Gender inequality has been a constant matter of concern, and precisely an issue challenged around the world, specifically in India since the early 19th century. The primary issues brought to the forefront were discriminatory incidences of domestic violence, extremely low earnings, and poor working conditions offered to women working in the informal sectors, marginalization of Dalit women, fight against rising inflation, corruption and black marketeering. Though some of the above issues directly affected another gender, here male being the dominant ones, we see maximum participation of women in such reformative movements.
When we talk about the obstacles that gender inequality creates for achieving social development, we cannot help but attempt to analyze the causes of such acute discrimination in our own households, as the popular saying goes that ‘Charity begins at home’, we here, would like to substitute it with ‘Gender discrimination begins at home’. However, it does not necessarily mean that we only take into consideration cases of severe offenses and acts against women or the LGBTQIA+ community but also ensure accountability of deep-rooted and subconscious ways of discrimination, influenced by the rigid social structure of patriarchy. Here, what I wish to emphasize is the generally ‘accepted’ behavior promoted in our households.
Such as distribution of gender roles where women in the house are expected to do all the household chores and any engagement by a male gender doing the same work would be considered harmful and fragile to the maintenance of their ‘masculinity’, inconsiderate behavior towards the opinions of women in any major family decisions, the subordination of the jobs performed by women by labeling them ‘unproductive’ or ‘non-capitalistic’, glaringly accusing women of having an immoral character and passing derogatory remarks on their choice of dressing and grooming. As a matter of achievement, the Women’s Movement in India since the pre-independence era challenged major crimes of dowry and rape, being the massive contributors to atrocities inflicted against women. We have significantly achieved milestones in the eradication of such crimes and redressal of absolute justice has been guaranteed to the survivors by bringing commendable reforms in law and order. But our struggle for self-identity does not stop here. Some of us who are placed at better social positions and who live in urban locations find it difficult to spot such cases of discrimination especially within the household where we are treated with proper respect and dignity. However, there is a slight suspicion if we were to answer the same question of getting access to equal opportunities at workspaces as compared to the male gender. We need to understand that our struggle against patriarchy in urban spaces is quite evolved. Here, we are assured and given the necessary resources for our social upliftment and advancement, wholly, as a gender. But it is in the rural and remote regions, where we study women striving for their basic human rights such as consent to marriage, willingness to complete their education, determination to seek financial independence and more importantly fighting against class and caste oppression accompanied with the identity of being a ‘second’ or ‘subordinate’ sex.
We shall further engage with the repercussions of the prevailing gender inequality on economic growth and sustainability. The World Economic Forum in its recent study has calculated the gender gap between men and women in four key areas of politics, health, economy and education. In the economic sector, there has been a large decline in the labor force participation of women from 23.3 percent in 2017 and 26.9 percent in 2018, which was less than the global average of 48.47 percent as per the World Bank. As I earlier mentioned that such sharp contrast of gender participation exists due to different reasons in different locations. In the rural or remote regions, women are mostly forbidden to engage in any work activity outside their domestic spaces. On the other hand, in the urban location, women face such inequality in terms of unequal pay or opportunities at workplaces, unsafe transportation, and sexual harassment. Being a student of Delhi University, I wish to draw this from my personal observation that while I traveled by metro during the working hours, I could easily spot the gender disparity. I would see a huge number of men at the security checking post while there would be few women on the ladies' side. The unequal ratio was seen during the late evening hours as well. Perhaps, even in developed cities like the National Capital Region (NCR) of Delhi, women find themselves socially paralyzed and unable to access safe means and resources to involve themselves in a larger social and economic networks or spaces. I do not wish to undermine that the fact that women have come a long way today from where they were placed in traditional and conservative societies, with the support of revolutionary movements, policy reformations, and stringent laws and orders. However, what I wish to emphasize here that this struggle against gender inequality is not only a political fight that most of us seem to assume as impersonal or a matter outside our personal domain and capabilities. It is a fight we should all, despite being fully privileged strive for in our own ways through education and action.
Contributed By- Mansi Bhalerao, Content Writer @ Mitti Ke Rang
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