Still a long way to go

Women in greater numbers have started participation in socio-economic and political spheres. They have attained positions that were once thought to be impossible to attain for a woman. Women are becoming independent; they are getting better opportunities but a lot more is needed to further improve the condition of women worldwide

Women empowerment has been a major issue of discussion in major platforms in recent times. The situation is gradually changing. Though, women still face sexual and physical violence, gender bias in society everywhere and the women belonging to the poor strata and marginalized groups. The existing situation calls for reforms in policies and also in mindset of people to create a better world for women.
Women empowerment movements, various governmental schemes, advocacy by pressure groups have pushed the society to mend its traditions and bring about a paradigm shift in people’s perception. According to a CNN report, women feel more empowered post movements like #MeToo. Women courageously came forward to take a bold stand during the #MeToo movement. Similarly, Global Fund for Women came up with Funding Leadership and Opportunities for Women Fund (FLOW Fund) in 2016 which is a four-year $5.9 million initiative. The fund supported 139 organisations in 26 countries to empower women to tackle gender-based violence and to provide them with better opportunities to develop and economically.
Twitter in 2017 on International Women’s Day launched a movement named #SheInspiresMe to create a culture of women supporting women, and lift and empower women voices. And, there are more such movements which have been a driving force for the women to reach where they are today.
Similarly, many organizations worldwide came in support of women’s cause and contributed significantly. The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) set up ‘women’s equality & empowerment’ as one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It also came up with the 2030 agenda – ‘Plan 50-50 by 2030: Step it up for Gender Equality’, which is working towards empowerment of women’s and human rights. Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) founded by Dr Ela Bhatt has been working since 1972 for the betterment of poor and self-employed women workers in India. SEWA is both an organisation and a movement. The objective is to organise poor women workers who are self-employed or work labour force for full employment whereby workers obtain work security, income security, food security and social security.
All such efforts have resulted in women becoming financially independent. Safety of women still remains a major issue in our cities. Creating a safe environment for them is the responsibility of the local law enforcement agencies and also of the city planners who need to build public places and transit system keeping in mind the need of women. They should be able to move without fear. A survey by Oxfam and Delhi Police found that there are hundreds of dark spots in the city where women feel unsafe. For safety, urban design should also be gender sensitive.
An example could be ‘Smart City Mission,’ which has security and safety as one of its essential components. It is putting efforts to build more safe cities applying measures such as installation of security cameras at road junctions, markets, residential complexes, parking lots, etc., implementing women helpline services, launching various mobile applications with live location tracking, and more.
Efforts till now have made it possible for women to feel free today in many parts of the world, but gender bias, crime against women, and more such issues still remain issues of concern. Countries, various pressure groups and organizations across the world are working towards protecting women against such evils, to make this world better, safer, and equal for all.

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