A Literature Review on Gender Equity


By

Prahlad Kumar Pandey
Faculty Member
Icfai National College
Rewa (MP)
 


The continuance of journey depends on the equal strength and speed of both wheels of a chariot.

Gender Equity has gained prominent importance in the recent past. The third item of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of United Nations describes 'promoting gender equality and empower woman.' Gender equity is giving boys and girls, women and men equal opportunities in the utilization of personal capabilities to realize full human rights.

There are many studies done by scholar across the world to find association between empowered woman and their socio- economic performance.

Simon Appleton suggested that expanding female education will improve gender equity which was the outcome of the study done in Uganda. The study focused on the involvement of women in politics in South Africa and Uganda. He also found a relationship between the importance of gender equity to economic growth and traced women's civil society in Uganda was given importance. (Sims, L, 1997)

Another study finds that only 3 percent of the most highly compensated executives are female, that these positions are held disproportionately by men, and that female executives are more likely to be clustered in particular industry groups (Healy and Zukka, 2004)

There are empirical evidences that the promotion of gender equity leads to better economic performance of the concerned societies. One of such studies was done by Stephan Klasen of. Gender gaps undermine the ability of women to be effective agents of economic process. Societies with greater female employment opportunities are less prone to corruption and poor governance (Klasen, S., 2006)

Why more boys tend to attend school in China than girls, is the work of scholars who worked to find the causes of the same. Boys are more likely than girls to attend school in rural China. There is evidence that gender equity is a "luxury good"; the demand for female schooling is more income elastic than that for male schooling. (Song, Appleton and Knight, 2006)

Another study conducted to find out the nature of work undertaken or assigned also differs on the gender ground. Boys tend to be given more physical tasks like lawn mowing and fixing things, while girls are stuck with housecleaning and doing the dishes. Even parents who fight for gender equity in their own marriages find themselves splitting their children's tasks along traditional gender lines. (Shellenbarger, S. 2006)

Discrimination in wages is not only the phenomenon in India but it also exits in a developed country like USA. The findings clearly indicate Women Registered Dietitians in USA earned $45,258/year while men earned $50,250/year, having a median wage gap of $4,965. (Pollard, Tayler and Daher, 2007)

Indian Perspective

The woman are still waiting to get the due respect and recognition in India. Unlike ancient times, women face physical mental harassment and violence in and outside the family throughout their lives. Police records are the mute evidence of the poor state of woman. A woman is molested in the country every 26 minutes and raped every 34 minutes. Every 42 minutes, an incident of sexual harassment takes place. Every 43 minutes, a woman is kidnapped. A woman is killed every 93 minutes.

Table 1: Key Statistics of Gender Equity in India in 2004

Statistics

Male

Female

Population (%)

51.3           

48.7

Life Expectancy at Birth (years)

63

64

Adult Literacy Rate (% of people aged 15+)

73.4

47.8

Labor Force (% of total labor force)

78

28

Unemployment Rate (% of total labor force)*

NA

4.1

Net Primary School Enrollment Rate

90

84

Primary School Completion Rate (% of relevant age group)

93

84

Youth Literacy Rate (% of People aged 15-24)

84.2

67.7

               Source: World Bank Website

Causes of Poor social and economic condition of Women

The biased mindset of men and, surprisingly enough, women is mainly accountable for the prevailing condition of gender equity in India. The boy child has always been given preference over the girl child.  But the sex ratio was maintained even after this step behavior by the society. The advent of ultrasound technology worsened. To contain the declining sex ratio and for curbing the evil practice of female feticide, the Government brought into force the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act on  September 20, 1994. A survey of ultrasound centers was undertaken during 2004-05 in those states where the number of centers registered under the Act is more and decline in child sex ratio is also significant to know the number of untrained doctors, both allopathic and non-allopathic disciplines, using ultrasound machines and the purpose for using the same.

Health and Nutrition

The women are the one who eat the least and at the last in families particularly in rural India. Their health and nutrition is not taken care of that subsequently results in the poor health of the new born babies. Though the life expectancy rate of woman is better than their male counterparts, the maternal mortality ratio seems to be another foul player for the low female- male ratio. According to the estimates of United Nations for the year 2000, the global maternal mortality at 529,000, of which less than 1% occurred in the developed world. Still as many as 50 % of births are not attended by skilled staff.

Table 2: Health Statistics of Woman in India in 2000

Total fertility rate (births per woman)

3.1

Births attended by skilled health staff (% of total births)

43

Maternal mortality ratio (per 100,000 live births)

540

Child malnutrition prevalence, weight for age (% of children under 5)

47

                Source: World Bank Website

Women and children are more vulnerable to ill health and diseases. Ill health of women is mainly due to poor nutrition due to gender discrimination, low age at marriage, risk factors during pregnancy, unsafe, unplanned and multiple deliveries, limited access to family planning methods and unsafe abortion services.

From Wide to Wider

The sex ratio is one of the key indicators of the status of women in a society. The child sex ratio for the age group of 0-6years has shown a continuous decline over the decades. It has come down significantly from 976 in 1961 to 927 in 2001. During the decade 1991 2001, more than 50 points decline has been observed in the States / UTs of Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh. Declining trend in the child sex ratio has been a matter of concern for all. Some of the reasonscommonly put forward to explain the consistently low levels of sex ratio are - son preference; neglect of the girl child resulting in higher mortality at younger age; female infanticide; female foeticide; maternal mortality; and male bias in enumeration of population.

Table 3: Child sex-ratio (0-6 years) in States and Union Territories

State

Year

Absolute Change

1991

2001

Bihar

953

942

-11

Madhya Pradesh

941

932

-9

Rajsthan

916

909

-7

Uttar Pradesh

927

916

-11

Uttarakhand

948

908

-40

Chattishgarh

984

975

-9

Jharkhand

979

965

-14

India ( Total)

945

927

-18

              Source: Census of India

Easy availability of the sex determination tests seems to be a catalyst in the process, which is further stimulated by introduction of pre-conception sex selection facilities. For the last two decades, reproductive technologies in the form of amniocentesis, ultra sound and several other newer methods have enabled families to know the sex of the unborn child. Every city and big town in India has these facilities. There has been increasing misuse of ultrasound facility for determining the sex of the unborn child with the objective of aborting the foetus if it is a female.

There are adequate provisions made in Indian Constitution to empower woman and to ensure gender equity in various functionaries of government. Proposed women reservation bill is one such attempt in this direction.

Constitutional Provisions for Indian Women

    1. Equality before the law. Article 14
    2. No discrimination by the State on the grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of these. Article 15(1)
    3. Special provisions to be made by the State in favour of women and children. Article 15(3)
    4. Equality of opportunity for all citizens in matters relating to employment or appointment to any office under the State. Article 16
    5. State policy to be directed to securing for men and women equally, the right to an adequate means of livelihood. Article 39(a)
    6. Equal pay for equal work for both men and women. Article 39(d)
    7. Provisions to be made by the State for securing just and humane conditions of work and for maternity relief. Article 42
    8. To promote harmony and to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women. Article 51(A) (e)


Conclusion

India, among few leading countries, had been a land where woman had been given the right to vote. There is no question of any less efficiency, ability and productivity in women than men. A country cannot realize its dream of becoming super power by ignoring the better half of the humanity. Researches have proved that a country where there are more employment opportunities for woman tend to provide better and honest governance.

References:-

1. Prudence Pollard, Maxine Taylor and Noba Daher, Health Care Manager; Jan-Mar2007, Vol. 26 Issue 1, p52-63, 12p, 4 charts

2. SHELLENBARGER, SUE. Wall Street Journal - Eastern Edition, 12/7/2006, Vol. 248 Issue 134, pD1-D1, 1/5p, 1c

3. Joanne Healy and Zucca J. Linda Mid-American Journal of Business; Spring2004, Vol. 19 Issue 1, p55-62, 8p

4. Anne Marei Goets, Review of African Political Economy; Jun98, Vol. 25 Issue 76, p241, 22p

5. Sims, Randi L.Journal of Education for Business; May/Jun97, Vol. 72 Issue 5, p283, 5p, 4 charts

6. www.rwandagateway.org/article.php3

7. Healy, Joanne; Zucca, Linda J. Mid-American Journal of Business, Spring2004, Vol.19 Issue 1, p55-62, 8p

8. SHELLENBARGER, SUE. Wall Street Journal - Eastern Edition, 12/7/2006, Vol. 248 Issue 134, pD1-D1, 1/5p, 1c

9. Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India, New Delhi, ANNUAL REPORT 2006-2007, p.309

10. Menon-S, K. and Shivakumar, A K, Women in India How Free? How Equal? United Nations. http://www.un.org.in/IMAGES/kmsbk_23-44.pdf
 


Prahlad Kumar Pandey
Faculty Member
Icfai National College
Rewa (MP)
 

Source: E-mail March 10, 2008

          

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