India’s Greatest Untapped Resource

Author: Satvika

Women in India represent nearly 10% of the entire world’s population and discrimination against them is prevalent even today. In the past decade, India’s growth has been expansive but far from inclusive. With violence against women and girls drastically increasing in recent years, India remains well known to be one of the world’s most dangerous countries for women. The World Economic Forum’s gender gap report ranked India 108 out of 149 countries, identifying it as one of the worst countries on gender parity based on basic factors like health and survival, education, and economic opportunity.

Photo by Nikhita S on Unsplash

Some analysts say that deep-rooted changes in social attitudes are needed to make India’s women more accepted and secure. There is a deeply ingrained inequality and misogyny in our country that has reasons rooted in the skewed sex ratio and several other factors that go back centuries.

We’ve all either heard or used the phrase,

“what if that was your mother, sister, or daughter?”,

to explain why women need to be treated fairly. While this phrase has good intentions it sends the wrong message. How much more simple does it need to be other than the fact that she is a woman, a human being, deserving of equal respect and opportunities regardless of how she is related to a man?

We say things are getting better, and they are in certain sectors, but in others, they’re getting worse every day. In recent years, we have reported on newborn girls found abandoned on streets, buried in shallow graves, or discarded in rivers and drains. And reports from across India say illegal sex determination clinics are thriving. Domestic violence remains culturally accepted and is the most common form of violence against women. Yet it has almost never been looked at as a public health crisis. According to the WHO, one in every three women experienced physical or sexual violence in their lifetime, and 30% of women experienced physical and sexual violence from their partners. And these are only the documented cases.

Photo by Tom Chen on Unsplash

Women’s participation in the workforce is extremely low. The female to male ratio is only 0.36. This is made worse by the lack of choices that women have to engage in paid work related to patriarchal gender norms, and the burdens of unpaid work that women bear. The wage gap between Indian men and women is amongst the worst in the world where men earn 25% more than women in the same kind of work done by both men and women.

All these statistics are easy to look past but bear in mind behind all these numbers are crores of women who suffer every day as most of society continues to live in blissful ignorance at the glaring gender inequalities in this country

India’s poverty is one of the main reasons for low literacy among women. New measures and reforms should be targeted at rural areas where 70% of the population lives. The country’s rapid urbanization has created more jobs, but not enough women have been able to access urban areas due to the lack of safe transport and public safety in the country.

Photo by Lauren Joseph on Unsplash

With greater access to literacy and education, the aspirations of women will change. With more personal financial knowledge and independence, girls will assert themselves more and take charge of their lives and will play a critical role in the growth and development of the country in the future.

January 24th, National Girl Child Day is an initiative of the ministry of women and child development and focuses on the need to address the challenges that girls face in Indian society due to society’s gender biases and prejudices. An attitudinal shift is crucial for women to be considered as equals within their homes, careers, and society.

India can no longer afford to neglect its women. It’s high time we start seeing some significant changes.

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