Posted on: July 25, 2020 Posted by: admin Comments: 0

Author : Monesh Mehndiratta, Student at Graphic Era Hill University, Dehradun

Co-Author : Saurabh Pandey, Assistant Professor at Graphic Era Hill University, Dehradun



 “I measure the progress of a community by the degree of progress which women have achieved


Dr. B.R Ambedkar, the principal architect of Indian constitution, a valiant fighter and a national leader, was a successful revolutionary to raise a voice against underprivileged women in the society. He was not only “The father of Indian constitution” but also a great freedom fighter, a political leader, economist, thinker, social reformer and a writer. He was able to change the mindsets of millions through his effective writings. He made significant efforts to lead the society towards the path of liberty, equality and fraternity.

One of his most important contributions is the “Hindu code bill” where he tried to create the balance between the religion and equality among women. He tried to eradicate social evils like sati, child marriage, devdasi system and advocated family planning for the welfare of women. He had his vision of empowering women which was reflected in his works and reforms. He always advocated about equality and thus the concept of equality is clearly mentioned in Article 14 and various parts of the Constitution e.g. Article 15, 39, 42 and in other provisions of Indian constitution, he discussed about empowering women. Empowerment not only meant equality but also consists of wide dimensions of political, social, economic and cultural participation and rights.

The paper gives the vision of Ambedkar and also tries to find whether in present scenario we are able to achieve it or not. The paper highlights the problems and condition of women in modern times and also deals with the question that whether our constitution, which is a living document, is able to provide equal rights and opportunities to empower women in its true sense.

Keywords– Empowerment, Constitution, Equality


The concept of ‘Empowerment’ has been frequently used in a number of fields. It is, however, not always clear how the concept is is defined in the various contexts, and if it is used in the same way by different authors.[1] Empowerment of women means developing them as more aware individuals, who are politically active, economically productive and independent and are able to make intelligent discussion in matters that affect them.[2]

Dr. Br Ambedkar was a savior of depressed classes, a noted jurist and a renowned scholar. He received many prestigious titles and prizes from many universities of the world. Being the Father of Indian constitution and an intellectual revolutionary, he was a ray of hope for downtrodden and underprivileged section of the society. He worked day and night throughout his life to challenge the rigid social systems of the society and change the lives of many.[3]

 He always believed in strength of women and movements led by them. He tried to create a balance in the society with respect to religion and equality which could be seen in “Hindu Code Bill” formed by him. He always tried to lead the society towards the path of fraternity, liberty and equality. He insisted that every married woman must participate in her husband’s activities as a friend. Women herself should show the courage and fight for their rights. She should insist on the principle of equality, then only she will get the respect that she deserves and this will empower them.[4] Empowerment to Ambedkar not only meant opportunities but has a wide dimension of equal economic, political, social and religious rights. Babasaheb emphasized on the reconstruction of the society on the basis of equality rather than the social reforms initiated because their attempt were limited to the upper caste of the society. His study and knowledge of smritis and shastras crystallized his conclusion on Hindu philosophy and society.

The given paper tries to highlight the meaning of empowerment with respect to women, philosophy of Ambedkar of women empowerment and also presents the position of women empowerment in modern India while discussing their position in history and tries to analyze whether we are able to empower women in the present scenario in its true sense.


“EMPOWERMENT” may be described as a process which helps people to assert their control over the factors which affect their lives. Women empowerment as a concept was introduced at the International Conference in 1985 at Nairobi, which defined it as redistribution of social power and control of resources in favour of women.[5] The United Nations Development Fund for women (UNDFW) includes following factors in its definition of women empowerment:

  • Acquiring knowledge and understanding of gender relations and the way in which they might change.
  • Developing a sense of self-worth, a belief in one’s ability to secure desired changes and the right to control life.[6]

The process of empowerment has five dimensions – cognitive, psychological, economic, political and physical rights. If women are given all these rights then only they will be truly empowered. Raising self-esteem and self-confidence, elimination of discrimination, enforcement if constitutional and legal rights, ability to think critically, fostering decision-making, providing education am enabling them to make choices with increased participation; are some of the parameters of women empowerment.


In ancient times, women enjoyed a very high position. All the religious ceremonies were initiated by them and in many areas they were given the name of ‘Devi’. Evidences of this can be seen in our Vedas. But this situation gradually changed and their position degenerated into merely objects of pleasure meant to serve the menfolk. Men used women for their pleasure and fulfill the needs of the family. Even in Manu Smriti, Manu not only shows contempt for women but goes on to degrade them as slaves devoid of intellect: denies them the right of education and right to property and forbids them from performing religious duties.[7] The practice of child marriage was very prominent at that time and is believed to have started around the 6th century. The position of women in India has been fluctuating. Women in India have passed two phases: the period of subjugation and the period of liberation. In some areas women were not allowed to sit in any religious ceremony and attend any meetings. They were just confined within the four walls with their children. They were constant subject of humiliation and disrespect. They were deprived of their basic rights and lost their identity. Dowry, purdah system, sati, jauhar, devdasi etc. were the social evils prevailing at that time against women. Ambedkar not only fought for their rights and social evils but also initiated the measures of family planning.[8]


Ambedkar, a determined fighter, scholar and an economist, made significant efforts to lead the society towards the path of liberty, equality and fraternity. He was the first Indian to speak up against the discrimination faced by women. He emphasized that women should be given all round development, social education, socio-cultural rights and respect. He stated that it is a must to maintain and protect the dignity and modesty of women. .

Ambedkar started his movement in 1920 and said that “we shall see better days soon and our progress will be greatly accelerated if male education is persuaded side by side with female education…”[9] Through his works and actions he laid due stress on gender equality and the need for education and exposed the problems of the depressed as well as women. In January 1928, a women’s association was founded in Bombay with Ramabai, Ambedkar’s wife, as its president. He started the practice of women empowerment from his own house. Ambedkar made memorable speeches in the round table conference. He placed the view point of depressed women and pleaded for equal status. He also suggested emancipation from oppression and found that in Buddhist values which also promoted equality, self-respect and education. He believes that Buddha treated women with love and respect and never degraded them. Women like Vishaka, Amrapali of Visali, Gautami, Rani Malika, as evidences of Buddha’s treatment.[10]

Dr. Ambedkar championed the cause of women and their miserable plight. He discussed a number of problems of Indian women and sought the solutions in legislative council. His arguments on the “Maternity Benefit Bill” and on birth critical were very relevant to recognize the dignity of women[11]. Due to his efforts and encouragement women started participating in satyagrahs and fought for their rights and respect. Being the chairman of the drafting committee, he used his position very well for the welfare of women by including women’s political rights in the constitution. Hence, there are articles like14, 15(3), 51(A) (C), 39 and so on in the Indian constitution which talk about equality and give various rights to women.[12]

 The Hindu Code Bill, by Ambedkar, tried to put an end to a variety of marriage systems prevailing in India and legalize only monogamy. It also gave women the right to property and adoption. It put men and women on the same level in all legal matters. The Hindu code bill later was split into four bills and put on the Statute book by parliament. The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955; The Hindu Succession Act, 1956; The Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956 and The Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 are the four enactments which incorporate the ideas and principles of the bill formulated by him.[13] All these gave independent status to women and also equal rights of property and adoption. It is correct to say that, due to him a large Part of the Hindu social law is now on par with the legal system prevailing in the advanced western countries[14]


Considering the guidelines, philosophy and recommendations given by Dr. Ambedkar, the government and states implemented a number of schemes for the welfare and upliftment of women in India. Some of the reforms and schemes are listed below:


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.[15]

Dr.BR. Ambedkar

It is the most important and powerful instrument of empowering women. It is the education that can bring changes in the society. In order to encourage education of women many schools, universities and colleges were established exclusively for them. Many scholarships are proposed and awarded to encourage women to study and become independent.


These are small homogeneous groups which consist of 12-20 women from below poverty line families who organize and promote savings. They help each other financially and also give women the platform to discuss their problems and find a solution together.[16]


Now women are given equal rights and opportunities of participation in every field like education, health, politics, and theatre. Women not only have the right to vote but also have the right to share power in the parliament. Article 243D (3), 243T (3) and 243R (4) provide for allocation of seats in the panchayati raj system.[17] There has been a considerable improvement in the entry of women in all sectors of employment. National Commission for women was set up in 1992 to monitor all the matters related to legal and constitutional rights provided to women, review their problems, suggest amendments and protect their rights.[18]


Here is the list of some specific laws enacted by the parliament in order to bring improvement in the condition of women in the country:

  1. The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976.
  2. The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961.
  3. The Immoral Traffic (prevention) Act, 1956
  4. The Maternity Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971
  5. The Commission of Sati (prevention) Act, 1987
  6. The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006
  7. The Sexual Harassment of women at workplace Act, 2013. [19]

India is a country where women once were given the status of deity. But now her position has gradually decreased.  Almost every day we come across some or the other incident of dowry death, domestic violence, exploitation, rape cases, harassment, etc. These incidents reflect the problems still faced by women in India. Exploitation of women still prevails in the country.

Despite of the measures and precautions taken by the government and parliament, many problems and evils are still prevailing in the society against women.[20] Female infanticide is the most common in all. Girl child is killed before they are born. Women in India had and still witnessing these problems in modern era. Girls are not at all safe in our country. Every minute somewhere or the other a woman or girl is getting raped. Still there are people who think that women are a kind of material which they can use for their pleasure and throw when the need is fulfilled. Dowry has not been eradicated wholly from the society. Even today many women die due to dowry and humiliation by their in laws.

 Another problem faced by women and which is most prominent nowadays is the gender discrimination and sexual harassment at workplace. Gender discrimination refers to the practice where one sex is given all the rights and preferential treatment over the other sex. Though everyone is equal in the eyes of law, men and women are constitutionally equal; socially men are given priority and more importance than women[21]. Even today women have to deal with a lot of questions is she gets late where as men are free to do anything and no restriction are imposed upon them. This discrimination is also seen at the work place where men are given more work than women. Women workers are paid less than the male workers for the same type of work. Moreover, most of the families still think that the only work of woman is to look after the family and children. [22]

Next major problem faced by women in modern era is sexual harassment at workplace. Studies have revealed that more women are working outside compared to earlier times. The problems with these women are that they are harassed at their work place in many ways like sexually, economically, etc. They experience a continuous threat of losing their jobs. In spite of the hard work, many female employees are not the given the opportunity that they actually deserve. Sexual harassment by men includes continuous staring, making uncomfortable jokes, unwanted comments, touches and dashes and so on.[23]

 People have to understand that women are not objects to use. They are human too and should be treated equally with love and respect. All these issues and problems show that we have in empowering women in the true sense as the thoughts and ideas of Ambedkar.


Dr. Ambedkar wanted that women should be treated equally and given equal prestige. His thoughts and philosophy are helpful to us even today. He always raised voice against any kind of injustice happening around him and this is what every person should inculcate in him/her. Society is in a continuous process of evolution. It will take decades for these imbalances to be rectified and this could be achieved by educating men and women both.

Considering the long history of suppression of women under patriarchy, they seem to be on the path of empowerment although at a slower pace. If we try to analyze and compare the position of women in present scenario with the philosophy of Ambedkar, we would conclude that though we are trying to empower women but still there’s a long way to go in this. We are still not able to empower them in the true sense. They will be empowered only when each and every women will feel safe to live in the country, when there will be no evil prevailing against them and when they will be treated equally; then only we can say that ‘yes we have empowered every women’.

Government must make more stringent laws against people who commit such inhumane crimes against women. They must be implemented properly and strictly so that everyone takes them seriously. Furthermore, more opportunities must be provided equally to them. We must encourage women to participate and give their best in every field. Moreover, education must be stressed upon gravely. We must join hands to safeguard our daughters, sisters, mothers and wives in India. For this each one of us should treat women as equally and not consider them as weak section of the society. We must help them at every stage and try to make them bold enough to fight for their safety and self sufficient to support their family.


[1] Adams, R. (2003). Social work and empowerment (3rd Ed.). Hampshire: Palgrave.

[2] U.Koko, “Empowering people for health and family planning”, IASSI Quarterly, vol. 11, p. 2, 1992.

[3] Barnwal, Bijay K (2014)…Dr. Ambedkar’s quest for gender equality its relevance in contemporary feminist discourse. Online International Interdisciplinary Research Journal, {Bi-Monthly}, volume-IV, Issue-II.

[4] Singaria M.R (2014)… Dr. B.R Ambedkar and women empowerment in India”, Quest Journals, journal of research in humanities and social science, vol. 2- issue I  PP: 01-04

[5] Suman Panucha and Ankita Khatik, “Empowerment of rural women” Social action, vol. 55, p. 349, 2005.

[6] VS. Ganeswamurthy, “Empowerment of women in India – Social Economics and Political”, New Century Publications, New Delhi, p. 4, 2008.

[7] Jitendra shinde (2012)….  Women’s empowerment through education. ABHINAV…National Monthly Journal of Research in Arts and Education. Vol.I, ISSUE 2, PP 1-3

[8] Singaria M.R (2014)… Dr. B.R Ambedkar and women empowerment”, Quest Journals, journal of research in humanities and social science, vol. 2 issue 1 pp: 01-04

[9] Words by Ambedkar during his study at New York, SINGARIA M.R (2014), Quest Journals, vol. 2 issue 1 pp: 01-04

[10] Chirakarode, Paul: Ambedkar: Budhika Vikasobhathinte Agnijwala, Dalit books, Thiruballa, 1993

[11] “Empowerment of women” – article by Indu Malhotra, an advocate of SC of India. Nyaydeep Law Journal.

[12] Milind Ubale (2016)…”Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar’s approach towards women empowerment”, Intellectual Education and Research Journal, vol. 2 issue- 6.

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


[15] Ambedkar, B.R “WOMEN AND COUNTER REVALUATION’. “Riddles of Hindu Women” in Dr. Babasaheb: writings and speech vol. 3, Department of education.

[16] Limaye, Champa: women power and progress, B.R Publishing Corporation, New Delhi, 1999

[17] Indian Constitutional Law, book by J.N Pandey

[18] Government of India: The National policy for the empowerment of women, department of women and child development, Ministry of human resource development, New Delhi, 2001.


[20] Essay on “problems faced by women in modern India”,

[21] S.Mohammad Azaad, “ Dr. Ambedkar and gender equality, legal consultant, Chennai, India


[23] Essay on “sexual harassment”,

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