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January 29, 2017

Essay - Gender Discrimination in India

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Gender Discrimination in India

  •  Gender discrimination is highly visible in India. 
  • Gender discrimination in different fields. 
    • Economic front
    • Education
    • Healthcare sector 
    • Politics 
    • Career choices 
  • Government of India passed different laws and launched new schemes. 
  • Other organisations working against gender discrimination.
Gender discrimination in India means health, education, economic and political discrimination between men and women. Today our country offers a lot of opportunities to women with women having a voice in everyday life, the business world as well as in political life.

Nevertheless India is still a male dominated country, where women are often seen as subordinate and inferior to men. Even though India is moving away from the male dominated culture, discrimination
is still highly visible in rural as well as in urban areas, throughout each and every strata of society. While women are guaranteed equality under the Constitution, legal protection has a limited effect where patriarchal traditions prevail.

According to the Global Gender Gap Report released by the World Economic Forum (WEF) in 2015, India was ranked 108 on the Gender Gap scale among 145 countries. When broken down into components of gender gap, India performs well on political empowerment, but it scored bad on sex selective abortion.

India also scored poorly on overall literary and health rankings of female. India with a 2015 ranking of 108 had an overall score of 0.664 while Iceland topped the list with an overall score 0.887.

The Constitution of India has tried to provide equality status to women.
  • Article 15 says that no woman can be discriminated against on the ground of sex and Article 39(a) emphasis that the citizens men and women equally have the right to an adequate means of livelihood. 
There are many spheres of life where women are denied opportunities. Discrimination against females starts with their birth and continues through their lives. This is evident from the declined child sex ratio of India. According to 2011 census, the child sex ratio in India was 919 females to 1000 males which declined from 927 females to 1000 males in the previous decade. The important factor for the declined sex ratio is female foeticide. Extreme poverty, dowry and preference of son in the society are few reasons for female foeticide.

Gender Discrimination on Economic Front 

The economic gender discrimination can be viewed in the labour participation of women. As per census 2011, the workforce participation rate for females is 25.51% against 53.26% for males. Females are stereotyped in various advertisements like that of washing machine, cooking utensils, perfume etc. 

Inequality in Education

Another major factor of discrimination lies in the right to education. According the the census 2011, the literacy rate of females is 65.46% compared to males which is 82.14%. Only states like Kerala and Mizoram have a high female literacy rate. The main reason behind the low female literacy rate is the mindest of the parents for whom girl's marriage is more important than her education. 

Gender Discrimination in Healthcare Sector

The Gender discrimination is evident in the healthcare sector as well. It is the male child who gets all the nutritions and choicest foods while the girl child gets whatever is left behind. One of the main reasons for the high incidences of difficult births and anemia in women is the poor quality of food which a girl always gets either in her paternal home or in her in-laws.

Discrimination in Politics

Gender discrimination is witnessed in the political participation of women in India as well. Women's participation in politics is not very impressive. The number of women politicians is small as compared to men. The majority of women are indifferent to politics, this is clear in their low participation in voting in public demonstrations and in public debates. Women turnout during India's 2014 Parliamentary general elections was 65.63%, compared to 67.09% turnout of men. The bill to provide 33% reservation of seats for women in Lok Sabha is still pending in Parliament.

Gender Discrimination in Career Choices

One such field where gender discrimination in India is rampant is sports. Although India boasts of several female athletes like PT Usha, Sania Mirza, Saina Nehwal, PB Sindhu, Sakshi Malik, Deepa Karmakar and so on, who have achieved accolades and made India proud. In Rio Olympics, only the female athletetes won medals for own country. Female discrimination is far more common in the field of sports than in other field.

Major problems faced by female sportspersons are social, psychological, financial and family constraints.

Government Initiative to Ensure Gender Equality 

Various protective legislations have been passed by the Parliament to eliminate exploitation of women and to give them equal status in society. The Government of India has taken steps and passed various acts to 1 ensure gender equality in the country.

Hindu Succession Act (1956), The Dowry Prohibition Act (1961), The DC and PNDT Act (2002), 33% of seats in Panchayat for women. The sexual harrasment of women at work place (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 are some laws to protect the interest of women in our society.

Further government has launched some schemes like, `Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao"Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya"Mother and Child Tracking System', The Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana etc to lessen the gender discrimination.

Apart from these initiatives taken by the government of India, many organisation are working against gender discrimintion. These includes; All India Democratic Women's Association, National Commission on Women, Ministry of Women Children and Development.

So, there are varied legislative safeguards and protection mechanisms for women but the ground reality is very different. Despite all these provisions, women are still being treated as second rate citizens in our country. Therefore, what is needed is the movement for women's empowerment. We hope that our democratic government would be able to find solutions to the problem of gender discrimination and would take us all towards the cherished dream of a truly modern society in both thought and action.

Difficult Words with Meanings :
  • Strata a level or grade of people or population with reference to social position, education etc; 
  • Foeticide the act of destroying a foetus or causing an abortion
  • Combat a fight or contend against; oppose vigourously
  • Anemia a lack of power, vigor, vitality or colourfulness
  • Turnout the gathering of persons for something; the act of turning or out
  • Elite persons of the highest class
  • Rampant violent in action or spirit; raging; furious
  • Counterparts a person or thing closely resembling another
  • Redressal a setting right of what is wrong; relief from wrong or injury.
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