Role Of Mass Communication In Empowering Women: A Third World Perspective

Dr. Ganesh Sethi*
Dr. Pradosh Kumar Rath **

Women hold up half of the world affairs. Women are regarded as the creator of the mankind. In women lie nature’s best qualities of motherhood, compassion, humanity and love. In spite of being the creator, they are being neglected all over the world. From the Greek civilization to the present period, women are always being sidelined. Their views are never being considered so far as the important matters are concerned; rather their views are being sabotaged.

If we go through the history of the world, women are generally regarded as object of beauty and sex. As far as the women in India are concerned they are not only being neglected and are always being victimized by the society in the form of domestic violence, rape, sexual harassment, girl child abuse, foeticide etc. Actually they are being biased from the male dominated society.  We will discuss the male biasedness in the society.

  1. Physical bias – Women are regarded as soft and tender, unable to work shoulder to shoulder with the male.
  2. Economic bias – The female in a family is meant for keeping the kitchen and brings up the children only. Even if they go for earning, they are paid less comparing to the male.
  3. Socio-cultural bias – The Indian society and culture is so peculiar that the women are always kept inside the house and never being consulted in the decision making process. Even the language itself is male biased. The words of ‘chairman’, ‘watchman’ etc. are always used in a general content. Even the proverbs like ‘man is a social animal’ itself is male biased.
  4. Technical bias – Technology is the symbol of change in the society. The society has gone through three revolutions i.e., the agricultural, industrial and the information revolution.
    With the coming of industrial revolution male dominated the society by   introducing machines meant for the male only, starting from the use of tractor to the use of industrial technology to information age.
  5. Psychological bias – Female are always tortured and neglected. They even fear to utter some words in a family. The girls know from the childhood that their duty is to serve the parents before marriage and in-laws after it.

Analysing the problems of women in India, the important cause behind this problem is education.

Women empowerment

The process of empowering women was started from the last quarter of the 20th century. In 1975 the UN declared the year as Women’s year and the period between 1975 and 1985 as women’s decade. The chambers dictionary defines empowerment as “the giving to individuals of power to take decisions in matters relating to themselves, especially in relation to self-development”.

Empowerment means handover the power to marginalized group – the poor, the illiterates and the communities which are down trodden including the women community. The purpose of empowerment is always to bring some change in the society which is positive in nature.

Thus the women empowerment can be divided into four components i.e.., cognitive, psychological, socio-economical and political.

Cognitive component refers to the women’s understanding of their problems, its causes and the solutions to it by destroying old beliefs and male biasedness.

The psychological component gives a moral boost to the women community by trying to restore their own dignity and prestige.

The economic component requires that women be able to engage is a productive activity to earn at par with the male counterparts.

The political empowerment makes the women part of the decision-making process, developmental activities and policy-making processes.

Indicators of empowerment

There are some indicators of empowerment of women which makes the bases of empowerment.

At the individual level:

  1. Participation in crucial decision-making processes.
  2. Extent of sharing domestic work by men.
  3. Self-confidence and self-esteem, and ability to prevent violence.

At the community and / or organizational level:

  1. Existence of women’s organization,
  2. Allocation of funds to women and women’s projects
  3. Increased number of women leaders at village, district, province and national levels.
  4. Participation in community programmes, productive enterprises politics and arts.
  5. Exercising her legal rights whenever necessary

At the national level:

  1. Awareness of her social and political rights.
  2. Integration of women in the general national development plan
  3. Existence of women’s networks and publications.

Role of mass communication in empowering women

The role of media is to work as a liaisoning agent between the government and the people. To achieve social and economic development of these countries, a new study in mass communication was born known as development communication during the second half of the 20th century with introduction of research projects and research publications of the third world countries.

Women can be properly empowered if the mass communication institutions should work for it. The communication should utilize all its mass media to uphold the dignity of women.

Traditional media

Traditional media is otherwise called as participatory media because in this form the people can participate in a discussion or programme. So the government and the other organization should use folk media, folk songs and dances to involve the women in different activities. This media will very much be helpful for the rural areas, where women are more tortured, and people out there constitute 70% of the total Indian population.

The print media

The print medium is a 300 years institution in India. With this 300 years a number of news related to women have been published. When they do draw the attention of the media, they are often sensationalized, trivialized or otherwise distorted. But some leading national newspapers have focused their attention on women empowerment. Advertisements should be discouraged by the print media, which shows women’s body to attract the readers. Exposure of women should not be published in the newspapers if the product being advertised does not relate to that exposure.

The electronic media

The electronic media comprises of radio and television. The important aspect of radio is that it covers 99.3 % of total population and 93.2 % of total areas. The problems of the women should be discussed in its programmes and putting questions on different gender problems should be encouraged from the women in its question answer programmes. An expert, in this field should answer all these questions and suggest an appropriate remedy to these problems.

 The visual is more important as the audience always follow the principle of ‘seeing is believing’. The role of television is not only to encourage women empowerment but also to expose the atrocities against women in the form of rape, domestic violence, girl foeticide and sexual abuse. But the television should also be hold responsible for bringing the women’s status into disrepute. The government should have some control over the cable television.

The new media

With the introduction of Internet, mobile internet and computer, the scope of mass communication has been proliferated. The increasing in number of porn sites are really an alarming factors. With the introduction of web-cam the women are being photographed in their private chambers or while having sex and it is shown in the Internet or sell it to the agents for ‘production of blue films’.

The positive aspects is limited few website portals who work for the development of women. They receive complains from women through e-mail and fight for their cause. For this purpose, women should be literate and conscious so that they can come forward for their cause.

There are some common goals to be achieved for empowerment of women trough media:

  • Media should work as a catalyst in transforming male dominated society.
  • Highlight the developmental aspects of the women community and encourage other to do so.
  • Work as gatekeeper to the society by filtering ill message against them.
  • Media should always highlight to atrocities against women.
  • Discourage the exploitation of women in the form of filming, offering role in films and televisions in lieu of their body, producing porn sites and sex sites etc.
  • Women reporters and journalists should be encouraged.
  • Women education should be encouraged. The ‘Women studies’ should be substituted by ‘gender studies’ or ‘feminist studies’.

PAR Methodology on women empowerment

PAR has emerged as a forceful methodology, an action approach. According to M.A. Rahman, one of the propounder of PAR, domination of the poor and marginalized comes about at least three ways.

  1. Control over the means of material production.
  2. Control over the means of knowledge production and
  3. Control over power that legitimizes the relative worth and utility of different epistemologies /knowledge

Thus, if PAR is applied on women the community will gain much with domination of above three factors. Knowledge will be applied only if they are given chance to participate in the policy making process. This theory emphasizes on the endogenous participating action or the inherent knowledge of the marginalized class.

Basing on PAR methodology process should be developed on which the women community will use their own developmental methods of consciousness – raising or crucial awareness of their existential situation. Another important aspect of PAR is it takes place in a local context, uses local material / non-material inputs, and is dominated by local people and their organizations (Melkote & Steeves, 2001).


The outsiders may be included of the women organizational and the local self-government comprises of municipality, N.A.C., Panchayat heads and the Block Development Officer. But they should be allowed after the first two stages. If this process will be successful than total empowerment of women is possible. But the above model should be interactive. One-way communication will not be helpful in this process.


Women empowerment has been on topic of active consideration in different parts of the world, both in government as well as non-governmental level for the last few decades. Third world is no exception to this with the involvement of media, the process of women empowerment is being faster. Women and their organizations today are no more passive, they are active. Delhi gang-rape case is the glaring example of women empowerment in India that has forced the system to shake-up.


  1. National policy for the empowerment of women.
  2. op.cit.
  3. Melkote, S. and H. Leslie Steeves: Communication for development in the Third World; New Delhi, Sage Publication, 2001.
  4. op. cit.
  5. Between the lines: women’s issues in English language newspapers: Ammu Joseph and Kalpana Sharma. Economic and Political weekly, vol. 26, No. 43, Oct. 26, 1991
  6. op. cit
  7. India 2006: Govt. of India
  8. Is ‘Gender’ easy to study? Some reflections: ‘M Krishnaraj’ economic and Political weekly, vol. 26, No. 43, Oct. 26, 1991
  9. Melkote, Srinivas and H.L. Steeves – Ibid
  10. Op. cit
  11. Desai, N. and Thakkar, K.; Women in Indian Societies, New Delhi,

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