Empowerment of Women through Panchayati Raj Institutions: A Critical Analysis
Empowerment of women is essentially the process of upliftment of economic, social and political status of women, the traditionally underprivileged ones, in the society. It involves the building up of a society wherein women can breathe without the fear of oppression, exploitation, apprehension, discrimination and the general feeling of persecution which goes with being a woman in a traditionally male dominated structure. Political participation of women can be viewed as one of the proven strategies for the empowerment of women. Panchayat being the nearest form of government to the people can play instrumental role in their empowerment by ensuring effective participation of them. The 73rd Constitutional Amendment ushered in a major change in the history of Panchayats making provision for the reservation of women. But a number of studies have proved that reservation alone cannot ensure participation of women in political decision making process leading towards their empowerment. Though it has made a positive impact but still there is long way to go. A concerted effort from multiple government and non-government actors including CSOs and media has to be made by adopting multi-pronged strategies to achieve that goal. This paper has made an attempt to analyse the concept of empowerment, how to measure it, strategies for empowerment of women and assess the role of Panchayats in participation as well as empowerment of women and also suggest some effective measures to achieve that goal. The study is based on secondary data collected from different sources like study reports, government reports, books, journals and web based materials.
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