Women empowerment is one way to get the underprivileged as well as the reasonably privileged women to come to realise their worth and potential in the face of a male dominated country/world.
Most women through education and familial privileges have in today’s world realised and appropriated their potentials in the best possible manner. However unfortunately there is still a section of the society that constitutes women who lack education and confidence enough to find their grounds in the male dominated society and make their substance felt.
Women must possess the self worth, confidence and freedom to choose what they may with regard to their private and professional choices alike. Gender bias is unreasonable and wrong on so many levels, curbing potent individuals from not only striving towards their best but from living an independent life free of domination and fear.
Women empowerment seeks to stimulate the confidence in women by providing to them everything that in their capacity to help them see the skills that they contain and are dormant within them. A proper nurturing, polishing and sharpening of those skills is only made possible through better education, awareness and a space to freely express oneself.
READ is one such women empowerment organization that seeks to achieve a change and assists in helping the women to bring about the change themselves.
Listed below are a few ways READ meets its objective in its women empowerment movement:
BY CREATING A TRUSTED SPACE
Women coming from various underdeveloped and developing countries like those of South Asia don’t have a place where they can assemble to confront their issues pertaining to gender equity, sex, health and women’s rights.
However READ is this one space which provides women with a platform where they can meet and talk about their problems in view of garnering a solution.
Women have confessed that this is a safe place where they didn’t need their parent’s permission to visit.
BY SUPPORT INDEPENDENCE AND MOBILITY
In several parts of rural India and Nepal women need to seek approval from their husbands before leaving home because of fear of abduction, molestation and other things.
However with their local READ centres coming along, women have been able to leave home without being accompanied by their husbands or other members in the family. The numbers of women who feel safer coming out of their homes by themselves include a booming 70 to 75 per cent.
BY TEACHING WOMEN TO READ
The problem of illiteracy is the reason why it is not only difficult for women to get out on the streets, being incapable of reading signboards or calculating, but also at home where their literary incapacity hinders them from reading directions on medicine bottles, phone numbers and so on.
READ centres have taken up the responsibility of imparting literacy to thousands of women every year.
One of the women made a poignant statement in regard to this. She said that when she was illiterate she felt blind but she began to see once she started going to the library.
BY ENCOURAGING AN INCREASE IN SAVINGS
Women with efficient help and support from the READ officials have been able to join savings cooperatives at READ centres which allow them to invest some money and request for small loans in lieu of it to start up a business or to aid in the children’s education.
This provision has lead to efficient saving and also increased income in some of the women in rural Nepal.
BY TRAINING THEM FOR SPECIFIC JOBS AND AIDING BUSINESS
The women go through training programmes in the READ centres which help them associate themselves with various income generating jobs such as sewing, mushroom farming, bee keeping and so on.
Through these income generating trainings offered by the centres, around 63 per cent of women increased their savings and income.
BY BUILDING THEIR SELF CONFIDENCE
READ centres have not only contributed to a social development in favour of the underprivileged women but also contributed to social skills in these women who have confessed of under confidence and insecurity prior to being associated with READ centres.
However once they started coming together, talking in public and sharing their plights, they have acquired more confidence and mental strength (Between 58 to 83 per cent of women have reported feeling more confident and street smart).
BY ENHANCING THEIR CAPACITY TO MAKE DECISIONS
Physical labour was everything that was expected out of the uneducated women in the rural areas of Nepal and India.
However these very women have confessed being able to take part in decision making in regard to important matters affecting the family (say children’s education) which was something that they were earlier abandoned from.
Around one third of the population which accounts for 62 per cent of women in Nepal and 68 per cent in India have been benefited with the coming up of the local READ centres.
“We were mostly busy doing household activities before… we now can travel outside of the village alone, [earn an income] in our family, and participate in decisions related to our children’s education.”
BY SPREADING AWARENESS REGARDING HEALTH CARE
READ centres inform the women about matters relating to health care, family planning, domestic violence, reproductive rights and so on, all of which form crucial lifestyle aspects.
This prevalent spreading of information, has helped impacting and improving the health conditions within the families.
Around 88 to 97 per cent of women have access to health based information and services with the coming up of local READ centres all over, which earlier they did not have.
BY FACILITATING THE FORMULATION OF NETWORKS
Association with the various READ centres have helped the women in developing a great social network which in turn has contributed to their creation of bonds with other women in the society belonging to the rural class, so that dealing with issues such as family planning, reproductive rights and domestic violence has become much easier because there is better communication, a provision for bringing up and sharing similar issues on a public forum which then facilitates a proper solution to the problems.
BY AIDING IN THE MAKING OF PUBLIC LEADERS OUT OF THEM
For South Asian women, holding leadership roles pertaining to the public or even the family for that matter, was thought impossible and was in fact impossible for real until something like the READ came up.
Extensive trainings are offered to women by READ centres regarding public leadership roles to increase women’s presence in public spheres. Women have joined committees, initiated meetings, raised their voices against violence, organized protests and held community programmes.
Around 61 to 65 per cent of women have accounted their improvement in being able to express their views in public and at home.
READ is one of the several organizations that have taken up women empowerment as their goal in order to create a platform for the underprivileged women to exhibit their potential by polishing their personality and skills and we have seen a large scale improvement in the living conditions of these women.
Would you like to be a part of a women empowerment movement? What would be your stance in helping women realise their potential?
Please share your views in the comments section below.