Women's empowerment is not just an issue of social justice but also makes good economic sense. According to a recent International Labour Organisation (ILO) report 40% of the world's workforce comprises women. Therefore, the condition of women not only affects them adversely but also the country as a whole. If almost half of the workforce is unable to achieve its full potential isn't it an enormous waste of human resource? The elimination of gender disparity requires us to work at the political and socio-economic level. Steps taken by the Government such as the recently passed Domestic Violence Bill are welcome but huge efforts still need to be made. The key to their empowerment lies in free and equal participation in the democratic process, right from the village level to the Parliament. A lot of skeptics are quick to point out that most women elected to the Panchayati Raj Institutions are proxies for male members of the family. But the truth is that these rural women with little education have come into their own and things will only get better with time. This I can say from personal experience.