It has been surveyed that 45% of the work in our community is done by women, and yet 75% of all women live below the poverty line. The fact  that   most world leaders,  politicians,  and executives  fail to realize, that women can do as well as men, and more women are available for training and employment in a skilled and professional group.

For  centuries women have been treated as inferior  beings throughout the world. This in spite of being 50%-60% of the total population,  and regardless of the state of the country. This situation has caused immense loss to their self-dignity as human beings and also their independence relative to men.

At the very cradle of civilization,  in many older cultures, women enjoyed a respectable position in society; at  par with men. They actively participated in social, religious affairs as well as in warfare. The social, and religious ceremonies were considered incomplete unless women participated in them. However, it was their physical constitution which acted as hurdles on the way to doing their various  tasks.

Gradually, they became dependent  on men for food,  protection for their other necessities. It was due to the strong built-up of men they risked their lives in course of hunting and food collection. It is really ironical that superiority is not accorded to the females who are responsible for carrying forward lives on this planet, but to men; most  of whom who have used physical power to subjugate others.

Patriarchy, the dominance of man as an ideological  stance, works on the same principle. Yet, even in ages of strict dominance by males, society has thrown up women of caliber, who could match, even surpass, the skills of men. They made great progress in various fields of life and gained significant achievements as teachers, doctors, engineers, scientists, explorers, soldiers and pilots. This achievement is really laudable because they have  achieved in a highly adverse situations at the cost of severe social criticism, indeed even  of ostracism.

Education is a great determinant in this regard. To achieve empowerment women have to be educated to be aware of their rights and privileges in a modern society. It is education which can bring about awareness in them related to their social status, injustice and any differentiation meted out to them. Besides, economic independence is a major factor which can contribute to empowering women, and this is supported  by educational achievement. ( a.m. undp paper)

Overcoming inequality and empowering women at work means understanding local contexts and devising solutions to address deprivations and constraints. These will likely include:

·     Eliminating legal and formal barriers to women’s work

·     Engaging the private sector

.     Easing religious pressure

.    Fostering female entrepreneurship

Eradicating extreme poverty is a bold target that will demand every asset we’ve got. Tackling inequality at work and unleashing women’s full economic potential—long overdue—will almost certainly be a game-changer.

Jamaica’s  Prime Minister, Portia Simpson Miller, accepted an EU award in Brussels for the progress of women’s Empowerment  in Jamaica.

President of the EU- Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) Foundation, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, who made the presentation to the Prime Minister, noted that 28 per cent of the country’s mayors and 56 per cent of Permanent Secretaries are females. In addition females dominate top positions such as Chief Justice, accountant general and other top public posts.

Other winners in the category of political empowerment are Rwanda, for Women in Parliament; and Ireland for number of years with Female Head of State. Iceland was named the Global Winner in Closing the Gender Gap. (press report, Jamaica).

Ramesh Sujanani

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