“Equality may be a fiction but nonetheless one must accept it as a governing principle”
This article aims to estimate whether there is Gender Discrimination in Indian society or not. The key subject matter of the research is Gender Discrimination. This article explains the issue of Gender Discrimination in the workplace even such discrimination can be perceived on a social background like in the education system. This article has also considered the steps which are taken by the government in order to curb such stigma from society.
In this context, this article attempts to highlight Gender Discrimination and identify the recent trends in women’s social and economic development in India.
Gender Discrimination subsists in the Indian economy and prevails in all sectors of life like health, education, economics, and politics. Men have always had the upper hand in these fields, depicting how deeply patriarchy is entrenched in India. Even though gender equality soars to great heights in the post-independence era, many steps have been taken in various sectors of life to bridge the gap between men and women and to bring them up to the same level.
WHAT IS GENDER DISCRIMINATION?
Gender discrimination describes the situation in which people are treated differently simply because they are male or female, rather than on the basis of their individual skills or capabilities. India is the world’s largest democracy, with 1.35 billion people, and is expected to be the world’s most populous country by 2050.
Where India makes progress towards development goals, the lives of hundreds of millions of people can be improved: in recent decades, India has made substantial progress to improve child nutrition, immunization rates, and education enrolment rates, as well as to achieve broad economic growth. Yet, gender disparities persist against a backdrop of rapid economic growth: rates of violence against women are still high, women’s participation in government is low, and discriminatory dowry and inheritance practices continue.
WHAT DOES THE CONSTITUTION OF INDIA SAY
The Constitution grants equality to women ensures equality before the law(Article 14) and prohibits discrimination against any citizen on the basis of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth(Article 15). It also allows ‘personal’ laws, however, resulting in a dual system that allows forms of discrimination against girls and women.
In Civil law, for example, the minimum age for marriage is 18 years for women and 21 years for men, but in Muslim Personal Law (though not codified) Muslims can determine when marriage is acceptable (sometimes at puberty).
Implementation of relevant legislation, such as the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act (2006), has been weak, partly because the statute is unclear on whether it supersedes personal law. Similarly, The Hindu Succession Act of 2005 grants Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, and Jain women equal inheritance rights to ancestral and jointly owned property, but Muslims may follow Sharia laws on inheritance that allow daughters to inherit only half as much as sons.
GOVERNMENT SCHEME FOR WOMEN
India launched the National Mission for Empowerment of Women (NMEW) in 2010, mandated to facilitate the coordination of all programs related to women’s welfare and their socio-economic development across all ministries and departments. The government leads specific initiatives focused on gender equality and other programs that, though not focused exclusively on girls and women.
CAUSES OF GENDER DISCRIMINATION IN INDIA
IN EDUCATION SYSTEM
Education is not equally attained by Indian women. Although literacy rates are increasing, the female literacy rate lags behind the male literacy rate, Literacy rate census of India 2001 and 2011 comparison Literacy for females stands at 65.46%, compared to 82.14% for males. An underlying factor for such low literacy rates is parents’ perceptions that education for girls is a waste of resources as their daughters would eventually live with their husbands’ families. Thus, there is a strong belief that due to their traditional duty and role as housewives, daughters would not benefit directly from the education investment.
IN INDIAN SOCIETY
Gender Discrimination has been a social issue in India for centuries. That in many parts of India, the birth of a girl child is not welcomed is a known fact. It is a known fact too, that discrimination starts from even before the girlchild is born and sometimes she is killed as a fetus, and if she manages to see the light of day, she is killed as an infant, which makes up the highly skewed child sex ratio where for every 1000 boys in India, there are only 908 girls.
In such a scenario, it is obvious that for myriad reasons, many girls across the country are forced to drop out of school. Patriarchal norms have marked women as inferior to men. A girl child is considered a burden and is often not even allowed to see the light of the world. It is hard to imagine this state of affairs in the 21st Century when women have proved to be strong leaders in every field possible. From wrestling to business, the world has been revolutionized by exceptional women leaders in fields that were until recently completely dominated by men.
Across India, gender inequality results in unequal opportunities, and while it impacts the lives of both genders, statistically it is girls that are the most disadvantaged. Globally girls have higher survival rates at birth, are more likely to be developmentally on track, and just as likely to participate in preschool, but India is the only large country where more girls die than boys. Girls are also more likely to drop out of school.
Example- Discrimination on toys also, for girl child parents buy a doll, but for a male child toy gun.
SOCIAL AND RELIGIOUS BELIEFS
Women are not free from social customs, beliefs, and practices. The traditional patrilineal joint family system confines women’s roles mostly to the domestic sphere, allocating them to a subordinate status, authority, and power compared to men. Men are perceived as the major providers and protectors of a family while women are perceived as playing only a supportive role, attending to the hearth.
Boys and girls are accordingly drained for different adult roles, status, and authority. In Indian culture since the very early periods, men have dominated women as a group and their status has been low in the family and society. Women are not allowed to enter religious temples at the time of Pregnancy and Period.
Section 5 of the Indian Hindu Law act 1955 defines the minimum age for marriage as 21 years for males and 18 years for females.
LACK OF SOCIAL AWARENESS
Women are not aware of their social and human rights. Article 15 of the Indian Constitution says that “Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth. (1) The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them”.
SOLUTIONS FOR GENDER DISCRIMINATION
Gender-responsive support to enable out-of-school girls and boys to learn and enabling more gender-responsive curricula and pedagogy (Example: implementing new strategies for identifying vulnerable out-of-school girls and boys, an overhaul of textbooks so that the language, images, and messages do not perpetuate gender stereotypes).
Not only the female but the society must also be educated to give equal rights for females.
Reducing excess female mortality under five and supporting equal care-seeking behavior for girls and boys. (Example: front-line workers encourage families to take sick baby girls to the hospital immediately)
Empowering women with the help of laws, education, and employment will make society accept women as an equal gender like males. Female also has all the potential and empowering women will help to use her full capability and mitigate the economic
dependency of women.
Employment gives the income and improves the economic position of the women. Employed women are given importance by family members. Employment gives economic independence for women.
ECONOMIC INDEPENDENCE IN INDIAN SOCIETY
In India, mostly, women at a young age – depend on their father, in middle age- she depends on her husband, and in the older age –depends on her son. A woman always depends on somebody for her livelihoods hence, independence in economical aspects are imperative for women’s development.
SELF DEPENDENT AND SELF CONFIDENT
Women in Indian society, especially uneducated and unemployed women, haven’t had self-confidence. Women need the self-confidence to fight against all the atrocities, against them and to live a self-esteemed life. Hence, boosting the morale and self-confidence of the woman is the key to eliminate her inferior complex.
In Indian families, the decision-making power of women is denied. Most males make important decisions in the family and in the family. This makes women’s voiceless and destroys her confidence and she feels less important in the family as well as in society. So, to end gender discrimination women must empower with decision-making power.
In the world or Indian society, without the participation of women, women cannot achieve development. If we eliminate gender discrimination, women will deliver all the achievement, potentials, skills, knowledge to develop the family, growing family, the nation, and the whole world.
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