Gender Equality - Reality / Myth


Anuradha M.V.
Department of Management Studies
Global Academy of Technology

GENDER MEANING—The term "Gender" has more than one valid definition. In ordinary speech, it is used interchangeably with "sex" to denote the condition of being male or female.

The World Health Organization (WHO), for example, uses "gender" to refer to "the socially constructed roles, behaviors, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women".

EQUALITY MEANING---- The state or quality of being equal.

Sameness in state or continued course; evenness; uniformity; as, an equality of temper or constitution.

Gender inequality refers to the obvious or hidden disparity between individuals due to gender. Gender is constructed both socially through social interactions as well as biologically.

Gender inequalities often stem from social structures that have institutionalized conceptions of gender differences.

Gender Inequalities refers to the obvious or hidden disparities among individuals based on the performance of gender. This problem in simple term is known as Gender Bias which in simple terms means the gender stratification or making difference between a girl and a boy i.e. a male or a female. In making biasness among the gender India has 10th rank out of 128 countries all over the world which is shameful for us . But this problem is increasing although government has banned the pre-natal sex examination. In India (in the older times) this problem is mainly seen in the rural areas because many rural people think that the girl child is burden on them. But now this is also being seen in the urban areas i.e. in offices, institutions, schools and in society.

Gender inequality can further be understood through the mechanisms of sexism. Discrimination takes place in this manner as men and women are subject to prejudicial treatment on the basis of gender alone. Sexism occurs when men and women are framed within two dimensions of social cognition

Gender roles that are created in childhood spread throughout life and help to structure parenting and marriage, especially in relation to work in and outside the home. When it comes to gender differences, the nature versus nurture debate is still very much alive. Very young toddlers and even infants exhibit typical gender differences, suggesting that nature is the major player in the gender divide. But nurture may be more important than people realize, since children are keenly aware of early gender stereotypes.

While it's unclear how much of the difference between boys and girls is due to genetics and how much is due to socialization, experts agree that a combination of both is likely the cause. Boys and girls are often born with a slight predisposition to stereotypical boy/girl activities, and that predisposition is reinforced and strengthened by life experience.

Fight for gender equality is not a fight against men. It is a fight against traditions that have chained them – a fight against attitudes that are ingrained in the society – it is a fight against system – a fight against proverbial lakshmanrekha which is different for men and different for women. The society must rise to the occasion. It must recognize & accept fact that men and women are equal partners in life. They are individual who have their own identity".
                                                                                                         - Dr. Justice A.S. Anand

Types of Gender Inequalities

There are many kinds of gender inequality or gender disparity which are as follows:
1. Natality inequality:  In this type of inequality a preference is given for boys over girls that many male-dominated societies have, gender inequality can manifest itself in the form of the parents wanting the newborn to be a boy rather than a girl. There was a time when this could be no more than a wish (a daydream or a nightmare, depending on one's perspective), but with the availability of modern techniques to determine the gender of the foetus, sex-selective abortion has become common in many countries. It is particularly prevalent in East Asia, in China and South Korea in particular, but also in Singapore and Taiwan, and it is beginning to emerge as a statistically significant phenomenon in India and South Asia as well.

2. Professional or Employment inequality: In terms of employment as well as promotion in work and occupation, women often face greater handicap than men. A country like Japan and India may be quite egalitarian in matters of demography or basic facilities, and even, to a great extent, in higher education, and yet progress to elevated levels of employment and occupation seems to be much more problematic for women than for men. The example of employment inequality can be explained by saying that men get priority in seeking job than women.

3. Ownership inequality: In many societies the ownership of property can also be very unequal. Even basic assets such as homes and land may be very asymmetrically shared. The absence of claims to property can not only reduce the voice of women, but also make it harder for women to enter and flourish in commercial, economic and even some social activities. This type of inequality has existed in most parts of the world, though there are also local variations. For example, even though traditional property rights have favored men in the bulk of India.

4. Household inequality: There are often enough, basic inequalities in gender relations within the family or the household, which can take many different forms. Even in cases in which there are no overt signs of anti-female bias in, say, survival or son-preference or education, or even in promotion to higher executive positions, the family arrangements can be quite unequal in terms of sharing the burden of housework and child care. It is, for example, quite common in many societies to take it for granted that while men will naturally work outside the home, women could do it if and only if they could combine it with various inescapable and unequally shared household duties. This is sometimes called "division of labor," though women could be forgiven for seeing it as "accumulation of lab our." The reach of this inequality includes not only unequal relations within the family, but also derivative inequalities in employment and recognition in the outside world. Also, the established fixity of this type of "division" or "accumulation" of labor can also have far-reaching effects on the knowledge and understanding of different types of work in professional circles.

Equality within marriage has no meaning at all well for that matter it is the same outside marriage reported one housewife.  A distressing state of affairs exist in Bangladesh where beauty has become a bane for many young girls.  Young educated girls are the victims.  Girls who refuse to accept the marriage proposal of a particular male is made the victim of acid burns on her face by the male and his friends whose proposal she has turned down.  These are the instances where the males demonstrate their supremacy by resorting to violence.  Bride buying is still prevalent in the new millennium.  Instances in Gujarat are old stories.  

Man and woman are both equal and both plays a vital role in the creation and development of their families in a particular and the society in general. Indeed, the struggle for legal equality has been one of the major concerns of the women's movement all over the world. In India, since long back, women were considered as an oppressed section of the society and they were neglected for centuries. During the national struggle for independence, Gandhiji  gave a call of emancipation of women. He wrote – :I am uncompromising in the matter of women's rights. The difference in sex and physical form denotes no difference in status. Woman is the complement of man, and not inferior". Thus, the first task in post-independent India was to provide a constitution to the people, which would not make any distinctions on the basis of sex. The preamble of constitution promises to secure to all its citizens- "Justice- economical, social, and political"

The constitution declares that the equality before the law and the equal protection of laws shall be available for all . Similarly, there shall be no discrimination against any citizen on the ground of sex . Article 15(1) guarantees equalities of opportunities for all citizens in matters of employment. Article 15(3) provides that the state can make any special provisions for women and children. Besides, directive principle of state policy which concern women directly and have a special bearing on their status directly and have a special bearing on their status include Article 39(a) right to an adequate means of livelihood; (d) equal pay for equal wok both men and women, (e) protection of health and strength of workers –men, women, children and Article 42 provides for just and humane conditions of work and maternity relief.

It is really important to note that though the Constitution of India is working since more than fifty-seven years – the raising of the status of women to one of equality, freedom and dignity is still a question mark

In India, since independence, a number of laws have been enacted in order to provide protection to women. For instance the Dowry prohibition Act 1961, The Equal Remuneration Act 1986, The Hindu Marriage Act 1956, The Hindu Succession Act 1956, The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986, the commission of Sati (prevention) Act 1987, Protection of the Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005, etc. But, the laws have hardly implemented in their letter and spirit.

Measures to Solve Gender Inequality
Every problem has its own solution elsewhere or what ever the problem is? Like this phenomenon this problems has many measures out of which some of the simple one are stated below (except legislative and judicial Solutions).

1. Changes at District level mechanism: A clear cut administrative should be made available at the district level for monitoring and reviewing the incidence of inequality against women. This district level machinery headed by District Magistrate should consist of representatives of police, prosecution machinery, judiciary and the representatives of prominent individuals of women's organizations in the Districts. This committee should review progress of investigation and prosecution. At least one special cell should be created at the district level for ensuring better registration and progress of investigation and monitoring of crimes against gender equality. This special cell should network with community groups and women's organizations and help to create an atmosphere in which people would feel encouraged to freely report the cases of gender injustice. At present, most, non-reporting of the cases is due to lack of confidence in enforcement machinery.

The reporting of violence against women from the Thana to the district level and from district level to the state level gets obscured in the overall mass and complexities of the currently prescribed reporting system. Specific format should be created and implemented for reporting on gender-related crimes.

2. Changes at State level Mechanism:  Similarly, like District level mechanism there should be State level machinery at the State level in which there should be special entry for those cases which needs prompt actions. This institution will make a full control over the district level machinery. So that there should nit be any corruption or fraud with innocent persons.

3. Law of Torts: An area of civil wrong is tort law. Tort law is probably one of the most under utilized areas of the law with respect to the problem of gender injustice. The torts that are directly applicable are:
Unlawful imprisonment
Tort of harassment
Tort of Medical pre- natal test
It means that there can be punishment under tort law also.


Parents should always remember that it's especially important to nurture a child's interests and talents no matter what they are, and not to limit them to gender roles that ignore their individual strengths and capabilities.

The most significant factor in continued use of law to enforce patriarchal privilege is that men still control not only the legal process and the interpretation of laws, but also the subject matter and vantage point of law. If the subject matter of law is male concerns and if the perspective employed within the legal process are those of men, then women should actually have no reason to expect that mere reform of existing law will materially improve the condition of women. This is particularly true when attempts to improve the statutes of women are made through incremental reforms that are not grounded in an understanding of how women's oppressions are constructed. Reforms of rape law will not materially improve the status of women when the point of rape laws is their no enforcement.



Anuradha M.V.
Department of Management Studies
Global Academy of Technology

Source: E-mail August 24, 2010


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