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Need of Equality for Women

  • Category
    Society
  • Published
    10th Mar, 2023

Context

Decades of advances on women’s rights are being wound back and the world is now hundreds of years away from achieving gender equality, according to the United Nations’ Chief stated as the world celebrated International Women’s Day on 8th March 2023.

Which are the improved areas?

  • Improved education: The country has registered significant improvements in closing gender gaps in education.
    • Data: According to the latest edition of the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report Index (2022), India has a score of 1 for the sub-categories of primary education and tertiary education enrolment under the vertical ‘Educational Attainment’. 
    • Concerted governmental efforts: Sarva Sikhsha Abhiyaan (2001), the Right to Education Act (2009), the mid-day meal scheme (1995), and Beti Bacho, Beti Padhao campaign (2015), and myriad scholarship schemes for the girl child.
  • Improved sex ratio: From having a highly skewed sex ratio at birth owing to the social and cultural devaluation of females and the phenomenon of strong ‘son preference’, India has improved its sex ratio at birth from 898 females per 1000 males in 1999 to 907 females per 1000 males in 2019. 
    • While gender balance is still not in sight and sex-selective abortion continues to take place, we must acknowledge the change that has transpired in a society rife with instances of female foeticide, infanticide, and neglect. 
  • Improved equality: India also improved its position marginally in the Gender Inequality Index (GII) in 2021 (0.490) from 2020 (0.493). 

What are the current areas of concern?

  • Gap in labour force: In 2021, India’s female labour force participation was 23%, one of the lowest in the world and well below the world average of 47%.
  • Gap in Male Female Literacy Rate:  The literacy rate of women in India, especially in rural areas, still remains very poor.
    • Schools in rural India are at considerable distances and in absence of strong local law and order, women find it unsafe to travel long distances for schooling.
    • Traditional practices like female infanticidedowryand early marriage have also contributed to the problem as many families find it economically unviable to educate the girl child.
  • Role Stereotyping: Still a large section of our Indian Society considered the roles of men as taking all the financial responsibilities and work outside.
    • Gender role stereotyping attributed to women has generally led to prejudice and discrimination against women.
    • For example, women may be considered to be less reliable as workers because of their child-rearing functions.
  • Differentiation in the Socialisation Process: In many parts of India, especially in rural regions, there are still different socialisation norms for men and women.
    • Women are expected to be soft-spoken, calm, and quiet. They should walk, talk, sit and behave in a certain manner. Whereas men ought to be confident, loud, and could display any behaviour as per their wish.
  • Representation of Women in Legislature: The representation of women in different legislative bodies remains low across India.

Status of Crime against Women: (India-specific)  

  • According to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), every day 93 women are being raped in the country.
  • Crime against women across the country increased by around 10 per cent last year as compared to previous year with total 3,37,922 cases registered in 2014 against 3,09,546 cases in 2013, according to the National Crime Records Bureau’s latest report
  • Indian Government statistics also show that an estimated 7000 brides are killed and 18000 are maimed every year in India over dowry disputes alone.
  • Violent conflict, displacement, the growing climate emergency, the repercussions of the global pandemic, and vocal anti-feminist movements have reversed generational gains in women’s rights. 
  • According to the report of Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and UN Women, India ranks 148 out of 193 countries in the number of elected female representatives in parliament.
  • Safety Concern: In India, despite of continuous efforts in the field of Safety, women are threatened by various acts via feticides, domestic violencerapetraffickingforced prostitution, honour killings, sexual harassment at workplace etc.
  • Period Poverty: a lack of access to sanitary products, menstrual education and hygiene and sanitation facilities necessary to properly manage menstruation.
    • According to a United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) study conducted in 2011 only 13% of girls in India are aware of menstruation before menarche.
  • Glass Ceiling: Women not only in India but across the globe face a social barrier preventing women from being promoted to top jobs in management.

Global challenges:

The World Bank’s Gender Data Portal has given to explore some of the obstacles still preventing women from fully participating in the economy:

  • Globally, nearly one in three women have experienced violence:   
  • Violence against women and girls is a global pandemic. Almost one in three—or 736 million—women above the age of 15 across the world have experienced intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence at least once in their lifetime
  • The gap in labour force participation rate between women and men has not narrowed in most regions over the last three decades:
  • Globally, roughly half of working age women participates in the labour force, which is significantly lower than the male labour force participation rate of around 80%.  
  • This gap is virtually unchanged from what it was three decades ago.
  • Across the world, more than one in five women have been child brides:
  • According to the latest statistics, more than one in five women was first married before the age of 18, with the practice of child marriage being most prevalent in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

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