Dr. Jyotsna Jha will be delivering a talk at TIFR, Hyderabad on 15 October 2019 at 4 p.m. The title of the talk is ‘Women’s empowerment through public policy: A mirage, a distant dream or a reality?’. It is a presentation based on an evaluative study of Mahila Samkhya (MS), a State funded programme for women’s education and empowerment.
Mahila Samkhya (MS) is perhaps the only State funded programme that was largely based on feminist theory and located within State machinery, implemented in 11 Indian states. Based on an evaluation following cross-sectional analyses (using both quantitative and ethnographic work) of the effects and processes of MS in three districts of Bihar that implemented the programme for varying number of years at the time of its closure in 2016, we have explored the issue of women’s empowerment and its different dimensions in our recently published book titled: Women’s Education and Empowerment in Rural India. We argue that (i) empowerment is an indivisible concept; for instance, economic empowerment cannot be achieved without addressing all other aspects of subordination and power, (ii) the process of empowerment is a long process of social change and can be non-linear, and therefore it is important to design the policy accordingly, and (iii) the process of empowerment can be sustained only through application of clear principles across all aspects of a programme, including protection of rights and entitlements of those implementing it.