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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 14 Jan 2012, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Empowerment of Women through Education

By Dr. Shabistan Gaffar

January 13, 2012

“The Womanhood of India is something of which I am proud, I am proud of their beauty, grace, charm, shyness, modesty, intelligence and their spirit of sacrifices. I think if anybody can truly represent spirit of India I can truly represent by women not by men”. — Jawaharlal Nehru

It is quite natural for humans to resist change, to change the practice established by forefathers, falsely under the pretext of Pseudo Islamic dictates is much more difficult than anyone could imagine. It calls for a sea change. Islam is over 1400 years old, it is the second largest religion in the world. It hurt me to note that religion and all that Islam is being projected as the retardant to education of minority girls. No religion shies away from acquiring knowledge. It is sad to say that Muslim women in India have from centuries being suffering from, poverty, cultural and educational backwardness due to the rigid patriarchal social orders and restrictions imposes on them.

Rightly commented by American covert Islam, Yahya M. that at the beginning Islam was most revolutionary liberalization of women rights, the civilized world has ever seen.

There are however, deep seated misconceptions among various communities that Islam does nor attach much importance to education, that Islam does not encourages women to receive education; that Islam does not allow the employment of women and so on, the truth is none the less, just on the opposite. The very first word of the first verse in Glorious Quran emphasizes the all important need of education. It is imperative on all Muslim men and women to gain as much knowledge as could enable them to differentiate between what is right and what is wrong. Hazrat Khadeeja (May God be pleased with her) Wife of Prophet Mohammed (Peace Be upon Him) was a successful business women. She exported good articles to Syria and other countries. She was one of the most gifted traders of her time. Hazrat Ayesha (May God be pleased with her) another wife of Prophet Mohammed (Peace be upon Him) was most learned lady in Islam. One third of Islamic jurisprudence is derived from her. Renowned Islamic theologians consulted her on delicate matters pertaining to Islam. Hazrat Khansa (May God pleased with her) was one of the most illustrious poetesses in Arabic literature during prophet time. She was also a devoted Muslim women at the same time. But the modern period does not paint a very rosy picture of education.

According to census 2011, though the number of literacy rate of people in India has increased over years, she still has the largest number of uneducated children. For example, the literacy rate of Muslim women is 53% according to 2011 census, which is less than the national average literacy rate of women i.e. 65% and the literacy rate of women of other minority communities i.e. Jain 90.6%., Christians 76.2%, Sikh 63.1% and Buddhist 61.7% It clearly depict that the educational empowerment of Muslim girls is very much vital for building an equalent competent community and also for creating an educationally empowered society.

Mahatma Gandhi has rightly said “Educate a man, you educate a person; educate a woman and you educate a family…”

Investing in women’s education is the best way to create positive impact across the country and worldwide. In general, minority women education can be improved by technical advice, standard setting, innovative projects, capacity building and networking. Constitution of India guarantees equality for both men and women. However, the reality on the ground is different. Arrange of indicators confirms that women do not enjoy equality with men economically, socially and politically. Women represent 48% of the total population of our country and comprise its valuable human resource, continue to face disparities. The poor status of women reflects and the indicators of the reflection are poor health, less education, high mortality rate, violence against women. It is due to little or no access to fruits of development.

The gender budgeting is a tool for women empowerment, gender budgeting is a important policy instrument of government as well as non-government organization. It can be a powerful tool in transformation of development of minority women status. The achievement of human development is heavily depending on the development and empowerment of women and girls. Gender budgeting has been internationally recognized as a key tool for empowering women by incorporating gender perspective and concern at all levels and stages of the development planning, policy and delivery mechanism.

Girls’ empowerment is directly linked with over all development of country. Girls’ empowerment is a global issue. It gained momentum in recent decades. The issue of empowerment of girl came up in the light when linked nation declared1975 to be concentrational women’s year. In 1985, an international conference in Nairobi was organized, in which girls from developing and under developed countries introduced the concept of empowerment as counter project to the integration concept for advancing girl. In order to ensure equal access and increased participation in political power structure for women in India 73rd and 74th Amendment (1993) to the Indian Constitution gave a breakthrough government of India celebrated year 2001, as women empowerment year. Several programme like; Mahila Samidhi Yojana, Balika Samridhi Yojana, New and Rashtriya Mohila Khosh, were implemented and seen as the step towards empowerment of girl in India.

The development of any country mostly depends upon its growth of education in society. Progress of society is possible only when its citizens are dynamic, resourceful, enterprising and responsible without such citizens are dynamic, resourceful, enterprising and responsible, without such citizens, progress of country cannot be achieved in any field. Education herein helps in creating such type of citizen.

In the development of any country, primary education helps in creating basic, while higher education is important for providing the cutting edge. Higher education is considered to be one of the most mean of empowering girl with the knowledge. Skills and self confidence are necessary to participate fully in the development process. Education for girl has gained wider role and responsibility all over the world. Today in the twenty first century one cannot afford to ignore the importance of education for girl any longer.

It is an established fact that education plays an important role in empowering girl. Therefore, providing education to the girl in large number is need of the hour. Girls should be equal partners in the filed of education. Girls are required to be encouraged continuously to go for higher education for empowering them so that in turn they participate equally in the development of the society or country.

In the present scenario, girls need to participate fully in the economic activities, otherwise the process of economic development cannot be accelerated in the country like India. There is need to recognize the fact that the engagement with engineering and technology, management and law disciplines are vital for the advancement of girls. Therefore, it is utmost important that necessary steps are be taken to motivate girls in large numbers to enroll in engineering and technology, management and law subject. In order to enhance the girls’ enrolment in professional and technical education in general and law in particular, there is need to establish dedicated higher educational institutions for girl by central govt., state govt., as well as self finance institutions. It will help girls’ students in large number in getting admissions. The course offered by various faculties in higher educational institutions by doing so minority girl attain educational empowerment.

Dr. Shabistan Gaffar is Chairperson, Committee on Girls Education, National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions, Government of India

 Source: Northern Voices on line