Gender Equality India Essay

ender discrimination in India means health, education, economic and political discrimination between men and women. Today our country offers a lot of opportunities to women with women having a voice in everyday life, the business world as well as in political life.

Nevertheless India is still a male dominated country, where women are often seen as subordinate and inferior to men. Even though India is moving away from the male dominated culture, discrimination
is still highly visible in rural as well as in urban areas, throughout each and every strata of society. While women are guaranteed equality under the Constitution, legal protection has a limited effect where patriarchal traditions prevail.


According to the Global Gender Gap Report released by the World Economic Forum (WEF) in 2015, India was ranked 108 on the Gender Gap scale among 145 countries. When broken down into components of gender gap, India performs well on political empowerment, but it scored bad on sex selective abortion.

India also scored poorly on overall literary and health rankings of female. India with a 2015 ranking of 108 had an overall score of 0.664 while Iceland topped the list with an overall score 0.887.

The Constitution of India has tried to provide equality status to women.
  • Article 15 says that no woman can be discriminated against on the ground of sex and Article 39(a) emphasis that the citizens men and women equally have the right to an adequate means of livelihood. 
There are many spheres of life where women are denied opportunities. Discrimination against females starts with their birth and continues through their lives. This is evident from the declined child sex ratio of India. According to 2011 census, the child sex ratio in India was 919 females to 1000 males which declined from 927 females to 1000 males in the previous decade. The important factor for the declined sex ratio is female foeticide. Extreme poverty, dowry and preference of son in the society are few reasons for female foeticide.

Gender Discrimination on Economic Front 

The economic gender discrimination can be viewed in the labour participation of women. As per census 2011, the workforce participation rate for females is 25.51% against 53.26% for males. Females are stereotyped in various advertisements like that of washing machine, cooking utensils, perfume etc. 

Inequality in Education

Another major factor of discrimination lies in the right to education. According the the census 2011, the literacy rate of females is 65.46% compared to males which is 82.14%. Only states like Kerala and Mizoram have a high female literacy rate. The main reason behind the low female literacy rate is the mindest of the parents for whom girl's marriage is more important than her education. 

Gender Discrimination in Healthcare Sector

The Gender discrimination is evident in the healthcare sector as well. It is the male child who gets all the nutritions and choicest foods while the girl child gets whatever is left behind. One of the main reasons for the high incidences of difficult births and anemia in women is the poor quality of food which a girl always gets either in her paternal home or in her in-laws.

Discrimination in Politics

Gender discrimination is witnessed in the political participation of women in India as well. Women's participation in politics is not very impressive. The number of women politicians is small as compared to men. The majority of women are indifferent to politics, this is clear in their low participation in voting in public demonstrations and in public debates. Women turnout during India's 2014 Parliamentary general elections was 65.63%, compared to 67.09% turnout of men. The bill to provide 33% reservation of seats for women in Lok Sabha is still pending in Parliament.

Gender Discrimination in Career Choices

One such field where gender discrimination in India is rampant is sports. Although India boasts of several female athletes like PT Usha, Sania Mirza, Saina Nehwal, PB Sindhu, Sakshi Malik, Deepa Karmakar and so on, who have achieved accolades and made India proud. In Rio Olympics, only the female athletetes won medals for own country. Female discrimination is far more common in the field of sports than in other field.

Major problems faced by female sportspersons are social, psychological, financial and family constraints.

Government Initiative to Ensure Gender Equality 

Various protective legislations have been passed by the Parliament to eliminate exploitation of women and to give them equal status in society. The Government of India has taken steps and passed various acts to 1 ensure gender equality in the country.


Hindu Succession Act (1956), The Dowry Prohibition Act (1961), The DC and PNDT Act (2002), 33% of seats in Panchayat for women. The sexual harrasment of women at work place (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 are some laws to protect the interest of women in our society.

Further government has launched some schemes like, `Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao"Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya"Mother and Child Tracking System', The Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana etc to lessen the gender discrimination.

Apart from these initiatives taken by the government of India, many organisation are working against gender discrimintion. These includes; All India Democratic Women's Association, National Commission on Women, Ministry of Women Children and Development.

So, there are varied legislative safeguards and protection mechanisms for women but the ground reality is very different. Despite all these provisions, women are still being treated as second rate citizens in our country. Therefore, what is needed is the movement for women's empowerment. We hope that our democratic government would be able to find solutions to the problem of gender discrimination and would take us all towards the cherished dream of a truly modern society in both thought and action.

Difficult Words with Meanings :

  • Strata a level or grade of people or population with reference to social position, education etc; 
  • Foeticide the act of destroying a foetus or causing an abortion
  • Combat a fight or contend against; oppose vigourously
  • Anemia a lack of power, vigor, vitality or colourfulness
  • Turnout the gathering of persons for something; the act of turning or out
  • Elite persons of the highest class
  • Rampant violent in action or spirit; raging; furious
  • Counterparts a person or thing closely resembling another
  • Redressal a setting right of what is wrong; relief from wrong or injury.

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Long road to gender equality in India


 

Summary:

Gender Budgeting has become a powerful tool for gender mainstreaming. Over the past two decades, women’s empowerment has been increasingly recognized as a crucial factor for any country’s holistic and sustainable development. Several programs and projects across the world have been launched and are currently in progress to bring social, economic and political equity and broader access to basic livelihood needs.

  • India formally adopted gender budgeting in 2005. In that year, finance minister P. Chidambaram included in the budget documents a separate statement on spending programmes that benefit women in particular. It was his predecessor Yashwant Sinha who began the preparatory work for a shift to gender budgeting.

 

Why emphasis on gender?

  • Women represent 48% of total population in country.
  • Women face disparities in access to and control over services and resources.
  • There are specific needs of women that need to be addressed (practical and strategic gender needs).
  • Bulk of Public Expenditure and policy concerns are in Gender Neutral Sectors.
  • Implications on women in the above sectors are not recognised or identified (gender blind).

 

What is Gender Budgeting?

It is an attempt to scrutinize the budget from the gender lens and bring out the gender differential impact. In Gender Budgeting, “Gender” means women and her empowerment.

  • Gender budgeting is used as a tool for effective policy implementation where one can check if the allocations are in line with policy commitments and are having the desired impact.

 

Gender budget is not:

  • A separate budget.
  • About spending the same on women and men.
  • Just about assessing programmes targeted specifically at women and girls.
  • Confined to budgets alone. It covers analyzing various economic policies from the gender perspective.

 

Why is gender budgeting necessary?

The achievement of human development is highly dependent on the development and empowerment of the 496 million women and girls. In addition, the Constitution of India has mandated equality for every citizen of the country as a fundamental right.

  • Nevertheless, the reality is that women in India continue to face disparities in access to and control over resources. These disparities are reflected in indicators of health, nutrition, literacy, educational attainments, skill levels, occupational status among others.
  • The poor status and value attached to women is also reflected in the fact that the female sex ratio for the 0-6 age group declined from an already low 945 in 1991 to 927 in 2001, implying that millions of girls went missing in just a decade. There are a number of gender-specific barriers which prevent women and girls from gaining access to their rightful share.
  • Unless these barriers are addressed in the planning and development process, the fruits of economic growth are likely to completely bypass a significant section of the country’s population. This, in turn, does not augur well for the future growth of the economy.

Issues to be addressed:

  • Total magnitude of Gender Budget is very low.
  • Focus has been mainly on identifying programmes/schemes meant entirely for women or having visible components that benefit women.
  • Very little information is available in the public domain as regards the assumptions made by various ministries in the reviews of their expenditure profiles from a gender perspective.
  • Many misleading and patriarchal assumptions limit the scope of Gender Budgeting.
  • Sectors such as Water Supply, Sanitation, and Food & Public Distribution still remain outside the purview of the GB Statement.
  • Large schemes do not figure yet in the Gender Budgeting Statement.

 

What needs to be done to make gender budgeting more effective?

  • Gender budgeting should be fully incorporated into standard budget processes so that it becomes fully institutionalized. Otherwise, even initiatives adopted with enthusiasm may not be sustained. Some elements of gender budgeting, such as an analysis of benefits or tax incidence, may require periodic special efforts.
  • It should address specific goals, such as reducing inequality in educational attainment, that have clear benefits and can be measured even with somewhat crude tools and data.
  • It should draw on civil society for support and assistance with the more research-oriented aspects, and should apply to subnational levels of government where relevant. It should cover both spending and revenue.
  • It should not be a rule set specific goals for spending on women-related objectives because this tends to reduce flexibility, making the budget process less effective.

 

What else is needed?

Interventions like gender budgeting are undoubtedly welcome. However, gender budgeting alone is unlikely to solve the massive problem of gender inequality that not only prevents women from living a full life but also hurts economic growth.

  • For example, India has the lowest level of female participation in the labour force when compared to most other regional economies. Indian women enter the labour force only when there is economic distress while they retreat back into their homes once the situation improves—a rare case of employment going down when the economy improves.
  • Another issue that needs public policy attention is public goods. These by their very nature are accessible for all citizens because their consumption is neither exclusive nor rival. Yet, the lack of certain core public goods such as safe streets or lack of clean drinking water are more likely to hurt the economic prospects of women more than men.
  • The argument for safe streets is almost self-evident. The lack of clean drinking water on tap in effect means that women in many parts of the country spend several hours every day walking in search of water.

 

Conclusion:

Reducing gender disparities can lead to improved macroeconomic performance. The recognition that gender disparities are harmful and that government budgets are not gender neutral implies a need to incorporate gender considerations into the budgeting process. Although gender-budgeting initiatives can take many different forms, their most important purpose is to influence the budgeting process and help policymakers focus on ways that public policies can help reduce gender disparities and improve economic outcomes. India is still a laggard when it comes to gender equality, and changing this situation is an urgent task.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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