“Contribution Research in Social Work, Tumkur University, Tumakuru. [email protected]

“Contribution
of Dr. B R Ambedkar to empower the Indian women”.

*Bhushan Kumar C A, Research Scholar, Department of Studies and
Research in Social
Work, Tumkur University Tumakuru. [email protected]

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** Dr.Parashurama K G, Associate Professor and Chairman,
Department
of Studies and Research in
Social Work, Tumkur University, Tumakuru. [email protected]

 

Introduction:

              Dr.
B R Ambedkar was not only an architect of Indian Constitution, but also a great
freedom fighter, political leader, philosopher, thinker, economist, editor,
social reformer, and was first Indian to break down the barriers in the way of
up liftment of women in India. Ambedkar saw women as victims of social system. The status of women was not similar throughout Indian
history. It went on changing in a positive way due to the efforts of reformist
movements launched by Bhakti saints like Meera bai, Kabir and others, Sharana
movement headed by Basaveshwara, social reformers like Raja Ram Mohan Roy,
Mahatma Gandhi, Mahatma Jyotiba Phule, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar and host of others.

      Empowerment of women is a global issue,
and it is an active multi-dimensional process, which enables women to realize
their full identity and spheres of life. It is also social, political, and
economic and decision making changes the process of development. The more
empowered women become the stronger in resistance and produce the needs of the
society. Empowerment links two main sources of power – personal and political
power. Personal power is the ability to change oneself and on the other hand
political power is the ability to alter systems, redistribute resources, open
up opportunity structures and recognize society (DuBois & Miley, 2005).  

    Empowerment
neither has a beginning nor is an end in itself. It is an ongoing process.
Strong social and political structures have to be built devoid of gender biases
to enhance women empowerment. The approach should be bottom up rather than top
down.  Women Empowerment refers to
increasing the spiritual, political, social or economic strength of Women. It
often involves the empowered developing confidence in their own capacities.

 

Dr.  B R
Ambedkar Contributions towards Women Empowerment:

          I
measure the progress of a community by the degree of progress which women have
achieved – Dr. B.R. Ambedkar

Education
and Health:

                 
It is the ‘education’, which is the right weapon to cut the social
slavery and it is
the education which will enlighten the downtrodden masses to come up
and gain social status, economic betterment and political freedom – Dr. B.R.
Ambedkar

      Dr.
Ambedkar considered education for women to be as essential as for men because
children usually emulate both their parents. He advised women to so mould their
children that they led a life of virtue. Equal access to education for women and girls was ensured.
Special measures were taken to eliminate discrimination, universalize
education, eradicate illiteracy, create a gender-sensitive educational system,
increase enrolment and retention rates of girls and improve the quality of
education to facilitate life-long learning as well as development of
occupation/vocation/technical skills by women. Gender
sensitive curricula would be developed at all levels of educational system in
order to address sex stereotyping as one of the causes of gender
discrimination. Over the generations, marginalized
sections and women in Indian society were denied the opportunity to
education.  He put all his efforts to
guarantee the educational opportunities without any discrimination to all the
citizens of India.

         Dr. Ambedkar advised women in India to live
hygienically, to remain away from all evils, to educate their children, to
safeguard their family.
A holistic approach to women’s health which includes both nutrition and health
services were adopted and special attention was given to the needs of women and
the girl at all stages of the life cycle. The reduction of infant mortality and
maternal mortality, which are sensitive indicators of human development, is a
priority concern.

Literary contributions:

                  Dr.
B. R. Ambedkar unravels the inequality and injustice that perpetuates
inequality and subordination of women in a systemic manner. In his, “The Rise and Fall of Hindu Women”, “The Women and Counter Revolution”, “The Riddle of Women”, and “Castes
in India: Their Mechanism,
Genesis and Development”, Dr. Ambedkar has analyzed the manner in which
gender relations are artificially constructed under Hindu social order which
not only moulds attitude of Hindus towards their women but also conditions
women to confirm to a stereotype feminine behavior.

Women’s Movement and Political
Organization:

              Women’s political empowerment can
be achieved only by a combination of several strategies, such as women’s
movement and political organization. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar always believed in
movements led by women. During the Mahad Tank Struggle, women marched in the procession along with
men. He encouraged women to organize themselves. Impressed by the large
gathering of women at women’s conference held at Nagpur on 20th July, 1942, he
told women to be progressive and abolish traditionalism, ritualism and
customary habits, which were detrimental to their progress. He insisted that
every married woman must participate in her husband’s activities as a friend.
If all the women follow it, they will get the real respect and their own
identity.

                     In January 1928, a women’s
association was founded in Bombay with Ramabai, Ambedkar?s wife, as its
president. The encouragement of Dr. Ambedkar to empower women to speak boldly
was seen when Radhabai Vadale addressed a press conference in 1931. She said
“It is better to die a hundred times than live a life full of humiliation. We
will sacrifice our lives but we will win our rights.” Dr Ambedkar believed in
the strength of women and their role in the process of social reform will bring
honour and glory.

    Constitutional Provisions:

                Dr. Ambedkar worked with, dedication, zeal and
conviction for the betterment of women on becoming Chairman of Constitution
Drafting Committee and First Law Minister of Independent India. He contributed Constitution,
that enshrining  all those conditions
which are necessary to promote fraternity among all citizens of India,
including women.

·        
The Constitution of India pledges ‘to secure to all
the people … justice, social, economic and political; equality of status,
opportunity and before the law; freedom of thought, expression, belief, faith,
worship, vocation, association and action, subject to law and public morality’.

·        
The Constitution is firmly grounded in the principles
of liberty, fraternity, equality and justice

·        
It emphasizes the importance of greater freedom for
all and contains a number of provisions for the empowerment of women

·        
Women’s right to equality and non-discrimination are
defined as justifiable fundamental rights

·        
The Constitution explicitly clarifies that affirmative
action programmes for women are not incompatible with the principle of
non-discrimination on the grounds of sex.

·        
The Constitution does not merely pay slip service to
an abstract notion of equality. It reflects a substantive understanding of the
practical dimensions of freedom and equality for women.

The Constitutional Guarantees:

·        
Article 14: Equality before the law.

·        
Article 15(1): No discrimination by the state on
grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth.

·        
Article 15(3): Special provisions to be made by the
state in favour of women and children.

·        
Article 16: Equality of opportunity for all citizens
in matters relating to employment or appointment to any office under the state

·        
Article 39(a): State policy to be directed to securing
for men and women equally, the right to an adequate means of livelihood.

·        
Article 39(d): Equal pay for equal work both men and
women.

·        
Article 42: Provisions to be made by the state for
securing just and humane conditions of work and for maternity relief.

·        
Article 51(A) (e): To promote harmony and to renounce
practices derogatory to the dignity of women.

·        
Article 243D (3) provides that
not less than 1/3rd of the total number of seats to be filled by direct
election in every Panchayat to be reserved for women, and such seats to be
allotted by rotation to different constituencies in a Panchayat.

·        
Article 243T(3) provides that
not less than 1/3rd of the total number of seats to be filled by direct
election in every Municipality shall be reserved for women and such seats may
be allotted by rotation to different constituencies in a Municipality.

·        
Article 243T(4) provides
reservation of offices of Chairperson in Municipalities for Sc, ST, Women in
such manner as the legislature of a State, may by law provide,

 

Vision of Social Justice relating to women:

                             

                Ambedkar is also one of the proponents of
social justice in modern India. According to Ambedkar, the term “social
justice” is based upon equality, liberty and fraternity of all human beings.
The aim of social justice is to remove all kinds of inequalities based upon
Caste, race, sex, power, Position and wealth. The reforms introduced by Dr.
Ambedkar through ‘Hindu code Bill’. He prepared Hindu Code Bill incorporating matters relating
to: (1) right of property of a deceased Hindu who has died intestate without
making a will, to both male and female; (2) the order of succession; (3) the
law of maintenance; (4) marriage; (5) divorce; (6) adoption; and (7) minority
and guardianship. Though the Bill could not be passed and Dr. Ambedkar had to
resign from the post of Law Minister, a firm ground was laid for the enactment
of The Hindu marriage Act 1955, The Hindu succession Act 1956, The Hindu adoption
& maintenance Act 1956 and The Hindu Minority and guardianship Act 1956
which have significantly improved the position of the women in the Hindu
Society.

            The institution of marriage that had
degenerated, was corrected by series of legislations enacted during mid-fifties
introducing monogamy (Hindu marriage Act,1955), daughter, widow and mother were
given the right to inherit property along with son, (Hindu Succession Act, 1956), consent of wife for adoption of child by married man, right to
adopt a child by women, right to claim maintenance by separated women,(Hindu
Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956), women to appoint guardian at will(Hindu
Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956) were all the new protections given to
women.

 

 

Protections under other
legislations:

In accordance with the letter and spirit of the Constitution, the
legislations that followed were the personal laws of Hindus, labour and
criminal laws, and some special laws were made to improve the position and
penalize the crimes against women.

            As women constituted sizable
proportion of workers in industries, various laws were
enacted to implement the directive principles. 
Women are protected to Minimum wages (Minimum Wages Act,
1948), maternity leave and benefits (Maternity Benefits Act, 1961), prohibiting
work for women at night and restricting on work unsuitable to their health (Factories Act, 1948), prohibiting women to work in mines (Mines Act, 1961), and providing equality to women at work (Equal Remuneration Act, 1976).

            One of the feudal offshoot
prostitution, which is derogatory to the dignity of women, is prohibited (Immoral Traffic Prevention Act, 1986), indecent
representation in advertisements, publications (Indecent Representation of
Women Prevention Act, 1986), evils of dowry system (Dowry Prohibition Act,
1961), cruelty to women and rapes are now severely (Criminal Law Amendment Act,
1987).

Conclusion:

             Women are the key change agents
for a new future and the extent of their empowerment in all facets of life in
society would depend on the process of elimination of obstacles and constraints
faced by them through sustained, dedicated and concerted efforts on the part of
government as well as society, which needs to be directed towards all round
development of each and every section of Indian women, keeping in mind their
due share in society. Dr.
B R Ambedkar can be regarded as one of the greatest intellectual and social
reformer of modern India who struggled throughout his life for emancipation of
the Indian women (specially focused on depressed class). He focused on the
gender equality and the need for education and exposed the problems of the
depressed as well as women.

             Dr. B R Ambedkar has played a vital role
in uplifting the Indian women socially, economically, politically sustained and
to occupy mainstreaming position in the present scenario.

 

References:

Ahir,
D.C. (1990) “The Legacy of Dr. Ambedkar”, 
B.R.Publishing Corporation, New Delhi.

Bakshi
S.R. & Kiran Bala (2000) “Development of Women Children and Weaker
Sections”, Deep & Deep Publications, New Delhi.

Bhatia K.L. & Hariom (1995) “Social
Justice of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar”, Deep & Deep Publications, New Delhi.

Desai Neera & Thakkar Usha, (2005) “Women in India
Society”, National Book Trust Publication, New Delhi.

Keer,
Dhanjay (2009) “Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar: Life and Mission”, Popular Prakashan,
Bombay.

Malik, (2003) “Industrial Laws”,
Eastern Book Company Publications, Lucknow.

Mathew,
Thomas (1991) ” Ambedkar : Reform or Revolution”, Segment Books, New Delhi.

Saxena K.S.
& Shyam Lal (1998) “Ambedkar and Nation Building” Rawat Publications, Jaipur and Delhi.

Shabbir
Mohammad (2005) “Ambedkar on Law, Constitution and Social Justice”

Rawat Publications,
Jaipur and New Delhi.

Venugopal P.
(1998) “Social Justice and Reservation”, Emerald Publications, Chennai.