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Why is Gender Inequality still a massive problem in India?

Gender Inequality is something we all are aware of, yet what is spoken or reported about it? It’s been a while since we last read an article or newspaper headline on gender discrimination. But the truth is there are a billion examples of gender inequality in our daily lives. Each one proves that gender discrimination still exists– and probably always will. And it’s not just households or the workforce where women face gender discrimination. They have also been discriminated against when it comes to hiring for skilled professions, working hours and promotions.

Ever since 2012, India has been witnessing massive gender discrimination. It’s not just a case of men in power and authority, it’s also men supporting the male gender. However, this isn’t something to be amused by, we have been facing this for centuries. But what makes it worse is that we haven’t done anything about it. India ranked 112th among the 153 countries in the Global Gender Gap 2019-2020, becoming the third-worst performer in South Asia. Achieving Gender Equality is still one of the sustainable development goals of India.

While many countries of the world are debating about having females in politics, India has an upper hand in it. We had our first women Prime Minister in 1966, President in 2007, 2 female Lok Sabha speakers, and 16 women Chief Ministers of different states since 1963. These facts state that India is a country where women have been treated fairly and without any gender discrimination. But this recent research reveals that gender inequality favours men in many different dimensions. Discrimination between men and women affects a woman’s life in many aspects from career development to millions of unpaid work.

Causes of Gender Inequality

1.Social and Traditional Beliefs

Women have to face many traditional and cultural beliefs. They are confided in household work while men are given the role of breadwinner in the family. Preference for Boys over girls still prevails in India. Thus anti-female social mindset is the main hindrance to attaining gender equality in India.

2.Poverty

Our patriarchal society doesn’t give the basic right to women. Thus leading them to poverty. Women’s poverty is related to a lack of proper education, financial resources, inheritance, and many more. Women take a long ride to understand their rights and the inequality they face in day-to-day life.

3.Women’s Illiteracy

Lack of Education among women remains a significant problem in India. The number of dropouts recorded in secondary education is alarming. The rising rate of illiteracy among women and the dropped ranking in the gender pay gap ratio shows how inequality works in the country.Our country has a massive list of laws and regulations for the safety and rights of Women. Yet female feticide, Rape, Domestic Violence, and Dowry Death are still a humongous part of society. Working women have to face discrimination in their workplaces. In India, 85% of the women claim that they missed out on a raise, promotion, or offer letter because of their gender.

Some of the problems and challenges faced by women in the workplace

1.Gender pay gap

There is no country in the world where women are paid equally to men for doing the same work. Even many developed countries, that have high gender parity, cannot claim equal pay for equal work. While India comes in the economy of having the lowest Gender pay ratio. According to the Global Gender pay report, In 2021, India has closed 62.5 of its gender gap to date. The survey states that many companies prefer men over women in highly designated jobs. They believe that women are not capable of doing a high-end job owing to their family duties.

2.Sexual Harassment

Sexual Harassment is an unforgettable reality for Indians. Women have to protect themselves from getting harassed every day in a public place, at home, and at work. The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act has been passed in 2013. While 36% of Indian Companies and 25% of MNC don’t complain about the harassment faced by women.

3.Lack of Proper Sanitation Facilities.

Many companies in India have inadequate sanitation facilities, leading to less participation of women in the workforce. Only 29% of women over 15 participate in the workforce. The lack of proper toilets in the workforce become a hindering factor for women to participate in the workforce.

Attaining Gender Equality is not only an aim for achieving Sustainable Development goals but it also has many other benefits too. Discrimination between men and women is a daily practice in many parts of rural India. It is high time to take action for the betterment of women in the country. Empowering them both academically and economically helps the country to take a step forward toward the goal of Gender Equality.

There are many sides to the issue of dowry. Perhaps the only common positive is that the practice has been acknowledged for what it is, a form of oppression and injustice towards women. However, there lies a dark side to seeking an end to this practice: instead of treating dowry as an act of violence against women, it is seen as a form of charity. The very same people who wish to eliminate dowry think nothing of giving it away as a gift to older women. And in these two actions, we come across two major issues that characterise our society’s view on dowry: the view that if an individual doesn’t give the gift then they don’t contribute anything to the “cause”, and the older women not married off young deserve pity.

Some initiatives taken by the government to reduce the gender gap in all aspects of Social, Economic and Political Life.

Economic opportunity & participation

Some initiatives taken towards the development and empowerment of women are :-

1.Beti Bachao Beti Padao-

Ensures the protection and education of girl child

2.Mahila Shakti Kendra-

Aims at empowering rural women by providing employment and skills development.

3.Working Women Hostels

Ensures the safety and security of working women by providing accommodation to working women.

4.National Creche Scheme for the children of working women-

Provides day-care services to children aged 6months to 6 years.

Education Attainment

Several steps and initiatives have been taken up in the school education system like Right to Education and Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas, to bring females to continue their studies to secondary education by constructing toilets and quarters for female workers.

Political Participation

To bring women into the field of politics, mostly in rural areas. The government of India has reserved 33% of the seats in Panchayati Raj Institution for women.

For years now, many organizations led various initiatives for the advancement of women in society. These initiatives have made an enormous impact but here we stand today

● There is 100% enrollment of girls in primary education but 74.6% are not enrolled in higher education.

● We have 927 girls for 1000 boys in 2001 which declined to 919 girls for 1000 boys in 2011 (lowest since Independence)

● More than 35% of women faces sexual harassment at workplace.

● 65.46% of women are literate as compared to 82.14% of men.

● The population of women in the workforce is just 27.4%

Gender inequality, particularly with women , is a massive problem in India. While it’s true that nation is coming around slowly to women achieving parity with men in many ways, there are still a host of issues to be addressed. The problems extends to nearly all areas of society, from education and the workplace to politics and childbirth. Hopefully, India will start taking some action to ensure that women have equal rights, regardless of their background. Only then will we be able to make headway in improving the situation of females in India.