Women exists in dual forms in India. On one side a woman, as a symbol of power and empowerment, is worshiped as a goddess in temples, on the other side she's not given the freedom that they need and the power to take a decisions.
If we see women on an agricultural field the engagements of the women are more as compared to the men. Then also women do not have the power to make the decisions and remain poor. But we must wonder that why there is the feminization of poverty? Why are women not empowered in the way they want?
Due to lack of awareness and education amongst the women about the prevailing economic opportunities for them which lead to poor decision-making capability amongst the women, inequalities and lower access to the employment.
Some of the following reasons, pose challenges for the women in rural areas-
Lack of digital literacy
Poor access to technologies
Poor livelihood opportunities outside agriculture.
Lack of skills
To give women an economic opportunity to earn their livelihood and to make them empowered government had launched various schemes regarding women empowerment. Listed below are few schemes:
Deen Dayal Upadhyay Antyodaya Yojana (DAY-NRLM): Ajeevika – to give employment to women and youth and to assure that regular minimum wage had been given to workers on daily basis and also for their skill development.
Elected Women Representatives- To enhance the decision making power and to take a leadership responsibility by the women and to guide the village.
Rashtriya Mahila Kosh – It is for women working especially in the informal sector. This aims to give micro-credit to these women without collateral.
Mahila Shakti Kendra - It is under the umbrella of the scheme of Mission for Protection and Empowerment for women.
National Repository of Information for Women (NARI) – Under this scheme government provides easy access to information on government schemes and various initiatives taken by the government.
Scheme for Capacity Building in Textile Sector – It aims to provide demand-driven, placement oriented skilling programme to incentivize the efforts of industry in creating jobs for women and youth.
National Nutrition Mission – It aims to address the malnutrition and to provide poor with the proper nutrient food in the country by 2020.
Cultural Art is Empowering Women
Apart from these schemes government had taken a step to empower the women through the process of cultural art. Art is one amongst the various identity of India. India is known for its art and culture worldwide. So this idea has been taken up by the railway department in Bihar, to empower the women and to make them identify their talent by the way of art.
One of the live examples of empowerment of women through art is the beautification of Madhubani station. Madhubani station was known as one of the dirtiest stations in India so for the beautification of the station railway came up with the idea of beautification with the Madhubani painting all over the station. For this work, they had started planning and implementation but the implementation process faced the scarcity of manpower, finance, resources, etc. So the government had decided to give this work on the shramdaan (voluntary contribution) basis but it was not completely shramdaan as railway provide the painters with the T-shirt (with a logo of the railway), some cash and the meal. After deciding shramdaan process railway had started to advertise about the need of the workers for the beautification of the station and also allowed the painters to write their name below to their paintings. So that if anyone wants to have some other beautification they can have it by paying fees. Soon this initiative took a people’s movement with 200 artists coming forward to work. Different groups and subgroups were formed and the names were allotted to them respectively. Every needed painting material was being provided by the railway itself.
But slowly it faces some issues like women safety problem were there so the railway took the help of RPF and also vehicles were being provided to women those who do the night shift. There were also some unexpected challenges being faced by this initiative of the government as the locals had started protesting against it but due to mutual trust railway succeeded in the painting of the walls.
This example shows that women can be empowered by the art culture as well. One can support women by playing a role of intermediary. Madhubani painting is one of the paintings which are demanded even at a high cost. It will help women to earn their livelihood on their own and to become independent. But there were following challenges that are being faced by the women:
There is lack of awareness amongst the women.
Finding appropriate market is also one among the toughest challenge for the women.
Production is done manually no machines are involved in it. So it may take time.
Lack of organization supporting the art culture.
There may be some possibility that the interest of the painters gets dwindle.
But these challenges can be overcome by the following measures:
Commercializing the work of art.
By providing skill training and development.
By promoting art at public places.
Digitalization of network can help to reach widely.
By taking benefit of all the government schemes and by education and awareness women can get empowered and can earn their own livelihood. But some amount of advocacy is needed by the intermediaries to make the women empower even through art culture.
Srivastava,R.(2018). “Empowering Rural Women: The Way Forward.” Kurukshetra: A journal of rural development. Vol. 66. PP: 5-10.
Jha, G.(2018). “Folks Arts As A Tool For Development.” Kurukshetra: A journal of rural development. Vol. 66. PP: 5-10.
Mithila artists transform local railway station with traditional Madhubani art. The Indian Express. (2017)
Author is a development professional