Present situation - Women Empowerment


Provision of educational opportunities to women has been an important programme in the education sector since independence. Between 1951 and 1981, the percentage of literacy amongst women improved from 7.93 per cent to 24.82 per cent. However, in absolute numbers, illiterate women have increased during this period from 158.7 million to 241.7 million (excluding Assam). Women comprise 57 per cent of the illiterate population and 70 percent of the non-enrolled children of school stage are girls. In spite of the efforts made so far, the education system has not been able to make sufficient contribution towards women's equality.


(a) A phased time-bound programme of elementary education for girls, particularly upto the primary stage by 1990, and upto the elementary stage by 1995.

(b ) A phased time-bound programme of adult education for women in the age group 15-35 (whose number is estimated to be 6.8 crores) by 1995.

(c) Increased women's access to vocational, technical, professional education and to existing and emergent technologies.

(d) Review and reorganisation of the educational activities to ensure that it makes a substantial contribution towards women's equality, and creation of appropriate cells/units thereof.


The National Policy on Education (NPE) envisages that education would be used as a strategy for achieving a basic change in the status of women. The National education system would (i) play a positive interventionist role in the empowerment of women, (ii) contribute towards development of new values through redesigned curricula and text-books, and (iii) women's studies will be promoted as part of various courses. The main features of the targets and implementation strategy will consist of the following:-

(i) to gear the entire education system to plan a positive interventionist role in the empowerment of women;

(ii) to promote women's studies as a part of various courses and encouragement to educational institutions to take up active programme to further women's development;

(iii) to widen the access of women in programmes of vocational, technical and professional education;

(iv) to create dynamic managerial structure to cope with the targets envisaged.



Women become empowered through collective reflection and decision making. The parameters of empowerment are:

- building a positive self-image and self-confidence;

- developing ability to think critically;

- building up group cohesion and fostering decision-making and action;

- ensuring equal participation in the process of bringing about social change;

- encouraging group action in order to bring about change in the society;

- providing the wherewithal for economic independence.

The following measures will be taken for the achievement of the above parameters:

(a) Every educational institution should, by 1995, take up active programmes of women's development built around a study and awareness of the women's predicament and for promotion of communication and Organisation among women.

(b) All teachers and Non-Formal Education/Adult Education (NFE/AE) instructors should be trained as agents of women's empowerment. Special training programmes will be developed by NCERT, NIEPA, Directorate of Adult Education (DAE), SCERTs, State Resource Centres (SRCs) and UGC to incorporate in all training programmes of teachers and NFE/AE instructors elements which would motivate them to work for women's empowerment. Voluntary agencies and activist groups for women's development will be involved in these training programmes.

(c) Women teachers and women instructors in adult/non- formal education programmes should receive special orientation to enable them to play an activist role towards women's equality.

(d) Special programmes should be developed by research institutions, voluntary institutions and professional groups of artists to promote general awareness and self- image amongst women through a variety programmes like discussions, street plays, skits, wall papers, puppet shows etc.

(e) An environment should be created in which practically all sections of the society will commit themselves and work for achieving this objective enunciated in the National Policy on Education. Keeping in view the important role played by media in this sphere, clear policy guidelines should be developed by radio and TV in 1986-87 and measures taken to persuade films and other media on these lines.

(f) Preference in recruitment of teachers upto school level should be for women. This will create a greater confidence in the rural areas and motivate the parents to send girls to the school.

(g) The common core curriculum is a powerful instrument for the empowerment of women through the incorporation of values commensurate with the new status of women. The Women's Cell in the NCERT will be revived and given the responsibility for preparing the component of the core curriculum relating to women's equality. The Cell should also accelerate its work of eliminating sexist bias and sex stereo-types from school text-books. The Women's Cell of NCERT should take active help of all persons on playing its assigned role.

(h) Sensitization of teachers, trainers, planners and administrators to women's issues will be taken up as a major programme by NIEPA and appropriate State level agencies, through initial training, in-service training and refresher courses. NIEPA should also have a strong cell for planning and execution of these programmes.


Women's studies programme has 4 dimensions--teaching, research, training and extension. In teaching, the following activities will be taken up:

(i) Incorporation of issues relating to women's status and role in the foundation course proposed to be introduced by University Grants Commission for all undergraduate students;

(ii) Incorporation of the women's dimension into courses in different disciplines;

(iii) Elimination of sexist bias and sex stereo-types from text books.

Under research, the following steps will be taken:

(i) Encouraging research on identified areas and subjects which are crucial in advancing knowledge in this area and to expand the information base;

(ii) Critical appraisal of existing tools and techniques which have been responsible for the disadvantages suffered by them and where necessary reformation of research methodology.

The following measures will be taken under training:

(i) Dissemination of information and interaction through seminars/workshops on the need for Women's Studies and its role in University education;

(ii) Orientation of teachers and researchers to handle women-related topics and to incorporate women's dimension into general topics;

(iii) Workshops for restructuring the curriculum.

Under extension, it is proposed to encourage educational institutions to take up programmes which directly benefit the community and bring about the empowerment of women.


The present programme of non-formal centres for girls on 90:10 pattern will be extended to all educationally backward pockets of the country. NFE Centres should be community based. Responsibility of planning, selection of instructors and monitoring should be with the community including parents. Increased assistance to voluntary agencies to run non-formal education centres for girls should be given.

In the rural areas, girls are kept busy at home in sibling and household care, in fetching fuel, fodder and water, or in earning a day's wage. Therefore, special support services referred to in the Policy need to cover all these areas upto 1995. Early childhood education centres are important support service in increasing enrolment and retention of girls in schools. Programmes of social forestry, drinking water supply, mid-day meals, and other nutrition programmes, smokeless chullahs and other devices aimed at eliminating drudgery from women's lives should be formulated by the Ministry and Organisation concerned upto 1990 to converge with the objective of universalisation of education.

Skill development linked to employment or work opportunities in the villages or local areas are required to be given overriding priority so that there is an incentive on the part of the parents to educate the girls.

Mass scale adult education programme for women in the age group 15-35 should be developed to eradicate illiteracy amongst women by 1995. As majority of women in this age group are workers literacy per se may not have any relevance for them. It is, therefore, necessary to develop adult education programmes for women linked with upgradation of their skills and income generating activities.

Skill development for girls and women should be continuous process of learning starting from the NFE centres and AE centres. Continuing Education Centres should be set up in a phased manner which should organise vocational training, provide opportunities for retention of literacy skills and application of this learning for improving their living conditions.

The skill development given by the Continuing Education Centres will be supported by other programmes of non-formal, vocational training and skill development to be administered by a variety of organisations and institutions, such as Polytechnics, Community Polytechnics, ITIs, Shramik Vidyapeeths, Central Social Welfare Board, -State Social Welfare Advisory Boards, Voluntary agencies, Krishi Vigyan Kendras, Women's Centres in Agricultural and Home Science Colleges as part of their extension activities. Besides, Industries which employ women should themselves run non-formal vocational training courses. For effective learning and monitoring Women's Bureau is to be set up in the Department of Education.


At each stage in school education; or a part of work experience or vocationalisation, girls should be exposed to a variety of vocational training activities. The method of vocational training should be both through the formal and non-formal courses. The choice of skills to be taught will depend on the natural resources, traditional occupations and new activities being taken up through government and private investment.

There are 104 ITIs functioning exclusively for women and 97 wings in general ITIs reserved for women. It is proposed that these institutions be revamped during the period 1987-90 on the following lines:

Diversification of trades and courses, will be done, keeping the job potential of the area in mind. There will be an efficient placement system which will enable the institutions to have continuous dialogue with employers. The idea behind this diversification is that while girls will continue to receive preferential treatment in trades/occupations, for which they are particularly well suited (eg. teaching and nursing), this will not become a barrier for their participation in technical and professional courses of higher level and equal opportunities will be provided for them in all vocational, technical and professional courses.

There will be a strong element of vocational counseling in each ITI/RVTI/NVTI, polytechnics, suitable orientation should also be provided in the schools as preparation for motivating the girls to choose non-traditional courses.

Information about credit, banking, entrepreneurial development etc. will be provided by the ITI/NVTI/RVTI/Polytechnics and community polytechnics along with practical on-the-job training. The implementation of the apprenticeship scheme will be strengthened to increase the coverage of women.

In order to substantially enlarge the opportunities to women for craftsmen's training, shift system will be introduced in existing ITIs-one in the morning and the other in the afternoon.

DGE&T office should have a separate Directorate of Women's Vocational Training.

The women's access to technical education will be improved qualitatively and quantitatively. The choice of trades/disciplines offered to women at Certificate/ Diploma/Degree levels in all types of technical education institutions, will be made keeping in view the objective of bringing about women's equality. Necessary incentives, as spelt out in the section of Technical Education will be provided.


The interventions and programmes referred to above will be planned, coordinated, monitored and evaluated continuously both at the national and state level. Each of the organisations responsible for the programme will have to be strengthened. The Women's Cell in the NCERT will be revived and strengthened. NIEPA and Directorate of Adult Education will have strong cells to plan and administer Women's training programmes. The Women's Cell in the UGC will be strengthened in order to monitor the implementation of various programmes at higher education level.

At the State level , Women's Cell should be set up in all the States with adequate supporting staff to be headed by an officer of at least Joint Director's status.


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