Gender Equality is an uphill fight, one that is far from over. For centuries, women around the world have struggled for even the most basic rights. In case of India, the challenges that women face are typically rooted in social norms, cultural systems, and religious doctrine, and can be implicitly enshrined in law.
Gender Equality | What is gender discrimination?
- In some countries, women may not travel, work, or register to vote without permission from a man in her family. Even if it is not explicitly prohibited, joining the workforce is often very difficult for women, not least because of widespread resistance among the men who dominate these societies. Any woman who has sought to apply for a job knows just how vehement that opposition can be.
- The result of these norms and structures is that women in general are often subject to discrimination, isolation, and frustration. They are unable to participate freely in their societies or contribute to their countries’ economic development.
Gender Equality | Effect of Globalisation
The world is changing fast. At a time of ever-deepening inter-connectedness, people are more aware than ever of what is possible, and more motivated than ever to seek reforms – whether educational, economic, or political – that improve their lives. So which reforms are needed to advance gender equality?
Gender Equality | How to create gender equality?
- Education – A central area of focus must be education. First and foremost, schools give girls the knowledge they need to fulfil their potential in the future. But it is also vital to instil in both girls and boys an understanding of the need for social and economic equality, to reflect the fundamental equality of opportunity that all deserve.
- Policy and Regulation – Advancing gender equality also requires changes to policies and regulations. Beyond ensuring equal rights under the law, countries should work to boost the representation of women in politics and government. Women need to know that they can reach positions of genuine authority, even in domains from which they have historically been excluded – and they need encouragement to get there.
- Economic opportunities – The same is true for the economy. Women need opportunities and support to develop and run their own businesses, to innovate, and to become financially independent. This would benefit not only women, but also their families, communities, and the economy as a whole. Even women who do not own or run businesses would have much to offer, if given the chance to enter the workforce and earn their own living.
- Training – To realise the economic ends, training is crucial. Women need access to guidance, workshops, and longer-term training programs that prepare them to participate in the labour market, while ensuring that they know – and can defend – their rights.
Gender Equality | Steps in the right direction
- Government has enacted ‘Maternity Benefit Relief Amendment Act, 2016’ which aims to benefit about 1.8 million women in the organised sector and increase the strength of the working women force in the country.
- Delhi Police launched ‘Operation Veerangana’ which is a community based initiative to curb crime against women in the city.
- NITI Aayog recently organised ‘Women Transforming India Campaign’ in collaboration with the UN in India and MyGov on the occasion of ‘International Women’s Day’.
- India actively supported the need for a stand-alone goal on gender (under SDGs) and that women have a critical role to play in all of the SDGs.
- Government has also launched an initiative called ‘Mahila-e-Haat’ which is an online marketing platform for women to showcase their entrepreneurial skills. Women can display their products and it will provide access to markets to thousands of women all over the country.
- Government has also come up with a new draft policy for women which is roughly based on the recommendations of the ‘Pam Rajput Committee’ which has suggested an action plan to end violence against women. It aims to create sustainable socio-economic, political empowerment of women to claim their rights and entitlements, control over resources and formulation of strategic choices in realisation of the principle of gender equality and justice.
- Government has also planned to set up a sex offenders registry in the country on the lines of those maintained in western countries including the US and the UK. It will be an online database of charge-sheeted sexual offenders in the entire country which people can access through a Citizen Portal in the upcoming Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS) project.
- ‘Mahila Samikhya Programme’ benefits millions of women belonging to the most marginalised communities, such as Dalits or Adivasis. It focuses on training capability for social and gender awareness and has successfully achieved the creation of various Nari Adalats, counselling centres, Sanjeevani Kendras and Mahila Shikshan Kendras.
- ‘Pradhan Mantri Ujjawala Yojana’ aims to provide free LPG connections to women from BPL households. It would help to circumscribe various health hazards associated with cooking based on fossil fuels.
- ‘Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Yojana’ aims at creating a healthy motherhood experience for pregnant women. It provides free healthcare facilities to pregnant women each month which would help them to safely pass through the phase of pregnancy in a healthy manner.
Gender Equality | Conclusion
Achieving gender equality in India will be a long process, requiring fundamental educational, social, and economic reforms. But giving women the right training now can kick-start the process, enabling half the population finally to reach their potential – to the benefit of all.