For time immemorial women in general been forced to occupy a secondary place in relation to men. Women have been relegated to the margins in spite of the fact that they are numerically half of the world's population.
This has resulted in women being unable to take a place of human dignity as free and independent entities associated with men on an intellectual and professional equal wavelength.
In the ancient period women were known to engage in many productive activities but over the time reproduction and challenges of pregnancy and childbirth gradually made her dependent on men for protection and food.
By the time mankind reached more settled existence patriarchy was fully established. The men were to write the codes of the society and governance where women were given subordinate role. The men projected the dominant viewpoint as universal truth. Yet even in the ages of strict dominance by males society has thrown up women of caliber who could match even surpass the skills of men. The visible achievements of women as teachers, doctors, pilots, politicians and explorers etc. have demolished the patriarchal notions of confining women's role to home and hearth. But these achievements have been made mostly at individual levels at times when women faced discrimination and criticism at all levels.
It is easier to see how detrimental to progress it is to restrict women to specified roles and subordinate them to men. Even to raise children in today's environment to make them fit to face the challenges of a competitive future a woman needs to be fully aware of her choices and decision-making.
The need for women's empowerment is felt because of the status they have in society since the beginning. There is a need to redefine the status of women in the society.A change can be brought through the constitution and supportive legislations.The Constitution of India gives a women status equal to men. There have been attempts to reserve seats for women in political bodies. This is no doubt a step in the right direction. Women have the ability to judge for themselves and take right decisions. However merely allowing for reservation of women in Panchayat and legislative bodies without empowering women individually falls short of actual emancipation. Women have been excluded from centers of power as a result of systematic conspiracy by patriarchal thought most common in India Khap Panchayat that has relegated women to an allotted and confined space. A reorientation of our attitudes towards women has to be carefully guided for their real emancipation from the patriarchal domination.
The impoverished and illiterate status of most women in society is due to their inability to attain sufficient levels of economic power. To sustain any level of empowerment women have to be educated to be aware of their rights and privileges in a modern society. It is only when they become aware of their status in society that they will be able to take full advantage of the concessions offered to them as a corrective measure.
Women empowerment has to begin with women's active participation. Unless women throw off the shackles that ignore their talent, skill and spirit women through education and economic self-reliance, cannot be empowered. Unless they are empowered to take a decisive part in the social, political and economic life of the country the very development of the country will be lop-sided.