowerment of women” we must understand that the biggest problem that women face today is that their work is not recognized at all. Women have always contributed to the society and the economy in the form of a helping hand in agriculture and food production in the developing countries and in the form of part time and temporary workers in developed countries. This is apart from their role as a homemaker which is not even valued economically. In fact the recent statistics of the UN tell us that 53% of work in developing countries is carried out by women and out of $ 16 trillion global output which is invisible, $ 11 trillion is contributed by women. Even after so much contribution there is a lack of acknowledgement regarding the role of women in every sphere of life. The problem is actually much larger than what we perceive and therefore the issue is not just about economic empowerment of women. It is in fact about the deep rooted bias and discrimination against women that is prevalent in the society.
Economic empowerment of women: Discrimination against women
It is ironical and sad to note that that there is a wide scale discrimination against women in virtually all aspects of life. She is in a disadvantageous and deprived position even as regards to basic rights like the right to education and health. Further, she does not have access to capital or other resources to make an informed choice in her life. Women are kept out of the decision making power structure in every sphere of life including the political, economic, social and religious structures of the society. Coming back to the question of an active contribution made by women in economic terms or otherwise, we find that the society happily laps up the labour efforts of women in every part of the world but when it comes to sharing the spoils of that labour she is kept out. This is not only happening in the developing countries but it is also true for the developed countries where the majority of women who are working in the informal economies as part-time workers have less access to basic health care services, education, financial resources, employee rights and land ownership. If we look at the “decision-making structure” in any field whether it be economic, social, political or religious arena then we will find that it becomes virtually impossible for women to climb up the ladder and reach the positions that matter because of open discrimination and bias. But we cannot sit with all these problems and loathe about it. Somewhere we have to make a beginning and making a beginning at the economic front is the best step forward.
Economic empowerment of women: Income generation and increased flow of capital in the hands of women
A major initiative that is needed for changing the situation for women is to increase the flow of capital in the hands of women. More the women get financially empowered and generate income the more is the chance of her overall development and progress. This is because of the fact that women use a major chunk of their income for providing themselves and their family better healthcare, education and nutrition. Moreover, steady income in hand makes women more confident to take economic and other decisions related to her family. It has been seen that when women start earning they also adopt more of environmentally friendly lifestyle as well as they tend to have lower fertility rates leading to fewer children. Overall we can see that more the women are economically and financially sound more they become capable of making informed choices about their life. Stable income and financial independence lead to improvement and progress of women through various efforts like contraception, an age of marriage, fertility, child mortality and modern sector employment. Economic empowerment of women leading to steady income generation and financial independence will therefore definitely help women take decisions and select the best among choices in their personal and professional life.