MAHILA SANATKAR : A CASE STUDY IN WOMEN EMPOWERMENT – BY Himani Saharan

“Women Empowerment” has been a much discussed and debated term in today’s era. While almost everyone understands the importance and need of it, the ways/methods to empower women are perceived differently by all. Therefore, it is important to first understand the term “Women Empowerment”.

The term empowerment refers to measures designed to increase the degree of autonomy and self-determination in people and in communities in order to enable them to represent their interests in a responsible and self-determined way, acting on their own authority. It is the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one’s life and claiming one’s rights. (Wikipedia: Empowerment)

Literally the term women empowerment thereby itself refers to the empowering of women in all aspects where women are independent and empowered enough to take their own decisions and are able to claim their rights.

The empowerment and autonomy of women and the improvement of their political, social, economic and health status is a highly important end in itself. In addition, it is essential for the achievement of sustainable development. The full participation and partnership of both women and men is required in productive and reproductive life, including shared responsibilities for the care and nurturing of children and maintenance of the household. (United Nations Population Fund)

In India, women empowerment has been on the rise since past few years. The Constitution of India itself provides that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and that everyone is entitled to all rights and freedom without any discrimination on the basis of color, caste or sex.

Women empowerment and women rights have always been prioritized by the framers of the Indian Constitution. The situation has thereby considerably evolved, however, much needs to be done yet.

“Mahila Sanatkar” is an important study in order to understand this evolution and to understand the various ways by which women can be empowered, making them financially independent being an important one.

Mahila Sanatkar is a mutually aided cooperative located in Hyderabad with 50 active members spread in 8 production centers. The name of the cooperative comes from the junction two Indian Mahila means women in Hindi, and Sanatkar comes from Urdu, another widespread language in India, and means industrialist. The junction of the words means “Industrialist Women”. The organization was founded in 1999 as an initiative of COVA promoting inclusion of women through an enterprise approach and trainings in handicrafts such as tailoring, design workshops, tailoring courses, and hand embroidery among others. Promoting innovation in design and products, introducing entrepreneurship and managerial concerns to the craftswomen are also part of the agenda.

The initiative had a considerable success into promoting awareness campaigns, literacy programs, and advocacy through events such as women’s day celebrations. MS has also achieved meaningful results in terms enhancing voice and mobility of beneficiaries, their self esteem in broad sense. (https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/ca90/4c8cc58192b9ec7d0ea5122b6110291793d1.pdf)

Therefore, we’ve definitely come a long way empowering the women in our society but still have a long way to go.

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