Empowering Women in Rural Areas

The truth about the difficulty of rural women is not a joke. The struggle is real, but it isn’t an entirely hopeless situation. Several studies show that rural women can play a significant part in achieving substantial economic, environment and social stability. A lot of them are stronger and even have the age factor on their side to be in the system for a long time. Then, what is holding them back?

Well, the answer is pretty clear – the lack of adequate funds, healthcare, education and the like. The situation has become grave in several parts of the world where those residing in remote villages also suffer from global food, water, and economic crises. Hence, empowering women from this strata is not only beneficial for economic productivity but on a personal level too.

As per a report (Dailyo.in), statistics show the district of Mewat; not too far from the capital of India (70 km), ranks the lowest concerning human development index scores. The miseries are quite common:  open defecation, no uniform vaccination record, low literacy, early marriages, childbirth at homes, insufficient water, no power supply and very minimal access to public facilities.

But quite like most other villages, agriculture is the primary source of livelihood with women partaking in these activities. It’s just that they work without being paid on the family farm. Unfair as it may seem, what’s even unnerving is the effort and workforce which goes to waste. They depend on their spouses for finances, which puts them at more substantial risk for domestic violence and exploitation.

Financially dependent and vulnerable to domestic isolation and violence creates a vicious cycle of poverty. Now, looking at the solution, the only way forward is to appoint these women or create leadership opportunities for them. Placing women in leadership spots/positions helps to accelerate development while empowering them simultaneously.

On the brighter side, the Indian law does recognize and appreciate the need and essence of women’s active participation and offers a minimum of 33 percent of all seats for women across all Panchayati Raj institutions. What needs right now is to equip the women masses, inform, educate and inculcate an innate desire in them to take on roles that would help accelerate rural development and their position –on the domestic and national front equally.

If you have researched on this topic before, it would’ve come to your understanding that the UN Women has been doing some great work about it, as several initiatives by them go a long way in formulating policies, rules, strategies and programs that directly impact their lives and those around them. Offering free computer classes, teaching them about how technology works, open seminars on issues pertinent to the modern world are some of the efforts undertaken by the UN.

Regarding what Indian leaders and communities have done; the Dalit Women’s Accountability Initiative has been a striking example of a job done right: This concept has bolstered the development of women hailing from this downtrodden community, so much so, that several Dalit women have their bank accounts now. They are more informed about their fundamental rights and privileges.

Looking at things on the international front, in countries like Zimbabwe, women empowerment scales up to newer and more significant levels. Women who started out selling fish on the seashore, are now capable of marketing their catch against just assisting men in the whole process or doing the selling on their behalf. Markets and collectives have been created, thus giving these women an edge and access to loans, participating in revolving funds at present.

UN and other international bodies have contributed to formulating policies, laws, and programmes for the general welfare of women in rural areas.  There has been a considerable improvement with little steps like devising interesting and useful programmes, and camps that contribute towards massive productivity gains accelerating growth and improved development for the strata in general.

What is needed at the time being is for governments (on the home front and internationally) to make conscious efforts to develop and implement laws and policies that foster equal rights, opportunities, and participation for women hailing from maligned backgrounds and regions.