The gender technology gap has to end (The Hindu, GS-2, GS-1, Social issues and social Justice)

Context:- As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, existing inequalities have come to light. These inequalities are clearly visible in the gender gap report and access to digital technology. Access to technology has never been so crucial to ensuring public health and safety as it is right now.

  • Digital gender Gap:-

    • There is a differential access to digital technology.
    • According to (GSMA) estimates over 390 million women in low­ and middle income countries do not have Internet access.
    • Only 14.9% of women were reported to be using the Internet in India.
    • According to current data with the government nearly 17% more men than women have been vaccinated.
    • For an example:- when families share a digital device then it will be more likely that the father or sons will be allowed to use it exclusively.
    • Patriarchal mindset thinks that women’s access to technology will motivate them to challenge patriarchal societies.
    • In our society there is also a belief that women need to be protected.
    • Most technologies that are currently available to the common man are created by men, for men, and do not necessarily meet everyone’s requirements.

Solutions to Gender technological inequality in India:-

  • For digital gender gap:- 
    • Companies should not look at gender equal technology rather from a pragmatic one.
    • Closing the gender gap in mobile Internet usage in low­ and middle income countries would increase GDP by U.S.$700 billion.
    • Bringing an end to the gender technology gap will save lives and make livelihoods more secure.

Gender Inequality in India:-

Facts about gender inequality:-

  • According to the Global Gender Gap Report released by the World Economic Forum (WEF) , India is ranked 140.
  • India also scored badly on overall female to male literacy and health rankings.
  • UNDP’s Gender Inequality Index- India is at 122 out of 162 countries. Neighbors China (39), Sri Lanka (86), Bhutan (99), Myanmar (106) were placed above India.
  •  India is ranked 95th among 129 countries in the SDG gender index.
  • According to ILO female labor force participation in India was 23.5%.

Why gender inequality in India:-

  • Cultural institutions:-

      • Patrilineality (inheritance through male descendants) and patrilocality (married couples living with or near the husband’s parents) plays a significant role in making male authority on men. 
  • Social issues:-

    • Preference for sons:- Parental preference for sons because they inherit the property and through production they ensure further lineage.
    • Son met preference:- According to Economic survey 2017-18 there are more than 2 cr girls which are unwanted i.e. they took birth because parents wants a boy child.
    • Dowry system:- This system involves a cash or in-kind payment from the bride’s family to the groom’s at the time of marriage sometimes by the will or sometimes by force. So parents don’t want any girl in their family..
    • The incidence of dowry has been steadily rising over time across all region and socioeconomic classes, particularly in north India
    • Patriarchal mindsets:- This is a social system of privilege in which men are the primary authority figures, occupying roles of political leadership, moral authority, control of prosperity and authority over women and children.
  • Poverty and lack of education:-

    • Extreme poverty and lack of education are also some of the reasons for women’s low status in society.
    • Poverty and lack of education derives countless women to work in low paying domestic service, organized prostitution or as migrant laborers.
  • Economic Issues:-
    • Unpaid Labor:
      • Women spend 2.4 times more hours per day than men on unpaid care and domestic work.

      • Women are paid less for the same work as their male counterparts.

  • Discriminative Policies:-

    • Economic vulnerability imposed on women also comes from policy and political decisions.
    • Less job avenues and more informal types of jobs have persistently deprived them of compensation in the form of equal pay, paid maternity leave, universal health, unemployment and care benefits.
  • Political issues:-

      • A reservation bill for women in parliament is still pending.
      • Women don’t have equal access to political institution
      • Lack democratic institutions in the political parties.
      • Even at the lower level women don’t have right access for example Pradhan pati concept where even after the women elected representative, their authority is being practiced by the male members.

What are the constitutional safeguards for female:-

  • Indian Constitution provides for positive affirmations to eliminate gender inequality in India.
  • The Preamble with the goals of achieving social, economic and political justice to each and everyone.
  • Preamble also provides equality of status and of opportunity to all its citizens.
  • Article 14 talks about equality to all.
  • In Constitution, Article 15 of the provides for prohibition of discrimination on grounds of gender and on other grounds also
  • In the Constitution, Article 15(3) authorizes the State or government to make any special provision for women and children thereby treating them for equity.
  • Article 16 gives reservation to women in case of public employment.
  • Women are given 33% reservation in panchayat and local self governance.
  • Article 23 provide safeguard against prostitution, flesh trade etc.
  • Article 25 gives equality in the matter of religion. Recently parliament has passed a law which criminalizes the 3 talq.
  • The Directive Principles of State Policy also provides various provisions which are exclusively for benefit of women such as article 43 and provides safeguards against discrimination.

Legal safeguards:-

Various protective Legislations have also been passed by the Parliament  and state legislature particularly to eliminate exploitation of women and to give them equal status in society.

  • The Sati (Prevention) Act, 1987:-

      • To abolish, omission, commission of Sati and make punishable the inhuman custom of Sati.
  • The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961:- 

      • To eliminate the practice of dowry in Indian marriages.
  • The Special Marriage Act, 1954:-

      • To give rightful status and to facilitate the married couples who marry inter-caste or inter-religion
  • Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) act:-

      • To stop female infanticide by prohibiting the sex selection, investigation technique.
  • SHE Act:-

      • To prevent the women’s sexual harassment at work place.
  • Domestic violence act 2005:-

      • To save married women from any kind of husband or family violence on the pretext of dowry or any other purpose.
  • Section 304-B was added to the Indian Penal Code, 1860:-

    •  To make dowry-death or bride-burning a specific offence punishable with maximum punishment of life imprisonment there by saving women from a clutch of greedy people.
  • 33% Reservation to women for parliament seat, bill is pending in parliament.

Current Challenges for Gender inequality:-

  • Cultural values limit the role of a woman as a homemaker with status of mother, sister and wife.
  • Partnership and industry do not consider women capable enough to handle the issues which emerge in the meantime.
  • Gender equality studied in isolation means the crime against boys and men go unreported.
  • The laws which are made by state legislature or parliament, are gender biased rather than gender neutral laws.
  • Hardly any steps for political representation of women
  • Gender exploitation in the unorganized sector goes unreported.

What are the challenges in the workplace?

  • Women employees in India are still fighting for an equal pay for equal work as compared with the developed world where equality exists.
  • Sexual harassment exists at workplace.
  • Indian companies are reluctant to employ women for reasons of brake/reliefs after marriage and motherhood.
  • Inadequate infrastructure affects women entrepreneurs more than men, because women often bear a larger share of the time and responsibility for household activities.
  • Women face greater constraints in geographic mobility imposed by safety concerns and social norms.

Related Initiatives of Other Countries:-

  • Philippines:- Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act, 2009.
  • Mexico:– Social Security Law allowing men to access childcare services.
  • Cape Verde, North Macedonia and Trinidad and Tobago: These countries have enabled employees with care responsibilities to perform their work remotely.

Way Forward:-

  • Need for policy initiatives which empower women along with increase in sensitization of men, as gender disparities in India persist even against the backdrop of economic growth.
  • Improvements in labor market prospects especially in the unorganized or informal sector.
  • Female Labor force participation will increase in marriage age and school enrolment of younger girls.
  • Feminism could be a powerful tool that lets children, especially girl children, shed stereotypes that they may hold and question those of others.
  • Introduction of feminism in schools both in terms of curriculum and practice.
  • Education will remain a single potent toll by which we can change the social aspect.

Download Daily Current Affairs of 24th June 2021

Swarn Singh

Plutus IAS Current Affair Team

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