WALK TO EQUALITY
MANTHAN TOPIC : ENSURING SAFETY AND EMPOWERMENT OF WOMEN
• Scope :
WOMEN EDUCATION : After 60 years of independence, 1 in 3 women in India are still illiterate. There is a wide gender disparity in the literacy rate in
India: effective literacy rates (age 7 and above) in 2011 were 82.14% for men and 65.46% for women. Although the tread of women education is increasing,
it‘s needs to be promoted more for a better and improved empowerment of women.
PHYSICAL ABUSE : About 10% of all the crimes committed in the country are those of women abuse. Domestic violence in India is endemic and
widespread predominantly against women. Around 70% of women in India are victims of domestic violence. National Crime Records Bureau reveal that a
crime against a woman is committed every three minutes, a woman is raped every 29 minutes, a dowry death occurs every 77 minutes, and one case of cruelty
committed by either the husband or relative of the victim occurs every 9 minutes. This all occurs despite the fact that women in India are legally protected
from domestic abuse under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act. Nationally, 8% of married women have been subject to sexual violence,
such as forced sex, 31% of married women have been physically abused in a way defined as ‗less severe‘, such as slapping or punching, while 10% have
suffered ‗severe domestic violence‘, such as burning or attack with a weapon. Also, 12% of those who report being physically abused report the following
injuries as a result of the violence: bruises , injury, sprains, dislocation or burns, wounds, broken bones or broken teeth and /or severe burns.
MENSTRUAL HYGIENE : In India women have progressed, rising from the darkness of social confinement, they are now walking head to
head in this prejudiced society. However, even amidst this encouraging picture a very grim reality has recently emerged. Women‘s hygiene and
sanitation concerns have worsened, even in these times of medical progress. According to latest reports in a leading daily, only 12%
of menstruating women use Sanitary Napkins. Thus, the remaining 88% use home-grown shocking alternatives like husk sand, un sanitized cloth
and ashes. A study conducted by AC Neilsen called ―Sanitation protection: Every Women’s Health Right‖, provides in depth analysis of the
prevalent unhygienic practices and their effect on women‘s health. The survey covers 1033 women in the menstrual age and 151 gynecologists
who studied them. Reviewed and endorsed by community development organization Plan India, the survey was conducted in October 2010.
Low female literacy rate means an
overall sluggish growth of India, as
it impacts every arena of the
development. India is struggling
hard to stabilize its growing
population through family planning
programs. But if females are
illiterate, then this has a direct and
negative impact on these initiatives.
It has been found out that illiterate
women face more hardships in life
than literate ones. They have high
levels of fertility as well as mortality;
they suffer from malnutrition and all
other related health problems. She,
who does not know the importance of
education in life, does not emphasize
the same for her kids.
The negative attitude of parents towards
the girl child and her education is one
of the major reasons of low female
literacy rate in India. Right from the
beginning, parents do not consider girls
as earning members of their family, as
after marriage they have to leave their
Another barrier to female
education in India is the lack of
female teachers. As India is a
gender segregated society, it is
a very important factor in the
low female literacy rate in
A recent G-20 survey ranked India
as the worst place to be a woman.
Female feticide, domestic violence,
sexual harassment and other forms
of gender-based violence constitute
the reality of most girls‘ and
women‘s lives in India. That
domestic violence in India and
globally is grossly under-reported
in surveys and to the police is well
The disparity in reporting of domestic
violence ranges from a difference of
around 6% for Himachal Pradesh to a
high of 58% in Bihar—that is, in
Bihar, half of domestic violence cases
reported in surveys are not reported to
the police. Southern India with greater
gender ‗fairness‘ has large gaps (44%
in Tamil Nadu, 32% in Andhra
Pradesh and 20% in Karnataka).
Even within the national survey, the
severity of violence is likely to be
under-emphasized because the
correlation between injuries sustained
as a result of domestic violence varies
very little between severe and less
severe instances of abuse. In other
words, those reporting ‗less severe‘
abuse may in fact be suffering far more.
Despite the provision for the
anti-dowry law 304(B) (to
prosecute deaths due to dowry
harassment) to be read
alongside 498(A) (to prosecute
domestic violence), this is
frequently not the case,
particularly in Bihar, Uttar
Pradesh and Orissa.
According to a survey, 68% of
adolescent girls said their first
choice was cloths, while 32% said
it was sanitary pads. Use of such
cloths is harmful to the hygiene of
Women. Improving quality of life
with new menstrual hygiene
practices among adolescent tribal
girls is a major issue in India.
23% of girls drop out of school after
they start menstruating. Due to such
grossly practices, over 70% of the
women have some kind of
Reproductive Tract Infection (RTI) in
Menstrual hygiene is lowest in eastern
India with 83% women saying their
families can‘t afford SNs. Thus,
affordability of such protective
measures becomes a big question.
According to UNICEF – for the period
2003-08, the maternal mortality rate in
India is almost 250 deaths/1000
Unhygienic practices could lead
to ascending infections. Nearly
97% gynecologists in the study
believed that use of napkins
reduced the risk of severe RTIs.
Around 64% of them also
believed that STs reduce the
risk of cervical cancer.
A FEW DETAILS OF SOME OF THE PROBLEMS FACED BY WOMEN IN INDIA
SUGGESTED SOLUTIONS TO THE DESCRIBED PROBLEMS
Availability of schools for girls.
Sector Ninth Plan Outlay (1972-2002) (Central (Sector) Tenth Plan Outlay (2002-2007) (Central Sector)
Plan Expenditure on Different Sectors of Education10
Source: Year Plan Documents, Planning Commission and Analysis of Budget Expenditure, Ministry of HRD.
Figures in parenthesis in millions of Rupees.
Figure in col. 2 to col. 11 includes the share of the States / UTs.
Included under Elementary Education
Essential elements of quality education for girls
• Schools – is a school within a reasonable distance; does it have proper facilities for girls; is it a safe environment and commute; is it free of violence? If not, parents are unlikely to ever
send their daughter to school.
• Teachers – is there a teacher; are they skilled; do they have appropriate teaching materials? Is it a female teacher? Are there policies to recruit teachers from minority communities? If
not, girls may not learn as much at school and drop out.
• Students – is she healthy enough; does she feel safe; is she free from the burden of household chores or the need to work to supplement the family income; is there a water source
close by? If not, she may never have a chance to go to school.
• Families – does she have healthy parents who can support a family; does her family value education for girls; can her family afford the cost of schooling? If not, economic necessity
may keep her at home.
• Societies – will the family’s and the girl’s standing in the community rise with an education; will new opportunities open up? If not, an education may not be in the family’s interest.
• Governments – does the government provide adequate resources to offer sufficient school places; do salaries reach the teachers; do teachers receive quality training; is the
government drawing in other agencies to maximize the provision of schooling; is there a clear strategy and budget based on the specific situation faced by girls? If not, the conditions
above are unlikely to be fulfilled.
PLAN OF ACTION TO IMPLEMENT WOMEN SAFETY
If exposure to domestic violence
is any indicator of quality of life,
these figures reveal that the
advances in lifestyles for women
in southern and north-eastern
India over their counterparts in
northern India seem to be
eroding: above-average levels of
violence are reported in Tamil
Nadu and Andhra Pradesh as well
as in Arunachal Pradesh and
The current levels of abuse that many married women across India endure are scandalous and measures must be
put in place to rectify them.
Despite the provision
for the anti-dowry
law 304(B) (to
prosecute deaths due
harassment) to be
498(A) (to prosecute
this is frequently not
the case, particularly
in Bihar, Uttar
Pradesh and Orissa.
WAYS INCREASE MENSTRUAL HYGIENE TO WOMEN
The development of affordable sanitary napkins and other protection materials used for menstrual hygiene of good quality, which can be produced in
the developing countries. For the production of sanitary napkins the use of locally available materials (such as papyrus, sisal, etc.) must be sought and
used as much as possible. Moreover, it is essential that producers of sanitary napkins are willing to transfer their advanced technology to locally
established small businesses that will produce the sanitary napkins.
The search for ‗new‘ markets (target groups) by active involvement of women‘s organizations and other stakeholders, such as community–based
organisations (CBOs), local ‗significant‘ women, health care staff, etc. Connect as much as possible with existing, promising local initiatives and
encourage the development, manufacturing and
commercialization of locally produced menstrual protection products. Provide information in schools about personal and menstrual hygiene within
the framework of comprehensive sexual education‘, not only to boys and girls, but also to male and female teachers.
Provide girls who are starting to menstruate or have already begun their menstruation with menstrual hygiene protection material for free or at least at
an affordable price, particularly in the higher forms of primary (grade 4 & 5) and secondary education.
This will encourage permanent school attendance of girls and contribute to the prevention of child marriages. Who are important partners?
For the production of affordable and ecologically–friendly sanitary napkins and other protection alternatives used for menstrual hygiene, partners at
different levels are needed:
The private (corporate) sector, in particular producers and exporters of sanitary napkins and waste handling and packaging companies.
Their participation will be vital to expedite success:
For the transfer of expertise and
a. technology that need to be made locally applicable, by using simple, small–scale and easily operable machines;
b. To teach in particular women in developing countries about their technology;
c. To invest, so that women can establish businesses. CONTINUED…..
Easy to use
The Lunette menstrual cup is as easy-to-use as a non-applicator tampon. Simply fold and insert.
Hygienic & Safe
Lunette menstrual cup doesn’t absorb moisture like tampons or cause sweating like pads. Lunette is made of soft medical grade silicone, not of rubber latex.
The average woman spends between $48 – 84 per year on disposable tampons and pads. The Lunette is a one-time cost that will last for years. That saves you a
chunk of money!
A Lunette menstrual cup is an eco-thing. It will last for years and during the cup's lifespan, there will be no waste to dispose of – no accumulation of plastic
applicators, wrappers or bio-waste from used tampons and pads.
Recommendations for improving women education :
If education must serve the society, it must produce people who carry much more than certificates. It must produce people, both normal and exceptional ones, with the right types
of knowledge, ability and attitude to put them to work for the good of the society. It is therefore imperative that in order to improve the educational base of the typical Nigerian woman and by
extension her socio-political and economic status, government, community leaders, parents, professional guidance counsellors and other stakeholders should take cognizance of the following
1. All stakeholders in women affairs and development should focus on the provision of formal education to women as well as improve their
working conditions while at the same time facilitating their access to resources like land, credit and technology as a way of reducing
unemployment/ underemployment among women.
2. The government and other stakeholders in women affairs and development should strive to create conducive enabling, socio-political and
economic conditions which will discourage early marriage, societal preference for male children and the traditional belief that the position of
a woman is in the kitchen.
3. Parents and opinion leaders should encourage the members of the female sex to be more enterprising in their educational pursuit as a way of
contributing meaningfully to national development.
4. Government should be more forthcoming in terms of women empowerment policy formulation and implementation especially in term of
legislating against obnoxious customs and practices which are detrimental to women‘s optimal functionality and wellbeing, like legislating
against harmful widowhood practices.
5. Government should fund counselling centers at all levels of Nigerian education system adequately to enable counsellors provide all round
functional guidance and counselling to parents and other stakeholders. This is imperative if all concerned must be assisted to see the female
child first as a human being with all assets capable of immeasurable achievements.
Key issues and linkages related to women empowerment :
Reproductive health: Women, for both physiological and social reasons, are more vulnerable than men to reproductive health problems.
Reproductive health problems, including maternal mortality and morbidity, represent a major – but preventable -- cause of death and
disability for women in developing countries. Failure to provide information, services and conditions to help women protect their
reproduction health therefore constitutes gender-based discrimination and a violation of women‘s rights to health and life.
Stewardship of natural resources: Women in developing nations are usually in charge of securing water, food and fuel and of overseeing
family health and diet. Therefore, they tend to put into immediate practice whatever they learn about nutrition and preserving the environment
and natural resources.
Economic empowerment: More women than men live in poverty. Economic disparities persist partly because much of the unpaid work within
families and communities falls on the shoulders of women and because they face discrimination in the economic sphere.
Educational empowerment: About two thirds of the illiterate adults in the world are female. Higher levels of women's education are strongly
associated with both lower infant mortality and lower fertility, as well as with higher levels of education and economic opportunity for their
Political empowerment: Social and legal institutions still do not guarantee women equality in basic legal and human rights, in access to or
control of land or other resources, in employment and earning, and social and political participation. Laws against domestic violence are often
not enforced on behalf of women.
Empowerment throughout the life cycle: Reproductive health is a lifetime concern for both women and men, from infancy to old age.
Obstacles to overcome :
It is to be noted, in particular, that the success of the Plan depends on the understanding that planning; at all levels must be appropriate
when confronting problems such as:
i.the absence of political will of certain partners;
ii.the dangers of marginalization of the process internationally as well as internationally;
iii.the absence of target group involvement in the development and use of material, processes and policies;
iv.the potential use of unsuitable methodologies;
v.the lack of training of many participants;
vi.the insufficiency of co-ordination and co-operation between the national, regional and international levels;
vii.the occasional tendency to confine human rights education to the legal profession;
viii.the lack of a multidisciplinary approach;
ix.the resistance to change provoked by new relationships based on human rights.
THE 5 AREAS OF CONCERN :
1). FORMAL SECTOR EMPLOYMENT & LIVELIHOOD
2). EQUAL PARTICIPATION IN DECISION – MAKING
3). ELIMINATION OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN & CHILDREN
4). ACCESS TO BASIC SERVICES
5). WOMEN & THE LAW
a. Review of Legislation
There is a need to review some legislation to be more gender sensitive and to comply with the requirements of CEDAW, MDGs and other international
and regional commitments.
b. Human Rights awareness programmes for men and women including the disabled;
c. Access to Justice and Legal Services for all women in rural and remote areas.
1. Bibhudatta Pradhan (19 July 2007). "Patil Poised to Become India's First Female
President". Bloomberg.com. Retrieved 20 July 2007.
2. "Human Development Report". United Nations Development Programme. 2013. p. 156.
3. "The Global Gender Gap Report 2012". World Economic Forum. pp. 10–11.
4."Rajya Sabha passes Women's Reservation Bill". Chennai, India: The Hindu. 10 March 2010.
Retrieved 25 August 2010.
5."Rajya Sabha passes Women's Reservation Bill". The Hindu. Retrieved 25 August 2010.
6.Jayapalan (2001). Indian society and social institutions. Atlantic Publishers & District. "Women in
History". National Resource Center for Women. Retrieved 24 December 2006.
10.India is fourth most dangerous place in the world for women, India Today