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  A MACROCOSMIC OUTLOOK ON THE CONTRIBUTION OF WOMEN TOEMPLOYMENT AND EMPOWERMENT.Mrs. M.Prathiba, B.Voc. Programme, Assistant Professor,Department of Textiles and Apparel Design,Periyar University, Salem-636 011. ABSTRACT. Employment and empowerment involves a transformation which moves from astate of disempowerment to empowerment. Empowerment is multidimensional, taking place at diverse levels, and in different ways depending on the individuals andcommunities and the environments in which they live. This paper focuses on the wider level of how women and their status in the society are portrayed. In spite of the jobs andthe work carried out by the women contribute to the needs of the household, there is stillnot enough recognition given to them.****Key words: Empowerment, employment, progression, proximity.  A MACROCOSMIC OUTLOOK ON THE CONTRIBUTION OF WOMEN TOEMPLOYMENT AND EMPOWERMENT.Mrs. M.Prathiba, B.Voc Programme, Assistant Professor,Department of Textiles and Apparel Design,Periyar University, Salem-636 011. Introduction: Although the description of empowerment is debated and the term is often used tocover a multitude of concepts, there are a few elements that are widely agreed upon. Mostresearchers agree that empowerment involves an element of control and choice in thecontext of power structures that exist in households, communities, nations and worldwide.Many will also agree that empowerment is an evolution and therefore involveschanges in the existing power structures and a move from a state of disempowerment toempowerment. Researchers will all agree that empowerment is multidimensional,occurring at different levels, and in different ways depending on the individuals andcommunities and the environments in which they live. The empowerment of women is generally conversed in relation to political, socialand economic empowerment. Of late, the economic empowerment of women hasreceived scrupulous attention and is often cited as one of the most important ways to promote gender equality, reduce poverty and improve the well-being of not only thewomen, but children and the society. Economic empowerment includes women’s participation in economic activities as well as women’s economic decision-making and power. Employment, specifically paid employment, is seen as the essential constituent of economic empowerment. Participation in formal economic activities, which reflect the productive capacity of the women, and their control over their own incomes, are some of the important dimensions of economic empowerment. Entrée to earned income improves women's position within the householdsubstantially, gives them greater control over the distribution of such earnings and  household resources, and generally improves their status and strength in the society aswell as their own self-esteem. The ability to earn income from outside and to engage inactivities other than the household-oriented ones can pilot to significant social change inthe long run. Where women are generally denied the ownership of property and controlover assets, the ability to earn outside income can become an important instrument for thetransformation of gender relations and challenge many traditional modes of social andeconomic relations.Despite the widespread support for the assumption that employment leads towomen’s empowerment, there is very little research that empirically tests this relationshipand there is still a lot that we do not know about the association between employment andempowerment. Indicators of Empowerment :Women’s household decision-making and freedom of movement are often used as pointers of women’s empowerment. Before the word empowerment was used, women’ssovereignty, their independence, was often discussed as a goal for women’s rights andequality in society. The ability to make decisions that affect one’s life and the ability tomove beyond the sphere of the home freely exemplify autonomy and were quicklyadopted as basics to empowerment. Other aspects of women’s lives have becomeimportant to empowerment as the concept has expanded to include power in a number of spheres and forms, and women’s control over resources has become a particularlycontested aspect of women’s empowerment. Employment and Empowerment : The most common dispute says that women’s participation in income-generatingactivities will lead to women’s empowerment because by having admittance to resourcesa woman can improve her bargaining position, thereby allowing for greater control over decisions and life choices. If a woman has an income of her own, she most likely has agreater ability to take care of herself and is therefore less dependent on her husband or others for survival. Her ability to parley within the household should increase not only because she has more to offer to the household, but also because she has an improvedfallback position. Greater negotiating power in the household is seen as empowering because it affords a woman greater control over her and her family’s life.  Employment can be empowering because it is a matter of looking deeper at thiscomplex connection and taking into consideration the process of employment, not onlywhat drives a woman to enter the work force, but also what happens once she is there andto an even greater extent, what happens in the home as a result of this work and theintroduction of her wages. We have to look at some of the rudiments to understand the relationship betweenemployment and empowerment. Education may be one of the most important influenceson women’s employment and its link to empowerment because of its relation to life’schances and outcomes. While more educated and employed women may have a greater say in financial decisions, they do not necessarily have more say in other matters in thehousehold. In India, women work in jobs from all occupational classifications, but theyare largely concentrated in low-skill, low-income positions like agricultural, domesticwork and unskilled manual labor. Very few women work in higher prestige occupationalcategories and women are rarely in positions of authority in any employment sector. For those few women who have the education and the opportunity to work in non-manual position, they are often found in “feminized” occupations in the service industry, likenursing, teaching and social work.Looking at occupation tells us not only about the socio-demographic background, but also about the working conditions associated with the position, the opportunities thatit affords the status it may confer and the amount of authority associated with the position, and in this sense, should be considered when looking at the association betweenemployment and women’s empowerment. Type of Employment and Empowerment :Propinquity of a woman’s work to her family and her home could be important inits role of letting women move out of the private and into the public sphere. Women whowork outside the home or for someone other than their family may have a greater opportunity to interrelate in the public sphere and with non-family members than womenwho work for their family or in the home. Working inside the home, like working for the family, is usually seen as a blockade to empowerment because working in the home means that women remain under the control of the male guardians and lack autonomy and mobility. According to Kantor   (2002), “norms of female seclusion limit women's mobility in the public sphere,constraining their economic opportunities by limiting their choices of work location andtheir ability to interact in markets.” Looking at the home-based garment workers in India,Kantor finds no connection between mobility and economic success, but argues that themobility associated with work outside the home is important to economic outcomes andto women’s empowerment.Women who carry out forms of production independent of male householdmembers and in social relationships outside the family sphere of command and controlare more likely to retain control over proceeds of their labor (Whitehead 1985), but manywomen in India work for their families and more and more women are self-employed.While it is generally agreed upon that working for the family limits women’sempowerment, there is still no real harmony in the role that self-employment can play inempowering women. Financial Contribution and Empowerment :Women’s wages may be a significant part of increasing women’s empowerment by giving women a greater sense of control and value in their home. Women’s wagecontributions to their families can make them more valuable to the household and beingable to control those wages could mean a greater say in decisions. This relationship between employment and women’s empowerment, specifically, how much of her family’stotal earnings she contributes, is one aspect of women’s participation in the workforcethat many agree is important to empowerment. The extent to which a family relies on theincome of a woman can influence the power and control that the working woman has inher household because it increases her value in the household and it improves her fall back position by decreasing her dependence on male family members. If a woman contributes only a small share of her family’s total income, the wageswill not transform into a greater say in important decisions; however, if a womancontributes half or even all of her family’s income, she may be able to affirm herself morein her household and have a greater voice.
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