This article is written by Isha Tripathi, from NMIMS, School of Law, Bengaluru and edited by Ilashri Gaur, from Teerthanker Mahaveer University (CLLS). This is an exhaustive article that discusses the concept of women empowerment and how the Indian civil society and Non-Government Organizations are contributing to strengthening women.


‘Power’ is the keyword of the term empowerment. The concept of women empowerment originates from the idea of the Brazilian educationist “Paolo Freire” empowerment as a form of development change is brought about by local problem-solving efforts and techniques. Along these lines “empowerment” is a phase of procuring power so as to comprehend one’s privileges and to play out his/her duties in the best way. 

The issue of women empowerment and advancement has become a significant theme for conversation and activity among the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in India since the time the 1975 world meeting opened the UN Decade for Women. All the while a great many NGOs began developing quickly from various ideological foundations, guaranteeing themselves as specialists of advancement. A couple of self-sufficient women’s developments additionally rose. These are for the most part urban put together sorting out women’s bunches with respect to sexual orientation issues and making mindfulness about women‟s subordinate positions and abusive behavior at home. Presumably, NGOs, for the most part, saw women’s improvement as family situated government assistance programs, and income generation exercises to enhance the pay of the family.

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The civil society movements and organizations have a principal job propelling women’s privileges: impacting the dynamic at the national level, ensuring the turn of events, and execution of correspondence strategies. Women’s civil society assumes a key job in propelling gender equality and women’s empowerment (GEEW). Fortifying the limits of women’s polite society straightforwardly expands its capacity to successfully advocate for the privileges of the women and advance the GEEW plan. Lawful and strategy changes are, obviously, a decent reason for the change, however, should be executed and implemented. This is basic for land laws and strategies yet in addition to laws identified with legacy, marriage, separation, and abusive behavior at home towards the women. Civil society backing is significant for making change parents in law and approaches and for seeing through their execution by helping governments to remember their duties.

Dimensions of women empowerment

Empowerment is a functioning, multi-dimensional procedure that empowers women to understand their latent capacity and powers in all circles of life. Force isn’t aware to be executed rather it must be obtained and once gained it should be worked out, supported, and protected. Strengthening is the illumination and there is no improvement without edification; it is the personal satisfaction estimated not regarding rising cash salaries or longer life expectancies alone, or maybe by the self-governance and security delighted in by ladies all over the place. Strengthening of women covers financial independence, awareness in the society, and in the political world.

These elements can be categorized as:

Economic Empowerment

All the neediness mitigation programs were focussed on women as they were monetarily more distraught than men and as their childhood and mainstreaming are basic for the monetary improvement of a country. Monetary development is only making ladies mindful about their role and significance in the economic development of events and give them space to achieve money related autonomy and record their huge commitments to the creation process. Economic development is a procedure just as a phase that is to be reached by structuring systems concentrating on building credit value and budgetary autonomy among ladies by expelling all the sexual orientation explicit hindrances that keep ladies from accessing their legitimate offer in each circle of life. Rustic ladies have less access to the assets to produce stable earnings. 

Household pay is a helpless proportion of women’s government assistance in light of the fact that the circulation of pay inside the family may be very inconsistent. Different investigations of intrahousehold asset assignments show that in numerous districts of the world, there exists a solid inclination against women in zones, for example, nourishment, clinical consideration, instruction, and legacy. Thus, economic empowerment is a fundamental condition for empowering women to look for equity and correspondence on the grounds that, without financial quality, women can’t have the option to practice their privileges and qualifications. Without sensible salary security, individuals need a genuine opportunity to settle on reasonable decisions and to turn out to be socially capable. Without group and individual voices, the defenseless will remain that way.

The dynamic association/investment of ladies in lively gatherings like SHGs (Self Help Groups), NHGs (Neighbourhood Groups), and so forth empowers them to understand the objective of strengthening. The legislature of India, having understood the force and capability of the self-improvement bunch approach, has begun assembling the helpless ladies into self-improvement gatherings. The ongoing examinations on improvement issues demonstrated that the feasible improvement can be made conceivable by making ladies a similarly significant worldview of the advancement procedure.

Social Empowerment 

Social empowerment implies an increasingly fair economic wellbeing for women in the public eye on the grounds that the essential duty of any human culture is to guarantee human respect to all individuals. It is regularly contended that encouraging women’s access to money isn’t a powerful method for accomplishing women empowerment except if it is connected to different sorts of exercises like preparing on familiarity with the effect of women’s subjection, the idea of confidence, and on the importance and advantages of engaging women. The way to deal with gender equality depends on the acknowledgment that all meditations for women must guarantee a domain liberated from all types of brutality against ladies and guarantee the interest furthermore, the satisfactory portrayal of ladies at most noteworthy arrangement levels.

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It is pertinent to note that, National Policy on Education–1986 recommends encouragement of the strengthening of women through the agency of education and it is regarded as a milestone in the way to deal with women’s training. The National Literacy Mission is another step towards the eradication of illiteracy in the age group of 15-35 years by the year 1988. The vision of the Eleventh Plan (2007-2012) is to guarantee that every woman and child of the country is able to evolve and advance maximum capacity and offer the advantages of development and flourishing through a participatory methodology that enables them and makes them accomplices in their own development. 

At the point when women gain a voice in a dynamic that is to be begun inside the family, they would be in a situation to make choices for improving their poor financial status. They start to change gender relations thus they are to be treated as equivalent accomplices in dynamic and execution instead of recipients. In any case, women expanded cooperation at the choice causing the level to must be said to prompt their expanded turn of events and strengthening if such support empowers them to accomplish more prominent control over elements of creation, access to assets, and the appropriation of advantages. 

Gathering or aggregate procedure consistently offers help for strengthening as it opens its individuals to nearby systems and this social collaboration results in mindfulness about neighborhood real factors which additionally encourages them to beat the obstructions for getting to the assets.

Political Empowerment 

Political empowerment is a method that empowers women to build their versatility and break their confinement to build up their self-assurance and mental self-portrait and to set up their open nearness whereby they take part in dynamic in a growing system of mindfulness and basic investigation to control and impact the course of improvement. 

Political uniformity incorporates an equivalent option to the establishment as well as more critically, the option to access the systematized focuses of intensity. Investment of Women in Panchayati Raj Institutions has been perceived as a stage towards correspondence. Today, one of the issues of concern is the degree of women’s support in political life. Political interest incorporates the option to cast a ballot, right to challenge, right to candidature, their job as ladies as campaigners, individuals, what’s more, their association in the dynamic procedure, and appointment of women at all levels of government.

Holding seats for women in the political establishments will give them a chance to raise their complaints and other related individual and social issues in a proper way. The cooperation of women in the discretionary procedure is a pointer of their political cognizance just as their desire for a status upgrade. The figures concerning women’s normal support have been pretty much consistently growing over the years through different races as voters and as up-and-comers and as far as interest in battling. The quantity of women getting chosen for the delegate body has been consistently expanding.

Five Year Plans set up in India for Women Empowerment 

In India, right from the beginning of Five Year Planning (1951-56), there has been an undertaking towards the improvement of women. Any surveillance of the financial status of women must be finished taking insight of the significant movements in the methodology towards ladies’ prosperity from government assistance during the fifties to advancement in the seventies and to strengthening during the nineties.

The Ninth Plan (1997-02) rolled out two critical improvements in the reasonable procedure of making arrangements for women’s development. First, the arrangement endeavored to strengthen women. Second, it coordinated both the middle and the states to receive the uncommon system of Women’s Component Plan (WCP) through which at least 30 percent of assets/benefits are relied upon to stream to ladies from all broad improvement segments. The Tenth Five Year Plan (2002-07) proceeded with the system and it is just because in the Eleventh Plan (2007-12) women were perceived as equivalent residents as well as specialists of monetary and social development. The arrangement proposed for a progressively all-encompassing perspective on women’s jobs in the family and society and along these lines attempting to get ladies the standard of the country building process.

The two significant occasions in the deliberate change of women in the post-independence period are:

  • The Ninth Plan recommendation of the speedy reception of the National Policy for women empowerment.
  • Democratic decentralization through the 73rd and 74th amendments to the constitution. The aforesaid amendments ensured that through the arrangement of reservation, women could involve almost 33% of the absolute seats in the chosen bodies. All these are certain indications of development producing expected results to some extent. 

NGO in women empowerment

Women’s Empowerment has been the essential concentration for both government and most NGOs. Deliberate activity advanced by NGOs occupied with improvement assumes a noteworthy job towards country improvement which is subordinate to the dynamic support of the volunteers through Non-Government Organizations (NGOs). The various roles of NGOs include education and organization of rural women, supplementation of the efforts made by the government, ensuring women’s involvement in their empowerment, mobilization of resources, providing effective and efficient training to women in the tribal and rural areas, etc.

Types of intervention in the empowerment of Women 

Gender discrimination segregation is an underlying driver of craving and neediness. Women and young girls face a lifetime of minimization, frequently fortified by savagery or the danger of viciousness. As called attention to 40 years prior by Ester Boserup, improvement exercises that neglect to convey most of their contributions to females are really compounding the situation by broadening the gender discrimination role. Progress is being made, especially through expanding young girl’s enlistment. Extremely little advancement, in any case, has been made in other basic parts, for example, a woman’s wellbeing and sustenance, salary age, and having a voice in the choices that influence her life.

Here are some indispensable mediations that are having any kind of effect:

  • Gender Analysis: Most often, gender is an untimely idea in a venture plan. Undertakings that mean to incorporate women are intended to work inside an overarching society that points of interest to men and presents various deterrents to women’s cooperation—not the least of which is women’s’ triple weight of pay age, resource cultivating and thinking about the family.
  • Equal Leadership: Women are denied a voice in decision making. The most ideal approach to change this condition is to uncompromisingly require that in any event 50 percent of authority positions be held for ladies: from villages and town chambers to parliaments.
  • Right Awareness: A considerable lot of the world’s most women are kept to their family units. They need versatility and opportunity of affiliation and have no chance to become familiar with their privileges and make a move to improve their lives and those of their relatives.
  • Reducing drudgery: women don’t possess energy for improvement. They are the first to rise and the last to hit the hay, taking a shot at normal double the long stretches of men, regularly with the most backbreaking work: pulling water and kindling, beating grain, wedding ranches utilizing in need of help diggers and with youngsters on their back, head-conveying produce to market and filling in as workers. Innovation is possibly fitting on the off chance that it is suitable for women. Interests in childcare focus, grain factories, wheeled trucks, close-by water supplies, and feasible woodlots can save women the ideal opportunity for preparing, authority, and new ventures.
  • Functional Adult Literacy: A large number of women have never had the chance of formal education. Women are twice as prone to be non-proficient as men. Education is more than ability obtaining; it is the recovery of self-governing selfhood and office. This implies women encountering themselves as creators of history as opposed to their casualties. It implies they can abstain from being cheated in the commercial center, learn unquestionably more quickly, and associate and end up in the incredible flows of human talk around the world.
  • Health Services: Access to moderate wellbeing administrations is a key human ideal for women and their kids, a right that is out of reach for hundreds of millions of women. The absence of pre-birth care and labor can be deadly. Most women are obliged by the separation they can stroll to and fro in a day with their youngster—which means it is essentially significant that human services be inside 10 kilometers, including conceptive wellbeing and prenatal consideration, nourishment preparing and micronutrient supplements.
  • Financial Services: Various examinations show that when ladies control cash, it is unquestionably bound to put resources into the wellbeing, sustenance, and training of youngsters than when men control the cash. Furthermore, in societies where ladies, in any event, contacting cash has been a no-no, the obvious nearness of ladies as monetary players in the network, to the advantage of all, catalyzes progress towards social and political uniformity.
  • Halting Child Marriage: Marriage before age 18 is a significant infringement of human rights. It stops a young girl’s instruction and the opportunity of decision. It likewise frequently costs her life, on the grounds that early pregnancy is the main source of maternal mortality. As women have sorted out and picked up voices, they have focused on stopping kid marriage. Mindfulness crusades are combined with direct activity to intercede and stop youngster marriage.
  • Prosecuting gender-based violence: In numerous societies, abusive behavior at home (counting assault, interbreeding, and murder) is endemic and consistently happens without any potential repercussions. Women’s appearances are ignited with corrosive when they scorn sentimental advances; respect killings happen if women become hopelessly enamored. In numerous territories, if a lady were to report misuse or assault at a police headquarters, she might be assaulted again or detained for having had unlawful sex.

Important case laws

The Indian judiciary has played a crucial role in framing and interpreting the law to uphold women’s rights and dignity in India, resulting in several landmark judgments. The Indian legal executive including the High Courts of the states and the Apex Court i.e. the Supreme Court have, consistently, conveyed decisions that sustain the dignity and freedom and rights of the women. The dynamic decisions conveyed by these courts, since Independence, have helped and, here and there, convinced the Indian official and the lawmaking body to outline laws to sustain the rights of the women.

Vishakha and others v. State of Rajasthan

In Vishakha and others v. State of Rajasthan, a program was initiated by the state government of Rajasthan which mainly focused on the most practiced social evil in Rajasthan i.e. “Child Marriage”. Bhanwari Devi, a lady social worker was a part of this campaign. As an aspect of the responsibilities of her job, she worked straightforwardly with the families engaged in this social event and reported cases to the police when critical follow-up activity was required. This included one specific case, where Bhanwari revealed a family from the Gujjar community to the police. This Gujjar family was planning the marriage of a one-year-old child. Pestered with the intercession, the family opposed Bhanwari. In the wake of endeavoring to alienate her from her community, five men including the head of the Gujjar family, Ramakant Gujjar-went to her home. Her husband was assaulted and controlled, while she was gang-raped.

Determined to seek justice, she and her husband went to the police and filed a complaint but shockingly, the trial court acquitted all the five accused. Vishaka, a Group for Women’s Education and Research, took up the cause of Bhanwari Devi. It united with four other women’s organizations and filed a writ petition under the steady gaze of the Supreme Court of India on the issue of sexual harassment at the workplace to enforce the fundamental rights of working women under Articles 14, 19, and 21 of the Indian Constitution. On August 13, 1997, the Supreme Court commissioned the Vishaka guidelines that characterized inappropriate behavior and put the onus on the businesses to give a protected workplace to women.

Laxmi v. Union of India and others

Laxmi v. Union of India is a landmark case in which the victim was an acid attack survivor who brought a PIL that was issued by the court and that issued guidelines for the amelioration of the acid attack survivors. This Verdict was delivered by the Supreme court of India in April 2015  and it imposed strict restrictions on the sale of acids and provided compensation to the survivors.

Before this verdict of the Supreme court, there was no ban on the sale of acid on counters as well as the compensation provided by the government was not sufficient. An acid attack survivor has prolonged effect of such an act which includes perpetual torture, permanent damage, and other problems for the rest of her life. Hence, to minimize such acid attacks on women the state decided to give remorseful punishment to the wrong-doers. Earlier the acid attacks were not reported but after this landmark case, many severe acid assault cases came to light and many survivors were able to seek justice.

Lillu v. State Of Haryana

In Lillu v. State Of Haryana (2013), the mental pain and suffering of the victim were taken into consideration and the two-finger test that the victim had to go through to give her character certification was removed. On the basis of various precedents, the court held that the test was a violation of the victim’s right to privacy and dignity. The court held that rape survivors are qualified for a legitimate plan of action that doesn’t re-damage them or abuse their physical or mental respectability and nobility. They are additionally qualified for clinical methodology led in a way that regards their entitlement to assent. Clinical strategies ought not to be completed in a way that establishes coldblooded, barbaric, or debasing treatment, and wellbeing ought to be of vital thought while dealing with sex-based viciousness.

Mary Roy v. State of Kerala

In Mary Roy v. State of Kerala, a woman named Mary Roy who belonged to the Syrian Christian community was denied an equal share of his father’s property because of male-centric conventions. She was a woman’s rights activist and educator and challenged this decree. After the death of her father, she recorded a body of evidence against her elder sibling when she was denied an equivalent offer in the family’s legacy. In spite of the fact that the supplication was dismissed by the lower court, the Kerala High Court overruled the past judgment. In 1986, the Supreme Court conveyed a milestone judgment that allowed Syrian Christian ladies the option to look for an equivalent offer in their dad’s property. 

Lata Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh

In Lata Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh, Lata Singh was an adult woman who left her family home to participate in marriage with a man from a lower caste. Her siblings, who were discontent with the marriage, recorded a missing individual report and affirmed Lata had been snatched. This brought about the capture of three individuals from her husband’s family. So as to get the charges dropped, Lata Singh documented an appeal which brought about the milestone judgment by the Supreme Court that permitted a grown-up lady the option to wed or live with anybody of her decision. The court additionally requested that the police start criminal activity against individuals who carry out viciousness against the individuals who choose between strict or between standing relationships.

Role of civil societies: Inclusive approach

Indian civil society can be described in three ways: 

(a) civil society as a sphere between the family and state, 

(b) civil society is also regarded as an “institution”, 

(c) civil society is regarded as the third sphere, the other two being the state and market. 

As per this definition, civil society is considered to be those institutions that are directed neither by power motive nor by the profit motive. It is a domain that is mostly guided by the common welfare of the society and that is inspired by the service and well being of the order. Women empowerment is important because there are many problems which the Indian women face in today’s time and it is now high time for the Indian women to fight for their rights and freedom.

An example of civil society’s contribution to women’s empowerment is Seva Mandir. This is a civil society organization that has been working in South Rajasthan for the last 40 years and works for the welfare of tribal men and women. It has played a very important role in strengthening women. It has been working with inborn women at the town, the square, and the area level. It has made self-help groups for women and furthermore selected gram sahyoginis who assume a significant job in sorting out the women in these areas.


The women who are privileged, wish to help strengthen other women deprived of the social evils and empower them. Such women and men associate with Non-Government organizations and civil society Organizations whose agenda is closely interconnected with their ideology. Profit and freedom for women must be the most essential mission of these women-driven NGOs. Although existing dynamic governmental policy regarding minorities in society programs help numerous people of various segments accomplish social and budgetary status in India by giving section into the elite profession and the political field, more consideration ought to be paid to the instruction and strengthening of immature and defenseless women in rustic territories.

Governments and volunteers can put forth an attempt to guarantee that more women, particularly those from in reverse districts, get advanced education and preparation in relational abilities and are enrolled to chip in. Besides, there is a requirement for open help to empower more extensive dispersion of a portion of the key subjects that are a piece of the women’s activist points of view, in particular, worry for value and social equity. Thus the role of NGOs towards the empowerment of women is very crucial in the Indian scenario.


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