The paper below is a contribution by Prof. Rekha Pande, from the Centre for Women’s studies (CWS), University of Hyderabad in India.
History of Women’s Movement in India
Looking at the history of women empowerment movements’ one can identify some broad trajectories: in the initial phases a number of women were organizing and mobilizing around the globe for their rights. The development planners and policy makers in India did not have any interaction with these groups and they considered feminism as irrelevant to development and it was viewed as a luxury for the better of women in the industrialized countries. In this phase development is seen as an administrative problem, whose solution lay in transferring vast amount of resources and technological innovations from rich to poor countries. Eventually there were efforts to integrate women in the developmental process, wherein education and employment became the indicators of women’s involvement in the development process, but again under this phase a large chunk of rural women were purview of the developmental process. But today the question of development is being addressed from the feminist perspective and concerns about issues like child care, reproductive rights, violence against women, family planning, transfer of technology and rural development have given the concept of development a new meaning. If development leads only to an increase in production, then it consequentially tends to reinforce and exaggerate the imbalances and inequalities within and in between societies. Development has to be an integral process with economic, social and cultural aspects of an individual’s life, enabling them to the take control of their life situation; herein comes the concept of empowerment.
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