Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Only education will lead to empowerment

It is alright to come out once a year with slogans and posters to protest violence against women. That is what we do because a day in a year is dedicated to the elimination of violence against women.

Violence is only one aspect that the women are suffering from. What is the solution?

We all know what the solution is but for some reasons, the solutions that we come forward with for the welfare of the women are mostly half-baked attempts.

We have often talked about empowering our women. But how do we empower them? The word itself is a strong one. But for the strength that the word may carry, the process of empowerment of women has been more written about in various documents and project reports than acted upon.

Empowerment doesn’t come without a minimum level of education. Of course this is not to say that efforts are not being made to make the women self-reliant and stand on their own feet by teaching them some skills or trade that would enable them to make a living independent of dependence on men folk.

Having some skill or trade might free them from the stranglehold of dependence and poverty. In most cases, as reported in various media, poverty is the culprit and has invariably driven them into situations from where there is no escape.

For instance, prostitution is something we can legally and technically say doesn’t exist in the country. That is because legally we don’t accept that it exists. And if we are aware of its existence, we just tend to turn a blind eye and ignore it.

We are not talking of mass trafficking of women and young girls, like it is reported to be happening in some parts of the world. Yet, our young girls are being lured into the trade or the profession that is one of the oldest one in the human history.

Basically it is the lack of education that is the root cause of the evil. Without education, they are not even in a position to acquire skills that will provide them with decent livelihood. This inability to earn a livelihood makes them susceptible to all forms of degradation and indignities that can be heaped on a woman.

Despite the negative labeling of Third World women as ignorant, poor, uneducated, and powerless, it is a clear indication that there are many obstacles that hinder women empowerment in Third world countries. Even with the multitude of media technologies and communication means, women in the developing countries especially those residing in rural and remote areas are still voiceless compared to women in developed countries.

When an illiterate young village woman comes to a town looking for employment, the only alternative open to her is dishwashing. If she is good looking, she gets to wait around the tables. Slowly she slips into the slimy side of the business.

It is not only the illiterate ones who fall prey to such temptations. Some times the temptations come as an opportunity to earn some extra money to tide over a bad financial situation. Many school drop-outs, when faced with dire unemployment, are also forced into it.

Of course, they don’t like it. Like every one they would like to have a family and raise children. But once they are into it, there is most often no way out of the morass.

It is not too late. We have to come forward with programmes to educate and empower them. No matter what kind of programmes we may implement, it has to start with education. Only education will lead to empowerment.

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