Women Empowerment Through Higher Education in Odisha: Challenges and Prospects


Women Empowerment has always been a burning issue in India. There have been numerous academic works carried by different researcher on this topic. However, this research work lies with the fact that it attempts to bring out the connection between women empowerment and higher education in the context of one of the most under a developed state in India that is Odisha.

Women and Higher Education in Odisha assume great importance because Odisha is one among the few states in India who has its own Women University, are still in a shell of inhibition to become free birds to boom in different environments. Even different types of movements are initiated but there are no powerful transformations seen in connection with making a woman a fully-fledged individual. In this scenario, this article tries to eradicate the factors contributing to the inhibiting factors among the women to move into such a world of difference and the importance of higher education in empowering her to become a complete personality.

Keywords: Women Empowerment, Higher Education and Odisha

1. Introduction
1.1 Background of the study
Women are an integral part of every society in any part of the world. All-round development and harmonious growth of a nation would be possible only when women are considered as equal partners in progress with men. As the youngest-ever Nobel prize laureate from Pakistan Malala Yousafzai says, “We cannot all succeed if half of us are held back.” Education and empowerment are the two significant weapons in promoting good quality and purposeful life of the women. Higher education is the most important tool for women empowerment making them aware of their rights and changing the biased societal mindset against them. It helps social, economic, and political empowerment among women. So women empowerment is critical to the process of development of the community. Hence the researchers visualized the Odisha context in this research.

1.2 Education in Odisha context

Odia is the regional language of the state. Odisha has fared reasonably well in terms of literacy rates. The overall literacy rate according to Census 2011 is 73.5%, which is marginally behind of the national average of 74.04%. In Odisha, there are also many schools and colleges, maintained by the government. There are two ministers who look after the education in the state namely The Minister of School and Mass Education and the Minister for Higher Education and Health Education. In addition, medical education comes under the Ministry of Industries whereas educational programs relating to pre-school and Anganwadi come under the Ministry of Panchayati Raj. The education department of the Secretariat is responsible for policymaking, planning, budgeting and providing other support services for the education sector. The Secretariat coordinates with finance, planning and other related ministries, assists in cabinet meetings, legislature functioning in regard to education, release of grant to the supporting department, liaison with the Ministry of Human Resource Development and other agencies fixes norms and provides broad guidelines for growth, expansion and qualitative improvement of education, initiate research, monitor and evaluate the work of various departments and programs. Odisha has adopted the national system of education of 10+ 2+ 3.

1.3 Higher Education in Odisha

Higher Education of women plays a crucial role in releasing their energy and creativity and enabling them to meet the complex challenges of the present world. Therefore higher education is an advanced stage of learning in educational structure. The academic and intellectual standard of any society gets shaped and reflected through the institution of higher education.At the time of formation of Odisha in 1936, as a separate state, there were only five colleges. During 1947-48, there were eleven arts and science colleges and one medical college affiliated to
Utkal University with an enrolment of 3,885 students, out of which 219 were girls. The girl students constitute only 5.64 percent of the total enrolment. During the post-independence period Radhakrishnan Commission
(1948) was formed, which influenced the development of higher education. The number of colleges increased to fourteen including four Intermediate Colleges and one women’s college with an enrolment of 6,671 at the beginning of the First five year Plan period (1951-52). During the Third five year Plan, 26 general colleges, one
engineering college at Rourkela, one medical college at Berhampur, another medical college at Burla in
Sambalpur district and one Regional College of Education at Bhubaneswar were started. During Fifth five year
Plan period (1974-75 to 1977-78) period, in spite of the extra efforts to expand women’s higher education, the participation rate was 3.1 percent of the total population in the age group of 17-22 years. During this period two women’s colleges, one at Baripada and another at Dhenkanal, were established. The main objective of the Sixth five year Plan (1980-81 to 1984-85) was to improve the quality of higher education, rather than quantitative expansion. The major achievement during the 9th five-year plan is the establishment of three more universities after a gap of 17 years. These universities are North Orissa University, Baripada, established on 13th July 1998; Fakir Mohan University, Balasore, established on 11th July 1999; Culture University, Bhubaneswar, established on 4th January 2000. Rama Devi Women’s University (2015 ) is a state university for women in Odisha. It was founded as the Rama Devi Women’s College in 1964. It is the first Women’s university of Odisha.

1.4 Need of Women Empowerment

Empowerment is probably the totality of the following or similar capabilities:
• Having decision-making power of their own
• Having access to information and resources for taking proper decision
• Having a range of options from which you can make choices (not just yes/no, either/or.)
• Ability to exercise assertiveness in collective decision making
• Having positive thinking on the ability to make change
• Ability to learn skills for improving one’s personal or group power.
• Ability to change others’ perceptions by democratic means.
• Involving in the growth process and changes that is never-ending and self-initiated

1.5 Relationship Between Higher Education and Women Empowerment

• Enhancing their confidence
• awareness about their rights
• Boosting their self-esteem
• Increasing their self-efficacy
• Reducing their dependency
• The better upbringing of their children
• Enhancing their mobility
• Opening career opportunities1.6 Higher Education and Women In Odisha: Inter-District Composition and

The research has been undertaken in Odisha. There are 30 districts in Odisha. For the convenience of the comparison, districts have been categorized into ‘high’ and ‘low’ districts on the basis of their women literacy rates. The top five districts on the basis of their position in 2011 census of literacy rate such as Khordha, Jagatsinghpur, Puri, Kendrapara, Cuttack are categorized as ‘high’ districts. Another 5 districts from the lower order such as Gajapati, Koraput, Rayagada, Nabarangpur, and Malkangiri are categorized as ‘low’ districts on the basis of their respective positions in the census. A comparison of literacy rates of Odisha with other districts reflects the overall women literacy situation in Odisha. Female literacy is considered a key investment in women empowerment. But the KBK districts, which are the most populated district in Odisha, are still lagging behind in general literacy and in female literacy. Odisha has an overall literacy rate of 73.5 % which falls below the national average of 74%. The women female literacy rate is 56.13% as per 2011 population census. The wide gap between male and female literacy rates in Odisha is indicative of enduring gender bias in the state. The high literacy of women figures of Khordha district is certainly influenced by the inclusion of the state capital in the statistics. Even in Khordha district numerous Engineering colleges, management institution, Utkala University, KITT University, SOA University, IIT Bhubaneswar, NISER, AIIMs various academic institution such as BJB Autonomous college, Ramadevi Women’s University, OUAT, Centurian University with numerous schools both government and private ones took place. Therefore, it is the most important reason for which Khordha is the highest women literacy rate in Odisha. On the other hand in Nabarangapur poverty level is high then the other districts, even the lack of infrastructure for education and illiteracy also another reason for the lowest literacy rate among women and in Malkangiri this is due to heavy Naxal activities and large tribal population.

1.7 Women Enrolment and Women Empowerment in Various Programmes in Odisha
and India
The Government of Odisha in India has come up with various programs called schemes (yojana) from time to
time for the women empowerment and women enrolment of the state.
• Sudakhya Scheme
• Akanshya Yojana
• Scholarship for Higher Education (SHE)
• INSPIRE Scholarship
• Ujjwala Scheme
• Kaling Sikya Sathi Yojana (KSSY)
• Pragati Scholarships
• Odisha State Interest Subvention Scheme (OSISS)
• Mission Shakti
• Utthan Scheme
• Utkarsh Scheme
• Mukhyamantri Medhabruti Puraskar Yojana
• Khushi Scheme
• Biju Kanya Ratna Yojana
• Banishree Yojana
• RMK (Rashija Mahila Kush)
• STEP (Support to training and employment program for women)
• SSA (Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan)
• BEB (Bachao Beti Bachao)
• SwaymSidha Scheme
• Kishore Shakti Yojana

1.8 Conclusion
For this context in this research work, the researchers intend to through different reviews and above views took a conclusion that no doubt above all these are the best study areas so far as the different plans, policies for women empowerment and women education collaborated context.

2. Literature Reviews

2.1 Importance of reviews

No doubt in this connection in Odisha there is no such studies are conducted in any stages of research development from mini to macro level. Henceforth important of these reviews is appreciable.

Sudha Nayar (2011), Education For Women Empowerment: An Evolution Of The Government
analysis the equality in the social system is a necessary condition for empowering the women.
• Prem Chand Patanjali (2005), conducted Development Of Women Education In India and found
that education is vital to ensuring a better quality of life for all children and a better world for all the
Trailokya Jena, (2009-10), Status of women in Indian Society: Towards a Gender Responsive
Governance discusses the whole gamut of the issue of women empowerment by throwing light on
their past and present status.
• Gordon Charlie, (2011), Women’s Education and modern Contraceptive Use in Ethiopia. In
Ethiopia, the government is trying to educate more and more women about their bodies, menstrual
issues, the gynecological problems they face and the newest methods available to protect them from
unwanted pregnancies.
• Sumitra Mishra, (2009-10), Women Empowerment through Education: Commissions and
Omissions analysis the policies formulated by various Commissions set up in independent India for the
promotion of women education.
• R.K.Bakshi, (2012), Challenges Of Women Empowerment in this book he described women’s
struggle for getting power and position in the society and family. Various issues, challenges and
strategies for women’s empowerment are given in-depth treatment.
• Rupali Sharma, Zia Afroz (2014), Women Empowerment through Higher Education. This
research paper helps in understanding that there is a great need of empowering Indian women through
higher education, providing higher education doesn’t mean providing women literacy but also making
they educated to know their rights and duties.

3. Methodology and Procedures
3.1 Objectives
The main objectives of the research paper are as follows:
1. To study the need and importance of women’s education for socio-economic-political development.
2. To identify the lack of education as the greatest hindrance in the path of women empowerment.
3. To evaluate the impact of higher education on women empowerment.
4. To assess the relevance of higher education in women’s life.
5. To analyze the educational development of women through government initiatives and schemes.3.2 Methodology
The present research work is based on the normative method of social science research. Data shall be collected from the secondary sources like Government Report, Books, Journals, Research Paper, and relevant institution shall be studied to evaluated and concluded.

3.3 Conclusion
However, above all these systematic steps followed to methodology, we came to the conclusion that women
empowerment through higher education will be explained to Concept and context, trends of different forms of
women in Odisha, causes of women empowerment in Odisha, the role of higher education suggested to suggestive
suggestion for universal implication in the fields of present-day contexts.

4. Concept and Context
4.1 Introduction- Constitutional Privileges for women rights in the Indian constitution
(i) Equality before law for women (Article 14)
(ii) The State not to discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth
or any of them (Article 15 (i))
(iii) The State to make any special provision in favor of women and children (Article 15 (3))
(iv) Equality of opportunity for all citizens in matters relating to employment or appointment to any office under
the State (Article 16)
(v) The State to direct its policy towards securing for men and women equally the right to an adequate means of
livelihood (Article 39(a)); and equal pay for equal work for both men and women (Article 39(d))
(vi) To promote justice, on a basis of equal opportunity and to provide free legal aid by suitable legislation or
scheme or in any other way to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by
reason of economic or other disabilities (Article 39 A)
(vii) The State to make provision for securing just and humane conditions of work and for maternity relief
(Article 42)
(viii) The State to promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the
people and to protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation (Article 46)
(ix) The State to raise the level of nutrition and the standard of living of its people (Article 47)
(x)Reservation of offices of Chairpersons in Municipalities for the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes and
women in such manner as the legislature of a State may by law provide (Article 243 T (4))

4.2 Concept- Women empowerment through higher education in general
• Violation of Right to Education
• Violation of Right to leave with dignity
• Violation of Right to Liberty
• Violation of Right to equal opportunities for employment
• Violation of Right to free choice for a profession
• Violation of Right to work with the equitable condition
• Violation of Right to get equal wages for equal work
• Violation of Right to protection from gender discrimination

4.3 Context- Hindrance of Women Empowerment & in Higher Education in Odisha Declining quality education
• Poor Economic Condition of The Parents
• Market – Oriented Higher Education
• Conservatism
• Coeducation
• Curriculum
• Illiteracy
• Lack of Sufficient Number of Institution, Buildings, Equipment and Proper Means of Communication
• Part-Time Education
• Wastage / Dropout And Stagnation
• Lack of Supervision and Personal Guidance
• Sexual Harassment In Educational Institution

5. Suggestions- the role of higher education for women empowerment in Odisha

Higher education plays an important role in women empowerment in Odisha. The overall analysis of Women
empowerment measurers in Odisha reveals that there are so many welfare schemes periodically announced by
Odisha government based on the welfare state’s aim of taking care of the people from womb to tomb. Most of the schemes are partially funded by the Central Government. It has been said that announcing and advertising so many schemes is not a big thing in a poor state like Odisha. More than that, the implementation of every scheme in a successful manner to reach the needy on time is important.

6. References
• Sahay,S. (1998), “Women and Empowerment: Approaches and Strategies”, Discovery Publishing
House, N. Delhi, p. 202
• Sahu,A. (2009-10) “Empowering Women in India: Issues and challenges”, Dominant Publishers and
Distributors Pvt. Ltd. ,Delhi,p-202.
• Bakshi, P.M (2012) “The Constitution of India”, New Delhi: Universal Law Publishing Co., India
• Satapathy, S. ( 2016) “Status of Higher Education for Women in Odisha: an Inter-District Analysis”,
IOSR Journal Of Humanities And Social Science (IOSR-JHSS) Volume 21, Issue8, Ver. 7 PP 01-10
• Government of India, 2001 Census Data, DDW-2100C-2011 assessed from Internet
• Samal, K.C. “Developing Human Capital in Orissa: Role of Education”, Orissa Economic Journal,
Vol. XXXVIII No1&2, Jan-June & July-Dec.2006.
• Mukherjee, K.C(1997) “A Comparative Study of some Educational Problems”, Mangala Publications.


Rajalaxmi Mishra
Department of Political Science & public administration, Sambalpur University, Odisha
Email: [email protected]

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