RSTV: THE BIG PICTURE- BRIDGING GENDER GAP
Every year on March 8, the world observes International Women’s Day. The purpose is to reflect on the progress made by women in different fields, to celebrate the acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in history and to call for action to bring about the necessary change towards gender equality. The theme set by the United Nations for International Women’s Day this year is – Think equal, build smart, innovate for change, with a thrust on working towards creating a gender-balanced society. According to the Global Gender Gap Report, it will take more than 200 years for economic gender equality to emerge, and 108 years to completely close the global gender gap across politics, health and education.
Global gender gap report:
It is published annually by the world economic forum since 2006. Global gender gap index is a part of this which measures gender equality across four pillars– they are economic opportunity, political empowerment, educational attainment and health and survival.
Performance of various countries:
- Iceland has been ranked as Number 1. It is followed by Norway, Sweden and Finland.
- Other countries in top 10 include Nicaragua, Rwanda, New Zealand, Philippines, Ireland and Namibia.
- As per the report, at the current speed it will take about 108 years to close the overall gender gap in the world. And after 202 years there will be parity in the workplace in the world at the current rate of change.
- Syria, Iraq, Pakistan and finally Yemen showed the biggest overall gender gaps of the countries surveyed.
Performance of India:
- India has been ranked at 108.
- It has recorded improvement in wage equality for similar work and has fully closed its tertiary education gender gap for the first time.
- It ranks 142nd out of 149 countries in the economic opportunity and participation subindex.
- India continues to rank third-lowest in the world on health and survival, remaining the world’s least-improved country on this subindex over the past decade.
- India has slightly improved in WEF’s wage equality for similar work indicator, where it stood at 72nd place. The country has also closed its tertiary education enrolment gap for the first time in 2018 and has managed to keep its primary and secondary gaps closed for the third year running.
- Interestingly, India has the second-largest artificial intelligence (AI) workforce but one of the largest AI gender gaps, with only 22% of roles filled by women.
Why Gender Equality?
- To enable women to participate fully in society and contribute to the health and prosperity of the society.
- It is estimated that India can potentially boost its GDP by $700 billion by 2025, by raising female labour-force participation rate.
- Gender equality contributes to growth by raising the female-to-male ratio of labor-force participation, increasing women’s work hours, and having more women working in higherproductivity sectors.
- Equality at work goes hand in hand with gender equality in society. Economically empowered women boost demand, have healthier and better-educated children, and raise human development levels
- Enabling her to lead a life of dignity.
- Preventing their socio-economic exploitation and lowers domestic violence.
- Enhancing a woman’s control over household decision-making.
- If we have representation of women in Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRI’s), in local bodies, in MLA and MP seats, evidence shows that the decision making by women is much better or superior than men.
- Women remain subject to traditional attitudes that define their primary role as being in the home.
- Women often lack access to the financing needed to start or expand a business.
- Globally, the value of women’s unpaid work performed is three times higher than that of men, whereas in the Asia-Pacific region, it is four times higher.
- Unconscious bias in the workplace.
- Though they comprise almost 40 percent of agricultural labour, they control only 9 percent of land in
- More than 50 percent of women have no valuable assets to their name.
- India has a lower share of women’s contribution to the GDP than the global average.
- Women face great physical insecurity.
- Crimes against women such as rapes, dowry deaths, and honour killings.
- A culturally ingrained parental preference for sons — emanating from their importance as caregivers for parents in old age.
- Stereotypical thinking and Patriarchal mindset is the biggest challenge.
- Declining child sex ratio (CSR), the practice of gender-biased sex selection, and child marriage.
- Domestic violence against women is also high.
- Women being exposed to violence by their partners.
- Judicial remedies or police reforms, though absolutely necessary, are mostly curative, rather than being preventive.
- Benefits like maternity leave or related facilities will not be accessible to her in the informal sector.
Potential Areas of Focus:
- From a corporate perspective, every organization is promoting a healthy ratio of women in their workforce. When we look at statistics three years before, it used to be 18-22% even in the formal sector.
- This has gone up to a figure of 30-32% currently. Secondly, this larger workforce is coming at the entry level.
- The private sector and business community will be crucial in helping bridge the gap between skills and jobs and enable access to decent work for women.
- Vocational and technical training, life skills and financial literacy programmes for women to help them develop marketable skills and better decision-making abilities.
- Companies can also invest in women entrepreneurs through microfinance, and bring their goods and services into supply chains.
- Enhancing women’s access to the internet and ICT can create a market of connected women who can be linked to business opportunities.
- Increasing representation of women in the public spheres is important.
- Female leaders serve as role models and raise educational and career aspirations for adolescent girls and their parents.
- Attitudinal shift is essential for women to be considered as equal within their homes and in broader society.
- Educating Indian children from an early age about the importance of gender equality.
- A self-drive from the entire workforce.
- Encouragement from the family, society and the corporations with whom they are employed with.
- The best way to bridge the gender gap would be in terms of education.
- There is much scope in the area of secondary and tertiary education, but more so in the field of technical education.
- Until we see this as a mindset issue, i.e. we change the patriarchal mindset and our myths and misconceptions around the preference for son’s, etc. we would probably be discussing all these issues in an economic perspective.
- Need ownership of the idea that women’s employment is something that you want to achieve as a goal and not by chasing statistics.
- Government Initiatives are required
- Companies should also now start seeing women’s issues.
- Women should not be quitting midway in their careers.
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