Impact of women empowerment in Jammu and Kashmir

The percentage of the female population in India is 48.04 %, compared to 51.96 % male population, and in Jammu and Kashmir, women constitute 47% of the total population. If this significant portion of the population contributes to development, India will become a developed nation. These days women are gleaming in every field. They are becoming doctors, engineers, advocates, teachers, political leaders, administrators, police officers and professionals and joining the Indian Defence Forces. Well informed women play a significant role in the nation-building process. Their thoughts, ways of working and value systems lead to faster growth and development of the society. And when women get empowered, stability in society is ensured.

Women in developing countries receive the full force of the stress arising from a changing society. The conflict between traditional gender roles and the new narratives of empowerment and new socio-economic exigencies set the stage for a realm of gender relations in turmoil. India is no exception, where on the one hand, women are entering the workforce in steadily increasing numbers, but on the other hand, a shocking number of sexual and gender-based violence cases both within and outside the confines of the home point to a regressive social scenario.

The principle of gender equality is enshrined in the Indian Constitution. It grants equality to women and empowers the state to adopt measures of positive discrimination in favour of women to neutralise the cumulative socio-economic and political disadvantages faced by them. Women have fundamental rights not to be discriminated against on sex and get equal protection under the law. It also imposes a fundamental duty on every citizen to renounce the practices derogatory to the dignity of women.

Empowerment of women is a process that leads women to claim their rights to have access to equal opportunities in economic, cultural, social and political spheres of life and realise their full potential. This progress has to go together with their freedom in decision-making to influence the direction of social change. Indeed, empowerment is a bottom-up process rather than something that can be formulated as a top-down strategy. This means that development agencies cannot claim to ‘empower women’, nor can empowerment be defined in specific activities or results. This is because it involves a process whereby women, individually and collectively, freely analyse, develop and voice their needs and interests without them being pre-defined or imposed from above. Planners working towards an empowerment approach must, therefore, develop ways of enabling women to assess their situation and shape a transformation in society critically. The ultimate goal of women’s empowerment is for women themselves to be the active agents of change in transforming gender relations.

There are three factors viz psychological patterns of society, family, and women that affect six indicators: education, educational freedom, economic contribution, economic freedom, household management and decision-making, perceived status within the household, and health that directly influence the position of the women in society.

Jammu & Kashmir is a chiefly young population, with about 69 % of the people below 35 years. To provide a platform for holistic implementation of all youth engagement and outreach initiatives and bring the interests and empowerment of youth, especially women, to the centre of policymaking, the Government of Jammu & Kashmir UT has rolled out a pioneering enterprise – Mission Youth.

1.    Livelihood Generation:     Mumkin, Spurring Entrepreneurship Initiative, Tejaswani – The Radiant, SAHYTA Program, Young Innovators Program, Sector-Specific Scheme for Dental Professionals, Rise Together, etc.

2.    Education: Parvaaz Scheme, Super 75 and SuperB 75 Scholarship Scheme, etc.

3.    Recreational and social engagement: Youth clubs at the panchayat level, State of the art Youth Centres, Sports, Tours,

4.    Counselling and rehabilitation

5.    Others Schemes: Term loans, Virasat, Microfinance, Educational loans, UMEED, Haushla, Hunnar, AASRA, etc.

Tangible results of women empowerment

In the past few years, the govt of Jammu and Kashmir has been creating a gender-inclusive eco-system so that women could have better education opportunities and contribute to economic growth. Thus putting them at the centre of all development schemes.

  1. More than 74,771 youths from 20 districts have joined the Youth Clubs, which play a significant role in providing youth with the opportunity to work through real challenges and make meaningful change. 4,522 Youth Clubs have been constituted across 20 districts, with 9,000 youths enrolled in the Poonch district. It is pertinent to mention that the J&K Government has also helped 6000 young women become entrepreneurs selected at the Panchayat level.
  • National Rural Livelihoods Mission is being run in   J&K as Jammu and Kashmir State Rural Livelihoods Mission (Umeed). This is a turning wheel of transformation for women to become progressive and self-employed women entrepreneurs. It aims to reduce poverty in the state by building solid grassroots institutions for the poor, engaging them in gainful livelihoods interventions and ensuring appreciable improvement in their income on a sustainable basis. JKRLM has become a change driven movement in Jammu & Kashmir with 60,000 Self Help Groups ( SHG) with 5,02641 women beneficiaries. The official figures say that Rs 890.55 crore of bank credit by SHGs promoted by Umeed JKRLM while SHGs have availed Rs 273.88 crore capitalisation from JKRLM. It is encouraging and motivating that these SHGs have mobilised Rs 168.88 crore from their savings.
  • During Kashmir University’s convocation, there were 94 gold medalists in 2021, of which 77% were girls. Similarly, during the Islamic University of Science and Technology convocation, most gold medalists were women, clearly showing women’s empowerment.
  • Women have been given a 15% reservation in Jammu and Kashmir Police recruitment in non-gazetted cadres.
  • Fareeda Bano, from Matipura Pattan, Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir, set up a silkworm unit in 2015. She not only empowered herself but ten other women employees.
  • This year, on the eve of Women’s Day, President Ram Nath Kovind conferred Nari Shakti awards on 29 Indian women of outstanding calibre in different fields and activities, demonstrating how Indian women prove as game changers and excel in various areas to an extent meriting national recognition. It is heartening that among the recipients, Jammu and Kashmir had their due share in the form of two women of outstanding calibre, namely Sandhya Dhar and Nasira Akhtar, getting the coveted awards.

The problematic dynamics of the Jammu & Kashmir have repeatedly tested the emotional resilience of women, especially during the eruption of the Pakistan-sponsored insurgency in 1989. Women can do wonder if adequate space is provided for them. The Jammu & Kashmir has seen a significant shift in its discourse for the last three decades of insurgency. Women empowerment and gender equality issues were never addressed adequately earlier.

The Indian Government is determined to implement the aphorism of Sarvajana Hitaya, Sarva Jana Sukhaya (for the good of all, for the happiness of all) and convert it into a tangible realism. Now the women are recognised as the head of the household for issuing ration cards under the auspices of The National Food Security Act, 2013, Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY),  Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY), etc. Such measures have unambiguously stimulated women’s access to economic resources, elevating, among other things, their social status.

Courtesy :- BS Nagial

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