Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Google looks to empower women in India, launches 'Help get women online' initiative

Google looks to empower women in India

The initiative aims to help 50 million additional women get online by end of 2014 by undertaking a variety of initiatives across India. To empower women even further, GoogleIndia has launched an initiative called'Helping women get online' that will encourage women in the country to use the online medium more effectively. 
At present, only one third of users who use the Internet are women.Google realises that lack of easy access to Internet, lack of knowledge on how to use the Internet and its relevance in their daily lives are some of the biggest barriers for women to get online.The initiative aims to help 50 million additional women get online by end of 2014 by undertaking a variety of initiatives across India. 
The initiative will focus on creating awareness about the benefits of Internet for women, educate women to use the Internet to improve their lives and work with partners to enable easy Internet access points for women in the country. 
In the first stage of the initiative, Google will launch a mass media campaign targeted at women and promote the specially designed website www.hwgo.com which will host content covering the very basics of Internet and special content that is relevant for women in India, available both in Hindi and English. 
Women can also call a toll free helpline number 1800 41 999 77 to get answers for any queries that they may have about the Internet. 
Yonca Brunini, the VP for Marketing Google was optimistic about this initiative. He felt that this initiative addressed humanity's greatest challenges. The initiative was piloted at a village in Bhilwara, Rajasthan. 
"With this project we successfully completed a digital literacy effort of training over 100,000 women in Bhilwara and trained them on how to use the basic applications on the Internet. The learnings from the pilot will help us to work on a framework which we will use to roll out in other parts of India. Internet as a medium can be extremely empowering for women and this is especially true for women in developing countries like India. We strongly believe that Internet can greatly benefit and transform the lives of women in India,” said Brunini. 
The program is also said to be supported by Intel, HUL and Axis Bank. Intel is also launching a mobile app called “Easy Step” for women which would be available on Android playstore.The date of release for this app has not been released. 
Google has also partnered with host of different companies who will create and share content relevant for Indian women on the www.hwgo.comhttp://www.hwgo.comwebsite. These partners include Johnson & Johnson, Indiatimes.com, Healthkart.com and Babyoye.com. 
IMRB has also come on board as the research partner for the initiative and will help track the impact of the initiative on women in India. 
The initiative could help a lot of Indian women, especially the housewives and the uneducated. With the Internet revolution underway and India's plans to overtake US in 2014 to become the second largest Internet market in the world, women empowerment through Internet is a noble and fresh idea. 
The digitally literate women can bring about a lot of change in culture, thinking and social welfare. 
To see some of the videos that speak about the changes this initiative has already managed to conquer, click here

Pilot Project in Bhilwara, Rajasthan: 

As part of the initiative, Google India concluded pilot program in the villages of Bhilwara in Rajasthan which covered girl students in the age group of 13 to 18, housewives and working women. Basic Internet training content was created in Hindi to help the women understand how they can use the Internet in their day to day lives. The activity panned across two and a half months covering over 300 educational institutes, 500 households, 50+ villages and the Bhilwara town. Women were trained on basic Internet applications such as search, videos and email. Rajiv Gandhi Seva Kendras which are government run Internet centers across Bhilwara were used for the purpose.



The principle of gender equality is enshrined in the Indian Constitution in its Preamble, Fundamental Rights, Fundamental Duties and Directive Principles. The Constitution not only grants equality to women, but also empowers the state to adopt measures of positive discrimination in favour of women. ‘Empowerment’ may be described as a process which helps people to assert their control over the factors which affect their lives. Empowerment of women means developing them as more aware individuals, who are politically active, economically productive and independent and are able to make intelligent discussion in matters that affect them. Present article discusses about various initiatives taken by Government of India for empowering women by analysing position of India in Gender Inequality Index and Global Gender Gap Index of United Nations. Article concludes with the note that due recognition must be given to women and society should come forward to ensure equal status for women in all spheres of life.

‘EMPOWERMENT’ MAY be described as a process which helps people to assert their control over the factors which affect their lives. Empowerment of women means developing them as more aware individuals, who are politically active, economically productive and independent and are able to make intelligent discussion in matters that affect them.

1 Women empowerment as a concept was introduced at the International women Conference in 1985 at Nairobi, which defined it as redistribution of social power and control of resources in favour of women.

2 The United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNDFW) includes the following factors in its definition of women empowerment:
• Acquiring knowledge and understanding of gender relations and the way in which these relations may be changed.
• Developing a sense of self-worth, a belief in one’s ability to secure desired changes and the right to control one’s life.

3 Batliwala (1974) defines empowerment as “the process of challenging existing power relation and of gaining greater control over the source of power”. Women’s’ empowerment is seen as the process and the result of the process of:
• Challenging the ideology of male domination and women’s subordinations.
• Enabling women to gain equal access to and control over the resources (material, human and intellectual).

(i) Empowered women define their attitude, values and behaviours in relation to their own real interest. They have autonomy because they claim their freedom from existing male hierarchies, whether they live in traditional societies or modern industrial societies.
(ii) Empowered women maintain equal mindedness. They act out roles that challenge male dominance. They respond as equals and co-operate to work towards the common good.
(iii) Empowered women use their talent to live fulfilling lives. They not only survive the harshness of their own subjugation but also transcend their subjugation.
(iv) Empowered women maintain their strength on the face of pressures from the religion and work and contribute towards the empowerment of all women.
(v) Empowered women define their values and formulate their beliefs themselves, they do not derive their sense of being from male authorities nor do they live vicariously through men.5 3 V.S. Ganeswamurthy,

5 Dimensions and Parameters of Women Empowerment 
The process of empowerment has five dimensions, viz. Cognitive, psychological, economic, political and physical:
(i) The cognitive dimension refers to women having an understanding of the conditions and causes of their subordination at the micro and macro levels. It involves making choices that may go against cultural expectations and norms;
(ii) The psychological dimension includes the belief that women can act at personal and societal levels to improve their individual realities and the society in which they live;
(iii) The economic component requires that women have access to, and control over, productive resources, thus ensuring some degree of financial autonomy. However she notes that changes in the economic balance of power do not necessarily alter traditional gender roles or norms;
(iv) The political element entails that women have the capability to analyse, organise and mobilise for social change; and
(v) There is a physical element of gaining control over one’s body and sexuality and the ability to protect oneself against sexual violence to the empowerment process.

6 The parameters of women empowerment are:
• Raising self-esteem and self-confidence of women.
• Elimination of discrimination and all forms of violence against women and girl child.
• Building and strengthening partnership with civil society particularly women’s organisations.
• Enforcement of constitutional and legal provisions and safeguarding rights of women.
• Building a positive image of women in the society and recognising their contributions in social, economic and political sphere.
• Developing ability among women to think critically.
• Fostering decision-making and collective action.
• Enabling women to make informed choices.
• Ensuring women’s participation in all walks of life.
• Providing information, knowledge, skills for self-employment.
• Elimination of discrimination against women’s participation in the areas of: – Access to food – Equal wages – Property rights – Family resources – Freedom of movement and travel – Access to credit – Control over savings, earnings and resources – Guardianship and custody of children and their maintenance
• Gender sensitisation training in schools, colleges and other professional institutions for bringing about institutional changes.

7 Women have to swim against the stream that requires mere strength. Such strength comes from the process of empowerment. The women empowerment can be done through providing proper education, health and nutrition facilities.

8 Indicators of Women Empowerment Beijing Conference 1995 had identified certain quantitative and qualitative indicators of women empowerment. These indicators are discussed below:
Qualitative Indicators:
(i) increase in self-esteem, individual and collective confidence;
(ii) increase in articulation, knowledge and awareness on health, nutrition reproductive rights, law and literacy;
(iii) increase in personal leisure time and time for child care;
(iv) increase on decrease of workloads in new programmes;
(v) change in roles and responsibility in family and community;
(vi) visible increase on decrease in violence on women and girls;
(vii) responses to, changes in social customs like child marriage, dowry, discrimination against widows;
(viii) visible changes in women’s participation level attending meetings, participating and demanding participation;
(ix) increase in bargaining and negotiating power at home, in community and the collective;
(x) increase access to and ability to gather information;
(xi) formation of women collectives;
(xii) positive changes in social attitudes;
(xiii) awareness and recognition of women’s economic contribution within and outside the household;
(xiv) women’s decision-making over her work and income.

Quantitative Indicators 
(a) demographic trends – maternal mortality rate – fertility rate – sex ratio – life expectancy at birth – average age of marriage
(b) Number of women participating in different development programmes;
(c) Greater access and control over community resources/ government schemes—creche, credit cooperative, non-formal education;
(d) Visible change in physical health status and nutritional level;
(e) Change in literacy and enrollment levels; and
(f) Participation levels of women in political process.

Components of Women Empowerment: Four components of women’s empowerment are identified:
(i) Acquiring knowledge and an understanding of gender/power relations and ways in which these relations may be changed;
(ii) Developing a sense of self-worth, a belief in one’s ability to secure desired changes and the right to control one’s life;
(iii) Gaining the ability to generate choices and thereby acquiring leverage and bargaining power; and
(iv) Developing the ability to generate, organise or influence the direction of social change to create more just social and economic orders nationally and internationally.

• To identify gaps in the empowerment of women, development of children and adolescents;
• Create a national network of pubic, private and NGO centres for delivering reproductive and child health services free to any client;
• To create an enabling environment through convergence with other programmes;
• To open more child care centres for working women and expand the availability of safe abortion care;
• To use energy saving devices to reduce drudgery of women;
• To identify the ways in which the effects of policies and programmatic interventions to promote women’s empowerment have been measured;
• To improve access to sanitation, drinking water, fuel, wood and fodder for women;
• To develop health management and health package at all levels;
• To improve accessibility and quality of maternal and child health care services;
• To identify the evidence on how women’s empowerment affects important development outcomes such as health, education, fertility behaviour, income levels, etc.
• Supporting community activities package for women;
• To improve and increase clinical and contraception delivery services;10
• To organise educational and empowerment programmes for girls and women;
• To train resource persons, animators and trainers for activities visualised;
• To conduct and promote experimentations and innovations and research in the problems and programmes of empowerment of rural women;
• To increase awareness in women, for their development to use their talent optimally not only for themselves, but also for the society as a whole;
• To develop the skills for self-decision- taking capabilities in women and to allow them to present their point of view effectively in society;
• To create awareness among women to be truly ambitious and to dream for betterment;
• To make efforts in organising the women for fighting against the problems and difficulties related to them; and
• To integrate socio-economic activities with concern for health and environment protection in the light of the rural women culture.

10 Women Empowerment in India The principle of gender equality is enshrined in the Indian Constitution in its Preamble, Fundamental Rights, Fundamental Duties and Directive Principles. The Constitution not only grants equality to women, but also empowers the State to adopt measures of positive discrimination in favour of women. Within the framework of a democratic polity, our laws, development policies, Plans and Programmes have aimed at women’s advancement in different spheres. From the Fifth Five Year Plan (1974- 78) onwards there has been a marked shift in the approach to women’s issues from welfare to development and then from Eighth Five Year Plan emphasis was shifted from development to empowerment. In recent years, the empowerment of women has been recognised as the central issue in determining the status of women. India has also ratified various International conventions and human rights instruments committing to secure equal rights of women. Key among them is the ratification of the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1993. The National Commission for Women was set up by an Act of Parliament in 1990 to safeguard the rights and legal entitlements of women. The Cairo conference in 1994 organised by UN on Population and Development called attention to women’s empowerment as a central focus and UNDP developed the Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM) which focuses on the three variables that reflect women’s participation in society— political power or decision-making, education and health. 1995 UNDP report was devoted to women’s empowerment and it declared that if human development is not engendered it is endangered. The Government of India declared 2001 as the Year of Women’s Empowerment (Swashakti). The National Policy for the Empowerment of Women was passed in 2001.

Thus road map for women empowerment is there but still we have miles to go on this path of empowerment. We hope that in coming years ahead women empowerment will prove its worth. Women are an integral part of a society. They play an important role in determining the destiny of a nation. It has been rightly said by Swami Vivekanand, “The Best thermometer to the progress of nation is its treatment of women”. Therefore, due recognition to them in the society and their greater involvement in socio-economic and political affairs becomes all the more important. Every person should come forward to ensure equal status for women in all spheres of life.

"Woman is an incarnation of ‘Shakti’—the Goddess of Power. If she is bestowed with education, India’s strength will double. Let the campaign of ‘Kanya Kelavni’ be spread in every home; let the lamp of educating daughters be lit up in every heart" —Narendra Modi

New Indian Companies Act Of 2013, Towards Women Empowerment

India: Woman Directorship - A Laudable Initiative Of The New Indian Companies Act Of 2013, Towards Women Empowerment

Last Updated: 15 May 2014
Article by Hemant Goyal and Sandhya Aggarwal
One of the highly significant things and provisions introduced by the new Companies Act, 2013 of India, is mandatory inclusion of at least one woman director to the Board of every prescribed class of companies in India. This provision can be considered as being a highly elegant and revolutionary initiation by the Government of India, for the purposes of empowerment of women in the Indian corporate world, thereby strengthening and promoting contributions of women to the economic progress of the country.
Here, it may be mentioned that women have always supported men and the society, for achieving well-rounded development and progress, in every vital and most significant sphere of the domestic and social life. Again, in the occupational and professional domains, women have an ever-increasing participation in almost all fields of the broad economic sectors of business and commerce, professions, industries, and services, at the levels varying from lower to higher hierarchies. In some well-developed countries, where there are liberated outlooks and opulent facilities for quality higher education and disciplinary training, women have been emulating men, even in the fields of army and defense, aviation, and space exploration. Thus, women in general, certainly have great and admirable credit for contributing remarkably to the domestic progress and prosperity, social development, and economic progress and growth, in most of the fast progressive countries of the world, essentially including India. As India is one of the major and fast growing economies of the world, this initiative for empowerment of women in the giant and pivotal corporate world, is indeed, highly commendable. Thus, facilitating the lawful entry of woman to the Board of Directors of prescribed class of companies is surely a bright and prudent decision for enhancement of the cherished contributions of women in the economic progress and growth of the country.
The Board of Directors of a company is the vital governing body and directors are ultimately responsible for stable, highly efficient, and profitable running of the concerned company, safeguarding the interests & progress of the company and its stakeholders. This entry to the Board of Directors is now well-facilitated and secured through second proviso of sub-section 1 of Section 149 of the new Indian Companies Act 2013. Through promulgation of this innovative provision, the constantly changing and dynamic Indian corporate world is now intelligently enabled to widen its talent pool with inclusion of imaginative persons with diversified backgrounds and viewpoints.
As per the new Companies Rules of 2014, the following categories of companies are mandatorily compelled to appoint at least one woman director to their respective board of directors:
  1. Every listed Company
  2. Every Other Public Limited Company which has
  1. Paid-up Share Capital of One Hundred Crore Rupees or more; Or
  2. Turnover of Three Hundred Crore Rupees or more
A Company, which has been incorporated under this Act and is covered under provisions of second proviso to sub-section (1) of Section 149, shall comply with this provision of women directorship, within a period of six months, from the date of its incorporation. And any intermittent vacancy of a woman director shall be punctually filled-up by the concerned Board at the earliest, but not later than the immediate next Board Meeting or a period of three months from the date of such a vacancy, whichever is later.
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