Gender equation across the societies in India is very uneven and rough. India had passed a lot of specific laws in favour of women's protection and wellbeing. Still, the gender differences in India exist.
India ranked 140th among 156 countries in the global gender gap indicating India’s inferior status in gender-egalitarianism. Moreover, India posits 1/3rd reservation of women in local bodies but holds only 25-40% of their participation in the governance and 12% presentation in the parliament. This ranks India on 149th in Women in Parliament, far away from countries like Saudi Arabia, Kenya, Syria, etc.
In Education, only 48% of women succeed in completing the basic 5-year primary education outshined by neighbouring countries like Nepal (92%) and Bangladesh (54%).
The low literacy has a stereotypical rationale, if women would go to school, who shall work in a home, rare children, and cook. This deep-rooted societal attitude prompted a massive gender imbalance in the workplace. Unfortunately, India ranks second last among G20 countries in the women workforce.
Recently, India amended the maternity benefit act to counterbalance the workforce and put forward the third highest maternity leave policy in the world after Canada and Norway, but this policy doesn’t apply to countless women working in the unorganized sector. Health sector is perceived to be more critical during the pandemic course of 2020-21. It is felt that access to healthcare and its affordability is somewhat costly in India. Under the new GST, healthcare products are heavily taxed. For women, better healthcare is just a hallucinatory mirage.
It is a most common saying now that India is tough place for women even before they are born. Abortion is legally permissible for up to 20 weeks of pregnancy even though countries like Vatican, Malta, and Chile can’t allow abortion at all even if pregnancy is due to rape or incest.
The female foeticide has skewed the sex ratio to 943 women to 1000 men lower than countries Uganda and Turkey. In Economy, India’s global currency value has dropped severely which is un-debatable here. But the Indian economy is heavily affected due to gender imbalance, discrimination, rapes, sexual harassment at workplace, abuse, foeticide, and honour killings that occur every day. This makes India the 4th most dangerous country for women in the world.
Gender equality is enshrined in the fifth sustainable development goal (SDG) with a major focus on empowerment of all women and girls. The goal targets challenges in education, health, and economy to combat discrimination of women, violence, reproductive health, and ownership rights and give new directions to improve gender inequality in India. Thus the gender research demonstrates a flip towards multiple and holistic perspectives for improving the condition of women in education, health, economy and society in general.
(Danishwar Rasool Dar, Social Work student at Central University of Karnataka.