Gender discrimination and Women Empowerment

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Gender discrimination and Women Empowerment

  1. 1. Since time immemorial, it seems, women have been thought as a curse to the family. Particularly in India, the mentality framed was such that women are still considered as a burden to the family…  Every girl in this country, be it you or me, has faced this question at least once in a lifetime – ‘Why Me…!!!’  India ranks 134 in 2011 among 187 countries in terms of the UNDP Human Development Index (HDI) and Gender Inequality Index (GII). 
  2. 2.  Amongst the many problems that women face, the prime ones that come into focus are: › › › › › › › Infanticide Female Foeticide Gender Discrimination Sexual Harassment Dowry Torture Domestic violence Human Trafficking
  3. 3.  The root cause of gender discrimination is the Strong Patriarchal Influence, sanctioned by India's religion, culture and traditions. › Son is seen as a status symbol, who brings dowry, and carries forward the family’s name. › Women are considered to be born as a baggage, a liability to the family.    Women are considered as the weaker race, and are given the meek role of serving the husband, and taking care of the family. They are not allowed to work, and are always supposed to seek the support of the male clan. They have no freedom, and no rights.
  4. 4. There have been attempts to recuperate female working conditions, yet the inequality remains.  Bridging the gender inequality is a very slow and difficult task altogether.  The famous ‘Glass- ceiling’ is a sad reality for women in the corporate world in the 21st century.  Men are born with preconceived notions of leadership.  Women, in turn, are awarded with unequal pay for equal work.  They are also likely to fall off the management ladder before reaching the top, due to maternity issues.  To add to their woes, there is the deadly and frightening problem that every woman faces – Sexual Harassment. 
  5. 5.    As per Census 2011, the population of India is 1210.19 million, comprising of 586.47 million (48.5%) females and 623.72 million (51.5%) males. Females have a share of 48.1% in the urban population and of 48.6% in the rural population. In the age‐group 0‐6 years, the share of female child population is 47.8% of the total child population in that age‐group. The sex‐ratio (number of women per 1000 men) was 940 in 2011 which, though, shows continued improvement over the sex ratios of 927 in 1991 and 933 in 2001.
  6. 6. Female foeticide refers to the aborting of a foetus, purely because she is female. Although, sex determination in India is illegal, the practice is rampant.  Official statistics show that nearly 3 million girls were ‘missing’ in India in 2011. A study "Children In India 2012- A Statistical Appraisal," conducted by the Central Statistical Organization, said: "During 2001- 2011, the share of children to total population has declined and the decline was sharper for female children than male children in the age group 0-6 years..."  Female child population in the age group 0-6 was 78.83 million in 2001 and declined to 75,85 million in 2011.  It is estimated that about 10 million girls have been killed in India since 1986, either before they were born or immediately after.  The medical journal Lancet stated last year that 500,000 girls were being lost in India every year through sex-selective abortions. 
  7. 7.      The global survey called the Third Billion Index shows on its scorecard the depleted position of women in the country which is demanding a change for good. India gets placed at a dismal 115 on a recent global survey on women empowerment out of 128 countries surveyed. The workforce participation rate of females in rural sector was 26.1 in 2009‐ 10 (NSS 64th Round) while that for males was 54.7. In Urban sector, it was 13.8 for females and 54.3 for males. A total of 20.4% women were employed in the organized sector in 2010 with 17.9% working in the public sector and 24.5% in the private. The unemployment rate for women of all ages was 7.0 for women and 3.1 for men in urban areas in 2009-10. Of the total job seekers registered with employed exchanges, women constituted 32.5% in 2009.
  8. 8.  The main reasons of females never attending school: › › › › Expensive cost of education Not interested in studies Education is not considered necessary Required for household work’. The Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) for females at the primary level stood at 115.39 compared with 115.55 for males in 2009‐10 indicating parity in GER. At the middle classes level, the GER for females was 78.30 while that for males was 84.53.  The Gross Attendance Ratio for females in the classes I‐V in rural areas was 103 compared with 106 for males in 2007‐08 (NSS 64th Round). The Net Attendance Ratio was observed to be 83 and 86 for females and males respectively in the rural areas in the classes I‐V.  The Drop‐out Rates were observed to be 27.25 and 30.25 for females and males respectively in the classes I‐V in 2009‐10. These were 44.39 and 40.59 in classes I‐VIII and 51.97 and 53.38 in classes I‐X for females and males respectively. 
  9. 9. Cruelty by husband and relatives continues to occupy the highest share (43.4%) among the crimes committed against women in 2011 followed by molestation (18.8%). 15.6% cases are that of kidnapping and abduction, 10.6% of rape, 3.8% of dowry deaths and 3.7% of sexual harassment.  0.4% cases of cruelty by husband and relatives underwent trial by the Courts of Law in 2011 and conviction was done in 8.3% cases. The highest conviction rate of 16.5% was observed for the crime ‘importation of girls’ and the lowest of 4.0% for ‘indecent representation of women’.  Out of a total 24270 victims, there were 875 victims who were less than 10 years of age, 1707 in the age‐group 10‐14 years, 4646 in the age‐group 14‐18 years, 13264 in the age‐group 18‐30 years, 3637 in the age‐group of 30‐50 years and 141 in the age‐group greater than 50 years.  In 2011, of the total Juvenile Delinquency, 5.8% were girls. Also, the rate of incidence of the crime per lakh population was 2.1. 
  10. 10.       Different kinds of violence include marital rape, and causes such as dowry demand; which leads to cruelty, suicide and many times death. One in three ever-married women report having been slapped by their husband. Between 12 and 15 % report having their arms twisted, being pushed, shaken, kicked, dragged, or beaten up, or having something thrown at them. 10% report that their husbands have physically forced them to have sex. One in seven ever-married women have suffered physical injuries as a result of spousal violence. For most women who have ever experienced spousal violence, the violence first occurred within the first two years of their marriage.
  11. 11.       Revise laws and administrative practices to ensure women’s equal rights and access to economic resources. Ensure equal access to education and eradicate illiteracy. Develop non-discriminatory education and training. Take integrated measures to prevent and eliminate violence and sexual harassment against women. Increase women’s capacity to participate in decision-making and leadership. Promote a balanced and non-stereotyped portrayal of women in the media
  12. 12.  The Constitution of India not only grants equality to women, but also empowers the State to adopt measures of positive discrimination in favour of women for removing the cumulative socio-economic, educational and political disadvantages faced by them. It guarantees: › › › › › › Equality Before Law for Women (Article 14) The State not to discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them [Article 15 (I)] The State to make any special provision in favour of women and children [Article 15(3)] Equality of opportunity for all citizens in matters relating to employment or appointment to any office under the State (Article 16) The State to direct its policy towards securing for men and women equally the right to an adequate means of livelihood [Article 39 (a)]; and equal pay for equal work for both men and women [Article 39 (d)] To promote justice, on a basis of equal opportunity and to provide free legal aid by suitable legislation or scheme or in any other way to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disabilities [Article 39A)
  13. 13. › › › › › › › › The State to make provision for securing just and humane conditions of work and for maternity relief (Article 42) The State to promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people and to protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation (Article 46) The State to raise the level of nutrition and the standard of living of its people and the improvement of Public Health (Article 47) To promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India and to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women [Article 51(A) (e)] Not less than one-third (including the number of seats reserved for women belonging to the scheduled castes and the scheduled tribes) of the total number of seats to be filled by direct election in every panchayat to be reserved for women and such seats to be allotted by rotation to different constituencies in a panchayat [Article 243 D (3)] Not less than one-third of the total number of offices of chairpersons in the panchayats at each level to be reserved for women [Article 243 D (4)] Not less than one-third (including the number of seats reserved for women belonging to the scheduled castes and the scheduled tribes) of the total number of seats to be filled by direct election in every municipality to be reserved for women and such seats to be allotted by rotation to different constituencies in a municipality [Article 243 T (3)] Reservation of offices of chairpersons in municipalities for the scheduled castes, the scheduled tribes and women in such manner as the legislature of a State may by law provide [Article 243 T (4)]
  14. 14. Although there are enough laws created, and others in pipeline, mere drafting these would not help. The need of the hour is to spread awareness and enlighten the youth of this country to ensure a strict end to these outdated mentalities. There needs to be a wave of reform and strict punishments to the culprits and the guilty to set a clear and fair example in the society regarding total intolerance of crimes and malpractices against women in India. Only then can we ensure an India that is nonjudgemental, equal, and progressive altogether.

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