Among other countries of the world, India has the highest number of illiterate people. As per the 2001 Census report, 75% men are literate while only 54.16% women are found to be so. In the rural areas, the level of illiteracy is still higher. [For example, the female literacy rate in rural Rajasthan was only 12%, while it stood at still a lower level that is 10%, in rural Bihar in 1991.]
Illiteracy is the biggest weakness of women. Giving them education means empowering them to enjoy the benefits of development which in turn enables them to contribute further to the national progress.
2. Health Problem of Women:
Poor health on the part of women has also added to their weakness. Women consume less food and work more. They are shy of complaining about their ill health. They prefer to suffer silently than to approach a medical practitioner for obtaining medical assistance. This is mostly true in the case of a large majority of rural women.
Surveys and studies have revealed that traditional importance shown towards the male children is also one of the reasons for neglecting the health of female children. Women are found to be maintaining relatively good health in the regions wherever the rate of female literacy is higher. Kerala provides here the best example. Thus, from the health point of view also, womenfolk who are found to be weaker are to be made stronger.
3. Economic Exigencies of Women:
Indian women are economically weak in two respects:
(i) The per capita income of the Indians is quite low and a large number of families are under the tight grip of poverty. This economic distress naturally affects women who are a part and parcel of the family;
(ii) Since property laws in this country were not in favour of women for hundreds of years, women do not seem to be possessing property of their own. Even the working women who get some income give it to the custody of their men folk who take decisions to spend it.
Economic dependence of women on men still continues. This dependence weakens them economically. Thus, women require economic power to stand on their own legs on par with men.
4. Atrocities against Women:
Women constitute the weaker sex. This fact is also borne by the number of crimes and atrocities committed against them. There are cases of rape, kidnapping of girls, dowry harassments, molestation, sexual harassments, abuse of women, incestuous sex relations and so on. Women in all walks of life are discriminated against by men. They become the victims of atrocities in a number of ways. They require empowerment of all kinds in order to protect themselves against all types of atrocities and to preserve their purity and dignity.