The Miss Gen project, explained earlier will be our primary tool to promote women’s empowerment.
There is a common notion that women in Kerala do not suffer any gender discrimination and all are treated equally or better. True, that compared to many other states in India, women in Kerala receive fair treatment all around. However, below the surface, there are numerous ways women are discriminated and considered not equal to men. Consequently, a good many of them are denied of equal opportunities and equal pay. This is more so in case of the poor and lower class women.
A certain job sectors are not open to them. By practice, many better paid jobs are open only to men. Now, though grudgingly, the doors are starting to open. Women are paid less in many kinds of jobs and the struggle is on for equal pay. Opening new sectors for employment, training and equipping them to overcome the difficulties on the way and guiding them to reach their set goals will be one of our important tasks.
The litmus test of women’s empowerment in the family context is: do the women share equally in the major decision making or do they have equal access to family finances, including the check book?
Towards strengthening women’s participation in economic and social activities, CFCE-India is following a two track approach:
One, is to offer opportunities for the women drop outs to pick up where they left off, get additional education and skill based training and restart their path to economic and social advancement; and,
Two, to study the root causes of why women are held back and how helping them to reach in par with men in as many spheres possible?
Granted that this whole question of women’s equality will require additional research and promote gender equality through education, social behavior changes and positive actions leading to empowerment of the women. We are conscious of it and our work will always focus on remedying the gender disparity.
If the women can be trained and find work or start their own businesses, the immediate and extended families will benefit, the economic security of the families will improve, generate numerous job opportunities within the communities and outside, children will get better (than what they can now) educational opportunities and strengthen the economy of the respective communities. Furthermore, the chain reaction “if she can do it, I can also do it” mentality will come into effect and it will have a tremendous impact in the whole society. A new generation of owners and leaders will emerge and their social and political impact will be tremendous.
The above are some of the reasons why CFCE-India stresses on developing programs to assist those among them who are stuck at home, if they are interested and willing to continue education and find self employed or start some small businesses?
CFCE-India plans to concentrate on providing skill development and to create job opportunities by facilitating enterprise development parallel to and along with training and offering supportive enabling services to promote ownership of such businesses by the women.
We also want to encourage women to enter into job sectors currently avoided or considered a primarily men’s occupation. For example, building trades, auto mechanic and similar sectors tend to provide higher remuneration than many other women-centered jobs. Why not prepare the women to take up such jobs? Breaking the barriers in many job sectors is one of our main goals.
To the extent possible, CFCE-India’s approach will be to discourage the craze for paper degrees and certificates. Instead, we want to encourage the participants to gain professional skills and mastery of managing enterprises.
The core of this project is to give the Miss Gen as well as the young people skill development training along with upgrading their academic capabilities to handle professionally and sub-professional level employment, and at the same time, identify from among them, individuals who are interested and capable of starting their own businesses. Our goal is to help them to become job-creators and job-givers instead of being job seekers. A significant part of the effort will be towards self-employment and entrepreneurship.