There have been huge changes for women in terms of employment in the past decades, with women moving into paid employment outside the home in ways that their grandmothers and even their mothers could only dream of. In the US, for the first time, in 2011, women made up slightly more than half the workforce. There are (some) high-profile women chief executives. There is a small but increasing number of female presidents. Women are moving into jobs that used to be done by men. Even those women working in factories or sweatshops have more choice and independence than if they remained at home. But their experience is contradictory, as feminist economist Ruth Pearson points out:
As individual workers they experienced both the liberating or the “empowering” impact of earning a regular wage, and of having increased autonomy over their economic lives; at the same time many were also well aware of the fact that their work was low paid, both in comparison with male workers but also with women workers employed in industrialised countries.
This contradiction is widespread – although more women are working, they are often still worse paid than men, in part-time jobs or in the huge informal employment sector with little protection and few rights. In many places, the increase in women working is simply driven by the necessity of having two wages to make ends meet.
And at the top of industry and government, the faces remain stubbornly male. In fact, there is some evidence that the numbers of women are actually decreasing. As Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook, said: “Women are not making it to the top of any profession in the world.”
It is true that progress in terms of gender equality is uneven, but the proponents of the argument that women are taking over the world at work need only look at statistics on employment, equal pay and political representation of men and women to see just how wrong they are.
Gender analyses of labour markets tend to look at women’s participation in paid employment compared with men’s – and not the huge informal sector in which so many women work; selling a handful of tomatoes that they have grown in their gardens, picking cotton or sewing at night long after their children have gone to bed. The number of women owning small and medium-sized businesses is estimated to be between 8 million and 10 million, and although this is still far fewer than that for men owning similar enterprises, numbers are slowly growing. In most countries, the informal sector is far larger than the formal one. For example, in south Asia more than 80% of men and women work in the informal sector, and in sub-Saharan Africa it is 74% of women and 61% of men.
There are also more women in formal paid work today than at any point in history. They now make up about 40% of the global formal labour force, and 43% of the agricultural labour force, although this varies considerably from country to country. For example, in the Middle East and north Africa in 2010, only 21% of women participated in the formal labour market, compared with 71% in east Asia and the Pacific. Men’s labour participation rates tend to be more stable, both across countries and in different income groups.
While they cannot be said to be representative, the highest positions are even more elusive for women: only seven of 150 elected heads of state in the world are women, and only 11 of 192 heads of government. The situation is similar at the level of local government: female elected councillors are under-represented in all regions of the world and women mayors even more so. And many of the women in top positions are already lined up for success. The few women in the Forbes rich list mostly come from rich families or business dynasties such as Walmart or Apple.
In the private sector, women are on most boards of directors of large companies but their number remains low compared to that for men. Furthermore, the “glass ceiling” has hindered women’s access to leadership positions in private companies. This is especially notable in the largest corporations, which remain male dominated. Of the 500 largest corporations in the US, only 23 have a female chief executive officer. That is just 4.6%.
Even in the 27 member countries of the EU, in April 2013 women accounted for only 16.6% of board members of large publicly listed companies. This is up by 5% since October 2010, when the European commission announced that it was considering “targeted initiatives to get more women into decision-making positions”. But one in four big companies still have no women on the board at all, and the target of 40% by 2020 is still a long way off. Although there is little data on women managers in the global south, one paper on the subject in Africa notes that: “The few figures available showed wide disparities, with Egypt at one end of the spectrum with only 10% of managers being women, while Botswana at the top end had 30%.”
Globally, research by accountancy firm Grant Thornton in 2013 found that women now fill 24% of senior management roles, a percentage that is gradually creeping up. But women make up only 16% of board members in the rich-world G7 economies compared with 26% in the Bric economies (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and 38% in the Baltic countries. Interestingly, one possible reason for this is that women in the latter have more access to childcare from extended families or from women they employ as nannies.
This means that in Japan, 93 out of every 100 people in top positions are men, in the US this is 80 out of 100, and even in the countries at the top of the list, only China has more women than men, and this is a leap from 25% the previous year. And interestingly, despite many years of legislation for gender equality, Sweden and Norway are only 27 and 22 in the ranking of top countries.
Women don’t have power in other areas either – even in 2013, they still made up only 21.4% of parliamentarians. Most recent figures show that 17.2% of ministerial posts worldwide are held by women – up from 16.1% in 2008, which shows just how slow progress can be.
Lack of political voice is critical given that this is where laws and policies that affect whole populations – both male and female – are made. In the UK, Dame Helena Kennedy, QC, noted in a speech on International Women’s Day:
“You don’t have to believe in patriarchy to realise that the law was made by men and is dominated by men, and that the same goes for parliament. Which means that in all the making of the law, women are largely absent. It is not surprising that the law doesn’t work for women.”
Women who are in powerful positions often find they face a daily barrage of sexist behaviour from men, which in many countries is outlawed in the workplace. And often, even among the elite, women do not do as well as men. Eighty-eight per cent of women aged 30-39 see their earnings decline when they have children. A study of Harvard graduates in the US found that median earnings in 2005 were $90,000 for women but $162,500 for men. Among full-time, full-year workers, median earnings were $112,500 for women and $187,500 for men.
What is interesting too is that despite the fact that in many countries girls are forging ahead of boys when it comes to educational attainment, this doesn’t always pay dividends when it comes to employment. Despite the youth bulge in much of the global south, even secondary and university education, where girls and young women are excelling, are failing to translate into employment for many young women. As one report from the World Bank notes: “Progress in education is not matched by higher labour force participation. By age 24, women lag behind in all regions. In Latin America and the Caribbean, the gap is around 26 percentage points. The gap is even larger in south Asia, where 82% of men are active in the labour market, against just 28% of women.”
If we look at the gender pay gap, the story is no better. An International Labour Organisation (ILO) study of 83 countries found that women earn 10%-30% less than men. Even in the US in 2010, women working full-time still earned only 77% of the male wage. In sub-Saharan Africa and east Asia and the Pacific, young women aged 15-24 who are working earn only 82% and 84% respectively of the amount young men earn in an hour. According to the ILO, if present trends continue, it will be another 75 years before the principle of equal pay for work of equal value is achieved.
In some countries, however, in Latin America and the Caribbean and Europe and central Asia, young women are beginning to earn the same and sometimes even slightly more than young men. And younger women everywhere seem to be doing slightly better in terms of earnings than older women, except in Latin America and the Caribbean, perhaps owing to progress in female education, but also probably because older women have taken time out to have children while younger women have not. Or because the pay gap is such that in many countries, including, for example, Brazil, middle-class women in paid work outside the home have been able to afford to pay other, poorer women to care for their children.
The cost of women not being engaged in paid work is huge: according to one report the economic cost of failing to educate girls to the same standard as boys in 65 low- and middle-income countries was estimated at $92bn a year. And according to the IMF, whole economies are losing out – if women and men had more equality at work, it would increase GDP in the US by 5%, in Japan by 9% and in Egypt by 34%.
None of this would seem to back up Hanna Roisin’s theory that the world of work is becoming a place where “women hold all the cards”.
Case study: fair pay for domestic work in Nicaragua
You no longer have to lower your head and wait for the man to tell you what to do; now we make our own decisions and share activities and responsibilities with our partners.
(Adilia Amador Sevilla from Achuapa, Nicaragua)
An innovative development is taking place in Nicaragua. A number of cooperatives with Fairtrade contracts are including in the costs of production a component for the unpaid work of women. This is exceptional in a world which consistently undervalues women’s work and refuses either to measure it or count it as economic activity, despite feminist campaigning over several decades. The money raised is being used by the cooperatives for collective projects to empower women and improve gender balance in the wider community. As Adilia says, the relations between men and women are being radically altered.
The starting point came in 2008, when the cooperative Juan Francisco Paz Silva needed to renew its Community Trade (equivalent to Fairtrade) contract for sesame oil with the Body Shop. The co-op and Etico (an ethical trading company that works closely with the co-op) both had strong gender policies and were looking for ways of supporting women through this contract. The idea of including a component for women’s unpaid work came as a flash of inspiration, as a recognition and recompense for the contribution to production made by women.
This calculation, and its addition to the costs, was accepted by the Body Shop, although they wanted more justification and more detail on what was actually being paid for. Subsequently, some coffee buyers have also agreed to make a similar addition.
Since this development started, there have been more women than men joining the co-ops as new members, an increase in the numbers of women initiating new projects, and a remarkable 100% payback rate on loans made to women.
These changes have led to an increased sense of self-esteem among the women, who now have greater confidence to speak and participate in the affairs of the cooperatives.
• This is an edited extract from Feminism & Men by Nikki van der Gaag, published by Zed Books. The authorwill be in discussion with Dean Peacock of Sonke Gender Justice at an event at Bookmarks bookshop, London, at 7pm on Thursday 2 October
Women empowerment is to empower women by promoting their participation in all areas and sectors to build stronger economies, improve their quality of life and bring gender equality.
Essay on Women Empowerment
Women empowerment is the empowerment of women which helps them to take their own decisions by breaking all personal limitations of the society and family. Students are generally get this topic to discuss or write some paragraphs or complete essay in their schools. Here we have provided some paragraph and essay on women empowerment to help students. They can select any women empowerment essay given below according to their need and requirement:
Women Empowerment Essay 1 (100 words)
Women empowerment is empowering the women to take their own decisions for their personal dependent. Empowering women is to make them independent in all aspects from mind, thought, rights, decisions, etc by leaving all the social and family limitations. It is to bring equality in the society for both male and female in all areas. Women empowerment is very necessary to make the bright future of the family, society and country. Women need fresh and more capable environment so that they can take their own right decisions in every area whether for themselves, family, society or country. In order to make the country fully developed country, women empowerment is an essential tool to get the goal of development.
Women Empowerment Essay 2 (150 words)
According to the provisions of the Constitution of India, it is a legal point to grant equality to women in the society in all spheres just like male. The Department of Women and Child Development functions well in this field for the proper development of the women and child in India. Women are given a top place in India from the ancient time however they were not given empowerment to participate in all areas. They need to be strong, aware and alert every moment for their growth and development. Empowering women is the main motto of the development department because an empowered mother with child makes the bright future of any nation.
There are many formulating strategies and initiating processes started by the government of India in order to bring women into the mainstream of development. Women constitute half population of the whole country’s population and need to be independent in every area for the holistic development of women and children.
Women Empowerment Essay 3 (200 words)
India is a very famous country known for its cultural heritage, traditions, civilization, religion and geographical features from the ancient time. On the other hand, it is also popular as a male chauvinistic nation. Women are given first priority in India however on the other hand they were badly treated in the family and society. They were limited only for the household chores or understand the responsibility of home and family members. They were kept totally unaware of their rights and own development. People of India used to say this country as “Bharat-Mata” however never realized the true meaning of it. Bharat-Mata means a mother of every Indian whom we have to save and care always.
Women constitute half power of the country so in order to make this country a fully powerful country, women empowerment is very necessary. It is empowering women to understand their rights to be independent in every area for their proper growth and development. Women give birth to the baby means future of the nation so only they can better involve in making the bright future of the nation through the proper growth and development of the children. Women need to be empowered instead of treating as a helpless victim of male chauvinism.
Women Empowerment Essay 4 (250 words)
With the slogan of women empowerment the question arise that “are women become really strong” and “is long term struggle has ended”. Many programmes have been implemented and run by the government such as International Women’s day, mother’s day, etc in order to bring awareness in the society about the true rights and value of the women in the development of the nation. Women need to be progressed in the number of spheres. There is a high level of gender inequality in India where women are ill treated by their family members and outsiders. The percentage of illiterate population in India is mostly covered by the women. The real meaning of the women empowerment is to make them well educated and leave them free so that they can be capable to take their own decisions in any field.
Women in India are always subjected to the honour killings and they never given their basic rights for the proper education and freedom. They are the victims who have face violence and abuse in the male dominated country. According to the National Mission for the Empowerment of women (NMEW) launched by the Indian Government, this step has sown some improvement in the 2011 census. The ratio of female sex and female literacy both has increased. According to the Global Gender Gap Index, India needs to take some advance steps to improve the women position in the society through the proper health, higher education and economic participation. Women empowerment needs to take full speed in right direction instead of being in nascent stage.
Women Empowerment Essay 5 (300 words)
The most famous saying said by the Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru is “To awaken the people, it is the women who must be awakened. Once she is on the move, the family moves, the village moves, the nation moves”. In India, to empower the women, first it needs to kill all the demons killing women’s rights and values in the society such as dowry system, illiteracy, sexual harassment, inequality, female infanticide, domestic violence against women, rape, prostitution, illegal trafficking and other issues. Gender discrimination in the nation brings cultural, social, economic and educational differences which push country back. The most effective remedy to kill such devils is making women empowered by ensuring the Right to Equality mentioned in the Constitution of India.
Giving priority to the gender equality facilitates women empowerment all over the country. To get the high level goal of women empowerment, it should be promoted from the childhood in each and every family. It needs women to be strong physically, mentally and socially. Since the better education can be started at home from childhood, the upliftment of women needs healthy family to bring a holistic development of the nation. Still in many backward areas, there is a trend of early marriage and childbirth because of the poverty, insecurity and illiteracy of the parents. In order to empower women, various steps have been taken by the government to prevent violence, social separation, gender discrimination and abuse against women.
108th Constitutional Amendment Bill (also called Women’s Reservation Bill) was passed to reserve one-third of the seats for women only in the Lok Sabha to make them actively involved in every area. In other fields also the seats for women have been reserved for their active participation without any limitation and competition. Various mass campaigns need to be organized in the backward rural areas to make them aware about the real values of women and all the facilities available by the government for their bright future. They need to be promoted for the survival and proper education of female child to really bring the dream of women empowerment come true.
Women Empowerment Essay 6 (400 words)
Gender inequality is the main social issue in India in which women are getting back in the male dominated country. Women empowerment needs to take a high speed in this country to equalize the value of both genders. Uplifting of women in all means should be the utmost priority of the nation. Inequalities between men and women in the society generate lots of problems which become a big obstruction in the way to success of nation. It is the birth rights of the women to get equal value to the men in the society. To really bring empowerment, every woman needs to be aware about their rights from their own end. They need to take positive steps and involve in every activities instead of only involving in the household chores and family responsibilities. They should know about all the happenings in their surroundings and country.
Women empowerment has the power to change many things in the society and country. They are much better than men to deal with certain problems in the society. They can better understand the disadvantages of the overpopulation for their family and country. They are fully able to handle the economic conditions of the family and country through proper family planning. Women are capable enough to handle any impulsive violence in comparison to the men whether in the family or society.
Through women empowerment, it can be possible to change the male dominated country into the equally dominated country of rich economy. Empowering women may easily help to grow each and every member of the family without any extra effort. A woman is considered to be responsible for everything in the family so she can better solve all the problems from her own end. Empowerment of the women would automatically bring empowerment of everyone.
Women empowerment is the better treatment of any big or small problems related to human being, economy or environment. In few last years, the advantages of the women empowerment are coming out in front of us. Women are being more conscious about their health, education, career, job and responsibilities towards family, society and country. They are taking part in the every area and showing their great interest in each field. Finally, after long years of hard struggle they are getting their rights to go ahead on the right track.
Women Empowerment Essay 7 (800 words) (Long Essay)
What is Women Empowerment
Women empowerment can be defined in very simple words that it is making women powerful so that they can take their own decisions regarding their lives and well being in the family and society. It is empowering women to make them able to get their real rights in the society.
Why Need of Women Empowerment in India
As we all know that India is a male dominated country where males are dominated in every area and females are forced to be responsible for only family care and live in the home including other many restrictions. Almost 50% of the population in India is covered by the female only so the full development of the country depends on the half population means women, who are not empowered and still restricted by many social taboos. In such condition, we cannot say that our country would be a developed in the future without empowering its half population means women. If we want to make our country a developed country, first of all it is very necessary to empower women by the efforts of men, government, laws and women too.
The need of women empowerment arose because of the gender discrimination and male domination in the Indian society since ancient time. Women are being suppressed by their family members and society for many reasons. They have been targeted for many types of violence and discriminatory practices by the male members in the family and society in India and other countries as well. Wrong and old practices for the women in the society from ancient time have taken the form of well developed customs and traditions. There is a tradition of worshipping many female goddesses in India including giving honour to the women forms in the society like mother, sister, daughter, wife and other female relatives or friends. But, it does not mean that only respecting or honouring women can fulfil the need of development in the country. It needs the empowerment of the rest half population of the country in every walk of life.
India is a famous country proving the common proverb like ‘unity is diversity’, where people of many religious beliefs are in the Indian society. Women have been given a special place in every religion which is working as a big curtain covering the eyes of people and help in the continuation of many ill practices (including physical and mental) against women as a norm since ages. In the ancient Indian society, there was a custom of sati pratha, nagar vadhu system, dowry system, sexual violence, domestic violence, female infanticide, parda pratha, wife burning, sexual harassment at work place, child marriage, child labour, devadashi pratha, etc including other discriminatory practices. All such type of ill practices is because of male superiority complex and patriarchal system of the society.
Socio-political rights (right to work, right to education, right to decide for themselves, etc) for the women were completely restricted by the male members of family. Some of the ill practices against women have been eliminated by the open minded and great Indian people who raise their voices for the discriminatory practices against women. Through the continuous efforts of the Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Britishers were forced to eliminate the ill practice of Sati paratha. Later, other famous social reformers of the India (Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, Acharya Vinoba Bhave, Swami Vivekananda, etc) also had raised their voices and worked hard for the upliftment of women in Indian society. In India, the Widow Remarriage Act, 1856 was initiated by the continuous efforts of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar in order to improve the conditions of widows in the country.
In the recent years, various constitutional and legal rights have been implemented by the government of India in order to eliminate ill practices and gender discrimination against women. However, in order to solve such a big issue, the continuous effort of everyone including women is required. Modern society is being more aware about the women rights which results in the increasing number of several self-help groups, NGOs, etc working in this direction. Women are being more open minded and breaking the societal barriers in order to achieve their rights in all dimensions even after crimes are going side by side.
Some of the acts passed by the Parliament are Equal Remuneration Act-1976, Dowry Prohibition Act-1961, Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act-1956, Medical termination of Pregnancy Act-1971, Maternity Benefit Act-1961, Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act-1987, Prohibition of Child Marriage Act-2006, Pre-Conception & Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act-1994, Sexual Harassment of Women at Work Place (Prevention, Protection and) Act-2013, etc in order to empower women with legal rights.
In order to provide safety to women and reduce crime against women in India, government has passed another act Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill, 2015 (especially after Nirbhaya case when an accused juvenile was released). This act is the replacement earlier Indian juvenile delinquency law of 2000 (Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000) in order to reduce the juvenile age from 18 to 16 years in cases of heinous offenses.
In order to really bring women empowerment in the Indian society, it needs to understand and eliminate the main cause of the ill practices against women which are patriarchal and male dominated system of the society. It needs to be open-minded and change the old mind set against women together with the constitutional and other legal provisions.
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