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Assignment on the topic –

GENDER INEQUALITY IN INDIA

Submitted by

Reda Tayyaba

Roll no.45 – BA.L.L.B (self finance)

Faculty Of Law

Jamia Milia Islamia, New Delhi-25


TABLE OF CONTENT

1. INTRODUCTION
2. DEFINITION AND MEANING OF GENDER INEQUALITY
3. CAUSES OF GENDER INEQUALITY IN INDIA
4. LEGAL AND CONSTITUTIONAL SAFEGUARDS AGAINST GENDER
INEQUALITY
5. STATE INITIATIVES TO REDUCE GENDER INEQUALITY
6. HOW CAN WE ELIMINATE GENDER INEQUALITY
7. CONCLUSION
INTRODUCTION

In this project we will be thoroughly discussing about the very existing evil in our society and
also outside it, ie the issue of Gender Inequality. The role of both the major genders is really
important for the smooth function of the society. Where the females are not considered and taken
as an important part of each and every institution, we can’t dream about the development. Hence
a simple solution for development and progress, among many others, is to stream line gender in
almost all the major components of the working classes.

Gender and particularly the role of women is widely recognized as vitally important to
international development issues. This often means a focus on gender-
equality,ensuring participation, but includes an understanding of the different roles and
expectation of the genders within the community which is important too.

Gender inequalities are reflected in the daily realities of women’s and girl’s lives including the
disproportionate number of women among those living in poverty. In India women are
worshiped as devi but still is deprived of basic human rights. In spite of constituting half of the
population, they are considered as marginalized group and second-class citizen. The United
Nations ranks India as a middle-income country. Findings from the World Economic Forum
indicate that India is one of the worst countries in the world in terms of gender inequality. In
order to uplift her status and to give her an egalitarian atmosphere we must consider her a human
first and then we should provide all the rights given to human being.

Gender inequality in India refers to health, education, economic and political inequalities
between men and women in India Various international gender inequality indices rank India
differently on each of these factors, as well as on a composite basis, and these indices are
controversial. Gender inequalities, and its social causes, impact India's sex ratio, women's health
over their lifetimes, their educational attainment, and economic conditions. Gender inequality in
India is a multifaceted issue that concerns men and women alike. Some argue that some gender
equality measures, place men at a disadvantage. However, when India‟s population is examined
as a whole, women are at a disadvantage in several important ways.
DEFINITION AND CONCEPT OF GENDER INEQUALITY

‘Gender’ is a socio-cultural term referring socially defined roles and behaviors assigned to
‘males’ and ‘females’ in a given society; whereas, the term ‘sex’ is a biological and
physiological phenomenon which defines man and woman. In its social, historical and cultural
aspects, gender is a function of power relationship between men and women where men are
considered superior to women. Therefore, gender may be understood as a man-made concept,
while ‘sex’ is natural or biological characteristics of human beings.

Gender Inequality, in simple words, may be defined as discrimination against women based on
their sex. Women are traditionally considered by the society as weaker sex in comparison to
men. She has been accorded a subordinate position to men. She is exploited, degraded, violated
and discriminated both in our homes and in outside world. This peculiar type of discrimination
against women is prevalent everywhere in the world and more so in Indian society from very
earlier times.1

INDIA’S PROBLEM

India ranks 132 out of 187 countries on the gender inequality index – lower than Pakistan (123),
according to the United Nations Development Program’s Human Development Report 2013. The
report said all countries in South Asia, with the exception of Afghanistan, were a better place for

1
International Research Journal of Management Sociology and Humanity
women than India, with Sri Lanka (75) topping them all. Gender inequality is especially tragic
not only because it excludes women from basic social opportunities, but also because it gravely
imperils the life prospects of future generations. Indian families often prefer boys to girls, and
female feticide is tragically was common. Only 29% of Indian women above the age of 15 in
2011 were a part of the country’s labor force, compared to 80.7% men. In Parliament, only
10.9% of lawmakers are women, while in Pakistan 21.1% are women. In United States which
ranks 42nd on the list, 57.5% women and 70.1% men are a part of the labor force. China fared
even better, landing 35th. Only 26.6% women above 25 years received a secondary education in
2010, compared to 50.4% of men. Pakistan scored even lower, with 18.3% of women having
received secondary education compared to 43.1% of men. In the U.S., 94.7% women have
received a secondary education – a figure slightly higher than for men (94.3%). In China, this
figure was 54.8% for women and 70.4% for men. In India, 200 women died for every 100,000
childbirths, says the report. 2

CAUSES OF GENDER INEQUALITY IN INDIA

Patriarchal society

The root cause of gender inequality in Indian society lies in its patriarchy system that has been
prevailing. According to the famous sociologists Sylvia Walby, patriarchy is “a system of social
structure and practices in which men dominate, oppress and exploit women”. Women’s
exploitation is an age old cultural phenomenon of Indian society. The system of patriarchy finds
its validity and sanction in our religious beliefs only, whether it is Hindu, Muslim or any other
religion. For instance, as per ancient Hindu law giver Manu: “Women are supposed to be in the
custody of their father when they are children, they must be under the custody of their husband
when married and under the custody of her son in old age or as widows. In no circumstances she
should be allowed to assert herself independently”. This all defines the very position of women
in the society and the patriarchal approach to it.

Son Preference

2
IOSR journal of Humanities and Social science, volume 19
A key factor driving gender inequality is the preference for sons, as they are deemed more useful
than girls. Boys are given the exclusive rights to inherit the family name and properties and they
are viewed as additional status for their family. Another factor is that of religious practices,
which can only be performed by males for their parents' afterlife. All these factors make sons
more desirable. Moreover, the prospect of parents, losing daughters to the husband’s family and
expensive dowry of daughters further discourages parents from having daughters. Thus, a
combination of factors has shaped the imbalanced view of sexes in India.

Discrimination against girls

While women express a strong preference for having at least one son, the evidence of
discrimination against girls after they are born is mixed. In impoverished families, these scholars
found that daughters face discrimination in the medical treatment of illnesses and in the
administration of vaccinations against serious childhood diseases. Poverty and lack of education
derives countless women to work in low paying domestic service, organized prostitution or as
migrant laborers. Women are not only getting unequal pay for equal or more work but also they
are being offered only low skill jobs for which lower wages are paid. This has become a major
form of inequality on the basis of gender.

Dowry

In India, dowry is the payment in cash or some kind of gifts given to bridegroom's family along
with the bride. The dowry system in India contributes to gender inequalities by influencing the
perception that girls are a burden on families. The payment of a dowry has been prohibited under
The 1961 Dowry Prohibition Act in Indian civil law and subsequently by Sections 304B and
498a of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). 3

LEGAL AND CONSTITUTIONAL SAFEGUARDS AGAINST


GENDER INEQUALITY

3
Ibid
Indian Constitution provides for positive efforts to eliminate gender inequality; the Preamble to
the Constitution talks about goals of achieving social, economic and political justice to everyone
and to provide equality of status and of opportunity to all its citizens. Further, women have equal
right to vote in our political system. Article 15 of the Constitution provides for prohibition of
discrimination on grounds of sex also apart from other grounds such as religion, race, caste or
place of birth. Article 15(3) authorizes the Sate to make any special provision for women and
children. Moreover, the Directive Principles of State Policy also provides various provisions
which are for the benefit of women and provides safeguards against discrimination.

So there are varied legislative safeguards and protection mechanisms for women but the ground
reality is very different. Despite all these provisions women are still being treated as second rate
citizens in our country; men are treating them as an object to fulfill their carnal desires; crimes
against women are at alarming stage; the practice of dowry is still widely prevalent; female
infanticide is a norm in our homes.4

STATE INITIATIVES TO REDUCE GENDER INEQUALITY

Different states and union territories of India, in cooperation with the central government, have
initiated a number of region-specific programs targeted at women to help reduce gender
inequality over the prevailing period. Some of these programs include Swarnajayanti Gram
Swarozgar Yojana, Sampoorna Gramin Rozgar Yojana, Balika Samriddhi Yojana, National
Programme of Nutritional Support to Primary Education (to encourage rural girls to attend
primary school daily), National Programme for Education of Girls at Elementary Level, Sarva
Shiksha Abyhiyan, Ladli Laxmi Yojana, Delhi Ladli Scheme and others as well for the
betterment of the society.5

HOW CAN WE ELIMINATE GENDER INEQUALITY

4
S.R Myneni : Law and Poverty, Allahabad Law Agency, Allahabad
5
Ibid
The list of legislations as well as types of discriminations or inequalities may go on but the real
change will only come when the mentality of men will change; when the male species of human
beings would start treating women as equal and not subordinate or weaker to them.

Therefore, what is needed is the movement for Women’s empowerment where women can
become economically independent and self-reliant, where they can enjoy the same rights as men
where they can fight their own fears , where women have good education, good career,
ownership of property, other important assets and above all where they have freedom of choice
and also the freedom to make their own decisions with their consent.

Let’s hope and wish that our participative democracy, in times to come, and with the efforts of
both women and men, would be able to found solutions to the problem of gender inequality and
would take us all towards our cherished dream of a truly modern society in both thought and
action.
CONCLUSION

Only making laws and enforcing them is not enough but there is a need of social awakening and
change in the attitude of mindset of masses, so that there should be no discrimination on the basis
of gender and gave equal right and to women. They are the self-owner of their life. Now the time
came when women should empowered themselves. Removal of gender discrimination can help
in the women empowerment. Time came where women should fight for her own right. If we
really want our half population i.e. women should progress and empowered then it is very
necessary to remove different kinds of evils that are still prevailing in Indian society. In this age
we should have the motto like “ Educate Women , Educate India”.