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Employment is critical for poverty reduction and for enhancing women’s status. However, it is potentially empowering and liberating only if it provides women an opportunity to improve their well being and enhance their capabilities. On the other hand, if it is driven by distress and is low-paying then it may only increase a woman’s drudgery. To understand women’s work status in India’s rural areas and to examine the trends and nature of women’s employment, this paper analyses the data from large scale national surveys. This paper discusses the empowerment of tribal women in India through education and skill development as education, skills development and training are central to agricultural and rural employment especially the tribal people. It prepares mostly young people for work in the formal and informal sector in rural areas and thus plays an important role in poverty alleviation. The better the training and the more refined the skills in terms of human capital, higher the income and returns leading toward the better rural life and socio-economic structure. This goes without saying that India has the second largest tribal population in the world and its women continue to be under-represented in formal business training programmes thus limiting their employment options, economic returns and long term career development.

Empowerment is an active process enabling women to realize their full identity and power in all spheres of life4 Empowerment is a process that takes a person from a position of powerless inaction to responsible action. The process moves through several stages from
a) Participation
b) Decision making
c) Action and, ultimately
d) The capacity to take responsibility for those actions.
Empowerment is defined as the process by which women take control and ownership of their lives through expansion of their choices. It is the process of acquiring the ability to make strategic life choices in a context where this ability has previously been denied. The core elements of empowerment have been defined as agency (the ability to define one’s goals and act upon them), awareness of gendered power structures, self-esteem and self-confidence. Empower refer broadly to the expansion of freedom of choice and action to shape one’s life. It implies control over resources and decisions.

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In India the Development of women in the Ist Five Year Plan was clubbed with the welfare of disadvantaged group like destitute, disabled, aged, etc. The 2nd to Fifth Plan continue to reflect the same welfare approach besides giving priority to women’s education and launching measures to improve maternal and child health services, supplementary feeding for children, and expectant and nursing mother. 6th Plan has marked a clear shift in its approach, from welfare to development oriented plans towards women. Seventh Plan aimed at raising women’s economic and social status and bringing them into the mainstream of the national development. 8thPlan focus on human development with special reference to women. The 9th Plan made significant changes in the conceptual strategy of planning for women development. The 10th Plan continued with its strategy of empowering women as agent of social change and development.

In India the planning process has evolved over the years from a purely ‘welfare’ oriented approach to the development approach and currently to the ’empowerment.’ It was only from the Sixth Five year Plan onwards that women secured a special niche and space in the national plans and planning process primarily with thrusts on health, education and employment. A paradigm shift occurred in the Eighth Plan where ’empowerment’ of women was recognized and accepted as a distinct strategy. The approach was to access women living in poverty and to guide them to help themselves. The Tenth Five Year Plan called for the three pronged strategy of social empowerment, economic empowerment and providing gender justice to create an enabling environment of positive economic and social policies for women and eliminating all forms of discrimination against them and thus advance gender equality goals for sustainable development. In India during the tenth Plan also, emphasis continued on empowerment of women through self help group movement. The Eleventh Plan seeks to reduce disparities across regions and communities by ensuring access to basic physical infrastructure as well as health and educational services to all, recognize gender as a cross – cutting theme across all sectors and commits to respect and promote the rights of the common person. The Approach Paper to the 11th Plan specifically states that ‘gender equity requires adequate provisions to be made in policies and schemes across Ministries and Departments. It also entails strict adherence to gender budgeting across the board for the women that to tribal women.

For the accelerated socio-economic development of any community, the active participation of women is essential. In Indian society, their participation has to be ensured through tangible measures, taken at various levels, which results in their empowerment in the real sense. Empowerment of women is one of the concepts that have developed in connection with improving their status. Empowerment includes higher literacy levels, education, better healthcare, equal ownership of productive resources, and increased participation in economic and commercial sectors, awareness of rights and responsibilities, improved standards of living, self-reliance, self-esteem and self-confidence. Raising the status of tribal women is not just a moral imperative but also a strategic one. Within the framework of a democratic policy, our laws, development policies, plans and programmes have aimed at women’s advancement in different spheres. Recently, the empowerment of women has been recognized as a central issue in determining their status. Tribal women, while being disadvantaged and vulnerable groups are nevertheless, better placed, in many respects, than their counterparts in the general population and are, in certain areas, more empowered. They do not suffer segregation or lower status. This is reflected in their higher sex-ratio vis-à-vis the general population (977 as compared to 933 – 2011 census). The child sex-ratio for tribal women also compares favourably vis-à-vis the general population, being 972 as against 919 for the general population 2011 census. The child female to male sex ratio shows a decline from 985 (per thousand males) in 1991 to 972 in 2011 while in areas such as education and health tribal women lag behind significantly.

However in the last decades, the situation of women in India has greatly improved. An increasing number of Indian women are entering local and national politics and since 2007, the country has been under the rule of a woman Pratibha patil. She is the First woman to hold this position since the creation of the Indian republic in 1950. Indian society does indeed recognize many women rights, Including the rights to political involvement, Family allowance and set up a business. Nevertheless, In rural areas, Poverty and lack of information represent real barriers to women independence and empowerment. Programs aimed at advancing human rights, literacy and micro finance are therefore necessary in order to restore Indian women to the place they deserve and open doors to a better future

Any developmental process is the expansion of assets and capabilities of rural women o participate in, negotiate with, influence, control, and hold the institution accountable that affect their lives. Skill development among rural women is the need of the hour so as to make them confident, self reliant and to develop in them the ability to be a part of decision making at home and outside. Indeed it may not be wrong to say that still tribals and rural women are the most disadvantaged and neglected section of the society to enable improvement in the quality of life of such vulnerable sections of the Indian population.
More Importantly the developmental process in india should give priority to welfare schemes and programmes meant for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes including women. These are the people who are economically backward; therefore, there is a need for sincere effors on the part of the government to help improve the quality their of life. The Social Assessment for the training and skill development clearly reflected that rural landless form an integral part of poverty- ridden and marginalized groups. By empowering rural women through education can thus enable them to dignity and self reliance cutting across the barriers that prevent them from taking actions to improve their state both at the individual state and collective level.Therefore,free education and necessary and employable skill development programmes must be launched for tribal sudents and women so as o make them self and economically independent.Furthermore,right to vote is meaningless unless rural women are made aware,educated and imparted skills to understand the order of the day and this can bring in their lives,in the family and lastly transform the holistic tribal landscape of India,through education,legal awareness,and socio economic independence.


1. Ms. Swaleha Sindhi, Assitant Professor, Department of Educational Administration, The M.S.University of Baroda. India.
2. Anker, R. 1998. Gender and Jobs: Sex Segregation of Occupations in the World, International Labour Organisation, Geneva
3. Ms. Swaleha Sindhi, Assitant Professor, Department of Educational Administration, The M.S.University of Baroda. India
4. Gnanadhas ; Mahalekshmi, 2011.
5. Kabeer, 2001.
6. Narayan, n.d.
7. Ahmad, M.A., (1999) Women Empowerment: Self Help Groups, Kurukshetra, April.
8. Girija, S., ; P. Satish, (1999) Transaction Cost Of Lending Through SHGs -Impact On Branch Profitability, Research Paper BIRD, Lucknow.
9. Harriet Beecher Stowe
10. .

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