Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

[op-ed snap] Why women are still being treated as unequal to men


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Role of religion and family in gender equality


According to a study published in American Psychologist, for the first time in history, 86% of US adults have admitted that men and women are equally intelligent. In 1946, only 35% of those surveyed thought both men and women are equally intelligent. 

Status of gender equality

  1. From the days when one had to hunt for food, to the days of agricultural output and the industrial economy, the superior physical abilities of man gave him an advantage over women in work efficiency. With the arrival of the knowledge economy, the human brain has become the most important tool for work. 
  2. According to the World Employment And Social Outlook Trends For Women 2018 report, more women than ever before are both educated and participating in the labour market today. 
  3. Men’s rates of graduation remain relatively stagnant, while women across socioeconomic classes are increasingly enrolling for and completing post-secondary degrees. 
  4. The Global Gender Gap Report 2018 by the World Economic Forum says that it will take 108 years to close the gender gap and 202 years to achieve parity in the workforce. 
  5. Studies show that many admit that women are equal to men at a conscious level but many also hold many biases towards women. 

Challenges in bringing gender equality

  1. For millions of years, except in few matriarchal societies, the man has always been considered the head of the family. 
  2. The provider-role he played was always seen superior to the nurturer-role that women played in a family. 
  3. Gender parity was not a norm in families across societies.
  4. Even with the arrival of the knowledge economy and women earning better salaries, there is a tendency to “manning up and womaning down” salaries. 
    • In marriages in which women earned more, women said that they earned 1.5% less, on average, than they actually did. Their husbands said they earned 2.9% more than they did. 
    • Even among the educated, there are deep rooted biases that prevent people from admitting that the man is no longer the provider-in-chief.
  1. A study at the University of Chicago found that marriages in which the woman earned more were less likely in the first place and more likely to end in divorce. 
  2. It also found that women who out-earned their husbands were more likely to seek jobs beneath their potential and do significantly more housework and child care than their husbands to make their husbands feel less threatened. 
  3. The norms in our families act as a huge deterrent to achieving gender parity.

Role of religion

  1. Religious stories depict that male bodies are created in God’s own image and so are considered better than female bodies, which are somehow deficient and in need of purification. 
  2. All the key functions of organized religion, such as conducting religious ceremonies and heading the religious hierarchy, are reserved for men. 
  3. No organized religion treats women equal to men.
  4. The unequal treatment of women by religion has exerted a very strong influence on every society’s gender norms. 
  5. Studies establish that countries where the majority of inhabitants have no religious affiliation display the lowest levels of gender inequality, and countries with the highest levels of gender inequality are those with high levels of religious affiliation. 
  6. We cannot achieve gender parity if religion continues to turn its back on women. 


Achieving gender parity is not about organizing awareness programmes and pasting a few posters in offices. It is all about fundamentally altering beliefs upheld by the two strongest institutions of any society: the family and religion.

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