Women education scenario in India
India is largely a patriarchal society. The status of women in India has been subject to many changes over the span of recorded Indian history. Women education in India has been a chief preoccupation of both the government and social or civil society as educated women can play a very important role in the development of the country. The importance of women’s education is growing day by day. It is not only important to educate girls and women, but also it is necessary to provide them with basic facilities. In many countries especially in developing countries, the literacy rate of women is low as compared to men. The education of women in India plays a significant role in improving living standards in the country. They not only constitute valuable human resource of the country but their development in the socio economic arena sets pace for sustainable growth of the economy. Education is milestone of women empowerment because it enables them to respond to the challenges, to confront their traditional role and change their life.
Women play a key role in building a nation, and every country is being known for the power of women’s empowerment. It is an essential element for any nation. Promoting education among women helps them understand their individuality to refrain from any exploitation. India has seen women achievers in each field due to encouraging women’s education in the nation; it helped them improve their knowledge, which made them stronger and confident.
Importance of Women Education: Women’s Education is critical to the country’s entire development. A well-educated woman is capable of managing her personal and professional life. The reasons why women’s education is important are: –
Basic Rights: Education is a basic right for everyone. Society has a large population of women,all girls and women, whether they are rich, poor, young, old, married, unmarried, widow or with any social status have their basic right of education. Education is not a privilege but a fundamental right.
Equality to Society: When we talk about discrimination and inequality as a problem we often misunderstand that it begins at the root level. But its actually teaching both men and women to promote the concepts of equality and democracy. It makes them empower, Independent, and Helps Build Self-confidence. Education is very important for everyone and it helps to develop skills to make an individual capable of offering services to others and earning a livelihood. If a woman is educated and is capable of earning and bearing her own expenses she does not need to be dependent on others or family for her own requirements. This brings confidence in them to make their own decisions and realize their own worth and uniqueness. During the Vedic Period, women enjoyed equality in all spheres of life. India was a glorified nation, and even other fellow citizens used to hail down because of its greatness. And people were incredibly vigilant towards Atharvaveda, Upanayana, etc., as reading and learning them are considered sacred. They were advised to study distinctive texts, practice them to decipher all twigs of knowledge.
During the period of Buddhism, women all together started strengthening the glories of life. Many prestigious Universities were established, and women got enrolled in allied courses to study. Moreover, women are well-versed in philosophical studies and usually advised on the establishment of any reforms.
Some factors affecting the women education in India are undernourishment and malnutrition of the girl child, sexual harassment and abuse at early age, lower socio-economic status of parents, infections and low immunity power at childhood, social restrictions and taboo in their life, forced to follow orders of elders in family whether at home of parents or parents-in-law, permission to get only limited education, social discrimination, gender inequality, occupation of girl child in domestic chores, economic exploitation etc.
Apart from the above reasons, the non-availability of educational centers in close proximity, unsafe means of travel, and lack of proper toilets are additional reasons for girl drop-outs. The government has established many welfare schemes for motivating women’s education in India.
Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao: The Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao social campaign was launched on 22nd January 2015 and is famous for women’s empowerment. The scheme aims to exterminate female foeticide and access them with an appropriate education.
Working Women Hostels: The Working Women Hostels scheme was established to provide a working environment that includes accommodation facilities where women may get more employment opportunities.
Support Training and Employment Programme (STEP): These schemes provide adequate education and uplift women to be self-employed or bidding entrepreneurs in various sectors. This scheme is open to women above the age of 16.
Mahila-e-Haat: The Mahila-e-Haat scheme was launched in 2016 by the Ministry of Women and Child Development. It provides a platform to let women entrepreneurs or women with small-scale businesses display or sell their products and services.
Sabla: Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Employment of Adolescent Girls (RGSEAG), known as SABLA, was initiated on 1st April 2011 by the Government of India. It aims at providing food and nutritious ingredients.
Swadhar Greh: The SwadharGreh scheme was established in 2002 by the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development. The scheme provides shelter, food, care, and clothing to unaided women. Thus, women abandoned by their families and women who survived any disaster are aided with basic needs.
One-Stop Centre Scheme: The One-stop Centre scheme was established with the ‘Nirbhaya’ fund on 1st April 2015 by the Ministry of Women and Child Development. The scheme provides counselling services, legal requirements, police aid, shelter and food to violence victims both in public and private.
Nari Shakti Puraskar: Nari Shakti Puraskar initiative is taken by the Ministry of Women and Child Development to acknowledge women by awarding them for their excellent contribution towards society and empowering women.
Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan: In order to ensure greater participation of girls in elementary education, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan has targeted interventions for girls which include opening of schools, appointment of additional women teachers, separate toilets for girls, teachers’ sensitisation programmes etc. In addition, Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas has been opened in Educationally Backward Blocks (EBBs).
Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA): It envisages enhancing the quality of education by providing a secondary school within a reasonable distance of every habitation, improving quality of education imparted at secondary level, removal of gender, socio-economic and disability barriers.
Udaan: CBSE has launched ‘Udaan’ to provide free online resources to girl students of Class XI and Class XII for preparation. The special focus of the scheme is to address the low enrolment ratio of girl students in prestigious institutions.
If women educate themselves, the nation will undergo a steady population, and family planning would be the priority. Women’s education would make them self-sufficient, and the age of marriage would probably extend, and women would be more independent of their needs and decisions. Women will be able to refrain from dramatic situations and look after themselves and their families. Women can examine themselves in various fields. Women’s education gives power to equality. Many social discrepancies will be exclaimed, and a powerful system might be established. Women’s education helps women to voice out their opinions.
Various organizations promote and work for promoting women education in India. These organizations fight against emphasizing the importance of women’s education in India and gender equality.
Educate Girls Bond: It creates new opportunities for girls’ education and promotes gender equality by providing education for young girls throughout India.
Global Grassroots: The organization promotes leadership in women and girls in their communities by employing mindfulness throughout designing a social solution.
Pratham: It is designed to improve education for children in Mumbai.
Campaign for Female Education (CAMFED): It is an international non-profit organization supporting marginalized girls to succeed through education.
Girls Who Code: An international organization aiming to provide opportunities for women to learn and develop specialized skills in computer science.
Throughout India’s long history, patriarchal and religious practices have greatly affected women’s rights. Misogynistic practices and ideas limit educational opportunities for women. Consequently, the reassertion of harmful gender roles is prevalent. 23 million girls drop out of school every year because communities are unwilling to provide proper feminine sanitation. This lack of women’s education hinders India’s economic and social growth.
Many organizations, including Pratham, Girl’s Who Code and Educate Girls Bond are fighting against global poverty by emphasizing the importance of gender equality and women’s education in India.
Women’s education in India is often overlooked in the fight against poverty. However, promoting gender equality and providing equal access to education empowers women and boosts their socioeconomic status. Today, more women in India are able to contribute to the economy in ways that fight against poverty. There’s a proverb which goes ‘If you educate a man you educate an individual but if you educate a woman you educate an entire nation’ and this is the single most important thing that our country needs to understand at this moment. But poverty is not the only thing that is disrupting the fundamental right of education amongst Indian girls there are many more contributing factors such as the distance of schools from the corresponding villages, lack of sanitation facilities in schools, shortage of female teachers, gender bias in curriculum, absence of support from their respective families and this list is never ending. There’s a common belief among rural households that girls should stop schooling after reaching puberty because more often than not they are teased by boys throughout the long walk from their home to school. India has the highest number of child brides in Asia and inevitably there is this dogma surrounding young girls that educating them is a waste of time and money as they are born only to be married off and manage the household. In rural households and especially amongst the poor, the girl child is a valuable resource for housework and in the fields, an additional hand that cannot be wasted away through an education with almost invisible gains and far too heavy a price that most rural and poor families cannot afford to pay. In the words of Swami Vivekananda ‘It is impossible to think about the welfare of the world unless the condition of women is improved. It is impossible for a bird to fly on only one wing.’
(The author is Senior Assistant Professor of Zoology, GDCW, Kathua).