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Jayanta Mete, Rimjim Borah and Rakesh Manna
It has been widely accepted that the goals of human development are closely intertwined with development and empowerment of women, who as an independent group, constitute 48.2% of the total population of India as per the Census 2011. Women constitute a valuable human resources and their socio-economic development is imperative for sustainable growth of the economy. This paper proposes to highlight the constitutional provisions, special laws, special schemes initiated by government in support of women’s empowerment. Major advancements of the Indian womenfolk over the years in the field of education, politics, economy and health have also been focussed herein with a view to formulating a set of future strategies for further empowering Indian women. The term ‘empowerment’ connotes a process through which people realize in themselves their full potentials and achieve control over their own lives. It ensures people the freedom to make choices and accept responsibility; valuing self and thereby, is a helping process in the development of people’s self-esteem. Empowerment is also considered as the ability to make decision about personal or collective circumstances, to access information and resources for decision-making, to exercise assertiveness in collective decision-making, to learn and access skills for improving personal or collective circumstances, to increase one’s self-image and worth and to involve in the ongoing process of development. Empowerment helps to measure people’s psychological development. It is also seen as a methodology of people’s capacity building leading to greater contributions and gains in matters surrounding them. In short, the concept of empowerment indicates increasing the political, social, economic and other strength of individuals and communities. However, the term has a broad range of meanings and definitions and its meanings may vary in relation to different concepts. The concept of empowerment has gained greater relevance and visibility when it is associated with women. As concept women’s empowerment means having their contributions recognized and valued by them and by the society. It promotes women’s inherent strength and self-image. The concept should not be misunderstood that to empower women we have to give women more power to dominate abuse and exploit others. It only demands equal partnership and due recognition in the participation of development process of the society. Simply, it refers to ability of women to assert themselves in matters relating to their lives.