Hurdles to Women Empowerment

In the context of women and development, empowerment must include more choices for women to make on their own. Without gender equality and empowerment .the country could not be just and social change wouldn’t occur.

BySanjenbam Jugeshwor Singh

Updated 9 Mar 2024, 1:44 am

Representational Image (Photo: Pixabay)
Representational Image (Photo: Pixabay)

Women empowerment is the process in which women elaborate and recreate what it is that they can be, do and accomplish in a circumstance that they previously were denied. Empowerment can be defined in many ways, however when talking about women’s empowerment, empowerment means accepting and allowing people (women) who are on the outside  of the decision –making process into it. This puts a strong emphasis on participation in political structures and formal decision-making and in the economic sphere on the ability to obtain an income that enables participation in economic decision –making.

Empowerment is the process that creates power in individuals over their own lives, society and in their communities. People (women) are empowered when they are able to access the opportunities available to them without limitations and restrictions such as in education, profession and lifestyle. Empowerment includes the action of raising the status of women through education, raising awareness, literacy and training.

Women’s empowerment is all about equipping and allowing women to make life-determining decisions through the different problems in society. Alternatively it is the process for women to redefine gender roles that allows for them to acquire the ability to choose between known alternatives who have otherwise been restricted from such an ability. There are several principles defining women’s empowerment such as for one to be empowered, they must come from a position of disempowerment.

Furthermore, one must acquire empowerment themselves rather than have it given to them by an external party. Empowerment and disempowerment is relative to others at a previous time; therefore empowerment is a process not a product. Women empowerment has become significant in development and economics. It can also point to the approaches regarding other trivialized genders in particular political or social context. Women’s economic empowerment refers to the ability for women to enjoy their right to control and benefit from the resources, assets, income and their own time as well as the ability to manage risk and improve their economic status and wellbeing.

Entire nations, businesses, communities and groups can benefit from implementation of programs and policies that adopt the notion of women empowerment. Empowerment of women is necessary for the very development of a society, since it enhances both the quality and quantity of human resources available for development. Empowerment is one of the main procedural concerns when addressing human rights and development. Women empowerment and achieving gender equity is essential for our society to ensure the sustainable development of the country.


Many World leaders and scholars have argued that sustainable development is impossible without gender equality and women empowerment. Sustainable development accepts environmental protection, social and economic development and without women’s empowerment, women wouldn’t feel equally important to the process of development as men. It is widely believed that the full participation of both men and women is critical for development. Only acknowledging men’s participation will not be beneficial to sustainable development.

In the context of women and development, empowerment must include more choices for women to make on their own. Without gender equality and empowerment .the country could not be just and social change wouldn’t occur. Therefore scholars agree that women’s empowerment plays a huge role in development and is one of the significant contributions of development. Without the equal inclusion of women in development, women would not be able to benefit or contribute to the development of the country.  

Many of the barriers to women’s empowerment and equity lie ingrained in cultural norms. Many women feel these pressures, while others have become accustomed to being treated inferior to men. Even legislatures, NGOs etc. are aware of the benefits of women’s empowerment and participation however many are scared of disrupting the status of the women and continue to let societal norms get in the way of development.

Research shows that the increasing access to the internet can also result in an increased exploitation of women. Releasing personal information on websites has put some women’s personal safety at risk. In 2010, Working to Halt Online Abuse stated that 73 per cent of women were victimized through such sites. Types of victimization include cyber stalking harassment, online pornography and flaming. Sexual harassment in particular is a large barrier for women in the workplace. It appears in almost all Industries but is most notable in- business, trade, banking and finance, sales and marketing, hospitality, civil services and education, lecturing and teaching.

According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), sexual harassment is a clear form of gender discrimination based on sex, a manifestation of unequal power relations between men and women. Furthermore, in UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) is urging for increased measure of protection for women against sexual harassment and violence in the workplace. 54 per cent had experienced some form of workplace sexual harassment. 79 per cent of the victims are women; 21 per cent were men. Recent studies also show that women face more barriers in the workplace than men do.

Gender-related barrier involve sexual harassment, unfair hiring practices, career progression and unequal pay where women are paid less than men are for the performing the same job. When taking median earnings of men and women who worked full-time, year-round, government data from 2014 showed that women made 0.79 US dollar for every dollar a man earned. The average earnings for working mothers came out to even less than 0.71 dollar a father made, according to a 2014 study conducted by National Partnership for women and children. While much of the public discussion of the wage gap has focused around women getting equal pay for the same work as their male peers, many women struggle with what is called the “pregnancy Penalty”.


The main problem is that it is difficult to measure but some experts say that the possibility of having a baby can be enough for employers to push women back from their line. Therefore women are put in a position where they need to make the decision of whether to maintain in the workforce or have children. This problem has sparked the debate over maternity leave in the United States and many other countries in the world. Such barriers make it difficult for women to advance in their workplace for the work they provide.

As a part of women empowerment initiatives, The National Commission for Women was set up by an Act of Parliament of India in1990 to safeguard the rights and legal entitlements of women. The 73rd and 74th amendments (1993) to the constitution of India have provided for reservation of seats in the local bodies of Panchayats and Municipalities for women, laying a strong foundation for their participation in decision making at the local levels. However, there still exists a wide gap between the goals enunciated in the Constitution, legislation, policies plans, programs and related mechanisms on the one hand and the situational reality of the status of women in India on the other.

Gender disparity manifests itself in various forms, the most obvious being the trend of continuously declining female ratio in the population in the last few decades. The underlying causes of gender inequality are related to social and economic structures which are based on informal and formal norms and practices. Consequently the access of women particularly those belonging to weaker sections including Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribes/other backward classes and minorities, majority of whom are in the rural areas and in the informal –unorganized sectors-to education, health and productive resources, among other is inadequate, therefore, they remain largely marginalized poor and socially excluded.

Girls/women who are vulnerable and marginalized and in difficult circumstances are those-impacted by violence, impacted by internal displacement, disasters and migration, domestic/bonded labor, destitute women who are homeless affected by HIV/AIDS, slum dwellers and women belonging to Ethnic & socially vulnerable communities. Taking all these facts into account, the slogan of Women’s Empowerment still continues to be the lip service of our Netas and how long it will continue is the question that many asked. 

(The views expressed are personal)


First published:


gender disparityWomen empowerment

Sanjenbam Jugeshwor Singh

Sanjenbam Jugeshwor Singh

Assistant Professor, JCRE Global College, Babupara, Imphal. The writer can be reached at sjugeshwor7@gmail.com


Top Stories

Loading data...

IFP Exclusive

Loading data...