Women Empowerment needs Digital Empowerment

Women Empowerment needs Digital Empowerment
Women constitute nearly half of the world population. From handling household chores to dealing with other important matters in society, women are second to none in capacity. However, historically, they have had a secondary status in society with fewer opportunities for economic participation, limited access to resources and political under-representation.

Gender disparity is a global issue that interferes with the healthy development of society. Thus, arises the need for women empowerment through digital learnings to achieve gender equality.

 

Women Empowerment in India

 

Women empowerment means to enable women to understand and acknowledge their self-worth, better access to opportunities, make decisions and have more control over their lives. A woman takes up many roles in her lifetime. She could be a mother, wife, daughter or sister in the family and a doctor, teacher, banker or in any other service in the community. An empowered woman is always better placed to contribute to the development of not just her family but the entire community. 

 

History is interspersed with many inspiring tales of social reformers like Savitribai Phule, Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar and Swami Dayananda Saraswati leading the way in uplifting the status and condition of women in pre-Independent India. 

 

Post-independence, our constitution encompassed the principle of gender equality. The Indian Constitution not only grants equality to all women but also empowers the state to adopt measures of positive discrimination towards them. To protect the rights and legal entitlements of women, the National Commission for Women (NCW) was set up by an Act of Parliament in 1990. Further, the 73rd and 74th Amendments (1993) to the Constitution of India provide for reservation of seats for women in local governing bodies like Panchayats and Municipalities, thus strengthening their participation and input in decision-making.

 

Key factors for Women Empowerment

 

There are two main factors which largely impact women empowerment. They are education and financial independence of women. Both of these factors are necessary for a woman to be truly empowered. While education gives women confidence and the necessary skill-set to compete, achieve and thrive, earning gives them the power and independence to make their own decisions. 

 

Education doesn’t simply mean knowing to read and write. It covers a broader aspect of knowledge acquisition and building awareness with respect to the changing times. The current era is one of technological advancement and widespread digitalization. Hence the most relevant knowledge to acquire in current times is digital knowledge.

 

Digitalization in India and its impact on Women Empowerment

 

Digitalization refers to the use of digital/computer technology for handling varied data for different purposes. It has the potential to transform the way organizations function by improving business processes, enhancing efficiency and optimizing productivity. 

 

India is one of the countries which has embraced digitalization with open arms. In 2015, the Govt. of India launched Digital India, a flagship programme aimed at transforming India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy. This programme is centered on 3 key vision areas– 

  1. Making digital infrastructure available to every citizen as a core utility, 
  2. Governance and services on demand and 
  3. Digital empowerment of citizens.

 

According to a research paper on ‘Digitalization in India’, digital connectivity is a great leveler. The paper makes an observation that ‘cutting across demographic and socio-economic segments, Indians are connecting and communicating with each other through mobile phones and computers riding on digital networks’. 

 

2010 report by GSMA and Cherie Blaire foundation observes that owning a mobile phone can significantly change the life of a woman in developing countries as it provides them improved access to educational, health, business and employment opportunities. Data from this study also notes that 85% of women reported feeling more independent because of their mobile phones. It further states that women business owners perceive the phone as an important productivity tool. 

 

Digital empowerment can boost women empowerment in a multitude of ways– 

 

  1. By making technology accessible and comprehensible to rural women, they can be better informed about all aspects of life.
  2. Transforms a common woman into a businesswoman by providing know-how and support to use their skills of cooking, weaving, stitching, pottery, etc. to create and run successful businesses.
  3. Enhances small-scale businesses by giving easy access to resources, guiding with knowledge and information, eliminating middlemen and the need for a physical market.
  4. Women who unwillingly discontinued their job post maternity or for personal situations that restricted mobility can continue working from home through the online medium.
  5. Online market has enabled easy access to raw materials and customers for finished products /services thus facilitating ease of business for women
  6. The availability of many online courses gives an option to women with limitations on mobility to further their education
  7. Many mobile apps give timely information to women about health or other needs
  8. Women can learn and share their views on various issues on a social platform

 

The shift in the working model of many small and big organizations from a physical office to an online platform during Covid-19 opened up the gates of employment for many women in small towns and cities; thus digitalization created an opportunity in adversity.

 

Women Entrepreneurs in India

 

India is in the midst of an entrepreneurial revolution. According to a report on women entrepreneurship, women-owned businesses could add 150-170 million jobs to India’s economy by 2030. 

 

Indian women entrepreneurs like Kiran Majumdar Shaw (Founder Chairperson and Managing Director, Biocon Limited), Vandana Luthra (Founder VLCC Healthcare Limited), Shahnaz Husain (Founder of The Shahnaz Husain Group) had started out at a time when conditions for women entrepreneurs weren’t conducive. However, with the recent surge in digital technology, the number of businesswomen in India has grown by leaps and bounds.

 

Falguni Nayar (founder Nykaa), Aditi Gupta (co-founder Menstrupedia), Khusboo Jain (co-founder Impact Guru) and Divya Gokulnath (co-founder Byju’s) are some of the inspirational women entrepreneurs of India today who have made a distinct mark in India’s startup ecosystem.

 

Conclusion

 

As the proverb goes, “You educate a man, you educate an individual. You educate a woman, you educate an entire nation”. 

 

Proper and relevant education of the girl child is highly essential to secure the future of our country. Both the government and different NGOs are dedicatedly working towards this objective. 

 

As citizens of the country, we all too can come forward to support this cause by donating towards girl child education, extending help in the betterment of educational infrastructure, creating digital awareness, mentoring a girl, supporting small businesses owned by women because investing in women empowerment is the key to unlock national growth. One small contribution can make a big difference in the lives of these women. Let’s make India more digital, more self-reliant, starting with underprivileged women.

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