Achieving Women Empowerment Through ICT: Case of a Government Initiative in India

Achieving Women Empowerment Through ICT: Case of a Government Initiative in India

Swati Singh (School of Management Studies, University of Hyderabad, India) and Sita Vanka (School of Management Studies, University of Hyderabad, India)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2819-8.ch006

Abstract

While research in the past establishes the important role of women empowerment in improving several economic and socio-economic indicators, achieving women empowerment remains a distant dream. This chapter discusses the role played by information and communication technologies (ICT) in promoting women empowerment. It highlights the empowerment dynamics and their adverse impact on empowerment with the scrutiny of related models. It attempts to broaden the understanding related to the impact of ICT by discussing the direct and indirect impacts of ICT interventions. In addition, it highlights the role of ICT in women empowerment with the help of a case study. The case presented here peculiarly emphasises the crucial role played by government agency in implementing strategic interventions for women empowerment through the case of Raj Mahila Suraksha initiative by Government of Rajasthan, India.
Chapter Preview
Top

Introduction

Women empowerment is elemental to development- it is one standalone objective which assists the realization of various vital objectives of growth and development. The significance of women empowerment and gender equality has been recognized across the world. One of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) or Agenda 2030 laid down by United Nations has been women empowerment which proves its significance in the process of sustainable transformation (UN, 2015). Often, a set of terms such as choice, control and power are used to define empowerment. These terms usually relate to the women’s ability to make decisions and affect the outcomes of activities that concerns them and their families. Hence, women empowerment has been linked with women’s ability to have influence over external actions that concern their wellbeing and welfare (Batliwala, 1994; Sen,1993). Further, “self-agency “is an important aspect of women empowerment, whereby women should be the agent of change for herself. Simply put, women should be able to define herself and take appropriate decisions. She should consider herself able and entitled to make choices and decisions. Empowerment, thus, implies control and ability to have choices. It includes freedom, aims at increasing potential and focuses on capacity building. According to World Bank (2012), empowerment is the process of increasing the capacity of individuals or groups to make choices and to transform those choices into desired actions and outcomes.

In addition, women empowerment should be seen, discussed and measured with the understanding of socio-cultural, political and economic context with in which it is shaped. It is important to note that, many a time gender inequality at different levels, in different social contexts is typically experienced as “natural” and “normal”. For example, in a patriarchal set up, women internalize their subordinate status and consider themselves as individuals of lesser value. Due to such internalization their sense and entitlement towards their rights and choices gets diminished. These socio-cultural contexts are important while understanding gender inequality and nuances of women empowerment. Primarily, women can be empowered on economic, psychological, interpersonal, legal, political and socio-cultural dimensions (please see appendix 1). However, it is interesting to note that women empowerment on these dimensions vary in the scope and includes different levels of aggregation. For example, the economic empowerment of women may vary from the household level to the macro level with women’s control over her income to women’s participation in economic policy formulation of the country. While having women empowered at the top positions with more power to impact larger group looks paramount, the household empowerment is equally critical due to its cumulative value, ie. women empowered in each household will eventually result in an empowered society/ nation. Research evidence that empowerment on any one dimension does not guarantee women empowerment in the real sense. For example, having a job at hand ensures economic empowerment of women, however in many cases women are denied control over the money earned by them. Furthermore, it has also been observed that in conservative societies, women with paid income are viewed as less submissive and hence husbands/families may resort to violence to restrict women from being economically independent (Mason, 2005).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Empowerment Dynamics: Complexities involved in the process of empowerment due to the presence of power relations and hierarchy.

Self-Agency: An important aspect of women empowerment, which emphasizes that women should be the agent of change for herself.

Women Empowerment: Women’s ability to make decisions and affect the outcomes of activities that concerns them and their families.

Violence Against Women: Act of gender-based violence that results in physical or psychological harm or both, it includes sexism, workplace sexual harassment, rape, domestic violence, and psychological violence.

Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs): Set of complex and heterogeneous electronic services, applications, and equipment used to produce, process, and disseminate information.

Empowerment: Process of increasing the capacity of individuals or groups to make choices and to transform those choices into desired actions and outcomes.

Women’s Safety Measures: Strategic practices and policy interventions undertaken to reduce gender-based violence.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book:
Reset