Empowerment of Women Through Distance Education in India
This paper attempts to outline the role of distance education in upgrading the status of women in India. In a large and developing country like India, distance education is not only cost-effective but can also reach out to all sections of society, including the marginalized and the dispossessed. In spite of the fact that women's participation in all spheres of life has increased in post-independence India, there has been no concomitant change in their status. This is partly because the thrust of our policies has been not to change relations of production which also subsume gender relations, but only to commiserate with the lot of women and to "improve" it with subsidies and other "discriminatory compensation."
Such ad-hoc solutions provide short-term remedies but fail to diagnose the basic problem. Instead of liberal humanist reformism, a more radical approach is needed so that the gender problem can be tackled not only in relation to its internal dialectic but also in relation to the economic, ideological, and political factors that constitute its wider context. While it is beyond the scope of this paper to undertake such a wide-ranging analysis a specific focus on how the Indria Gandhi National Open University can devise effective educational strategies that can bring about social change. A Women's Studies Centre can be set up not only to provide an interdisciplinary perspective to its academic courses but also to monitor sexism in the media and other cultural practices in order to generate awareness in gender-related issues, among other things. Surely a national open university would be the best site for such ideological battles to be fought and won.
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