Women’s economic empowerment refers to the ability for women to enjoy their right to control and benefit from resources, assets, income and their own time, as well as the ability to manage risk and improve their economic status and wellbeing. Safety of a work environment is key for women to flourish. Growth will thrive when we change women safety norms on the internet. That also means the internet should be reviewed for its safety for women at work.
What Are The Barriers?
Many of the barriers to women’s empowerment and equity lie ingrained in cultural norms. Many women feel these pressures, while others have become accustomed to being treated inferior to men. Even if men, legislators, NGOs, etc. are aware of the benefits women’s empowerment and participation can have, many are scared of disrupting the status quo and continue to let societal norms get in the way of development.
The normative values we have in India suggests that increasing access to the internet can also result in an increased exploitation of women. Releasing personal information on websites may put some women’s personal safety at risk. In 2010, Working to Halt Online Abuse stated that 73% of women were victimized through such sites. Types of victimization include cyber stalking, harassment, online pornography, and flaming. Sexual harassment in particular is a large barrier for women in the workplace. It appears in almost all industries, but is most notable in the following: business, trade, banking and finance, sales and marketing, hospitality, civil service, and education, lecturing and teaching.
When women have monetary power it is a way for others to see them as equal members of society. Through this, they achieve more self-respect and confidence by their contributions to their communities.
Such barriers make it difficult for women to advance in their workplace or receive fair compensation for the work they provide. It’s time to recognise them and work towards solutions.
The role of education
Improving education for women helps raise their levels of health and nutrition and reduces fertility rates. Education increases “people’s self- confidence and enables them to find better jobs, engage in public debate and make demands on government for health care, social security and other entitlements”. In particular, education empowers women to make choices that improve their own and their children’s health and chances of survival. Education helps to prevent and contain disease, and is an essential element of efforts to reduce malnutrition. Further, education empowers women to make choices that improve their welfare, including marrying later and having fewer children. Crucially, education also increases women’s awareness of their human rights their confidence and their actual ability to assert those rights.
Methods which help to empower women
Land rights offer a key way to economically empower women, giving them the confidence they need to tackle gender inequalities. Often, women in developing and underdeveloped nations are legally restricted from their land own the sole basis of gender. Having a right to their land gives women a sort of bargaining power that they wouldn’t normally have; in turn, they gain the ability to assert themselves in various aspects of their life, both in and outside of the home. In rural areas, women are not at all supported for education.
When women have monetary power it is a way for others to see them as equal members of society. Through this, they achieve more self-respect and confidence by their contributions to their communities. Simply including women as a part of a community can have sweeping positive effects. In a study conducted by Bina Agarwal, women were given a place in a forest conservation group. This drove up the efficiency of the group, and the women gained self-esteem while others, including men, viewed them with more respect.
Participation, which can be seen and gained in a variety of ways, has been argued to be the most beneficial form of gender empowerment. Political participation, be it the ability to vote and voice opinions, or the ability to run for office with a fair chance of being elected, plays a huge role in the empowerment of women.
However, participation is not limited to the realm of politics. It can include participation in the household, in schools, and the ability to make choices for oneself. It can be said that this latter participation need to be achieved before one can move onto broader political participation. When women have the agency to do what they want, a higher equality between men and women is established.
Microcredit also offers a way to provide empowerment for women. There are many Governments, organizations, and individuals which support women financially. They hope that lending money and credit allows women to function in business and society, which in turn empowers them to do more in their communities.
Deepanshu Bansal is a student of Satyawati College, New Delhi and this effort is a part of Google India and SheThePeople initiative Digital Trust Dialogues across colleges in India.