Between 1951 and 1981, i.e. post-independence, the absolute numbers of illiterate women in India increased from 158.7 million to 241.7 million. Women comprised 57 per cent of the illiterate population, and 70 per cent of the non-enrolled children of school stage were girls.
Any policy for the empowerment of women that governments might undertake cannot hope for any degree of success if the issue at stake is the basic literacy of the woman. Education, to a very real extent, equals empowerment.
THE NATIONAL POLICY OF EDUCATION (1986)
Hence, in 1986, the National Policy of Education devised various strategies for achieving its target of true emancipation of women and equality between the sexes via education. The stress was laid on Women’s Studies, that would have the four-fold path of teaching, research, training and extension to follow.
Teaching would involve:
i) Incorporation of issues relating to women’s status and role in the foundation course proposed to be introduced by University Grants Commission for all undergraduate students;
ii) Incorporation of the women’s dimension into courses in different disciplines;
iii) Elimination of sexist bias and sex stereotypes from textbooks.”
Research would involve:
“i) Encouraging research on identified areas and subjects which are crucial in advancing knowledge in this area and to expand the information base;
ii) Critical appraisal of existing tools and techniques which have been responsible for the disadvantages suffered by them and where necessary reformation of research methodology.”
Training would involve:
“i) Dissemination of information and interaction through seminars/workshops on the need for Women’s Studies and its role in University education;
ii) Orientation of teachers and researchers to handle women-related topics and to incorporate women’s dimension into general topics;
iii) Workshops for restructuring the curriculum.”
And Extension would involve:
“It is proposed to encourage educational institutions to take up programmes which directly benefit the community and bring about the empowerment of women. These would include actual implementation of development programmes directly aimed at women’s empowerment such as adult education, awareness building, legal literacy, informational and training support for socio-economic programmes of women’s development, media, etc.”