Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Count work, not workersop-ed snap


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much.

Mains level : Paper 3- Decline in women's work participation rate and possible causes of it.


India is one of the few countries in the world where women’s work participation rates have fallen sharply — from 29 per cent in 2004-5 to 22 per cent in 2011-12 and to 17 per cent in 2017-18.

What could be the possible explanations for the decline?

  • No consensus among economists: Trying to explain whether women are choosing to focus on domestic responsibilities or whether they are pushed out of the workforce has become a minor industry among economists.
  • Can the quality of data be the explanation? Strangely, the one explanation we have not looked at is whether the declining quality of economic statistics may account for this trend.
    • Our pride in the statistical system built by PC Mahalanobis is so great that we find it unimaginable that it could fail to provide us with reliable employment data.
    • However, as challenges to economic statistics have begun to emerge in such diverse areas as GDP data and consumption expenditure, perhaps it is time to consider the unimaginable.
    • Issue of data collection: Is the decline in women’s labour force participation real or is it a function of the way in which employment data are collected?

Anatomy of the decline in participation rates

  • Driven by rural women: The anatomy of the decline in women’s work participation rates shows that it is driven by rural women.
  • Data of the prime working-age group: In the prime working-age group (25-59)-
    • Urban area data: Urban women’s worker to population ratios (WPR) fell from 28 per cent to 25 per cent between 2004-5 and 2011-12, stagnating at 24 per cent in 2017-18.
    • Rural area data: However, compared to these modest changes, rural women’s WPR declined sharply from 58 per cent to 48 per cent and to 32 per cent over the same period.
  • Among rural women, the largest decline seems to have taken place in women categorised as unpaid family helpers — from 28 per cent in 2004-5 to 12 per cent in 2017-18.
    • This alone accounts for more than half of the decline in women’s WPR. The remaining is largely due to a drop of about 9 percentage points in casual labour.
  • In contrast, women counted as focusing solely on domestic duties increased from 21 per cent to 45 per cent.

What are the explanations for this massive change?

  • Data collection issue: It is the change in our statistical systems that drives these results.
    • Change of workforce collecting data: The questionnaires through which the National Statistical Office (NSO) collects employment data have not changed, but the statistical workforce has, and the surveys that performed reasonably well in the hands of seasoned interviewers are too complex for poorly trained contract data collectors.
  • How data is collected? The National Sample Surveys (NSS) do not have a script that the interviewer reads out. They have schedules that must be completed. The interviewer is trained in concepts to be investigated and then left to fill the schedules to the best of his or her ability.
    • The NSS increasingly relies on contract investigators hired for short periods, who lack
  • Need for redesigning the surveys: Do we need to return to the days of permanent employees or can we design our surveys to overcome errors committed by relatively inexperienced interviewers?
    • A survey design experiment led by Neerad Deshmukh at the NCAER-National Data Innovation Centre provides an intriguing solution.
    • In this experimental survey, interviewers first asked about the primary and secondary activity status of each household member, mimicking the NSS structure.
    • They then asked a series of simple questions that included ones like, “do you cultivate any land?” If yes, “who in your household works on the farm?”
    • Similar questions were asked about livestock ownership and about people caring for the livestock, ownership of petty business and individuals working in these enterprises.
  • What was the result of survey experiment: The results show that the standard NSS-type questions resulted in a WPR of 28 per cent for rural women in the age group 21-59, whereas the detailed activity listing found a WPR of 42 per cent — for the same women.
    • This is an easily implementable module that does not require specialised knowledge on the part of the interviewer.

Identifying the sectors from which women are excludes

  • Missing the identification of sector: In our concern with ostensibly declining women’s work participation, we have missed out on identifying sectors from which women are excluded and more importantly, in which women are included.
  • What data for men indicate? For rural men, ages 25-59, between 2004-5 and 2017-18, casual labour declined by about 6 percentage points.
    • However, this decline is counterbalanced by regular salaried work which increased by 4 percentage points.
    • Thus, it seems likely that men are exchanging precarious employment with higher-quality jobs.
  • What data for women indicate? In contrast, women’s casual work has declined by 9 percentage points while their regular salaried work increased by a mere 1 percentage point.
    • Moreover, the usual route to success, gaining formal education, has little impact on women’s ability to obtain paid work.
  • The explanation for the disparity: Rural men with a secondary level of education have options like working as a postman, driver or mechanic — few such opportunities are open to women.
    • It is not surprising that women with secondary education have only half the work participation rate compared to their uneducated sisters.
  • Takeaway: The focus on employment for women needs to be on creating high-quality employment rather than getting preoccupied with declining employment rates.


It may be time for us to return to the recommendations of ‘Shramshakti: Report of National Commission on Self Employed Women and Women in the Informal Sector’ and develop our data collection processes from the lived experiences of women and count women’s work rather than women workers. Without this, we run the risks of developing misguided policy responses.

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

[pib] National Creche SchemePIB

The WCD Minister has informed about some progress in the National Creche Scheme. As of today, 6453 creches are functional across the country under the Scheme.

National Creche Scheme

  • Earlier named as Rajiv Gandhi National Creche Scheme, the NCS is being implemented as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme through States/UTs with effect from 1.1.2017.
  • It aims to provide daycare facilities to children (age group of 6 months to 6 years) of working mothers.

Salient features of the Scheme

  • Daycare Facilities including Sleeping Facilities.
  • Early Stimulation for children below 3 years and pre-school education for 3 to 6 years old children.
  • Supplementary Nutrition ( to be locally sourced)
  • Growth Monitoring
  • Health Check-up and Immunization

Further, the guidelines provide that :

  • Crèches shall be open for 26 days in a month and for seven and a half (7-1/2) hours per day.
  • The number of children in the crèche should not be more than 25 per crèche with 01 Worker and 01 helpers respectively.
  • User charges to bring in an element of community ownership and collected as under:
    1. BPL families – Rs 20/- per child per month.
    2. Families with Income (Both Parents) of up to Rs. 12,000/- per month – Rs. 100/- per child per month
    3. Families with Income (Both Parents) of above Rs. 12,000/- per month – Rs. 200/- per child per month.


Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

The role of women in developing a knowledge economyop-ed of the day


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much.

Mains level : Paper 1- Empowerment of women is necessary to achieve the aim of $5 trillion economy.

The role of women in developing a knowledge economy


Indian economic success requires scientific skills that can foster a knowledge economy, the emergence of which depends on how gender-balanced the workforce is.

Half the scientific potential squandered

  • The requirement of the skilled workforce: A rapidly growing India requires a highly skilled technical workforce that is crucial for developing a knowledge economy.
    • Unfortunately, half the scientific potential of India—women in science—is squandered.
    • Women make up only 14% of the 280,000 scientists, engineers, and technologists in research and development institutions across the country, according to a recent study.
  • Several barriers in careers: Today, fewer women apply for or hold key scientific positions as several barriers prevent them from progressing in their careers, in comparison with their male counterparts.

Several unacknowledged factors that disadvantage women

  • There is widespread frustration experienced by women, who find it difficult if not impossible to fulfil their scientific potential.
    • Even today, several factors that disadvantage women are not acknowledged widely enough.
  • What are the difficulties faced by women: Peer-reviewed research reports have indicated that women-
    • Scientists earn less.
    • Have less prestige within departments.
    • Have less lab space.
    • Are offered inadequate jobs on graduating with science degrees and have more teaching responsibilities.
    • They also face greater difficulty in receiving grants and therefore apply for fewer grants in the first place.
  • Imperative to tackle issues: It is imperative to tackle these issues with vigour if India is to take its rightful place among developed nations.

Lack of informal networks

  • Women tend to lack access to informal networks that provide opportunities to work in high-profile projects.
    • Which include attending conferences abroad or on-the-job opportunities.
  • How it affects them? They lack the work experience that would enable them to rise up the ranks and provide access to the wide range of developmental models that could build the credibility they need to advance.

Importance of mentor

  • Performance assessment is now an integral part of an organization’s performance management systems, implemented as companies move away from the age-old concepts of training and skill development.
  • How mentors matters? Mentors often help build confidence as well as professional identity in protégés and offer access to developmental opportunities, allowing individuals to demonstrate their ability and gain trust.
    • Mentors keep information channels open and provide feedback on performance in crucial times.
    • It has been noted that almost every successful woman has had a mentor at some time.

How organizations work culture matters?

  • Unepathetic culture: Organizations often define success by the willingness of their employee to work for long hours and prioritize work over everything else—a “live to work” ideal, generally regarded as more masculine.
    • Group membership as criteria leads to discrimination: When women feel selected or assessed on the basis of group membership rather than their work record and abilities, they experience gender discrimination.
    • Women feel that an unempathetic culture is one of the most significant barriers to their advancement.
  • Gender bias as a major career obstacle: A study highlighted that only 3% of women surveyed regarded family responsibilities as their most serious career obstacle, while 50% cited gender bias.
    • Only 7% of female employees surveyed reported leaving the organization for family reasons, whereas 73% reported leaving because they saw limited opportunities.
    • Quit rate: The quit rates for women were significantly lower in organizations that provided better training and promotion opportunities.
  • The need for the employee-friendly policies: In recent years, we have witnessed an increase in the number of women with children who participate in the country’s paid workforce.
    • An organization’s culture has a significant impact on those who work within it.
    • Unfortunately, not many organizations have revised their work policies or employee expectations to enable women to strike a balance between their work and family responsibilities.
    • Flexible policies: For instance, the internet and telecom revolutions have enabled organizations to introduce employee-friendly policies such as Flexi-work hours and work-from-home that have significantly transformed workplace practices.

Way forward

  • Need for the realisation of the full potential of women: Science needs the best scientists, and a knowledge economy needs a gender-balanced workforce. This can only be attained by realizing the full potential of women.
  • Reach out to young girls: Apart from being wasteful and unjust, the under-representation of women in science threatens the goal of achieving excellence in the field. To tackle this, we must set an ambitious target of reaching out to 1 million young girls each year and encourage them to take up science and make a difference.
  • Convention of women: A national convention of women in science must be held annually, with a specific focus on discussing and building general awareness around the major challenges that women face.


We must mobilize all our resources if India aims to be a $5 trillion economy. The gender imbalance in science and technology is a looming challenge and threatens to weaken our country’s competitive economic position. By addressing these concerns, we can empower and motivate more women to join scientific fields, unlock India’s full potential, and develop the country to become a knowledge economy.

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Skill her, skill Indiaop-ed of the day


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Schemes for women empowerment.

Mains level : Paper 2- Various measures and schemes by the government for women empowerment.


On March 8, we honour and celebrate women on the occasion of the International Women’s Day. Women in our country are making strides in social, financial and political fields.

Women breaking the barriers

  • Women working for the development of the country: Be it the 1857 mutiny for India’s freedom or the struggle for Independence, our women have always made India proud.
    • Even today, women are performing their duties with full devotion for the development of the country and upliftment of society.
    • They are working efficiently in various fields, such as academics, literature, music and dance, sports, media, business, information technology, science and technology, politics and social development.
  • Breaking barriers in various fields: Indian women from metropolitan cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai are breaking barriers in fields ranging from politics to the corporate sector.
  • Giving society a new direction: Women are giving society a new direction through their leadership and critical participation in panchayat elections.
    • Increasing awareness and clear intentions are the reason behind women strengthening economic, social and cultural establishments.
    • This is very important for a democratic system.

Female participation in the corporate sector

  • IT sector participation: There is a constant evolution of female participation in the corporate sector. Female participation is constantly increasing in the Information Technology sector.
  • Presence in other areas: Along with the IT sector, the presence of women is also increasing in the banking and finance sector.
    • Last year, the Indian Space Research Organisation decided to hand over the command of Chandrayaan-2 to two women, and these women also played a key role in the mission.

Government schemes for women empowerment

  • Our government is running many schemes for women’s empowerment such as the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, Mahila E-haat Scheme, Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana, Sakhi Yojana, Ladli Yojana, Digital Laado and the Swachh Bharat Mission.
  • Government is also working extensively on women’s nutrition.
  • Multiple ministries working on the same: The Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Women and Child Empowerment, and Human Resource Development are working closely in this regard.
  • Identification of skill set: We know that every person has a unique skill-set. What is needed is a mechanism to ensure that that skill-set is identified and honed in the best possible way.
    • The government need to ensure that all women in our country from different occupations are trained in their respective skill-sets and are employable.
  • Government need to put to best use their skill-set to become self-employed entrepreneurs and progress.
  • Around 68.12 lakh women in India have been trained under the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikaas Yojana 2.0.
  • Under the Jan Shikshan Sansthan Scheme, around 08 lakh women have been trained in the 2018-2020 period, while 38.72 lakh women have been trained in Industrial Training Institutes (ITI).
    • At present, there are 18 National Skill Training Institutes across the country to train women. Special batches are being conducted to provide basic, theoretical and advanced training to women.
  • Making progress in non-traditional skills: It is a matter of joy and pride that while women in India are studying electronics, fashion design, technology and business management, there are also those who hone their new-age skills in artificial intelligence, data analytics, 3D printing, etc.
    • Along with traditional skills like beauty, wellness and healthcare, women are also progressing quickly in non-traditional skills such as electronics and hardware.

The role of various missions in strengthening women’s skill

  • The National Rural Livelihood Mission has strengthened women’s skills and prepared them for employment.
  • Training for self-employed tailors, beauty therapists, customer care executives, hairstylists, yoga trainers, etc. are being carried out in the Prime Minister Skill Centres.
  • Women playing a significant role in various missions: Very soon, one will get to see women playing significant roles in central government schemes such as the Ayushman Bharat Yojana, Swachh Bharat Mission and Smart City Mission.
    • By joining these missions, women will make a huge contribution in giving a new shape to society.
    • In fact, in the creation of a New India, women’s education and skill development are going to be critical.
  • In the last few years, the central government has rolled out various schemes that have emboldened the women of our country and taken them on the path of self-reliance and security.


The efforts of our government have created a milieu of trust in the women of our country. They are confident that the country’s government machinery is standing by them by creating an atmosphere of respect and development for women. In the past few years, our government has made massive advancements in providing education and honing skill-sets. We pledge to make sure that these efforts reach each and every Indian woman.


Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Permanent Commission to Women in Indian ArmySC Judgements


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Debate over suitablity of women in combat roles of Indian Army


  • The Supreme Court brought women officers in 10 streams of the Army on a par with their male counterparts in all respects, setting aside longstanding objections of the government.
  • The case was first filed in the Delhi High Court by women officers in 2003 and had received a favourable order in 2010. But the order was never implemented and was challenged by the government.

Women in Army: Background of the case

  • The induction of women officers in the Army started in 1992.
  • They were commissioned for a period of five years in certain chosen streams such as Army Education Corps, Corps of Signals, Intelligence Corps, and Corps of Engineers.
  • Recruits under the Women Special Entry Scheme (WSES) had a shorter pre-commission training period than their male counterparts who were commissioned under the Short Service Commission (SSC) scheme.
  • In 2006, the WSES scheme was replaced with the SSC scheme, which was extended to women officers. They were commissioned for a period of 10 years, extendable up to 14 years.
  • Serving WSES officers were given the option to move to the new SSC scheme or to continue under the erstwhile WSES.
  • They were to be, however, restricted to roles in streams specified earlier — which excluded combat arms such as infantry and armoured corps.

2 key arguments shot down

  • The Supreme Court rejected arguments against a greater role for women officers, saying this violated equality under the law.
  • They were being kept out of command posts on the reasoning that the largely rural rank and a file will have problems with women as commanding officers. The biological argument was also rejected as disturbing.
  • While male SSC officers could opt for permanent commission at the end of 10 years of service, this option was not available to women officers.
  • They were, thus, kept out of any command appointment, and could not qualify for government pension, which starts only after 20 years of service as an officer.
  • The first batch of women officers under the new scheme entered the Army in 2008.

Arguments by the govt.

  • The government put forth other arguments before the Supreme Court to justify the proposal on the grounds of permanent commission, grants of pensionary benefits, limitations of judicial review on policy issues, occupational hazards, reasons for discrimination against women and rationalization on physiological limitations for employment in staff appointments.
  • The apex court has rejected these arguments, saying they are “based on sex stereotypes premised on assumptions about socially ascribed roles of gender which discriminate against women”.
  • It has also said that it only shows the need “to emphasise the need for change in mindsets to bring about true equality in the Army”.

Implications of the judgement

  • The SC has done away with all discrimination on the basis of years of service for grant of PC in 10 streams of combat support arms and services, bringing them on a par with male officers.
  • It has also removed the restriction of women officers only being allowed to serve in staff appointments, which is the most significant and far-reaching aspect of the judgment.
  • It means that women officers will be eligible to tenant all the command appointments, at par with male officers, which would open avenues for further promotions to higher ranks for them.
  • It also means that in junior ranks and career courses, women officers would be attending the same training courses and tenanting critical appointments, which are necessary for higher promotions.

Way Forward

  • The implications of the judgment will have to be borne by the human resources management department of the Army, which will need to change policy in order to comply.
  • But the bigger shift will have to take place in the culture, norms, and values of the rank and file of the Army, which will be the responsibility of the senior military and political leadership.
  • After the Supreme Court’s progressive decision, they have no choice but to bite the proverbial bullet.
Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

To help her workop-ed snap


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much.

Mains level : Paper 3- Inclusive growth and need to focus on gender budgeting in India.


When it came to allocating funds, the budget relegates women’s economic participation to secondary importance.

The current status of women in India

  • Lack of Equality: India continues to struggle to provide its women with equal opportunity.
  • A low score on international measures: On international measures of gender equality.
    • India scores low on women’s overall health and survival and ability to access economic opportunities.
  • Why it matters? Since the woman’s economic engagement is related to her own and her family’s well-being, the continuing decline in rural women’s labour force participation is a cause for concern, and both affects and reflects these worrying gender gaps.

Why female labour force participation matters beyond social cause?

  • Source of economic growth: Ignoring India’s declining female labour force participation at a time of economic distress is a mistake.
    • Not just a social cause: Involving women in the economy is not a social cause — it is a source of efficiency gains and economic growth.
  • Missing out on many things: In a country where young women’s education is now at par with men’s, ignoring that half of the population isn’t participating equally in the economy means we are missing out on many things, like-
    • Innovation.
    • Entrepreneurship.
    • And productivity gains.
  • Large potential to increase in GDP: The large potential increases in GDP that could accrue to India and countries around the world, if they could only close their labour force gender gaps, are often cited.
    • 60% increase in GDP: A report by McKinsey Global Institute suggests that if women participated in the Indian economy at the level men do, annual GDP could be increased by 60 per cent above its projected GDP by 2025.
    • Underlying conclusion: The underlying conclusion is that women’s potential to contribute to GDP is huge.
    • Gain larger than any other region: The same analysis also suggested that India’s potential GDP gains through achieving economic gender parity were larger than gains in any of the other regions they studied.

How can the state be responsive to women? 

It can be ensured in the following two ways-

  • 1.MGNREGA-Important focus: An important focus could be a smarter policy and gender-intentional implementation.
    • A key example comes from MGNREGA, a programme whose official policy has long been to pay individual workers in their own bank accounts.
    • It is observed that this policy was typically not implemented and that women’s wages were usually being paid into the bank account of the woman’s husband.
  • Why paying wages in women’s account matters?
    • Giving women digital control of her wage:
    • This seemingly small change — giving a woman digital control of her wages — had a big impact.
    • Working women more outside their home: Women who received digital accounts plus training worked more outside their homes, not only for MGNREGA but also in private employment.
  • Higher economic engagement and lessening patriarchy
    • Importantly, women from especially conservative households reported higher economic engagement and an improved ability to move about their communities unaccompanied.
    • Lessening of patriarchal norms: Surveys conducted showed that the payment in account also began to influence restrictive patriarchal norms.
  • 2.Need to move beyond MGNREGA
    • Ease of doing business and reform in labour market reforms: Continuing to improve ease of doing business and addressing rigid labour market regulations can also draw more women into high-potential sectors.
    • Such as those supported under Assemble in India.
    • Potential in manufacturing: Rural women’s relative participation in manufacturing has grown compared to men’s, and manufacturing stands out as a promising means to pull young women, in particular, into the economy.
    • Potential in SMEs: Ensuring better support to small and medium-sized enterprises can help new businesses.


  • Attune schemes to the aspiration of women: Ensuring that these programmes are attuned to the needs and aspirations of women is not expensive. But it makes a much difference.
    • Review of policy and programme: It requires a review of individual policies and programme implementation.
  • Increase the funding: The government needs to increase funding to programmes targeting women. Until then, the policy can build on the fact that pulling women into the economy isn’t just a function of budget allocations or social sector programmes. It’s also a matter of thoughtful policy design and political will.



Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Explained: Why are there more men than women in the field of STEM?Explained


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NA

Mains level : Women in STEM

Across the world, there are more men who are active in science, technology, engineering and medicine (STEM) than women. Of the 866 Nobel winners so far, only 53 have gone to women.

Sociology behind the gender-divide

  • Research shows that when men and women apply for jobs — be in the labour market, or in places where high level qualifications are demanded, men candidates engage in self-promotion, and are boastful while equally qualified women are more ‘modest’ and ‘undersell’ themselves.
  • Even in groups and situations where men and women are present as colleagues, the views of women are either ignored or listened to less seriously than those of men.
  • As a result, women tend to underestimate their ability relative to men, especially in public settings, and negotiate less successfully.

Why this imbalance?

The authors suggest three socio-psychological reasons, namely:

  1. masculine culture
  2. lack of sufficient early exposure to computers, physics and related areas compared to boys in early childhood and
  3. gender gap in self-efficacy

Stereotypes and role models

I] Masculine culture

  • The masculine culture is due to stereotyping that men are fitter for certain jobs and skills than women, and that women are more ‘delicate’, ‘tender’ and thus unfit for ‘hard’ jobs.
  • In addition, there are not enough female role models whom women may admire and follow.

II] Lack of exposure

  • The lack of exposure in early childhood to certain fields and the supposed stereotyping of computer field practitioners as ‘nerds’ with social awkwardness would seem to have played a role from women shying away into other fields.

III] Gender gap in self-efficacy

  • The ‘gender gap in self-efficacy’ appears to have arisen as a result of the above two, and leads to a worry in girls’ and women’s minds as to ‘whether I am really only fit for certain ‘soft’ fields and jobs or a feeling of diffidence.
  • This is clearly a reflection and product of masculine culture.
  • But then, even when we turn to life sciences, where both men and women compete for positions and career advancements in universities and research labs, this gender disparity is glaring.

India is no better

  • The men rule roosts here too in India. India has been a patrilineal society with the notion that women need not take on jobs, and that this notion has only recently been revised.
  • Women form only 10-15% of STEM researchers and faculty members in the IITs, CSIR, AIIMS and PGIs.
  • In private R & D labs, there are very few women scientists.
Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

[pib] Establishment of Chairs named after eminent Women in UniversitiesPIB


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Various chairs named after eminent Women

Mains level : Women empowerment


On the occasion of National Girl Child Day, the Ministry of Women and Child Development has set up 10 Chairs in different fields with an aim to carry out research activities to encourage women.

Chairs named after eminent Women

  • The initiative is called “the Establishment of Chairs in the Universities in the name of eminent women administrators, artists, scientists and social reformers”.
  • It is being launched with the assistance of University Grants Commission (UGC).
  • The main objective is to inspire women to pursue higher education and to achieve excellence in their area of work.
  • The financial implications of the proposal is Rs. 50 lakh per Chair per year and the total expenditure for establishing ten Chairs will be approximately Rs. Rs. 5 crore per annum.
  • The Chairs are to be established for a period of 5 years initially as per the guidelines.

The chairs proposed by UGC and approved by the Ministry are as under:

S. No. Subject Proposed name of chair
1. Administration Devi Ahilyabai Holkar
2. Literature Mahadevi Varma
3. Freedom Fighter (North East) Rani Gaidinliu
4. Medicine & Health Anandibai Gopalrao Joshi
5. Performing Art Madurai Shanmukhavadivu Subbulakshmi
6. Forest/Wildlife Conservation Amrita Devi (Beniwal)
7. Mathematics Lilavati
8. Science Kamala Sohonie
9. Poetry & Mysticism Lal Ded
10. Educational Reforms Hansa Mehta

 Functions of these chairs

  • Academic functions of the Chairs will be to engage in research and, in turn, contribute to the advancement of knowledge in the area of the study, strengthen the role of university/academics in public policy making etc.
  • The University will review the progress of the Chair annually and submit a final report on the activities and outcome of the Chair to the UGC after five years.
  • However, the UGC may undertake the exercise of reviewing the Chair for its continuance, at any stage.
Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Women Business and the Law (WBL) Index 2020IOCRPriority 1


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : WBL index

Mains level : India's poor performance and reasons behind


The Women Business and the Law (WBL) 2020 index to measure the economic empowerment of women was recently published.

WBL Index

  • The WBL report released by the World Bank.
  • It is based on the countries’ formal laws and regulations that have a bearing on women’s economic participation, covering eight areas (eg, parenthood, equality of pay).
  • It tracks how laws affect women at different stages in their working lives and focusing on those laws applicable in the main business city.

India’s poor performance

  • India placed 117th among 190 countries on the index.
  • India, the world’s most populous democracy scored 74.4 on a par with Benin and Gambia and way below least developed countries like Rwanda and Lesotho.
  • The global average was 75.2 — a slight increase from 73.9 in the previous index released in 2017.

Global Performance

  • Only eight economies scored a perfect 100 — Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Latvia, Luxembourg, and Sweden.
  • Those countries have ensured equal legal standing to men and women on all the eight indicators of the index.
  • No economy in ‘East Asia and the Pacific’, ‘Europe and Central Asia’, or ‘Latin America and the Caribbean’ were among top reformers, the report claimed.
  • Countries in ‘Middle East and North Africa’ and ‘Sub-Saharan Africa’ accounted for nine of the 10 top progressing countries on the WBL Index:
  1. Saudi Arabia
  2. The United Arab Emirates
  3. Nepal
  4. South Sudan
  5. São Tomé and Príncipe
  6. Bahrain
  7. The Democratic Republic of Congo
  8. Djibouti
  9. Jordan
  10. Tunisia

Significance of the Index

  • Legal rights for women are both the right thing to do and good from an economic perspective.
  • When women can move more freely, work outside the home and manage assets, they are more likely to join the workforce and help strengthen their country’s economies.
Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Annual Crime in India Report 2018DOMR


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : State of Crime in India

The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) published the annual Crime in India Report 2018.

Crimes against women

  • According to the report, 3,78,277 cases of crime against women were reported in the country, up from 3,59,849 in 2017.
  • Uttar Pradesh topped the list with 59,445 cases, followed by Maharashtra (35,497) and West Bengal (30,394).
  • The conviction rate in rape-related cases stood at 27.2% even though the rate of filing chargesheets was 85.3% in such cases.
  • Cruelty by husband or his relatives (31.9%) followed by assault on women with intent to outrage her modesty (27.6%) constituted the major share of crimes against women.

Suicides report

  • The NCRB also released the Accidental Death and Suicides in India 2018 report, which said that 10,349 people working in the farm sector ended their lives in 2018, accounting for 7.7 % of the total number of suicides in the country.
  • There were 5,763 farmers/cultivators and 4,586 agricultural labourers among those who ended their lives.
  • The total number of people who committed suicide in 2018 was 1,34,516, an increase of 3.6% from 2017 when 1,29,887 cases were reported.
  • The highest number of suicide victims were daily wagers — 26,589, comprising 22.4% of such deaths.
  • The majority of the suicides were reported in Maharashtra (17,972) followed by Tamil Nadu (13,896), West Bengal (13,255), Madhya Pradesh (11,775) and Karnataka (11,561)

More murder cases

  • The incidents registered under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes related Acts saw a decline from 6729 incidents reported in 2017 to 4816 in 2018.
  • A total of 29,017 cases of murder were registered in 2018, showing an increase of 1.3% over 2017 (28,653 cases).
  • A total of 76,851 cases of offences against public tranquillity were registered in 2018, out of which rioting, 57,828 cases, accounted for 75.2% of total such cases, the report said.
  • As many as 27,248 cases of cyber crimes were registered in 2018, up from 21796 cases in 2017.

Data on Rioting

  • In 2018, 76,851 cases were registered under the category “Offences against Public Tranquillity”.
  • This was a decline from 2017 which saw 78,051 such cases.
  • Almost 90% of all such offences were associated with rioting while the rest were under “Unlawful Assembly” (popularly known as Section 144).
  • Compare this with riots for other reasons such as communal, students agitation, political and agrarian. According to the NCRB, political riots fell by almost 25% in 2018 over 2017.
  • Communal riots fell by almost 30% in the same period.
  • Caste conflicts too declined by almost 20%. Student conflicts marginally fell by about 10%, while agrarian riots recorded a decline of over 35%.
  • Cases of rioting during “andolan/morcha” too have registered a decline of 25%.
  • While cases of communal riots are down, cases of attempts at inciting passions and stoking hatred have risen.
  • The data show offences promoting enmity different groups have been constantly rising and have in fact more than doubled over 2016.
Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Savitribai Phule’s impact on women’s education in IndiaPriority 1


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Savitribai and Jyotirao Phule and thier legacy

Mains level : Pioneers of women education in the colonial India

Yesterday, January 3rd was birth anniversary of one of India’s first modern feminists and a social reformer Savitribai Phule. She is especially remembered for being India’s first female teacher who worked for the upliftment of women and untouchables in the field of education and literacy.

Who was Savitribai Phule?

  • Phule was born in Naigaon, Maharashtra in 1831 and married activist and social-reformer Jyotirao Phule when she was nine years old.
  • After marriage, with her husband’s support, Phule learned to read and write and both of them eventually went on to found India’s first school for girls called Bhide Wada in Pune in 1948.
  • Before this, she started a school with Jyotirao’s cousin Saganbai in Maharwada in 1847.
  • Since at that time the idea of teaching girls was considered to be a radical one, people would often throw dung and stones at her as she made her way to the school.
  • Significantly, it was not easy for the Phule’s to advocate for the education of women and the untouchables since in Maharashtra a nationalist discourse was playing out between 1881-1920 led by Bal Gangadhar Tilak.
  • These nationalists including Tilak opposed the setting up of schools for girls and non-Brahmins citing loss of nationality.

Her work

  • Essentially, both Jyotirao and Savitribai recognised that education was one of the central planks through which women and the depressed classes could become empowered and hope to stand on an equal footing with the rest of the society.
  • The Phules started the Literacy Mission in India between 1854-55.
  • They started the Satyashodhak Samaj (Society for Truth-Seeking), through which they wanted to initiate the practice of Satyashodhak marriage, in which no dowry was taken.
  • Because of the role played in the field of women’s education, she is also considered to be one of the “crusaders of gender justice”.
  • Her books of poems “Kavya Phule” and “Bavan Kashi Subodh Ratnakar” were published in 1934 and 1982.
Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

[op-ed snap] Mind the gap: On gender gapop-ed snap


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Gender Gap Index

Mains level : Closing the gender gap


Assessing women’s access to equal opportunity and resources against the access that men have would be a scientific way of evaluating commitment to the advancement of its citizens. Going by the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index 2020, questions can be raised whether this government is doing the right thing. 

State of India

  • Drop in ranks – India has dropped four points from 2018, to take the 112th rank on the Index. 
  • Index – The index measures the extent of gender-based gaps on four key parameters — economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment. 
  • Access – It measures gender-based gaps in access to resources and opportunities in countries, rather than the actual levels of the available resources and opportunities. 
  • The extent of the gap – India has closed two-thirds of its overall gender gap, with a score of 66.8%.
  • Concern – the report notes with concern that the condition of women in large fringes of Indian society is ‘precarious’. 
  • Economic gap – with a score of 35.4%, at the 149th place, and down seven places, indicates that only a third of the gap has been bridged.
  • The participation of women in the labor force is also among the lowest in the world, and the female estimated earned income is only one-fifth of male income
  • Health – An alarming statistic is India’s position (150th) on the very bottom of the Health and Survival subindex. This is due to the skewed sex ratio at birth, violence, forced marriage, and discrimination in access to health. 
  • On the educational attainment (112th rank) and political empowerment (18th rank) fronts, the relatively good news is buried.

Way ahead

  • Not enough – Doing what the government is currently doing is clearly not going to be sufficient.
  • It needs to engage intimately with all aspects indicated by the Index to improve the score and set targets to reduce the gender gap in the foreseeable future. 
  • It will have to scale up efforts to encourage women’s participation and increase opportunities for them.
  • A commitment to ameliorate the conditions for women is a non-negotiable duty of any state.
Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Global Gender Gap Index, 2020IOCR


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Global Gender Gap Index, 2020

Mains level : Addressing gender inequalities in India

India has ranked 112th among 153 countries in the annual Global Gender Gap Index for 2020.

About the report

  • The report is annually published by the World Economic Forum (WEF).
  • It benchmarks countries on their progress towards gender parity in four dimensions: Economic Participation and Opportunity, Educational Attainment, Health and Survival and Political Empowerment.
  • The report aims to serve “as a compass to track progress on relative gaps between women and men on health, education, economy and politics”.

Key findings

  • Iceland, Norway, and Finland occupy the top three spots in the Report.
  • Globally, the average (population-weighted) distance completed to gender parity is at 68.6%, which is an improvement since last edition.
  • The largest gender disparity is in political empowerment.
  • Only 25% of the 35,127 seats in parliaments around the world are occupied by women, and only 21% of the 3,343 ministers are women.

India’s performance has deteriorated

  • India has slipped four places on the index to 112, behind neighbours.
  • India’s latest position is 14 notches lower than its reading in 2006 when the WEF started measuring the gender gap.
  • It also ranked lower than many of its international peers, and some of its neighbours like China (106th), Sri Lanka (102nd), Nepal (101st), Brazil (92nd), Indonesia (85th) and Bangladesh (50th).
  • India is now ranked in the bottom-five in terms of women’s health and survival and economic participation.

Positive notes for India

  • On a positive note, India has closed two-thirds of its overall gender gap, but the condition of women in large section of India’s society is precarious and the economic gender gap has significantly widened since 2006.
  • India is the only country among the 153 countries studied where the economic gender gap is larger than the political one.
  • India ranks high on the political empowerment sub-index, largely because the country was headed by a woman for 20 of the past 50 years.
  • But, female political representation today is low as women make up only 14.4 per cent of Parliament (122nd rank globally) and 23 per cent of the cabinet (69th).
Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

[op-ed snap] Her freedomsop-ed snap


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Tackling sexual violence against women


The attack on Nirbhaya, the law student and the veterinary doctor show that simply going about life can prove hazardous to life and safety if you are an Indian woman. 

Actions in the past

    • A raft of legislation followed the upheaval in 2012 :
      • expanding the definition of rape 
      • lowering the age at which juveniles could stand trial
      • increasing endorsement of the death penalty as punishment

Violence against women

    • These incidents illustrate how streets and highways turn toxic against women even in a city.
    • Often, men inflict sexual violence on women as punishment. 
    • Many women demand an acknowledgment of their experience of sexual abuse.
    • They should reclaim the public space that is denied to them by the ruse of safety and self-protection. 
    • Worried parents will stop them from going out at night; they will be told to shrink their lives into narrower and narrower circles to pre-empt the actions of possible assaulters.

Need for action

    • As more and more women turn out to work, study and occupy public and private spaces with assertion, governments, and society must reboot.
    • Law enforcement agencies have to bring culprits to book. The process of justice should not doubly punish the survivor. 
    • State governments should make cities and towns safe for women’s mobility, their entertainment, and their freedom.
    • The violence is a reminder to continue the difficult conversation about power and patriarchy.
    • It’s not just enough to train girls in self-defense but to teach boys empathy. 
    • There is a need to reimagine women’s freedoms beyond curfews, dress codes, and propriety.
Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

[oped of the day] The mother of non-issuesop-ed snap


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Maternal health


Maternity benefits in India are a non-issue. The governments are clueless about their legal, financial and political aspects.

Existing structures

    • Maternity Benefits Act – Maternity benefits are generous for a small minority of Indian women employed in the formal sector and covered under the Maternity Benefit Act. 
    • NFSA – Under the National Food Security Act, 2013, all pregnant women (except those already receiving similar benefits under other laws) are entitled to maternity benefits of ₹6,000 per child.
    • Maternity benefits scheme – a maternity benefit scheme was rolled out in 2017: the Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY). 
    • The majority left out – The vast majority of pregnant women, however, are left to their own devices.


    • Jaccha-Baccha Survey (JABS) was conducted in six states of north India — Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh. 
    • Unable to meet pregnancy needs – due to lack of knowledge or power, most of the sample households were unable to take care of the special needs of pregnancy, whether it was food, rest or health care. 
    • Food needs – Among women who had delivered a baby in the preceding six months, only 31% said that they had eaten more nutritious food than usual during their pregnancy. 
    • Less weight gain – Their average weight gain during pregnancy was just seven kg on average, compared with a norm of 13 kg to 18 kg for women with a low body-mass index. In Uttar Pradesh, 39% of the respondents had no clue whether they had gained weight during pregnancy, and 36% had gone through it without a health check-up.
    • HP presents a better picture – only in Himachal Pradesh, rural women are relatively well-off, well-educated and self-confident. The special needs of pregnancy received significant attention.

Need for maternity benefits

    • Reduce hardships – Maternity benefits could help to relieve these hardships and give babies a chance of good health. 
    • PMMVY: The modalities of the scheme violate the NFSA: benefits are restricted to the first living child, and to ₹5,000 per woman. The budget provision of ₹2,700 crores is a fraction of the ₹15,000 crores required for the full-fledged implementation of maternity benefits as per NFSA norms. The actual expenditure was barely ₹2,000 crore.

Performance of PMMVY

    • Less number covered
      • 80 lakh women received at least one instalment of PMMVY money between April 1, 2018, and July 31, 2019, and 50 lakh received all three instalments. 
      • Based on an estimated population of 134 crores and a birth rate of 20.2 per thousand, the annual number of births in India would be around 270 lakh. Of these, a little less than half would be first births.
      • These figures imply that in 2018-19 only around 22% of all pregnant women received any PMMVY money, and around 14% received the full benefits.
    • Ruined in steps
      • Reduced coverage – The coverage and benefits were reduced compared with NFSA norms. Had the benefits been higher and universal, the scheme would have been a hit.
      • Tedious procedure – The application process is tedious. From filling a long-form for each instalment, women have to submit a series of documents, including their ‘mother-and-child protection’ card, bank passbook, Aadhaar card and husband’s Aadhaar card. Essential details in different documents have to match, and the bank account needs to be linked with Aadhaar.
      • Technical limitations – There are frequent technical glitches in the online application and payment process. When an application is rejected or returned with queries, the applicant may or may not get to know about it.
    • Aadhaar
      • Rejected payments due to mismatch between a person’s Aadhaar card and bank account. 
      • More than 20% of the respondents mentioned that they had faced difficulties because the address on their Aadhaar card was that of their maika, not of their sasural.

Examples of T.N., Odisha

    • Some State governments have put in place effective maternity benefit schemes of their own. 
    • Tamil Nadu – Under the Dr. Muthulakshmi Reddy Maternity Benefit Scheme, pregnant women in Tamil Nadu receive financial assistance of ₹18,000 per child for the first two births, including a nutrition kit. 
    • Odisha – Odisha’s Mamata scheme also covers two births with lower entitlements — ₹5,000 per child, as with the PMMVY. 
    • The JABS survey suggests that the Mamata scheme is working reasonably well: among women who had delivered in the last six months, 88% of those eligible for Mamata benefits had applied, and 75% had received at least one of the two instalments.
Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

[op-ed snap] The gender digital divideop-ed snap


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Gender Digital Divide


India’s digital divide between men and women is huge.


  • At a recent session at the Indian Mobile Congress, it was pointed out that only 35% of Indian women have access to the internet. 
  • According to the Internet and Mobile Association of India, male users account for 67% of India’s online population; women account for just 29%.
  • A large proportion of Indian women remain cut off from the world’s most significant phenomenon of recent decades.
  • The Internet has become a great enabler. The gap is not just socially appalling, it is also terrible for the country’s economic prospects. 
  • According to GSMA’s The Mobile Gender Gap Report 2019, closing the gender gap in mobile internet use in developing countries could add $700 billion to their combined economy over the next five years.

Internet as an enabler

  • The impact isn’t just about money but also the empowerment of women through information. 
  • Those who have the means to cross-check assertions made in social settings are that much more likely to exercise greater agency in their lives. 
  • Greater female presence online could also make the internet a nicer place, given the bad civic sense—trolls, fake news, and various misdeeds—that prevails in large parts of cyberspace. 


The divide may mirror India’s structural inequities. A failure to address the gap will hurt us all.

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

[op-ed snap] In his companyop-ed snap


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Women and the glass ceiling


If national societies were brands, “diversity” would certainly be the buzzword for India. So would hierarchy and inequality. 


  • The CS Gender 3000 report, released by the Credit Suisse Research Institute, points to the lack of equal or even adequate representation of women in the upper echelons of corporate India. 
  • According to the report, India’s female representation on corporate boards has increased by 4.3% over the past five years to 15.2%. 
  • This growth is well below the global average of over 20%
  • India also has the third-lowest rank in the Asia Pacific region with regard to female CEO representation – at 2%.
  • It also has the second-lowest rank for female CFO representation at just 1%.

Mere confirmation

  • The report merely confirms what has long been known anecdotally.
  • Apart from a few high-profile corporate leaders, by and large, the upper echelons and even senior management positions in the private sector continue to be dominated by men. 
  • At the time of intake, there is far greater gender parity, but the number of women reduces exponentially as we move higher on the pyramid of the corporate hierarchy. 
  • The report surveyed 3,000 companies across 56 countries and found that, globally, the number of women in leadership has doubled. 
  • The countries that lead — Norway, France, Sweden, and Italy — either have formal quotas or informal targets for gender parity in place. 
  • India’s private sector has long resisted government-imposed quotas for affirmative action.

Attempts to resolve the inequalities

  • Since Independence, various attempts have been made to resolve the contradiction between diversity and inequality.
  • Reservation in government jobs and educational institutions, 25% quota for students from economically weaker sections in private schools are such attempts.
  • Though the private sector resists legislation that circumscribes it in matters of hiring and promotion, there can be no case for the continuing glass ceiling that women and marginalised social groups face.
  • The private sector accounts for over 95% of the labour force. Corporate leaders and boards must seriously consider institutionalised mechanisms to ensure diversity and equality. 
  • Government regulation is best stymied by proactive action from companies themselves


Keeping half the population from roles that could allow them to change the nature of India Inc can only be counterproductive in the long run.

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

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


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.

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Explained: Why is age of marriage different for men and women?Explained


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Debate over different ages of marriage

  • This week, the Delhi High Court took up a plea that sought a uniform age of marriage for men and women.
  • The bench issued a notice to the Centre and the Law Commission of India, seeking their response to the public interest litigation.

Indian Majority Act, 1875

  • Currently, the law prescribes that the minimum age of marriage is 21 and 18 years for men and women, respectively.
  • The minimum age of marriage is distinct from the age of majority, which is gender-neutral.
  • An individual attains the age of majority at 18 as per the Indian Majority Act, 1875.

Minimum age

  • The law prescribes a minimum age of marriage to essentially outlaw child marriages and prevent abuse of minors.
  • Personal laws of various religions that deal with marriage have their own standards, often reflecting custom.
  • For Hindus, Section 5(iii) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 sets 18 years as the minimum age for the bride and 21 years as the minimum age for the groom.
  • Child marriages are not illegal but can be declared void at the request of the minor in the marriage.
  • In Islam, the marriage of a minor who has attained puberty is considered valid under personal law.
  • The Special Marriage Act, 1954 and the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 also prescribe 18 and 21 years as the minimum age of consent for marriage for women and men respectively.

It’s Evolution

  • The Indian Penal Code enacted in 1860 criminalised any physical intercourse with a girl below the age of 10.
  • The provision of rape was amended in 1927 through the Age of Consent Bill, 1927, which made marriages with a girl under 12 invalid.
  • The law had faced opposition from conservative leaders of the nationalist movement such as Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Madan Mohan Malaviya who saw the British intervention as an attack on Hindu customs.
  • In 1929, the Child Marriage Restraint Act set 16 and 18 years as the minimum age of marriage for women and men respectively.
  • The law, popularly known as Sarda Act after its sponsor Harbilas Sarda, a judge and a member of Arya Samaj, was eventually amended in 1978 to prescribe 18 and 21 years as the age of marriage for a woman and a man, respectively.

Why challenged in court?

  • The petitioner in the Delhi HC case, has challenged the law on the grounds of discrimination.
  • He alleges that Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution, which guarantee the right to equality and the right to live with dignity, are violated by having different legal age for men and women to marry.
  • Two Supreme Court rulings could be significant to the context of this argument.
  • In 2014, in NALSA v Union of India, the Supreme Court while recognising transgenders as the third gender said that justice is delivered with the “assumption that humans have equal value and should, therefore, be treated as equal, as well as by equal laws.”
  • In 2019, in Joseph Shine v Union of India, the Supreme Court decriminalized adultery and said that “a law that treats women differently based on gender stereotypes is an affront to women’s dignity.”

The debate

  • The different legal standard for the age of men and women to marry has been a subject of debate.
  • The laws are a codification of custom and religious practices that are rooted in patriarchy.
  • In a consultation paper of reform in family law in 2018, the Law Commission argued that having different legal standards “contributes to the stereotype that wives must be younger than their husbands”.
  • Women’s rights activists too have argued that the law perpetuates the stereotype that women are more mature than men of the same age and therefore can be allowed to marry sooner.
  • The international treaty Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), also calls for the abolition of laws that assume women have a different physical or intellectual rate of growth than men.
  • The Law Commission paper recommended that the minimum age of marriage for both genders be set at 18.
  • The difference in age for husband and wife has no basis in law as spouses entering into a marriage are by all means equals and their partnership must also be of that between equals, the Commission noted.
Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

[op-ed snap] Making national legislatures more gender-balancedMains Onlyop-ed snap


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Women's reservation Issue


  • The Global Gender Gap report for 2018 said that the widest gender disparity is in the field of political empowerment.
  • To cite the Inter-Parliamentary Union 2018 report, women legislators account for barely 24% of all MPs across the world.
  • However, the experience of the top-ranked countries in the IPU list does give an indication of how women’s presence in political spaces took an upward turn in those nations.


  • Rwanda, a landlocked nation with a population of 11.2 million, tops the list, with 61.3% seats in the Lower House and 38.5% in the Upper House occupied by women.
  • Since 2003, the country has implemented a legislated quota of 30% in all elected positions, which has enabled a steady inflow of women parliamentarians after successive elections.
  • Its Constitution has also set a quota of 30% in all elected offices.
  • However, some believe that the higher representation of women in the country cannot be attributed solely to quotas — women were thrust into the political limelight due to the huge vacuum that emerged in the aftermath of the 1994 genocide, which resulted in a large chunk of the country’s male population getting killed.

Leader in the Caribbean

  • Cuba, the largest Caribbean island nation with a population of about 11.1 million, holds the second rank, with 53.2 % seats of its 605-member single House being occupied by women representatives.
  • The Communist dispensation in Cuba did not opt for legislated gender quotas, but does follow a practice akin to voluntary quota systems.
  • However, Cuban women are less represented at the local level, where candidates are selected by the local communities that often overlook women candidates.
  • Sweden, the fifth-rank holder in the IPU, has a professedly feminist government and has maintained a women’s parliamentary representation of at least 40% since 90s.
  • The 349-member single House, Swedish Parliament, now has 161 women with 46.1% representation.
  • Sweden does not have any constitutional clause or electoral law earmarking representation for women in elected bodies.
  • The issue of compulsory gender quota didn’t find favour in Sweden as it was believed that such a quota will create reverse discrimination and violate the principles of equal opportunities.
  • Almost all political parties there have adopted measures to ensure a fair representation for women at all levels.
  • In 1993, the Social Democratic Party adopted the ‘zipper system’, described as “a gender quota system whereby women and men are placed alternately on all party lists.”
  • This further boosted women’s seat share.

Nepal’s example

Closer home, Nepal occupies the 36th position in the IPU and its 275-member Lower House has 90 women, about 32.7% of the total strength.

Situation in India

  • India, at 149 among the 192 countries in the IPU list, had barely 11.8% women’s representation in the 16th Lok Sabha, which improved to 14.5% in the current Lower House.
  • At least seven out of the 29 States have not sent a single woman MP.
  • The 108th Constitutional Amendment Bill stipulating 33% quota for women in the Parliament and in State Assemblies remains in political cold storage.

Way forward

  • The system of voluntary party quotas, which has worked well in many countries, is not likely to cut much ice in India’s deeply embedded patriarchal society.
  • As has happened in the case of panchayats and municipalities, only a legally mandated quota could perhaps ensure a large-scale entry of Indian women into the higher echelons of political power.
Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

[pib] Mahila Kisan Sashaktikaran Pariyojana (MKSP)Govt. SchemesPIB


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : MKSP

Mains level : Feminization of Agriculture in India

  • As per Agriculture Census conducted at an interval of every five years by the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare, the percentage of female operational holdings in the country have increased from 12.78 percent during 2010-11 to 13.78 percent during 2015-16.

Mahila Kisan Sashaktikaran Pariyojana (MKSP)

  • In line with the provisions of National Policy for Farmers (NPF) (2007), Ministry of Rural Development is already implementing a programme exclusively for women farmers namely MKSP.
  • It is a sub-component of Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihood Mission (DAY-NRLM).
  • The primary objective of MKSP is to empower women by enhancing their participation in agriculture and to create sustainable livelihood opportunities for them.
  • Funding support to the tune of up to 60% (90% for North Eastern States) for such projects is provided by the Government of India.

Feminization of Agriculture in India

  • Rural women form the most productive work force in the economy of majority of the developing nations including India.
  • More than 80% of rural women are engaged in agriculture activities for their livelihoods.
  • About 20 per cent of farm livelihoods are female headed due to widowhood, desertion, or male emigration.
  • Agriculture support system in India strengthens the exclusion of women from their entitlements as agriculture workers and cultivators.
  • Most of the women-headed households are not able to access extension services, farmers support institutions and production assets like seed, water, credit, subsidy etc.
  • As agricultural workers, women are paid lower wage than men.
  • MKSP recognizes the identity of “Mahila” as “Kisan” and strives to build the capacity of women in the domain of agro-ecologically sustainable practices.
Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

[op-ed snap] Squandering the gender dividendMains Onlyop-ed snap


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Reasons for decline in women work force and possible solutions.


  • If labour force survey data are to be believed, rural India is in the midst of a gender revolution in which nearly half the women who were in the workforce in 2004-5 had dropped out in 2017-18.
  • The 61st round of the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) recorded 48.5% rural women above the age of 15 as being employed either as their major activity or as their subsidiary activity — but this number dropped to 23.7% in the recently released report of the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS). 

Incremental decline

Rural Women data –Worker to population ratio (WPR) for rural women aged 15 and above had dropped from 48.5% in 2004-5 to 35.2% in 2011-12, and then to 23.7% in 2017-18.

Urban Women Data – In contrast, the WPR for urban women aged 15 and above declined only mildly, changing from 22.7% in 2004-5 to 19.5% in 2011-12, and to 18.2% in 2017-18.

Concerns regarding this data

  • If rising incomes lead households to decide that women’s time is better spent caring for home and children, that is their choice.
  • However, if women are unable to find work in a crowded labour market, reflecting disguised unemployment, that is a national tragedy.
  • Decline is not located primarily among the privileged sections – A comparison of rural female WPRs between 2004-5 and 2017-18 does not suggest that the decline is located primarily among the privileged sections of the rural population.
  • Concentration among lower education strata – More importantly, most of the decline in the WPR has taken place among women with low levels of education. For illiterate women, the WPR fell from 55% to 29.1% while that for women with secondary education fell from 30.5% to 15.6%.

Comparison with men

Easier for men to find a job –

  • Men’s participation in agriculture has also declined.
  • However, men were able to pick up work in other industries whereas women reduced their participation in other industries as well as agriculture — resulting in a lower WPR.
  • Mechanisation and land fragmentation have reduced agricultural work opportunities for both men and women.
  • Other work opportunities, except for work in public works programmes, are not easily open to women.
  • This challenge is particularly severe for rural women with moderate levels of education.
  • A man with class 10 education can be a postal carrier, a truck driver or a mechanic; these opportunities are not open to women.
  • Hence, it is not surprising that education is associated with a lower WPR for women; in 2016-17, 29.1% illiterate women were employed, compared to only 16% women with at least secondary education.
  • On-going experimental research at the National Council of Applied Economic Research’s National Data Innovation Centre (NCAER-NDIC) suggests a tremendous undercount of women’s work using standard labour force questions, particularly in rural areas.
  • Although women try to find whatever work they can, they are unable to gain employment at an intensive level that rises above our labour force survey thresholds. This suggests an enormous untapped pool of female workers that should not be ignored.

Possible solutions

1. Establishment of the Cabinet Committee on Employment and Skill Development –

  • Establishment of the Cabinet Committee on Employment and Skill Development is a welcome move by the new government.
  • It is to be hoped that this committee will take the issue of declining female employment as seriously as it does the issue of rising unemployment among the youth.

Development of transportation infrastructure – 

One of the most powerful ways in which public policies affect rural women’s participation in non-agricultural work is via the development of transportation infrastructure that allows rural women to seek work as sales clerks, nurses and factory workers in nearby towns.

Multi-Sectoral Reforms –

If the cabinet committee were to focus on multi-sectoral reforms that have a positive impact on women’s work opportunities, the potential gender dividend could be far greater than the much celebrated demographic dividend.

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Free transport for women in DelhiPriority 1States in News


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Women safety measures

  • Under a new proposal announced by the Delhi government, women will have the option to not pay for rides.
  • The move, which is at the stage of feedback and planning, has drawn various reactions.

Logic behind the move

  • The most common reason for any city incentivizing the use of public transport has been to tackle congestion on the roads.
  • The reasons given by the Delhi government are different.
  • One, to make it easier for women to move from informal and more unsafe modes of transport such as shared autos and cabs to more formal and safer modes such as the Metro.
  • Two, the government hopes that with women being able to travel for free, more of them, especially from the economically disadvantaged groups, would start working.

What’s so special with the move?

  • Globally, conversations around free public transport have revolved around decongestion and affordability, rather than safety.
  • One reason is that many of these experiments have been carried out in highly advanced Scandinavian countries with mostly safe public spaces and better reporting rates of crime against women.

Various Challenges

  • The proposal to make public transport free for women has no well known precedent anywhere in the world, and could be the first of its kind.
  • Studies on fully free public transport systems have underlined both positives and challenges.
  • In 1991, the Netherlands introduced a seasonal free-fare travel card for higher education students, which led to the share of trips made by students rising from 11% to 21%.
  • Fifty-two per cent of cyclists, and 34% of car users moved.
  • However, small European cities can hardly be an indicator for Delhi.
  • The population of all of the Netherlands is around 1.7 crore, much less than Delhi’s estimated 2 crore.
  • Average income levels are not comparable, and the public transportation system in Delhi is weaker than in most European countries.

Challenges of implementation

  • Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) is looking at special passes for women.
  • But the Metro has automated fare collection (AFC) gates that require tokens or Metro cards — the Metro will have to either isolate entry or exit points for women.
  • Along with safety on public transport, last mile connectivity is a big issue.
  • For women, walking to and from the nearest bus stop or Metro station, especially during the early mornings and late evenings, remains unsafe in many places in the city.

Way Forward

  • The challenge for the Delhi government is to find the funds for the project.
  • According to the Delhi government, the cost of subsidizing women’s travel will be around Rs 1,200 crore annually.
  • However, studies show that operational costs frequently rise in the long run, and schemes become increasingly less viable.
  • The West has done it to battle road congestion and pollution.
  • We haven’t really found a similar project in developing countries. But perhaps this will make us the pioneers.
Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

SDG Gender IndexIOCR


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the index

Mains level : Gender equality in India

  • A SDG Gender Index to measure global gender equality ranks India at 95th among 129 countries.
  • This comes close on the heels of the Gender Gap Index of the World Economic Forum where India was ranked 108th.

SDG Gender Index

  • It has been developed by Equal Measures 2030, a joint effort of regional and global organisations including African Women’s Development and Communication Network, Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation etc.
  • It accounts for 14 out of 17 SDGs (sustainable development goals) that cover aspects such as poverty, health, education, literacy, political representation and equality at the workplace.
  • A score of 100 reflects the achievement of gender equality in relation to the targets set for each indicator.
  • It means, for example, that 100% of girls complete secondary education, or that there is around 50-50 parity for women and men in Parliament.
  • A score of 50 signifies that a country is about halfway to meeting a goal.

Key findings for India

  • India’s highest goal scores are on health (79.9), hunger & nutrition (76.2), and energy (71.8). Its lowest goal scores are on partnerships (18.3, in the bottom 10 countries worldwide), industry, infrastructure and innovation (38.1), and climate (43.4).
  • On indicators that define such goals, India scored 95.3 on the percentage of female students enrolled in primary education who are overage.
  • Some of India’s lowest scores on indicators include the proportion of seats held by women in national parliaments (score 23.6; women made up 11.8% of Parliament in 2018).
  • On seats held by women in the Supreme Court (4%), India has a score of 18.2.

Gender-based violence

  • On gender-based violence, indicators include proportion of women aged 20-24 years who were married or in a union before age 18 (27.3%)
  • Women who agreed that a husband/partner is justified in beating his wife/partner under certain circumstances (47.0%) and
  • Women aged 15+ who reported that they “feel safe walking alone at night in the city or area where she lives” (69.1%)

Global Scenario

  • The ranking found that the world is far from achieving gender equality with 1.4 billion girls and women living in countries that get a “very poor” grade.
  • The global average score of the 129 countries — which represent 95% of the world’s girls and women — is 65.7 out of 100 (“poor” in the index).
  • Altogether, 2.8 billion girls and women live in countries that get either a “very poor” (59 and below) or “poor” score (60-69) on gender equality.
  • Just 8% of the world’s population of girls and women live in countries that received a “good” gender equality score (80-89) and no country achieved an “excellent” overall score of 90 or above.
Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

[op-ed snap] No courts for womenMains Onlyop-ed snap


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Improving women's representationin Judiciary.


In the context of the apathy shown towards the woman complainant by an all-male bench (headed by the CJI) in the immediate aftermath of the allegations, and by the in-house committee which has given a clean-chit to the CJI, one cannot help but ponder: Would this incident have been handled differently if the judiciary was not as male-dominated as it always has been?

Gender disparity in judiciary

  • The judiciary is one of the least diverse institutions in India, with the lack of gender diversity being the most visible yet ignored aspect.
  • Since 1950, the SC has had only eight female judges out of 239, with the present three out of 27 being the highest concurrent representation women have ever had on the SC bench.
  • In the subordinate judiciary, merely 27.6 per cent of the judges are female.
  • This lack of women on the bench, at all levels of the judiciary, is at the very root of the impunity with which the top court has, in a single stroke, destroyed decades worth of progress made in deterring sexual harassment of women from all walks of life.

Collegium system as a barrier

  • Even if a female advocate crosses these barriers to continue and thrive in her profession, the current collegium system for the appointment of judges is simply not designed to ensure her elevation to the bench.
  • At present, the appointment of a judge to a high court is based on a recommendation made by a collegium of the three senior-most judges of that HC, and approved by a collegium of the three senior-most judges of the SC.
  • Although the state and central governments have a role to play in the process, the final say, for all practical purposes, rests with the SC collegium.
  • In 25 HC collegiums across the country, there are just five senior female judges with 19 of the collegiums having no female judge at all.
  • Only one woman so far has been a member of the SC collegium (Justice Ruma Pal), with Justice R Banumathi set to become the second later this year; and, at least until 2025, no female judge is going to occupy the CJI’s position.

Self perpetuating phenomenon

  • This nearly all-male composition of the highest decision-making bodies in the judiciary has made gender disparity a self-perpetuating phenomenon .
  • The data shows that out of the 363 persons recommended for elevation, merely 39 were female (just over 10 per cent). Of these, only 21 were confirmed with the remaining 18 names either being remitted to the HCs or deferred for later appointments.
  • The only way out of this vicious cycle is for the nearly all-male collegiums to go beyond their inherent biases and take affirmative measures to improve gender diversity on the bench.
  • More recommendations by collegium – The HC collegiums should consciously recommend more female names for elevation and the SC collegium must consider such recommendations more favourably.
  • Early elevation in career – Further, the female judges should be elevated early enough in their careers so that they make it to the collegiums and become decision makers (the average age of the 19 female judges elevated since October 2017 is 53 years).


Not a perception problem – Lack of gender diversity is not just a perception problem.

The real impact on proceedings – It is seen to have a real impact on the manner of proceedings and the nature of the final verdict — as is evident in the present instance.

Reinforcing trust in judiciary – specially in the judiciary, gender diversity is a virtue in itself — it reassures litigants that diverse opinions are taken into consideration and re-instils their trust in the justice-delivery system.

Opportunity for course correction –  The present calamity in the judiciary, as unfortunate as it is, also provides an unprecedented opportunity to course correct on several accounts. Here’s hoping the men in power have the wisdom to seize it.

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

[op-ed snap] The gender ladder to socio-economic transformationMains Onlyop-ed snap


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Steps to be taken to improve women participation in work force in India.


India is in the middle of a historical election which is noteworthy in many respects, one of them being the unprecedented focus on women’s employment.

Women Employment Data

  • Currently, the participation of women in the workforce in India is one of the lowest globally.
  • The female labour force participation rate (LFPR) in India fell from 31.2% in 2011-2012 to 23.3% in 2017-2018.
  • This decline has been sharper in rural areas, where the female LFPR fell by more than 11 percentage points in 2017-2018.

Reasons For low rate

  • The answers can be found in a complex set of factors including low social acceptability of women working outside the household, lack of access to safe and secure workspaces, widespread prevalence of poor and unequal wages, and a dearth of decent and suitable jobs.
  • Most women in India are engaged in subsistence-level work in agriculture in rural areas, and in low-paying jobs such as domestic service and petty home-based manufacturing in urban areas.
  • But with better education, women are refusing to do casual wage labour or work in family farms and enterprises.

Education and work

1.Negative relationship –

    • A recent study observed a strong negative relationship between a woman’s education level and her participation in agricultural and non-agricultural wage work and in family farms.
    • The study also showed a preference among women for salaried jobs as their educational attainment increases; but such jobs remain extremely limited for women.
    • It is estimated that among people (25 to 59 years) working as farmers, farm labourers and service workers, nearly a third are women, while the proportion of women among professionals, managers and clerical workers is only about 15% (NSSO, 2011-2012).
    • 2.Unpaid Labour –
      • Time-use surveys have found that they devote a substantial amount of their time to work which is not considered as work, but an extension of their duties, and is largely unpaid.
      • The incidence and drudgery of this unpaid labour is growing.
      • This includes unpaid care work such as childcare, elderly care, and household work such as collecting water.
      • The burden of these activities falls disproportionately on women, especially in the absence of adequately available or accessible public services.
      • It also encompasses significant chunks of women’s contribution to agriculture, animal husbandry, and non-timber forest produce on which most of the household production and consumption is based.

Steps to improve women’s participation

  • A two-pronged approach must entail facilitating women’s access to decent work by providing public services, eliminating discrimination in hiring, ensuring equal and decent wages, and improving women’s security in public spaces.
  • It must also recognise, reduce, redistribute, and remunerate women’s unpaid work.

Demands by women

  • Gender-responsive public services – On the question of work, women’s demands include gender-responsive public services such as free and accessible public toilets, household water connections, safe and secure public transport, and adequate lighting and CCTV cameras to prevent violence against women in public spaces and to increase their mobility.
  • Decent living wages  & social security –Furthermore, they want fair and decent living wages and appropriate social security including maternity benefit, sickness benefit, provident fund, and pension.
  • Provisions for migrant workers – Women have also expressed the need for policies which ensure safe and dignified working and living conditions for migrant workers.
  • For example, in cities, governments must set up migration facilitation and crisis centres (temporary shelter facility, helpline, legal aid, and medical and counselling facilities).
  • Spaces for women – They must also allocate social housing spaces for women workers, which include rental housing and hostels. They must ensure spaces for women shopkeepers and hawkers in all markets and vending zones.

Recognition as farmers

1. Their fundamental demand is that women must be recognised as farmers in accordance with the National Policy for Farmers.

    • This should include cultivators, agricultural labourers, pastoralists, livestock rearers, forest workers, fish-workers, and salt pan workers.
    • Thereafter, their equal rights and entitlements over land and access to inputs, credit, markets, and extension services must be ensured.


Unless policymakers correctly assess and address the structural issues which keep women from entering and staying in the workforce, promising more jobs — while a welcome step — is unlikely to lead to the socio-economic transformation India needs.





Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

[op-ed snap] A ticket for herop-ed snap


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Women's Representation in Politics


National parties have fielded very less percentage of women in Lok Sabha elections.

Situation of national Parties

  •  Outburst of women in politics shows, women are tiring of the power differential in the national parties — with ample reason.
  • Neither the BJP nor the Congress has done more than talk about women’s political empowerment.
  • In the current elections to the Lok Sabha, they have fielded 12 per cent and 13.7 per cent of women candidates, respectively.
  • That is far less than the commitments by two “regional” parties —  Trinamool Congress has fielded 40 per cent women candidates, while BJD has fielded 33 per cent.

Questions need to be raised

  • The question to be asked of both the BJP and the Congress is: How do they claim to be “national” parties if they do not attempt to adequately represent the political aspirations of 50 per cent of the country’s people?
  • The question of representation is also inevitably tied to equity.
  • When a patriarchal culture and society confines a majority of women to subordinate social and economic roles, politics must find a way of punching holes into the walls — and let some air in.
  • That is not to say that parties should be blind to the calculus of competing interests that determine elections, but they must also ask themselves why they have so far made little space for women’s ambitions.
  • As women rightfully complained, dynasty cannot be the only factor in choosing women candidates.
  • Several social and political firestorms have shown — whether it is the debate over triple talaq, or the allegations of sexual assault against minister, or the agitation for women’s entry to Sabarimala — that Indian women are forcefully renegotiating the terms of their social contract, even if they are not always in a position of strength.
  • But for these contestations to bring in substantial and far-reaching change, political power is essential.
  • Not just that, to bring in a fresh perspective on lawmaking, there is no better prescription than an infusion of new talent — of people from various gendered, caste and class positions.


Politics is, of course, a balancing act between the demands of pragmatism and idealism. But in this case, national parties have brazenly and consistently chosen to ditch equality for realpolitik. As more voices speak up, they must realise that the time’s up for patriarchal condescension.


Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

[op-ed snap] A model policy for women in the policeop-ed snapPriority 1


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Role of women & women’s organization

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Nothing Much

Mains level:Facilitating womes’s representation and safety at workplace in Police Services.



  • Women constitute about 7% of the police strength in India. This number is expected to rise, with many States and Union Territories providing for 30% (and more) reservation for women in the police in specific ranks. However, this is not enough.
  • The discourse on mainstreaming women in the police by making policing inclusive, non-discriminatory and efficient in India is missing in policy circles.

Need for policies

  • One way to mainstream women in the police is to develop a model policy that will challenge the deep-rooted patriarchy in the institution.
  • Unfortunately, till now, not a single State police department has attempted to even draft such a policy.
  • Thus, neither the Central nor State governments can get very far by merely adopting reservation to increase gender diversity without considering the need for policymaking.
  • A model policy, while laying the foundation for equal opportunities for women in every aspect of policing, should also strive to create a safe and enabling work environment. Without this, all other efforts will remain piecemeal.

Steps needed to be taken

  • One of the first steps to ensure a level playing field for women in the police is to increase their numbers.
  • Merely providing reservation is not enough; police departments should develop an action plan to achieve the target of 30% or more in a time-bound manner.
  • Departments should also undertake special recruitment drives in every district to ensure geographical diversity.
  • To achieve the target, the police should reach out to the media and educational institutions to spread awareness about opportunities for women in the police.
  • Current data reveal that most women in the police are concentrated in the lower ranks. Efforts should be made to change this. The impulse to create women-only battalions for the sake of augmenting numbers should be eliminated.
  • Second, the model policy should strive to ensure that decisions on deployment of women are free of gender stereotyping to facilitate bringing women into leading operational positions.
  • At present, there appears to be a tendency to sideline women, or give them policing tasks that are physically less demanding, or relegate them to desk duty, or make them work on crimes against women alone.
  • Women police officers should be encouraged to take on public order and investigative crimes of all types, and should be given duties beyond the minimum mandated by special laws.
  • Desk work too must be allocated evenly among men and women.
  • Police departments still lack proper internal childcare support systems. Departments need to be mindful of this social reality and exercise sensitivity in making decisions on transfers and posting of women personnel.
  • Women should be posted in their home districts in consultation with supervising officers.

Preventing Sexual Harassment at Work Place

  • Police departments must also ensure safe working spaces for women and adopt a zero-tolerance policy towards discrimination and harassment, in order to make policing a viable career option for women.
  • Departments are legally bound to set up Internal Complaints Committees to prevent sexual harassment at the workplace.
  • Departments must operationalise the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act of 2013.


  • Some of these suggestions have already been made by the National Conference of Women in Police. However, Central and State governments have not yet developed or adopted a comprehensive framework towards achieving substantive gender equality.
Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

95 per cent women in India involved in unpaid labourIOCR


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Development & Employment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Highlights of the report

Mains level: Inequality of Wages for Women


  • In India, 95 per cent or around 195 million women are employed in the unorganized sector or in unpaid labour, says a report released by consultancy firm Deloitte.

About the report

  • The report titled ‘Empowering Women & Girls in India for the Fourth Industrial Revolution’ was released during the Gender Equality Summit 2019 by UN Global Compact Network India.
  • The share of women in the workforce fell to 25 per cent and the female labour force participation rate (FLPR) stands at 26 per cent; with 195 million women work in the unorganised sector or do unpaid work says the report.
  • It adds that involving women in the workforce can help achieve future aspirations that can boost India’s GDP by 27 per cent.
  • However, this will only be possible if participation of women increases in workplace to same number as men.

Highlights of the report

  • Limited access to education, information, technology, social and political participation.
  • In India, the female labour force participation has had a decadal fall from 36.7 per cent in 2005 to 26 per cent in 2018, with 95 per cent (195 million) women employed in the unorganised sector or in unpaid word.
  • In the education sector, 39.4 per cent girls aged between 15−18 dropped out of schools and colleges
  • In terms of digital literacy, only 34 per cent women in India have access to mobile technology, according to the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER).
Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

[op-ed snap] Women and the workplaceop-ed snap


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Role of women & women’s organization

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Nothing Much

Mains level:Facilitating womes’s representation and safety at workplace following UN’s Model



For more than a century, March 8 has marked International Women’s Day — a global day celebrating the achievements of women and promoting gender equality worldwide. But as we pause to celebrate our many advances, we must also acknowledge how much remains to be done.

Interlinking Issues

  • Two interconnected issues have emerged as priorities over the past two years:
    • sexual harassment at the workplace
    • obstacles to women’s participation at all levels of the workforce, including political representation.
  • The 2017-18 explosion of the #MeToo movement across social media uncovered countless cases of unreported sexual harassment and assault, first in the U.S. and then in India.
  • In both countries, it led to the resignations or firing of dozens of prominent men, mostly politicians, actors and journalists.

UN’s Stand on women’s representationand safety

  • UN Secretary-General António Guterres has been a staunch supporter of women’s rights since his election in 2016, stating the need for “benchmarks and time frames to achieve [gender] parity across the system, well before the target year of 2030”.
  • he UN released a System-wide Strategy on Gender Parity to transform the UN’s representation of women at senior levels. Today the UN’s Senior Management Group, which has 44 top UN employees, comprises 23 women and 21 men.

UN’s response to MeToo movement

  • In response to the MeToo movement, the UN recently conducted a system-wide survey to gauge the prevalence of sexual harassment among its more than 200,000 global staff.
  • Though only 17% of UN staff responded, what the survey uncovered was sobering.
  • One in three UN women workers reported being sexually harassed in the past two years, predominantly by men.
  • Clearly, the UN gender strategy has much to improve, but then the UN, like most other international and national organisations, has a decades-old cultural backlog to tackle.
  • UN research plays a significant role. As findings on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) indicate, many countries, including India, were able to substantially increase their performance on issues such as sex ratios and maternal mortality once their leaders had signed on to the MDGs.
  • Tracking performance on the Sustainable Development Goals, a more comprehensive iteration of the MDGs, will again provide useful pointers for policymakers and advocates going forward.

Efficacy of Single Window Grievance redressal

  • How can organisations as large as the UN improve their internal cultures surrounding sexual harassment, gender parity, and gender equity?
  • This issue has generated considerable debate in India, where political parties have begun to ask how they are to apply the rules of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 which lays down that every office in the country must have an internal complaints committee to investigate allegations of sexual harassment.
  • In this context, does the UN Secretariat’s single window structure for such complaints provide a better practice?
  • UN agencies, including the multi-institute UN University that aims to achieve gender parity at the director level by end 2019, still have to identify their organisation-specific mechanisms.

Impact of Previous Laws

  • In India, going by past figures — — the impact of the 2013 Act, one of the most comprehensive in the world, has been poor.
  • Despite a large jump in complaints recorded, convictions have not shown a proportionate rise, largely due to poor police work.

Way Forward

  • Both the UN’s early successes and the Indian experience offer lessons to UN member-states, few of which have gender parity or serious action against sexual harassment in the workplace.
  • .In the U.S., companies such as General Electric, Accenture, Pinterest, Twitter, General Mills and Unilever are setting and achieving targets to increase female representation at all levels of their workforce.
  • This March 8, let us hope that companies worldwide pledge to follow the examples in the U.S. And that other institutions, whether universities or political parties, follow the UN example.
  • Gender reforms begin at home, not only in the family but also in the workplace.


Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Women’s Livelihood BondsPrelims Only


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Development & Employment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  Women Livelihood Bond

Mains level: Promoting Women entrepreneurs


  • The World Bank, the Small Industries Development Bank (Sidbi) and the UN Women, along with 10 wealth management firms and leading corporates has announced the launch of a new social impact bond to offer credit to rural women entrepreneurs.

Women Livelihood Bond

  • The bonds, which will have a tenure of five years, will be launched by SIDBI with the support of World Bank and UN Women.
  • The proposed bond will enable individual women entrepreneurs in sectors like food processing, agriculture, services and small units to borrow around Rs 50,000 to Rs 3 lakh at an annual interest rate of around 13-14 per cent or less.
  • SIDBI will act as the financial intermediary and channel funds raised to women entrepreneurs through participating financial intermediaries like banks, NBFCs or microfinance institutions.
Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

[op-ed snap] What stops rural women from getting involved in entrepreneurship?op-ed snapPriority 1


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Role of women & women’s organization

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Biz Sakhi

Mains level: Empowerment of Rural women by promoting entrepreneurship



Women constitute only 14 per cent of the total entrepreneurs in the country. Women in rural areas face multiple barriers to pursuing income-generating activities, with patriarchal family and societal norms being the primary hurdle.

Initiatives Improving Rural Women’s participation in workforce

  • The need to improve women’s participation in the economy has been a long-standing priority and is also crucial towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals
  • In recent years, entrepreneurship has emerged as an ideal way for rural women to contribute, by taking a few hours out of their day they can engage in small businesses and bring home additional income.
  • There are multiple programmes which offer support to such women such as the Start and Improve Your Business Program (SIYB) of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the government’s Trade Related Entrepreneurship Assistance and Development (TREAD).
  •  Hero MotoCorp Ltd and the Government of Haryana too seeks to positively impact the lives of 14,000 underprivileged wome.
  • However, Recent data released by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation shows that women constitute only 14 per cent of the total entrepreneurs in the country.

Reasons for low participation of women in businesses

  • Through its pilot programmes with rural women under the Disha Programme, UNDP India has come to realise that one of the reasons for this lack of uptake is the absence of mentorship for women entrepreneurs. 
  • Women in rural areas face multiple barriers to pursuing income-generating activities, with patriarchal family and societal norms being the primary hurdle.
  • Other issues include lack of awareness about opportunities, difficulty in accessing formal financing and poor customer management skills.

Positive efforts towards an inclusive workfoce through Biz Sakhis

  • Trained by Disha Project – a partnership between UNDP India, IKEA Foundation and India Development Foundation, the Biz Sakhis are women from rural communities who guide budding female entrepreneurs through multiple processes and provide both practical and psychological support to them.
  • They encourage rural women to start their own businesses by making them aware of entrepreneurship as a realistic opportunity, and, by informing them of the benefits of starting their own small businesses.
  • Biz Sakhis are instrumental at this point in helping them access formal banking channels for loans, by providing them information about schemes such as the Mudra Yojana Scheme of the government.
  • Biz Sakhis provide inputs to help women access market linkages and introduce them to a variety of business models and ideas to help them scale up.
  • They also work with small business owners to develop their communication skills, and to be able to persuade and negotiate with stakeholders within the ecosystem of their businesses.
  • The most important role that Biz Sakhis play in the lives of rural entrepreneurs, is to be the source of emotional and psychological support.


Often, family pressures and societal norms discourage women from engaging in such activities or cause them to abandon their business in the wake of community backlash. Being from the community themselves, Biz Sakhis can effectively engage with women and the community at large to counter such barriers and empower rural women to sustain their businesses.

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

[pib] “Web- Wonder Women” CampaignPIB


Mains Paper 1: Indian Society | Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: WWW campaign

Mains level:  Role of Social Media in Women Empowerment


  • The Union WCD has launched an online campaign, ‘#www :  Web- Wonder Women’.

Web-Wonder Women Campaign

  1. Indian women have always been enterprising and have created a positive impact on society with their hard-work, experience and knowledge.
  2. #www: WebWonderWomen is a campaign to specially honour and encourage such voices that have in their own capacity driven a positive impact on social media platforms.
  3. The Campaign’s Partners aim to recognize the fortitude of Indian women stalwarts from across the globe that has used the power of social media to run positive & niche campaigns to steer a change in society.

Rules for Nomination

  1. The Campaign invites Entries via Nominations from across the world, as per the laid out criteria.
  2. Indian-origin women, working or settled anywhere in the world, are eligible for nomination.
  3. The shortlisted entries will be open for public voting on Twitter and the finalists will be selected by a specialized panel of judges.
  4. Nominations have been invited in a large number of categories including Health, Media, Literature, Art, Sports, Environmental protection, fashion among others.
Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Lok Sabha Passes Amendment Bill To Remove Leprosy as Ground For DivorcePriority 1


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Mechanisms, laws, institutions & Bodies constituted for the protection & betterment of these vulnerable sections

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Personal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2018

Mains level: Discrimination being faced by leprosy patients in the society & how inaction from the government’s end has helped in increasing its effect


Leprosy: Not a ground for Divorce

  1. The Lok Sabha on has passed the Personal Laws (Amendment Bill), 2018, which seeks removal of leprosy as a ground for divorce.
  2. To this end, it seeks to amend five Acts:
  • the Divorce Act, 1869,
  • the Dissolution of Muslim Marriage Act, 1939,
  • the Special Marriage Act, 1954,
  • the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, and
  • the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956.
  1. The Amendment Bill proposes to amend the provisions in these Acts which prescribe leprosy as a ground for divorce or separation from the spouse.

Why such move?

  1. The medical advances made in the field have making leprosy curable with multi-drug therapy.
  2. Leprosy patients were isolated and segregated from society as the leprosy was not curable and the society was hostile to them.
  3. However, as a result of intensive healthcare and availability of modern medicine to cure the disease, the attitude of the society towards them began to change.
  4. The discriminatory provisions contained in various statutes against the persons affected with leprosy were made prior to the medical advancements rendering leprosy a curable disease.

In line with UN resolution

  1. This is in keeping with the UN General Assembly Resolution of 2010 on the ‘Elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members’
  2. India has signed and ratified the Resolution



  1. Leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease, is a chronic infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae.
  2. The exact mechanism of transmission of leprosy is not known.
  3. The disease mainly affects the skin, the peripheral nerves, mucosal surfaces of the upper respiratory tract and the eyes.
  4. Leprosy is known to occur at all ages ranging from early infancy to very old age.
  5. Leprosy is curable and early treatment averts most disabilities.
Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Gender equality at work more than 200 years off: WEFIOCR


Mains Paper 2: IR | Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate

The following things are important from UPSC perspective:

Prelims Level: Global Gender Gap Report

Mains level: Statistical data mentioned in the newscard


  • Women may be shouting louder than ever for equal treatment and pay, but a World Economic Forum (WEF) report indicates it will take centuries to achieve gender parity in workplaces around the globe.

Global Gender Gap Report

  1. The Global Gender Gap Report was first published in 2006 by the World Economic Forum.
  2. It releases an Gender Gap Index designed to measure gender equality.
  3. The index  ranks countries according to calculated gender gap between women and men in four key areas: health, education, economy and politics to gauge the state of gender equality in a country.
  4. The report measures women’s disadvantage compared to men, and is not strictly a measure of equality.

Highlights of 2018 Report

  1. At current rates, the global gender gap across a range of areas will not close for another 108 years, while it is expected to take 202 years to close the workplace gap, WEF found.
  2. After years of advances in education, health and political representation, women registered setbacks in all three areas this year, WEF said.
  3. Only in the area of economic opportunity did the gender gap narrow somewhat, although there is not much to celebrate, with the global wage gap narrowing to nearly 51%.
  4. And the number of women in leadership roles has risen to 34% globally, WEF said.
  5. The report said there had been some improvements in wage equality this year compared to 2017, when the global gender gap widened for the first time in a decade.

Impact of Automation and AI

  1. The report showed that there are now proportionately fewer women than men participating in the workforce, suggesting that automation is having a disproportionate impact on jobs traditionally performed by women.
  2. And women are significantly under-represented in growing areas of employment that require science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills, WEF said.
  3. It decried the particularly low participation of women within the artificial intelligence field, where they make up just 22% of the workforce.
  4. This gap is three times larger than in other industry talent pools.
  5. Women in AI are less likely to be positioned in senior roles

Global Scenario

  1. For instance, while Western European countries could close their gender gaps within 61 years, countries in the Middle East and North Africa will take 153 years.
  2. Overall, the Nordic countries once again dominated the top of the table: men and women were most equal in Iceland, followed by Norway, Sweden and Finland.
  3. Syria, Iraq, Pakistan and finally Yemen showed the biggest overall gender gaps of the countries surveyed.
  4. Among the world’s 20 leading economies, France fared the best, taking 12th place overall, followed by Germany in 14th place, Britain in 15th, Canada in 16th and South Africa in 19th.
  5. The US continued its decline, slipping two places to 51st, with the report in particular blaming a decrease in gender parity in ministerial-level positions.
Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

[pib] Expansion of beneficiaries list under Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala YojanaGovt. Schemes


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre & States & the performance of these schemes

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana

Mains level: Success of Ujjwala Yojana


  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has cleared the proposal to release deposit free LPG connections to poor families, who have not been considered earlier under PMUY on account of their names not been covered in Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC).
  • Poor families who could not get LPG connection under PMUY are now eligible to get a connection subject to fulfilling the eligibility norms and furnishing required documents.

New beneficiaries will include:

  • SC/STs households
  • Beneficiaries of Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Gramin),
  • Beneficiaries of Antyodaya Anna Yojana(AAY),
  • Forest dwellers,
  • Most Backward Classes (MBC),
  • Tea & Ex-Tea Garden Tribes,
  • People residing in Islands / river islands


Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana

  1. PMUY is a welfare scheme being implemented by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas to provide LPG connections to families below the poverty line, guided by the strong commitment to bring about changes in the life of poor women and also protect their health
  2. Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) is used to identify the beneficiaries (adult woman of a BPL family) and is given a deposit free LPG connection with a financial assistance of Rs.1600 per connection by the centre
  3. This scheme will help prevent pollution and facilitate the healthy atmosphere in the families of poor people.
Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Lok Sabha passes Transgender Persons Bill with 27 changesPriority 1


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Mechanisms, laws, institutions & Bodies constituted for the protection & betterment of these vulnerable sections

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Definition of Trans-gender

Mains level: Upholding fundamental as well as human rights of transgender community


  • The Lok Sabha has passed the Bill to give transgender persons equal rights and protection under law through a voice vote.


  1. The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016, was passed with 27 amendments introduced by the government.
  2. Work on the Bill has been going on since 2015.
  3. The Bill had gone to the standing committee, and as many as 27 amendments have been accepted by the government.
  4. Whatever other suggestions are there will be incorporated in the rules of the Act.
  5. The Supreme Court, in the landmark April 2014 NALSA judgment, had issued a directive “to extend all kinds of reservations in cases of admission in educational institutions and for public appointments” by treating transgender persons as socially and educationally backward classes.
  6. They were to be given reservations under the 27 per cent OBC quota, a suggestion that was also endorsed by the National Commission for Backward Classes in its recommendations to the Social Justice Ministry in 2014.

Re-definition of Trans-persons

  1. The amendments passed include a change in the previous definition of transgender persons as “neither wholly female nor wholly male”, which was criticised as being insensitive.
  2. The new definition terms a transgender person as one “whose gender does not match the gender assigned to that person at birth and includes trans-men or trans-women, persons with intersex variations, gender-queers, and persons having socio-cultural identities such as kinnar, hijras, aravani and jogta”.

Gender Certificate

  1. The Bill states that a person will be recognised as transgender on the basis of a certificate of identity issued through the district screening committee.
  2. This certificate will be a proof of identity as transgender and confer rights under this Bill.
  3. It is very unclear what the term ‘self-perceived gender identity’ entails and how it will be enforced.

Issues surrounding the Bill

  1. Several civil society groups have been vocal about their opposition to the Bill.
  2. The Bill disregards many of their suggestions as also some of the crucial points raised by the standing committee report of July 2017.
  3. This includes the right of transgender persons to self-identification, instead of being certified by a district screening committee.
  4. The panel had also pointed out that the Bill is silent on granting reservations to transgender persons.

A liberal perspective on Trans People

  1. The Bill must recognise that gender identity must go beyond biological; gender identity is an individual’s deep and personal experience.
  2. It need not correspond to the sex assigned at birth.
  3. It includes the personal sense of the body and other expressions such as one’s own personal inducing proceeds.

Criticisms of the Bill

  1. The Bill so passed has prescribed punishments for organised begging.
  2. Trans youth who don’t find jobs join their gurus in begging due to systematic discrimination in education, job, and healthcare.
  3. This Bill doesn’t provide anything to better to condition in those areas, it doesn’t provide for reservation.
  4. It upholds lighter consequences for discrimination and assault on trans people compared to cis-gender people.
Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

[pib] NITI Aayog organizes the Third Edition of the Women Transforming India AwardsPIB


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: WEP, WTIA

Mains level: Promoting Women entrepreneurs in India


  • The NITI Aayog has organized the Third Edition of the Women Transforming India Awards 2018 and launched the upgraded portal of the Women Entrepreneurship Platform.


  1. On November 28-30, 2017, NITI Aayog in partnership with the US govt hosted the 8th Annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) in Hyderabad.
  2. To take the idea forward, CEO, NITI Aayog announced setting up of Women Entrepreneurship Platform (WEP) to promote and support established as well as aspiring women entrepreneurs in India.

Women Entrepreneurship Platform (WEP)

  1. WEP is the first of its kind unified access platform which enables meeting of several stakeholders in the entrepreneurial space on a single platform.
  2. It works in collaboration with various partner organizations to provide a wide range of support services to women entrepreneurs under various service verticals of WEP.

WEP 2.0

  1. The WEP seeks to transform the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the country and is a one-stop resource centre for future and budding women entrepreneurs.
  2. It seeks to act as a medium for various stakeholders in the economy to come together and offer integrated services such as Incubation Support, Mentorship, Funding avenues, Compliance, Marketing Assistance etc.

Women Transforming India Awards

  1. The Awards were instituted to recognise and celebrate stories of exemplary women from across India.
  2. WTI Awards 2018 received over 2300 nominations this year.
  3. Through a highly objective and transparent screening and evaluation process have selected 15 winners from sectors such as Renewable Energy, Education, Sanitation, Art and Culture, Social Innovation and Impact to name a few.
  4. This year’s theme is “Women and Entrepreneurship”.

WEP Investment Council

  • The WEP Investment Council was established to address funding related challenges faced by entrepreneur.
Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

[op-ed snap] She is the answerop-ed snap


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Role of women & women’s organization

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Sustainable Development Goals, UNDP

Mains level: How women can play a key role in India’s food security


SDGs and gender equality

  1. Countries globally, including India, have agreed to fulfil the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), launched by the UNDP in 2016 as “a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity”
  2. Among the 17 goals and 169 targets to be achieved by 2030, SDG 5 on gender equality is seen as a key goal, both in itself and for achieving other goals
  3. SDG 5 holds substantial potential for promoting food security

Role of women in food security

  1. Women play key roles in food provisioning as producers, home food managers, and consumers
  2. As producers, they constitute a high and growing proportion of farmers. In India, 35 per cent of agricultural workers are women (NSSO 2011-12) and women farm operators grew from 12.8 per cent to 13.9 per cent between 2010-11 and 2015-16 (agricultural censuses), not counting women working on male-managed farms
  3. Women also contribute to food systems through forests and fisheries
  4. One in six persons globally depends on forests for supplementary food, green manure, fodder, firewood, etc.
  5. Women and girls are the main gatherers of forest products, especially food and firewood; the latter continues to be the primary cooking fuel in most of rural India, cooking energy is essential for food security
  6. Seafood is globally the main source of protein for a billion people. Women constitute 46 per cent of workers in small-scale fisheries and 54 per cent in inland fisheries
  7. Although marine products are harvested mainly by men, it is aquaculture — more in women’s domain — which is the fastest-growing and predicted to provide over 50 per cent of fish consumed globally by 2020 (according to World Bank figures)

Challenges for women

  1. Women’s productivity depends crucially on access to land, which is highly gender unequal due to male bias in inheritance, government land transfers, and market access
  2. They also have poor access to credit, irrigation, inputs, technology and markets
  3. As agriculture gets feminised, the challenge of dealing with climate change, which is predicted to greatly lower food-crop yields, will increasingly fall on women
  4. But few of them have access to technological advances such as heat-resistant crops or water-conserving practices
  5. And higher temperatures will increase their labour in food processing and preservation
  6. A fall in household food will also affect females more than males due to unequal intra-household allocations, as evident in anthropometric and malnourishment measures, and female anaemia — 53 per cent of Indian women are anaemic
  7. Besides, as family food managers, women’s autonomy in food allocation decisions is adversely affected by their limited asset ownership: Child survival, nutrition and health are found to be notably better if the mother also has assets

Potential of SDG 5

  1. The potential lies in its focus on women’s access to land and property, and natural resources
  2. Secure land rights for women can improve both their productivity as farmers and family nutritional allocations
  3. Women can obtain land via the family (especially inheritance), the market and the state
  4. Target 5A only mentions inheritance laws, but since 86 per cent arable land in India is privately owned, gender equality in family land would improve tenure security for women farmers
  5. Also, SDG 5 mentions financial services. Affordable credit would help women farmers invest in necessary inputs
  6. Similarly, SDG 5 emphasises natural resources. Although it does not specify forests or fisheries, if policymakers so interpret it, it could enhance nutritional diversity, given women’s roles in forest food and fisheries
  7. Moreover, Target 5.5 emphasises women’s participation in public life. Although it focuses on legislatures and village councils, this could be extended to community institutions managing forests and water

Limitations of SDG 5

  1. Target 5A on inheritance is diluted by the clause “in accordance with national laws”, which provides a loophole to bypass the goal’s mandate
  2. Also, social norms obstruct legal rights, such as “good sisters” foregoing their claims to parental property, or distant marriages reducing women’s ability to manage inherited land
  3. Government policy cannot directly change norms, but SDG 5 is silent even on government land transfers to women, which policy can affect
  4. And women farmers need inputs beyond the financial services mentioned in Target 5A
  5. Similarly, the failure of SDG 5 to explicitly recognise access to forests and fisheries, or the challenges of climate change, restricts its potential

How can SDG 5 further the goal of food security?

  1. First, it can interpret women’s access to natural resources to specifically cover forests, fisheries, and irrigation
  2. Second, it can connect with SDG 1 (no poverty) and SDG 2 (zero hunger) which recognise the need for women to access land, credit, knowledge and markets
  3. Third, it can interpret goals which mention gender to include support for women farmers, as in SDG 13 on climate change
  4. Fourth, it can engender SDGs which bear crucially on food security but at present disregard gender, viz. SDG 15 on forests and SDG 14 on marine resources

Way forward

  1. Gender equality is key to food security
  2. Beyond SDGs, we need institutional innovations
  3. Farming in groups could provide an unexplored pathway for enhancing food security and strengthening SDG 5
Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Central guidelines for crèches at workplacesPriority 1


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Mechanisms, laws, institutions & Bodies constituted for the protection & betterment of the vulnerable sections

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017

Mains level: Impact of the proposed guidelines


  • The Centre has prepared guidelines for setting up of crèches at workplaces, which prescribe trained personnel to man the facility as well as infrastructure requirements and safety norms.

Adding another benefit

  1. In March this year, Parliament passed the Maternity Benefit Amendment Act, 2017, enhancing paid maternity leave from a period of 12 weeks to 26 weeks.
  2. The law is applicable to all institutions with 10 or more employees.
  3. It also makes it mandatory for every organisation with 50 or more employees to have a crèche.

Guidelines for Crèche

  1. A crèche be either at the workplace or within 500 metres of it.
  2. Alternatively, it could also be in the beneficiaries’ neighbourhood.
  3. The facility should be open for eight to 10 hours and if the employees have a shift system, then the crèche should also be run accordingly.
  4. A crèche must have a minimum space of 10 to 12 square feet per child to ensure that she or he can play, rest and learn.
  5. There should be no unsafe places such as open drains, pits, garbage bins near the centre.
  6. The crèches should have at least one guard, who should have undergone police verification.
  7. There should also be at least one supervisor per crèche and a trained worker for every 10 children under three years of age or for every 20 children above the age of three, along with a helper.

Other recommendations

  1. The government has also recommended that no outsiders such as plumbers, drivers, and electricians be allowed inside the crèche when children are present.
  2. A crèche monitoring committee with representations from among crèche workers, parents and administration should be formed.
  3. There should also be a grievance redressal committee for inquiring into instances of sexual abuse.
  4. The guidelines are not mandatory but are a yardstick for NGOs and organisations for setting up of creches.
Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

SHe-Box to be linked to all Central, State departmentsPriority 1


Mains Paper 1: Social Issues | Women Empowerment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Details of the SHWW Act

Mains level: Preventing Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace


  • Against the backdrop of the #MeToo movement, the Ministry of WCD has linked SHe-Box to all Central and State Departments in 653 districts across the country.


  1. SHe-Box is an online portal to report complaints of sexual harassment at workplaces under the Sexual Harassment Act, 2013.
  2. For prompt disposal of complaints on SHe-Box, each case goes directly to the Central or State authority concerned having powers to take action in the matter.
  3. SHe-Box cases can be monitored by the complainants and the WCD Ministry, thereby reducing the time taken for their disposal.
  4. As many as 321 complaints were registered with SHe-Box, out of which 120 are related to Union Ministries/ departments, 58 from State governments, and 143 from private companies till November 20.
  5. Those who have already filed written complaints with the Internal Complaint Committee (ICC) or Local Complaint Committee (LCC) are also eligible to file complaints through the SHe-Box portal.

Quick Recap of SHWWA Act

  1. The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, 2013 mandates all workplaces with more than 10 workers to constitute the ICC to receive complaints of sexual harassment.
  2. These workplaces include any department, organisation, undertaking, establishment, enterprise, institution, office, branch or unit which is established, owned, controlled, or wholly or substantially financed by funds provided directly or indirectly by the appropriate government, local authority, corporation or cooperative society.
  3. To ensure security of women at workplaces, the WCD Ministry has empanelled institutions/ organisations to organise awareness sessions on the SHWWA Act, 2013.

Assist this newscard with:

Explained: When a woman is harassed at work

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

IIT devises program to maximize LPG ConnectionsGovt. Schemes


Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Decision Support System (DSS)

Mains level: Effective implementation of govt. schemes


  • IIT Kharagpur researchers have devised a decision support system to help maximize the LPG connections in BPL (below poverty line) households.
  • It is a first of its kind for analysis of a national level energy policy, it said.

Decision Support System (DSS)

  1. A DSS is a computer programme that helps in making sound rational decisions using mathematical programming and operation research techniques.
  2. The DSS devised at the IIT uses mixed integer linear programming to mathematically formulate the policy using input parameters, decision variables and their relationships.
  3. The mathematical model has found the optimum number of total (BPL) connections required in a region, number of dealerships that need to be commissioned in a region over the policy time frame.
  4. The research has done sensitivity analysis with the mathematical model — change in a decision variable with respect to the change in parameter.

Benefits of the DSS

  1. With this, they can predict not only how the number of household connections can be increased but also the critical region that contributes most in each zone of LPG distribution.
  2. The DSS for such policies can provide the exact values of important parameters over the prescribed policy time period.
  3. This in turn will help researchers to take important measures to ascertain the proper functioning (monitoring) of the policy towards the desired goal.
  4. This kind of DSS can be developed for various federal and state level policies for various commodities like solar panels distributions, agricultural commodities and so on.

Findings of the DSS

  1. The government has recently revised the target to eight crore LPG connections by 2020.
  2. Certain areas though have been well covered, such as Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Rajasthan and West Bengal.
  3. The government needs to pay special attention to regions critical to LPG penetration, such as Assam in the Northeastern zone, in order to achieve 100 per cent BPL household penetration.
Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Maternity Leave Incentive SchemePriority 1


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Mechanisms, laws, institutions & Bodies constituted for the protection & betterment of the vulnerable sections

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017

Mains level: Impact of the proposed incentive scheme


  • In a section of media, there have been some reports about Maternity Leave Incentive Scheme. In this regard, the Ministry of Labour & Employment has clarified about the scheme.

Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017

  1. The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 applies to establishments employing 10 or more than 10 persons in Factories, Mines, Plantation, Shops & Establishments and other entities.
  2. The main purpose of this Act is to regulate the employment of women in certain establishments for certain period before and after child birth and to provide maternity benefit and certain other benefits.
  3. The Act was amended through the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017 which, inter alia, has increased the paid maternity leave to women employees from 12 weeks to 26 weeks.

Ground Reality of Implementation

  1. While the implementation of the provision is good in Public Sector, there are reports that it is not good in Private Sector and in contract jobs.
  2. There is a wide perception that private entities are not encouraging women employees because they may have to provide maternity benefit to them, particularly 26 weeks of paid holiday.
  3. It is not rare when the employers come to know that their women employee is in the family way or applies for maternity leave, the contracts are terminated on some flimsy grounds.
  4. The extended maternity leave has become a deterrent for female employees who are asked to quit or retrenched on flimsy grounds before they go on maternity leave.

Proposal for an Incentive Scheme

  1. The Ministry is working on an incentive scheme wherein 7 weeks’ wages would be reimbursed to employers.
  2. It would be applicable to employers who employ women workers with wage ceiling upto Rs. 15000/- and provide the maternity benefit of 26 weeks paid leave, subject to certain conditions.
  3. It is estimated that approximately an amount of Rs. 400 crores would be the financial implication for the for implementing the proposed incentive scheme.

Expected Outcomes

  1. The proposed Scheme, if approved and implemented shall ensure the women an equal access to employment and other approved benefits along with adequate safety and secure environment.
  2. Also, the women shall continue to bear the major share of household work as well as child care.
  3. The work places will be more and more responsive to the family needs of the working women.

Defying False Rumors

  1. There are some media reports that this Scheme has been approved/notified.
  2. However, it is clarified that Ministry is in the process of obtaining necessary budgetary grant and approvals of Competent Authorities.
  3. The reports that it will be funded from Labour Welfare Cess, is also incorrect, as no such cess exists under this Ministry.

Which Cess Media is talking about?

  1. The Building and Other Construction Workers’ Welfare Cess (BOCW) Act provides for collection of cess for construction workers by states/union territories.
  2. The states/UTs are required that the welfare schemes funded from cess fund should be exclusively for building and other construction workers only.
  3. Diversion of cess fund for welfare of other category of workers is not permissible under the BOCW Act.
Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Long cohabitation is presumed marriage: SCSC Judgements


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Role of women & women’s organization

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: Legal status of live in relationship in India


Court Favors Maintenance

  1. The Supreme Court has upheld the presumption that a couple who live together as husband and wife are legally married and the woman can claim maintenance under Section 125 of the CrPC.
  2. The bench observed that it is fairly well settled that the law presumes in favour of marriage and against concubinage when a man and woman have cohabited continuously for a number of years.
  3. Citing past judgments the Bench quoted that where a man, who lived with a woman for a long time and even though they may not have undergone legal necessities of a valid marriage, should be made liable to pay the woman maintenance if he deserts her.

Legal Loopholes

  1. The man should not be allowed to benefit from the legal loopholes by enjoying the advantages of a de facto marriage without undertaking the duties and obligations.
  2. Any other interpretation would lead the woman to homelessness and destitution which the provision of maintenance in Section 125 is meant to prevent.
  3. The judgment was based on an appeal filed by a woman against a Karnataka High Court decision of June 2009.
  4. The High Court set aside a family court order, directing the man she lived with since 1998, and had two children by, to pay maintenance.
  5. The family court had ordered him to pay the woman ₹3000 and the children ₹2500 each on a monthly basis.
  6. The court said they were accepted as husband and wife by society.
Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

[op-ed snap] Helping the invisible hands of agricultureop-ed snap


Mains Paper 1: Social Issues | Role of women & women’s organization

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Feminization of Agriculture in India


Feminization of Agriculture

  1. Women play a pivotal role in agricultural operations such as from sowing to planting, drainage, irrigation, fertilizer, plant protection, harvesting, weeding, and storage.
  2. With the feminization picking up pace, the challenges women farmers face can no longer be ignored
  3. The Agri Ministry has proposed deliberations to discuss the challenges that women farmers face in crop cultivation, animal husbandry, dairying and fisheries.
  4. The aim is to work towards an action plan using better access to credit, skill development and entrepreneurial opportunities.

Data and reality

  1. According to Oxfam India, women are responsible for about 60-80% of food and 90% of dairy production, respectively.
  2. The work by women farmers, in crop cultivation, livestock management or at home, often goes unnoticed.
  3. Attempts by the government to impart them training in poultry, apiculture and rural handicrafts is trivial given their large numbers.

What Agriculture Census has to say?

  1. The Census (2010-11) shows that out of an estimated 118.7 million cultivators, 30.3% were females.
  2. Similarly, out of an estimated 144.3 million agricultural labourers, 42.6% were females.
  3. In terms of ownership of operational holdings, the latest Agriculture Census (2015-16) is startling.
  4. Out of a total 146 million operational holdings, the percentage share of female operational holders is 13.87% (20.25 million), a nearly one percentage increase over five years.
  5. While the feminization is taking place at a fast pace, the government has yet to gear up to address the challenges that women farmers and labourers face.

Issues hovering women farmers:


(I) Issue of land ownership

  1. The biggest challenge is the powerlessness of women in terms of claiming ownership of the land they have been cultivating.
  2. In Census 2015, almost 86% of women farmers are devoid of this property right in land perhaps on account of the patriarchal set up in our society.
  3. Notably, a lack of ownership of land does not allow women farmers to approach banks for institutional loans as banks usually consider land as collateral.

(II) Lack of Access to Credit

  1. Research worldwide shows that women with access to secure land, formal credit and access to market have greater propensity.
  2. They performed better by making investments in improving harvest, increasing productivity, and improving household food security and nutrition.
  3. Better access to credit, technology, and provision of entrepreneurship abilities will further boost women’s confidence and help them gain recognition as farmers.

(III) Under-represented and Un-organized

  1. As of now, women farmers have hardly any representation in society and are nowhere discernible in farmers’ organisations or in occasional protests.
  2. They are the invisible workers without which the agricultural economy is hard to grow.

(IV) Land Holdings are on Decline

  1. Land holdings have doubled over the years with the result that the average size of farms has shrunk.
  2. Therefore, a majority of farmers fall under the small and marginal category, having less than 2 ha of land — a category that, undisputedly, includes women farmers.
  3. A declining size of land holdings may act as a deterrent due to lower net returns earned and technology adoption.

(V) The Unshared Double Responsibility

  1. Female cultivators and labourers generally perform labour-intensive tasks (hoeing, grass cutting, weeding, picking, cotton stick collection, looking after livestock).
  2. In addition to working on the farm, they have household and familial responsibilities.
  3. Despite more work (paid and unpaid) for longer hours when compared to male farmers, women farmers can neither make any claim on output nor ask for a higher wage rate.
  4. An increased work burden with lower compensation is a key factor responsible for their marginalization.

(VI) Lesser access to Resources

  1. Most farm machinery is difficult for women to operate.
  2. When compared to men, women generally have less access to resources and modern inputs (seeds, fertilizers, pesticides) to make farming more productive.
  3. The FAO says that equalizing access to productive resources for female and male farmers could increase agricultural output in developing countries by as much as 2.5% to 4%.

How can women farmers be better facilitated?


(A) Easy Credit Facility:

Provision of credit without collateral under the micro-finance initiative of the NABARD should be encouraged.

(B)Better Education and Training:

Krishi Vigyan Kendras in every district can be assigned an additional task to educate and train women farmers about innovative technology along with extension services.

(C) Farm Mechanization should be Gender Friendly:

  • It is important to have gender-friendly tools and machinery for various farm operations.
  • Manufacturers should be incentivized to come up with better and women friendly machineries.
  • Farm machinery banks and custom hiring centres promoted by many State governments can be roped in to provide subsidized rental services to women farmers.

(C) Promoting Collective Farming

  • The possibility of collective farming can be encouraged to make women self-reliant.
  • Training and skills imparted to women as has been done by some self-help groups and cooperative-based dairy activities (Saras in Rajasthan and Amul in Gujarat).
  • These can be explored further through farmer producer organisations.

(D) Facilitating with open Policies:

  • Govt flagship schemes such as the National Food Security Mission, Sub-mission on Seed and Planting Material and the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana should include women-centric strategies and dedicated expenditure.
  • In order to sustain women’s interest in farming and also their uplift, there must be a vision backed by an appropriate policy and doable action plans.

Way Forward

  1. As more women are getting into farming, the foremost task for their sustenance is to assign property rights in land.
  2. Once women farmers are listed as primary earners and owners of land assets, their acceptance will ensue.
  3. Their activities will expand to acquiring loans, deciding the crops to be grown using appropriate technology and machines, and disposing of produce to village traders or in wholesale markets.
  4. They will get socio-economic cognizance of their work thus elevating their place as real and visible farmers.
Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

2013 Justice Verma panel report wanted changes to sexual harassment lawSC Judgements


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Social empowerment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: MeToo movement

Mains level: The newscard discusses efficacy of present mechanism to curb sexual harassment at workplaces based on Verma Committee recommendations of 2013.



  1. The WCD minister has recently announced its plan to set up a panel of judges to look into the legal and institutional framework to curb sexual harassment at workplaces following the #MeToo campaign on social media.
  2. However, as early as 2013, the Justice J.S. Verma Committee, in its report on gender laws which would have proven efficient to tackle issue.

Justice Verma Committee Recommendations

  1. The panel was formed in the aftermath Nirbhaya gangrape Case in 2012 and the ensuing nationwide protests, and submitted its report on January 23, 2013.
  2. At that time of the submission of the report, the SHWWA bill had already been pending in Upper house of Parliament.
  3. The Committee termed the Bill “unsatisfactory” and said it did not reflect the spirit of the Vishakha guidelines — framed by the Supreme Court in 1997 to curb sexual harassment at the workplace.
  4. The report noted that an ICC under the SHWWA would be “counter-productive” as dealing with such complaints in-house could discourage women from filing complaints.
  5. Instead, the committee proposed forming an employment tribunal to receive and adjudicate all complaints.
  6. To ensure speedy disposal of complaints, the Committee proposed that the tribunal should not function as a civil court but may choose its own procedure to deal with each complaint.
  7. The panel also said that the time-limit of three months to file a complaint should be done away with and a complainant should not be transferred without her consent.

Onus on employer

  1. The Committee said any unwelcome behaviour should be seen from the subjective perception of the complainant, thus broadening the scope of the definition of sexual harassment.
  2. The Verma panel said an employer could be held liable:
  • if he or she facilitated sexual harassment,
  • permitted an environment where sexual misconduct becomes widespread and systemic,
  • where the employer fails to disclose the company’s policy on sexual harassment and ways in which workers can file a complaint
  • if employer fails to forward a complaint to the tribunal.
  1. The company would also be liable to pay compensation to the complainant.

Encouraging Women to file complaints

  1. The panel also made several suggestions to encourage women to come forward and file complaints.
  2. For instance, it opposed penalizing women for false complaints and called it an abusive provision intended to nullify the objective of the law.
Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Govt steps in to look into issues arising from #MeTooPriority 1


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Women empowerment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: MeToo movement

Mains level: Less reporting of sexual harassment cases and need of better mechanisms to deal with such cases



  • With more and more women going public with their experiences of sexual harassment at the hands of filmmakers, journalists, corporate bosses and Ministers, WCD ministry announced it will establish a committee to look into the issues being raised.

Setting up a Legal Panel

  1. WCD ministry will set up a committee of senior judicial and legal persons to look into the issues that are coming out of the #MeToo movement.
  2. The committee will look into the legal & institutional framework which is in place for handling complaints of sexual harassment at work
  3. The panel will advise the WCD ministry on how to strengthen these frameworks.
  4. It will include four retired judges and a strong lawyer as an amicus and will conduct independent hearings.

Hearing to be like Nirbhaya Case

  1. The public hearings will not be for individual complaints, but where stakeholders can come and depose before the committee if they wish to.
  2. A similar process was followed by the Justice Verma Committee set up to reform the laws against rape after the December 16, 2012 gangrape incident.

Some initiatives for immediate reporting

  • She-Box” portal
  • #HelpMeWCD using Tweet
  • Internal Complaints Committees (ICC) under SHWW Act
Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Explained: When a woman is harassed at workPriority 1


Mains Paper 1: Social Issues | Role of women & women’s organization, Women Empowerment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Details of the SHWW Act

Mains level: The newscard briefly discusses the powers and privileges of an aggrieved SH victim at workplace.


#MeToo gearing-in  in India

  1. Over the last several days, a number of women in India have called out influential men — actors, standup comics, senior journalists for alleged sexual harassment.
  2. Some of these allegations relate to actions of then colleagues of the women.

Law against Sexual Harassment

  1. The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act (SHWWA) was passed in 2013.
  2. The rights of all women working or visiting any workplace, in any capacity, are protected under the Act.
  3. It defines sexual harassment, lays down the procedures for a complaint and inquiry, and the action to be taken. It broadens the Vishaka guidelines, which were already in place.

Vishaka guidelines

  1. These were laid down by the Supreme Court in a judgment in 1997.
  2. This was on a case filed by women’s rights groups, one of which was Vishaka.
  3. Legally binding, these defined sexual harassment and imposed three key obligations on institutions — prohibition, prevention, redress.
  4. The Supreme Court directed that they establish a Complaints Committee, which would look into matters of sexual harassment of women at the workplace.

2013 Act broadening the sense

  1. It mandates that every employer constitute an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) at each office or branch with 10 or more employees.
  2. It lays down procedures and defines various aspects of sexual harassment.
  3. An aggrieved victim is a woman “of any age whether employed or not”, who “alleges to have been subjected to any act of sexual harassment”.
  4. Additionally, the Act mentions five circumstances that amount to sexual harassment —
  • implied or explicit promise of preferential treatment in her employment;
  • implied or explicit threat of detrimental treatment;
  • implied or explicit threat about her present or future employment status;
  • interference with her work or creating an offensive or hostile work environment;
  • humiliating treatment likely to affect her health or safety.

Defining Sexual Harassment at Work

  1. Sexual harassment (SH) includes “any one or more” of the following “unwelcome acts or behaviour” committed directly or by implication:
  • Physical contact and advance
  • A demand or request for sexual favours
  • Sexually coloured remarks
  • Showing pornography
  • Any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature.
  1. The WCD Ministry has published a Handbook on Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace with more detailed instances of behaviour that constitutes sexual harassment at the workplace.
  2. These include, broadly:
  • Sexually suggestive remarks or innuendos; serious or repeated offensive remarks; inappropriate questions or remarks about a person’s sex life
  • Display of sexist or offensive pictures, posters, MMS, SMS, WhatsApp, or emails
  • Intimidation, threats, blackmail around sexual favours; also, threats, intimidation or retaliation against an employee who speaks up about these
  • Unwelcome social invitations with sexual overtones, commonly seen as flirting
  • Unwelcome sexual advances.
  1. The Handbook says “unwelcome behaviour” is experienced when the victim feels bad or powerless; it causes anger/sadness or negative self-esteem.
  2. It adds unwelcome behaviour is one which is “illegal, demeaning, invading, one-sided and power based”.

Mandate of the ICC

  1. Technically, it is not compulsory for an aggrieved person to file a complaint for action.
  2. The Act says the aggrieved victim “may” make, in writing, a complaint of sexual harassment.
  3. If she cannot, any member of the ICC “shall” render “all reasonable assistance” to her for making the complaint in writing.
  4. And if the woman is unable to make a complaint on account of her “physical or mental incapacity or death or otherwise”, her legal heir may do so.

Time Frame for raising Complaint

  1. The Act states the complaint of sexual harassment has to be made “within three months from the date of the incident”.
  2. For a series of incidents, it has to be made within three months from the date of the last incident. However, this is not rigid.
  3. The ICC can “extend the time limit” if “it is satisfied that the circumstances were such which prevented the woman from filing a complaint within the said period”.

Provision of Inquiry

  1. Section 10 of the SHWWA deals with conciliation.
  2. The ICC “may”, before inquiry, and “at the request of the aggrieved woman, take steps to settle the matter.
  3. It can be done provided that “no monetary settlement shall be made as a basis of conciliation”.

Inquiry Process

  1. The ICC may forward the complaint to the police under IPC Section 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman; maximum punishment one year jail with fine).
  2. Otherwise, the ICC can start an inquiry that has to be completed within 90 days.
  3. ICC has similar powers to those of a civil court in respect of the following matters: summoning and examining any person on oath; requiring the discovery and production of documents.
  4. While the inquiry is on, if the woman makes a written request, the ICC “may” recommend her transfer, leave for three months, or any other relief to her as may be prescribed.
  5. The identity of the woman, respondent, witness, any information on the inquiry, recommendation and action taken, the Act states, should not be made public.

Prosecution of the Convict

  1. If the allegations are proved, the ICC recommends that the employer take action for sexual harassment for misconduct “in accordance with the provisions of the service rules” of the company.
  2. It also recommends that the company deduct from the salary of the person found guilty, “as it may consider appropriate”.
  3. Compensation is determined based on five aspects: suffering and emotional distress caused to the woman; loss in career opportunity; her medical expenses; income and financial status of the respondent; and the feasibility of such payment.

Preventing Misuse of the Act

  1. Section 14 of the Act deals with punishment for false or malicious complaint and false evidence.
  2. In such a case, the ICC “may recommend” to the employer that it take action against the woman, or the person who has made the complaint, in “accordance with the provisions of the service rules”.
  3. The Act, however, makes it clear, that action cannot be taken for “mere inability” to “substantiate the complaint or provide adequate proof”.
Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

[pib] First Regional Conference on ‘Women in Detention and Access to Justice’PIBPrelims Only


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Mechanisms, laws, institutions & Bodies constituted for the protection & betterment of vulnerable sections

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Details of the Conference

Mains level: Prison Reforms in India


‘Women in Detention and Access to Justice’

  1. The Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D), Ministry of Home Affairs is organising the First ever Regional Conference at Shimla on ‘Women in Detention and Access to Justice’.
  2. The BPR&D organizes the conferences on newly emerged issues.
  3. The Parliamentary Committee on Empowerment of Women on this subject has made several recommendations.
  4. There is a need to deliberate upon some of the recommendations to devise strategies and programs for bettering conditions of Women Prisoners and upholding their FRs.
  5. The following themes have been identified for discussions and deliberations:
  • Reproductive Health Rights of Women Prisoners: National and International Legal Norms
  • Health Needs of Women Prisoners
  • Health, Skill, Rehabilitation and Reintegration of Women Inmates and Their Children
  • Prison Reforms, Structural Managerial and Legal Issues with Focus on Women Inmates & Comparison to Global Norms
  • Neuro-Criminology Program for the Offender
  • Transforming Prisons

Aim of the Conference

  1. This conference is organised with a view to provide a platform for the prison personnel of all ranks at the national level.
  2. They are expected to share their candid views on various operational as well as administrative issues.
  3. It is aimed to identify best practices and standards in the working of Correctional Administration to meet new challenges in the present day’s context to bring out prison reforms in objective terms.
  4. Expected outcome of the conference will be to help in ensuring better implementation of Prison Reform and Rehabilitation Program in order to improve the conditions of Women Inmates and their Access to Justice.
Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

[op-ed snap] Women can change the rural landscapeop-ed snap


Mains Paper 2: Governnance | Development processes & the development industry the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups & associations, donors, charities, institutional & other stakeholders

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Importance of SHGs especially that run by women for ensuring development as well as financial inclusion in the Indian economy


Analysis of women’s SHGs

  1. As we approach M.K. Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary, it is perhaps fitting to revisit the Gandhian approach to rural development
  2. In this context, an analysis of the idea of women self-help groups (SHGs) as a vehicle to transform the rural landscape would be timely
  3. These SHGs can act as powerful institutions of participation and can contribute to India’s growth trajectory

About SHGs

  1. SHGs are essentially diminutive and economically homogeneous groups of rural poor
  2. Mostly they consist of 10-15 members
  3. The underlying philosophy guiding an SHG is that members periodically save a small amount of money, unanimously agreeing to make a contribution to a common pool
  4. United leadership coupled with an informal horizontal network helps to create social capital among the poor, especially among the women
  5. They act as safety nets to achieve twin goals—economic security and social well-being

Relevance of SHGs

  1. Women SHGs can be an avenue for achieving the goal of financial inclusion by making women’s access to the banking system easier and hassle-free
  2. This happens because SHGs filter out the potentially high-risk borrowers through local information
  3. As a result, banks are more willing to lend as it minimizes their risk

Solving banks problem of selection

  1. The creation of women SHGs helps finesse the widespread problem of adverse selection that plagues the Indian banking system
  2. Under normal circumstances, when a bank lends money to a potential borrower, creditworthiness is seen as an essential prerequisite
  3. More often than not, banks do not have access to relevant local information regarding the creditworthiness of the borrower, which can either lead to denial of credit or increasing number of defaults and bad debts
  4. However, in the case of women SHGs, women entrepreneurs possess the required local information regarding potential members, which banks do not
  5. As SHGs are based on the sound principle of joint liability, a woman entrepreneur would be pairing up with a creditworthy and low-risk partner

NPA problem not created

  1. The problem of a non-performing asset (NPA) arises in two cases
  2. One, when there is no asset creation, to begin with
  3. Two, when there is asset creation, but the asset fails to generate enough cash flow because of various reasons
  4. The SHGs are built on the concept of joint liability, there is a common interest, which ensures the creation of an asset
  5. Also, as each and every member has joint and individual liability to pay off the loan, the problem of moral hazard (inability of the bank to observe the efforts of the debtor) is circumvented

Reducing socioeconomic disadvantage of women

  1. It is no secret that women suffer from a vast range of socioeconomic disadvantages in India
  2. This includes being denied basic rights that range from the freedom to engage in economic activities to the right to choose their calling in life
  3. The access to credit through the SHG channel helps women to break through these barriers
  4. By bringing women into the financial net, SHGs act as potent agents of change that go a long way in empowering them and, consequently, their families as well
  5. Financially empowered, they find themselves in a better position to assert themselves in family matters such as family planning, child education, financial investments

Way Forward

  1. SHGs are a realistic, viable and sustainable option for achieving rural development objectives
  2. A greater push for the creation of more SHGs in rural India is needed
  3. This will help reduce the dependence of women borrowers on informal sources of credit and help work towards their continual inclusion into the formal financial system
  4. Women SHGs can potentially be a potent means of breaking free from the vicious circle of poverty
Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

[op-ed snap] Digitally empowering women in rural Indiaop-ed snap


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Role of women & women’s organization

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Empowerment of women by addressing digital gender gap


Addressing digital gender divide

  1. Bridging the gender gap in mobile ownership and digital literacy in both urban and rural India may increase the agency of women and help dismantle social norms that have been holding them back for decades
  2. Addressing the gender divide in digital literacy is perhaps necessary to ensure inequality of opportunity across gender does not widen in an India where the digital economy is expected to multiply by five times by 2023

How can digital transfer of money help women?

  1. The women beneficiaries get an improved household bargaining power
  2.  The mobile-transfer beneficiaries are more likely to obtain the transfer on their own as opposed to relying on their husbands
  3. They are more likely to travel to weekly markets and be involved in selling household grain than the manual cash transfer recipients

Kenya model of digital empowerment

  1. The M-Pesa mobile money service has gained much traction in development circles in the past year
  2. M-Pesa is a service that allows users to store monetary value on their phones and transfer to others via text message
  3. A research suggests that access to M-Pesa has uplifted 2% of Kenya’s households out of poverty
  4. The results are most compelling for female beneficiaries
  5. There is a change in the financial behaviour of these women, particularly saving behaviour
  6. This has translated into their altering occupational choices by graduating from subsistence agriculture and multiple part-time jobs to business ownership
  7. This could be a result of direct access to remittances through M-Pesa, and therefore, increased agency
  8. This could also be because these women may have not been primary earning members in their households, and were constrained before they had access to mobile money

Role of mobile phones in increasing women’s agency

  1. Digital inclusion can empower women not only through improving their individual agency but also by dismantling hostile norms surrounding gender
  2. A study on mobile phone ownership and usage by women in India, using 2004-2005 National Family Health Survey cross-sectional data, found that households, where women had mobile phones, reported lower tolerance for domestic violence and higher women’s autonomy in mobility and economic independence

Way Forward

  1. India’s changing digital landscape is offering tremendous scope for women’s empowerment, and evidence from rigorous research suggests how mobile phone usage can transform women’s household agency and workforce participation
  2. This calls for a greater effort to close the gender gap in digital literacy, and more innovation in integrating mobile phone usage with social welfare programmes
  3. There has never been a more pertinent time to bridge the gender digital divide
Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

[pib] Krishna Kutir, a home for 1000 widows inauguratedPIBPrelims Only


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Role of women & women’s organization

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Krishna Kutir

Mains level: Welfare measures for helpless, shelterless Women in India.



The Minister for Women & Child Development, along with CM of Uttar Pradesh, inaugurated the widows’ home ‘Krishna Kutir’ at a function at Vrindavan, Mathura, Uttar Pradesh.

Krishna Kutir

  1. Krishna Kutir is a special home for 1000 widows set up by the Ministry of WCD under Swadhar Greh scheme of the Ministry and is the largest ever facility of its kind created by a government organization.
  2. The Ministry took cognizance of this shocking condition of widows living in Vrindavan who refused to go back to their native place or their home.
  3. In order to provide dignified and humane living conditions to them, the Ministry, as a special case, constructed this Krishna Kutir at the temple town of Vrindavan with all the required facilities
  4. Widows will be a part of various committees which will be formed to manage the widows’ home.

Particulars of the Krishna Kutir

  1. Krishna Kutir has been constructed on 1.4 hectare of land through National Building Construction Corporation (NBCC) with a capacity of 1000 inmates.
  2. It has beautifully made 100 rooms/dormitories.
  3. The design of the Home has been prepared in consultation with Helpage India and is old age friendly.
  4. The facility is also equipped with a large modern kitchen and a skill cum training centre.

Why shelter for Widows?

The widows’ home has been constructed by the WCD Ministry to mitigate the plight of widows living in pathetic condition in Vrindavan.

Other Initiatives

  1.  UP Government has become the first State to link the women’s helpline 181 to the One Stop Centres.
  2. UP has also provided rescue vans for women in distress in every district.


Swadhar Greh Scheme

To read more about Scheme, navigate to this Page-


Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Now marriage certificate must for official work in MeghalayaPriority 1States in News


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Role of women & women’s organization

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: The newscard highlights unique matrilineal tradition of Khasi Community and government measures to protect these marriages.


Marriage certificate now Mandatory

  1. The State govt. in matrilineal Meghalaya has made it mandatory for married people to produce marriage certificates for all official purposes.
  2. The govt. has also decided to deny government jobs and benefits to men who have abandoned their families and are not providing for maintenance of their children.
  3. All govt. departments have been asked to ensure that individuals, if married, are made to submit copies of their marriage certificates for all official purposes.

Protecting women against broken marriage

  1. The step has been taken in view of increasing cases of broken marriages and women being forced to fend for themselves and their children.
  2. It was pointed out that the abandonment of families by men lead to a spike in school dropouts and juvenile crimes.
  3. It sought implementation of the Meghalaya Compulsory Registration of Marriage Act, 2012.

Fight for maintenance

  1. The government’s order cannot stop divorce, but marriage certificates will help abandoned women fight for the maintenance of their children after their husbands abandon them.
  2. Most marriages in the Khasi society are not registered, and this makes it difficult for abandoned women to fight for the maintenance of their children.
Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

[op-ed snap] India’s wrong approach to paid maternity leaveop-ed snap


Mains Paper 2: Governance | mechanisms, laws, institutions & Bodies constituted for the protection & betterment of these vulnerable sections

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Changes in the maternity benefits act and its impact on women


Declining percentage of women in the workforce

  1. A common concern for India and the US is the decline or stagnation in female labour force participation in recent decades
  2. In India, not only have female LFP rates been lower than other comparable economies, the trend reveals declining rates over time

Adverse consequences expected

  1. While India has had a maternity leave policy on the books since 1961, it recently expanded the law in 2017
  2. Now, there are increasing concern and speculation that the law may have the unintended consequence of worsening the labour market for women, who already deal with social stigmas often associated with working women

Why would the policy backfire?

  1. India’s maternity benefit amendment offers new mothers 26 weeks of paid leave from their workplace, with an average wage replacement rate of 100%
  2. The policy is problematic because it is imposed as an employer mandate
  3. Employers have to bear the entire cost of providing leave to employees
  4. This is in terms of both continued pay while on leave, as well as the indirect cost of having to get the work done by employing other workers to finish the work of the absent employee
  5. This raises the concern that employers will begin to discriminate against women of childbearing age, both in hiring as well as in salaries, since this group is entitled to the benefit of paid family leave and is most likely to use it

Need of an employee payroll tax

  1. The solution could lie in imposing the cost of the paid leave policy on employees through a tax
  2. While employers would provide job-protected leave, the wage replacement could be funded through an employee payroll tax
  3. The tax should be levied only on employees to minimize any additional costs on the employer when providing paid leave

Gender neutrality essential

  1. An important aspect of the design of such a policy is gender neutrality
  2. It is critical in today’s day and age that any paid leave law be gender-neutral and thus available to both fathers and mothers
  3. This ensures that the onus of childcare is not placed solely on the mother, and instead places it on both parents
  4. At the same time, it recognizes the important role that fathers can play in the early years of a child’s birth

Way Forward

  1. What India gets right about the maternity leave law is that it is a federal law guaranteeing uniform access to paid leave to all eligible employees across the country
  2. But there is much that can be improved about the design of the policy to ensure that it works well not only for workers but also businesses
Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

[pib] Mahila Shakti Kendra SchemeGovt. SchemesPIBPrelims Only


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the Scheme

Mains level: Women empowerment through community participation


Ministry of Women and Child Development  has approved a new scheme namely Mahila Shakti Kendra for implementation during 2017-18 upto 2019-20 to empower rural women through community participation.

Mahila Shakti Kendra Scheme

  1. The scheme is envisaged to work at various levels and at the national level (domain based knowledge support) and state level (State Resource Centre for Women) technical support to the respective governments on issues related to women.
  2. It is implemented with cost sharing ratio of 60:40 between centre and states except for North East and Special Category States where the ratio is 90:10.

Provisions of the Scheme

  1. Community engagement through College Student Volunteers is envisioned in 115 aspirational districts as part of the Block Level initiatives.
  2. Student volunteers are to play an instrumental role in awareness generation regarding various important government schemes/ programmes as well as social issues.
  3. District Level Centre for Women (DLCW) has also been envisaged for 640 districts to be covered in phased manner.
  4. These centres to serve as a link between village, block and state level in facilitating women centric schemes and also give foothold for Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP) scheme at the district level.
Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

[op-ed snap] The Sabarimala singularityop-ed snap


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Role of women & women’s organization

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Indian Young Lawyers Association v. State of Kerala case and its impact on various constitutional provisions


Sabarimala case hearing by SC

  1. The Supreme Court is currently hearing oral arguments in Indian Young Lawyers Association v. State of Kerala
  2. In this case, rules that bar the entry of women aged between 10 and 50 years into the Sabarimala temple in Kerala have been called into question

Contradictions in the case

  1. To prohibit women from entering a public space, from worshipping in a shrine of their choice, one would think, ought to be anathema to the tenets of a constitutional democracy
  2. But the religious freedom clauses in the Constitution are possessed of a special complexity, which the court’s own past jurisprudence has turned into a quagmire of contradictions

Freedom of religion

  1. Generally, the right to freedom of religion of both individuals and groups is recognised as an intrinsic facet of a liberal democracy
  2. The Constitution memorialises these guarantees in Articles 25 and 26
  3. The former recognises a right to freedom of conscience and a right to freely profess, practise, and propagate religion, subject to common community exceptions of public order, morality, and health, and also, crucially, to the guarantee of other fundamental rights
  4. Article 25(2)(b) creates a further exception to the right. It accords to the state a power to make legislation, in the interests of social welfare and reform, throwing open Hindu religious institutions of a public character to all classes and sections of Hindus
  5. Article 26, on the other hand, which is also subject to limitations imposed on grounds of public order, morality, and health, accords to every religious denomination the right, among other things, to establish and maintain institutions for religious purposes and to manage their own affairs in matters of religion

Different clauses under consideration

  1. Until now, most cases involving a bar of entry into temples have involved a testing of laws made in furtherance of Article 25(2)(b)
  2. The court upheld the law on the ground that statutes made under clause 2(b) to Article 25 served as broad exceptions to the freedom of religion guaranteed by both Articles 25 and 26
  3. In Indian Young Lawyers Association case, the attack is to the converse
  4. It is to Rule 3(b) of the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Rules, 1965, which states, “Women who are not by custom and usage allowed to enter a place of public worship shall not be entitled to enter or offer worship in any place of public worship”
  5. It is by placing reliance on these rules that the Sabarimala temple prohibits women aged between 10 and 50 years from entering the shrine

Clash of conflicting claims

  1. At play, therefore, in the case is a clash between a series of apparently conflicting claims:
  • involving the temple’s right to decide for itself how its religious affairs ought to be managed,
  • the rights of a community of devotees who believe that a bar on women’s entry is an essential religious practice, and
  • the rights of those women seeking to assert not only their freedom to unreservedly enter and pray at the shrine but also their rights to be recognised as equals under the Constitution

Essential religious practice doctrine

  1. Traditionally, to resolve tensions of this kind, the Supreme Court has relied on a very particular jurisprudence that it has carved for itself to determine what manners of rituals and beliefs deserve special constitutional protection
  2. This doctrine requires the court to define what constitutes, in its own words, an “essential religious practice”
  3. The petitioners have argued that the ban enforced on menstruating women from entering the Sabarimala shrine does not constitute a core foundation of the assumed religious denomination
  4. On the other hand, the Devaswom Board contends that established customs deserve respect, that this particular Lord Ayyappa in Sabarimala is a celibate, and that women of menstruating age are, therefore, forbidden from entering the temple

What needs to be done?

  1. Once the court finds that the Sabarimala temple does not represent a separate denomination, the court must ask itself whether it should yield to the temple’s view on an assumption that there does exist a time-honoured custom prohibiting any women aged between 10 and 50 years from praying at the shrine
  2. On such a study, the court will undoubtedly notice that most policies of exclusion in India’s history have been defended as being extensions of a prescription of faith, of being rooted in culture and tradition
  3. The court should see this as an opportunity not to rationalise religious practices, but to overturn its existing passé ideas on the subject
  4. If the court can look beyond the essential practices doctrine and see this case for what it really is — a denial to women not only of their individual rights to freedom of religion but also of equal access to public space — it can help set the tone for a radical re-reading of the Constitution

Way Forward

  1. A law favouring the autonomy of the group over the autonomy of the individual tends to have the harmful effect of favouring the view of the association proffered by the powerful over the views proffered by less powerful members of the group that is, traditionally subordinate members such as women, children, and sexual minorities
  2. The Constitution must be seen as representing not a hoary conception of boundaries between the state and the individual, but as a transcendental tool for social revolution
Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

[op-ed snap] Educating girls can improve India’s health outcomesop-ed snap


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Population & associated issues

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Op-ed is full of vital statistical data

Mains level: Various outcomes associated with girl’s education


Countering worst health outcomes

  1. India has some of the world’s worst public health outcomes, but educating girls can change that.
  2. Nationally, according to 2017 government data, 34 out of every 1,000 newborns will not survive till their first birthday, of which 25 would not have lived beyond their first 28 days.
  3. These figures are improving, because of concerted efforts by the national programme—but the gap is much too large for a country aspiring to be a world-beater on most fronts.

Female literacy = Delayed marriage

  1. Ensuring that the girl child is educated sets off a virtuous chain reaction—improved literacy leading to a delayed age of marriage, fewer and healthier children and a corresponding reduction in poverty.
  2. There are enough cases of girls whose families place greater priority on having their daughters finish school and perhaps college.
  3. These parents say they see a better overall future for their daughters if they are educated.

What data says?

  1. Data comparing two states that lead in terms of welfare indicators (Kerala and Tamil Nadu) and two that lag (Bihar and Uttar Pradesh) is revealing. All figures cited here are the most recent government data.
  2. Female literacy rates in Kerala and Tamil Nadu are 92% and 73.9%, respectively, while the same rates for Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are about half, at 42.2% and 33.1%, respectively.
  3. Average age at marriage for women in these states is 21.4 for Kerala and 21.2 for Tamil Nadu, above the national average of 20.7 years.
  4. The same figures for Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are significantly lower at 19.4 and 19.5, respectively.

Female literacy + delayed marriage = Fewer babies per woman

  1. In many parts of rural India, there is immense pressure on women to produce boys, who will supposedly be the “breadwinners”.
  2. The sex ratio at birth (girls born per 1,000 boys) has fallen and is only around 800 in some North Indian states. Multiple pregnancies with inadequate spacing adversely affect the health of mother and child.
  3. The good news is that where there has been an improvement in literacy and delayed marriage, the fertility rate (average number of children per woman) has reduced.
  4. Kerala (1.7) and Tamil Nadu (1.6) perform better than the national average of 2.3, while Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are significantly worse at 3.1 and 3.3, respectively, though these figures are improving.

Female literacy + delayed marriage + fewer babies per woman = Higher child survival

  1. A woman who is educated, older when she gets married and plans fewer babies will proactively seek out good antenatal care.
  2. The percentage of women receiving full antenatal care is 61.2 and 45 in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, respectively.
  3. These figures are only 5.9 and 3.3 in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, respectively, though improving. Fewer babies receiving better care mean that fewer children die in their first four weeks.
  4. The neonatal mortality rate in all states is improving, but Kerala and Tamil Nadu are way ahead of the national average (28), with figures of 6 and 15, respectively.

A Chain Reaction: Lowering poverty in the long run

  1. As families become smaller and children survive and thrive, they can spend more productively, and improve their economic situation.
  2. Between 2004 and 2011, the percentage of population below the poverty line in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar registered slight improvements from 32.8 to 29.4, and 41.4 to 33.7, respectively.
  3. The percentage of population below the poverty line for Kerala and Tamil Nadu halved from 15 to 7.1 and 22.5 to 11.3, respectively.

Way Forward

  1. States that invested in education and health earlier are alleviating poverty faster now.
  2. China is a global benchmark for how these social investments, made decades ago, formed the foundation for that country’s rapid economic growth.
  3. Ensuring that the girl child is educated sets off a virtuous chain reaction—improved literacy leading to a delayed age of marriage, fewer and healthier children and a corresponding reduction in poverty.
Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Year since Group of Ministers nod, draft national women’s policy stuckPriority 1


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies & interventions for development in various sectors & issues arising out of their design & implementation

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: National Policy for Women and its key provisions

National Policy for Women pending approval

  1. This month marks a year since the draft National Policy for Women is pending approval of the government
  2. The policy, mooted by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, was passed with some modifications by the Group of Ministers in July 2017

Changed perspective

  1. The draft policy is a revision of the first National Policy for Women, firmed up in 2001
  2. It marks a shift from the previous policy’s view of women as welfare recipients to taking a rights-based approach
  3. The policy recommends for 33 per cent reservation for women in Lok Sabha and state Assemblies, and at least 50 per cent quota in all local bodies
  4. The provision for greater representation for women in the political arena was to be a significant part of such an approach to creating an enabling environment through affirmative action

Key proposals

  1. The draft talks of promoting women’s presence in all three branches of the government — the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary — as also in corporate boardrooms
  2. It mandates one-third reservation for women in the police force and also details the need to look at policies across all ministries through a gendered lens
  3. A key recommendation in the draft policy is making it mandatory for every ministry to maintain sex-disaggregated data on all schemes and programmes
  4. Noting that India’s data system has remained largely gender neutral, it states that for better policy formulation, data has to be disaggregated as per gender especially on issues concerning poverty, economic participation, violence, environment, health, education, governance, and media
  5. It also asked for qualitative data on the impact on men of policies regarding paternity leave, gender-based violence, and gender equality
  6. It focuses on emerging gender issues, such as those relating to single women, a segment that has grown by 39 per cent between 2001 and 2011, or the growing incidence of cybercrime

Implementation of the policy

  1. The policy was to be operationalised and its implementation monitored through an inter-ministerial committee headed by Women and Child Development (WCD)
  2. Similar state-level committees were to be set up, headed by the respective chief ministers
Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Failure to educate girls could cost world $30 trillion a year: World Bank reportIOCRPriority 1


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Role of women & women’s organization

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Enrloment ratio of girls in primary & secondary education across the world and how it leads to poor life quality for them

Low enrolment of girls

  1. More than 130 million girls are out of school globally, the World Bank said
  2. About 132 million girls worldwide aged 6 to 17 do not attend school, while fewer than two-thirds of those in low-income nations finish primary school, and only a third finish lower secondary school
  3. Failing to let girls finish their education could cost the world as much as $30 trillion in lost earnings and productivity annually

Positive impacts of completing secondary school education for girls

  1. Women who have completed secondary education are more likely to work and earn on average nearly twice as much as those with no schooling
  2. Women who have completed secondary education are at lesser risk of suffering violence at the hands of their partners and have children who are less likely to be malnourished and themselves are more likely to go to school
  3. There will be a reduction in child marriage
  4. Lower fertility rates in countries with high population growth
  5. Reduced child mortality and malnutrition
Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

[op-ed snap] The marriage penalty on women in Indiaop-ed snap


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Role of women & women’s organization

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Global Gender Gap Report, NFHS Data on female labour-force participation

Mains level: The newscard highlights major inevitable hurdles for the participation of Indian women in workforce which are less likely to be eased by policy reforms.


Marriage- the latent liability for women

  1. The discourse on economic development has become increasingly gendered, in recognition of both the ethical construct of equality between men and women and the realization that women’s empowerment generates positive externalities.
  2. Despite the pronounced gendered approach to policy initiatives recently in India, the country slipped 21 places between 2016 and 2017 in The Global Gender Gap Report released by the World Economic Forum.
  3. India’s low rank on gender parity in labour force participation (LFP) fell further, by four points, to 139 (among 144 countries).

The biggest constraint

  1. The observed decline in female LFP has been the largest and most significant for rural married women.
  2. In urban areas, while there has been no decline in participation by married women over time, the figure has been stagnating.
  3. On the other hand, there has been no fall in the employment rate for men in the same demographic group.

Few facts underlining this phenomenon

  1. In 2011, around 50% of unmarried women in the 15-60 age brackets were in the labour force, while the proportion for married women was 20%.
  2. There has been a rise in LFP rates among urban unmarried women between 1999-2011, from 37% to 50%, but, for married women, it has been stagnant for 30 years.
  3. For married and unmarried men, the participation rates are high (around 95%) and constant over time.

Marriage and Childcare- the only barrier

  1. With marriage almost being universal in India, the different trajectories that single and married women have followed clearly hint at marriage and consequent childcare as one of the important barriers in access to employment.
  2. Against a rapid increase in the number of years women get an education, an increase in age for marriage and a reduction in fertility levels, these trends seem contradictory to the trend of labour force participation seen in India.

What NFHS data says?

  1. The latest figures from the National Family Health Survey show that the average age at first marriage in India is 18 for rural and 19.4 for urban women.
  2. Age at first birth is 20 for rural, and 21 for urban, women.

Two realities that young girls face in our country

  1. First, there is a small window of opportunity to be economically active after completion of education and before marriage.
  2. Second, with universal marriage and expected child-bearing, there is little space between marriage and first child.
  3. While the number of children born to a woman has come down (two in urban areas and 2.5 in rural areas in 2015), this may not necessarily increase women’s labour force attachment if households place greater importance on the quality of their progeny.

Re-entry post Maternity

  1. A look at participation numbers at the cohort level shows that there is an increase in participation proportion from 17% in the early 20s to 22% in the early 30s.
  2. Even for women with graduate and higher level of education, it increases from approximately 13% in the early 20s to 28% in the early 30s.
  3. Childcare is clearly a constraint for married women and continues to remain a roadblock from the employment perspective.

Policy Initiatives – a glimmer of hope

  1. Adoption of technologies that potentially reduce the burden of housework—for instance, the Ujjwala programme’s subsidization of cooking gas, which can induce a shift towards cleaner fuel that also reduces cooking time–is one small but important step in the right direction.
  2. Under the Maternity Benefit Amendment Act (2016), provision of a crèche facility has become mandatory for establishments employing at least 50 individuals.
  3. But the Rajiv Gandhi National Crèche Scheme for the Children of Working Mothers, started by the government for low-income families, has been marred by poor infrastructure and limited benefits due to its flawed design.

Way Forward

  1. There is no silver bullet that works best in empowering women economically in our country.
  2. But the heart of the matter is that to get more women to work, we have to get them out of their homes.
  3. Hence, an exclusive focus on educating and skilling women or financial inclusiveness is unlikely to be effective unless policy measures address the constraints of childcare faced by married women.
  4. With patriarchal norms underlying the traditional role of men and women in households and non-marketization of childcare, coupled with a shift towards nuclear families, the burden of domestic work lies on women.
  5. At the same time, the absence of flexible work hours and easier physical access to work have been compounded by the persistent gender gap in wages.
Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

[op-ed snap] Ujjwala RevolutionGovt. Schemesop-ed snap


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre & States & the performance of these schemes

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana

Mains level: Success of Ujjwala Yojana


Adoption of LPG has received a boost

  1. The Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) has completed two years of operation.
  2. During this time the number of LPG connections has crossed 4 crore, and LPG penetration in India has risen from 56% in 2014 to 80%.
  3. It is worth considering the usage pattern of PMUY customers who have been in the system for a year or more and have been buying four or more cylinders a year.

Proved by IOCL Data

  1. Data from the Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL), which has given out almost half of the Ujjwala connections, suggest that between May 2016 and April 2017, IOCL enrolled 85.47 lakh Ujjwala customers.
  2. From May 2016 to April 2018, the average cylinder consumption of these customers was 4.4 per year, including the installation cylinder.
  3. One in five Ujjwala customers who enrolled in May 2016 is using seven cylinders annually, thus matching the national per capita consumption of 6.8 cylinders in 2017-18.

Role of “Pradhan Mantri LPG Panchayat”

  1. By sharing the vision of early adopters and ironing out service issues, the LPG Panchayats being held at village levels across India are helping more and more people appreciate the advantages of clean fuel.
  2. The adoption of LPG has received a boost with supplies ramping up and service improving.

Increased LPG Distributors

  1. In April 2014, there were 13,896 LPG distributors across India. This number is now 20,227.
  2. Another 3,750 distributorships will be commissioned in 2018-19.
  3. Similarly, the loan deferment policy, which has allowed the recovery of loan amounts from Ujjwala customers, has been deferred for their next six refills starting April 1, 2018.
  4. This allows customers to avail of the subsidy during this period.


Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana

  1. PMUY is a welfare scheme being implemented by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas to provide LPG connections to families below the poverty line, guided by the strong commitment to bring about changes in the life of poor women and also protect their health
  2. Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) is used to identify the beneficiaries (adult woman of a BPL family) and is given a deposit free LPG connection with a financial assistance of Rs.1600 per connection by the centre
  3. This scheme will help prevent pollution and facilitate the healthy atmosphere in the families of poor people.
Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Maternity perks may cost 1.8 million Indian women their jobsPriority 1


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Role of women & women’s organization

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Maternity Benefits Law

Mains level: Impact of increased duration of maternity leave on the indusctrial sector as well as women workforce and reasons behind low participation of women in workforce

Opposite effect of Maternity law

  1. A new law to improve maternity benefits for women in India’s workforce and encourage them to further their careers is likely to have the opposite effect
  2. The law, which makes India the most progressive country after Canada and Norway in enabling women to stay on in the workforce, will probably lead to job losses and discourage smaller businesses and start-ups from hiring women
  3. Maternity Benefits Law entitles women working in the organized sector to 26 weeks paid maternity leave, up from 12 weeks

Job losses to happen

  1. An estimated 1.1 million to 1.8 million women will lose their jobs across 10 sectors in the financial year to March 2019 because of the law
  2. If this estimate is computed across all the sectors, the job loss number would be an estimated 10-12 million across all sectors
  3. Post-maternity retention could cost 80 percent to 90 percent of the annual salary for white-collar employees, and up to 135 percent of annual salary for blue-collar employees

Share of women in workforce decreasing

  1. The share of women in the workforce has shrunk to around 24 per cent in the fiscal year ended 2016 from 36 percent a decade earlier
  2. McKinsey and Co. estimates more than $700 billion could be added to the country’s gross domestic product by 2025 if more women were in jobs

Reasons behind shrinking women workforce

  1. In socially conservative India, women are often discouraged from pursuing a career
  2. Better-educated women from wealthier families aren’t encouraged to work and it’s usually when a man’s salary falls short that a woman seeks a job
  3. Many drop out to take care of older family members or children
Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

[pib] NITI Aayog’s Women Entrepreneurs PlatformPIB


Mains Paper 1: Indian Society | Role of women and women’s organization.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: WEP

Mains level: Promotion of Women Entrepreneurship in India


Why in news?

  1. NITI Aayog’s Women Entrepreneurs Platform (WEP) signed five separate Statement of Intent (SoIs) with Shri Mahila Sewa Sahakari Bank Limited, Indiabulls Housing Finance Limited, SREI Infrastructure Finance Limited, Sreemanta Sankar Mission and the Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA).
  2. The SoIs signed with financial institutions will provide financial assistance to women entrepreneurs and address the finance-related challenges faced by them through WEP.

About WEP

  1. The WEP is an initiative under the NITI Aayog which was launched on March 8, 2018, on the occasion of the International Women’s Day.
  2. The WEP intends to undertake this task through its partner organizations, private as well as public organizations;
  • by bringing their existing as well as new women-specific initiatives on a single platform, which in turn will also address knowledge gaps,
  • promote partner connects and will increase the outreach of partner programmes.
  1. Through its partner organizations, WEP aims to create opportunities and support women in order to help them realize their entrepreneurial aspirations, scale up innovative initiatives, and chalk out sustainable and long-term strategies for their businesses.
  2. NITI CEO announced the setting-up of a Women Entrepreneurship Platform in NITI Aayog at the conclusion of the 8th Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) held in Hyderabad in 2017 with an overarching theme of ‘Women first, Prosperity for All’.
Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

[pib] Ministry of Women & Child Development receives the ‘Best Performing Social Sector Ministry’ SKOCH AwardPIB


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Various initiatives by MoWCD at a glance

Mains level: Read the attached story 


Lauding the achievements of the Ministry of Women and Child Development in delivering the promises made and for its significant achievements and initiatives from the last 4 years, SKOCH has conferred the ‘Best performing Social Sector Ministry’.

Beti Bachao Beti Padhao- a huge success

  1. Flagship schemes like Beti Bachao Beti Padhao have achieved huge success within a very short period of time.
  2. Under this scheme, efforts were made at National, regional and local level which led to behaviour change which is reflecting in the improved sex ration at birth.

Other lauded Initiatives of MoWCD

  1. 6 months maternity leave,
  2. Sexual Harassment at Work Place Act,
  3. SHe-box,
  4. One stop centers,
  5. Universal Women helpline (181),
  6. 33 percent reservation in police etc.

Forensic Analysis for Sexual assault cases

  1. Stressing that forensic analysis plays a critical role in nabbing the culprits in sexual assault cases, the foundation of  Sakhi Suraksha Advanced DNA Forensic Laboratory was laid in Chandigarh.
  2. 5 more advanced forensic labs would come up in Guwahati, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Pune and Bhopal.
  3. Special forensic kits for rape cases will be provided to all police stations and hospitals.
  4. The funds for these kits will be provided from Nirbhaya Fund.
Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

[op-ed snap] The cost of the missing women in Indian politicsop-ed snap


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Role of women & women’s organization

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: 73rd and 74th amendments to the Constitution

Mains level: Representation of women in politics and ways to increase it


Low representation of women in democracy

  1. B.R. Ambedkar once said that “political power is the key to all social progress”
  2. In India, women suffer substantially greater socio-economic disadvantages than Western democracies
  3. A concentration of political power tends to lead to extractive economic institutions
  4. Inclusive economic institutions and growth—both necessary for and dependent on social empowerment—require inclusive political institutions

Effects of political representation of disadvantaged groups

  1. Observing a member of their own group in charge of a public office changes attitudes and infuses confidence in the minority group
  2. This may be referred to as the reporting channel
  3. The second effect is an increase in the responsiveness of the official towards the pleas of disadvantaged groups
  4. This is termed as the recording effect
  5. The knock-on economic effects are apparent as well
  6. There is a strong connection between the implementation of political reservations and small-scale entrepreneurship among women

Status of women representation

  1. The proportion of women in the Lok Sabha has seen only a paltry increase since independence—from 4.5% in the first Lok Sabha to the current 12% in the 16th Lok Sabha
  2. The 73rd and 74th amendments to the Constitution in 1993 made it mandatory to earmark 33% of all positions in Panchayati raj institutions for women

What limits women representation?

  1. Political parties in India tend not to follow provisions in their constitutions reserving seats for women in different committees
  2. The second barrier is the lack of education and leadership training
  3. Additionally, since women are not integrated in any local political process initially, and, unlike men, are not part of the relevant social and power networks, women leaders are prone to inefficiencies

Way forward

  1. Socio-economic disadvantages lead to reduced opportunities for women to participate in the political process, leading to a weakened representation
  2. There is a pressing need for education and leadership training to familiarize them with the local government functioning and instill in them a sense of agency
Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

[op-ed snap] Why so few women work in Indiaop-ed snap


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Role of women & women’s organization

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), Skill India initiative

Mains level: Reasons behind less number of women in workforce and schemes required to increase their participation


Labour force disparity

  1. India has far fewer women working or available for work compared to any other large economy in the world
  2. Women’s participation in the labour force declined sharply in the country precisely when the country’s economic engine was growing the fastest: between 2004-05 and 2011-12

Reasons behind fewer women in the workforce

  1. A big reason why women don’t work is that there is usually no one else to do the tasks that a patriarchal society assigns to them
  2. In rural India, this often means attending to onerous tasks such as fetching water or collecting firewood
  3. In urban India, this may mean childcare in an environment where help is not as easy to come by as in rural India
  4. Data from the two latest quinquennial employment surveys of the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) show that this was driven by a rise in the share of women who listed ‘attending to domestic duties’ as their principal activity in the year preceding the surveys
  5. The force of patriarchy also manifests itself in socio-religious constraints, which restrict the mobility of women
  6. Across major states, the share of women attending to domestic duties is broadly correlated with the share of women citing social and religious constraints as the main reason for attending to domestic duties

Women interested in part-time work

  1. A majority of women attending to domestic duties are willing to work part-time if such work were made available at their household
  2. Tailoring work seems to be the most preferred option for such women, followed by dairy-related and poultry-related work
  3. Most women who want to take up such work emphasized the need for finance and training

Way Forward

  1. The data suggest that the Skill India initiative may have missed a trick by focusing largely on male candidates looking for full-time work
  2. Given the rising demand for training among homemakers looking for part-time work, they could benefit greatly from a skilling initiative that helps them get into part-time work, or to start their own enterprises
Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

UN India business forum, NITI Aayog form consortium to help women entrepreneurs


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Particulars of the Consortium and its Mandate

Mains level : Initiative to harness potential of Women Entrepreneurs for contribution to our GDP


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Role of women and women’s organization

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the Consortium and its Mandate

Mains level: Initiative to harness potential of Women Entrepreneurs for contribution to our GDP


Promoting Women Entrepreneurs

  1. In full potential scenario when women participate in the economy, equally to men, it could add $2.9 trillion to India’s GDP by 2025.
  2. Indian women entrepreneurs continue to face challenges in accessing investors and raising capital.
  3. Taking this into account, the UN India Business Forum and the Women Entrepreneurial Platform of NITI Aayog formed a consortium to reduce gender disparities in start-up investments.

Purpose of the Consortium

  1. UN India-NITI Aayog Investor Consortium for Women Entrepreneurs will bring together key ecosystem stakeholders, including venture capitalists and impact investors, international donor and funding agencies, private sector partners and state governments.
  2. The consortium aims to strengthen women’s entrepreneurship by creating an enabling ecosystem for investments.
  3. Women entrepreneurs will be identified through key partners, including WEP, UN Women, and UNDP.
  4. The consortium secretariat will then connect entrepreneurs, according to their requests, with relevant members.
Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Improved maternity benefits could prove counterproductive: Survey

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Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

From UPSC perspectives following things are important:

Prelims level: Maternity Benefits Act

Mains level: Issue of equality of opportunity arising out unclear provisions in the Maternity Benefit
(Amendment) Act 2017

Reducing participation of women in the workforce

  1. A report by TeamLease highlighted the increase in Maternity Leave benefit of 26 weeks raised from 12 weeks is proving counterproductive for women hiring in the organized sector
  2. At least 26 percent of the 350 startups and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) said that they will prefer hiring a male candidate, given the cost of the six-month maternity leave benefit
  3. About 40 percent of respondents said they will hire women but will consider whether such a cost is worth the candidate
  4. While many of the startups and SMEs are progressive, a significant number seems to be considering the consequences of this regulation
  5. Even when organizations do have a policy of non-discrimination in hiring, the recruiting manager may take a narrow view

The Way Forward

  1. Just changing the law is not enough; reinforcements are needed at multiple levels
  2. Getting more companies into the organized fold will help but there are risks of hampering their competitiveness which preferably employ women workers
  3. The government should make policy for bearing the financial burden of providing maternity benefits exclusively borne by the employer
  4. A gender-balanced approach to parenthood is needed rather than completely relying on Maternal Care


Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act 2017

  1. Expecting mothers who are working in the organized sector can now avail 26 weeks of paid maternity
    leave instead of 12 weeks
  2. This Act allows 26 weeks of paid maternity leave to mothers who are adopting a child below the age of three months and also to commissioning mothers who opt for surrogacy
  3. This entitlement is applicable only up to first two children. For the third child, the entitlement will be for only 12 weeks. The leaves further reduce to six weeks if the woman wants to become a mother for the fourth
  4. The act is applicable to all those women employed in factories, mines and shops or commercial establishments employing 10 or more employees
  5. It makes it mandatory for employers with 50 or more employees to provide crèches in close vicinity of the workplace, and by allowing women up to four daily visits to the crèche
  6. The organizations must communicate these rights to female employees via writing
  7. An employer can permit a woman to work from home if the nature of work assigned permits her to do so
  8. This option can be availed of, after the period of maternity leave, for a duration that is mutually decided by the employer and the woman
Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Fewer women researchers file for patents globally: Study


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Role of women and women’s organization

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: The concerns raised in the newscard(related to women researchers). And the challenges faced by the pharma industry.


A study was carried out to understand global contribution of men and women researchers who sought patents

  1. According to a recentl study, few women researchers have been found to enter the process of patent filing and even fewer are stated to be awarded with patents for their discoveries
  2. In comparison to male researchers, less women were found to be applying for patents, globally
  3. In addition, many of these women were even found to opt out of the process of patenting midway, just a handful were found to be ultimately being awarded with patents
  4. The findings of the study were shared on the World Intellectual Property Day that was observed in the city recently
  5. This year, the theme was “Powering Change: Women in innovation and creativity”

The challenges faced in the process of filing patents by people in the pharma industry were discussed at the session

  1. A bulk of generic drugs manufactured and exported from India were stated to be getting labeled as “counterfeit”
  2. as many of them have been getting commonly rejected failing to adhere to the data exclusivity clause of Intellectual Properties (IP)

Effective work is done by successive governments

  1. The advantages of the Indian government’s timely intervention for protecting IP of pharma industry, initiated about 25 years ago, has borne fruits now
Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

New ‘WomenInTech’ forum launched to promote STEM careers among girls

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Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: WomenInTech forum

Mains level: Measures being taken for women empowerment


Reducing gender gap in STEM careers

  1. The gender gap in individuals pursuing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) careers is a sharp and vexing one throughout the world, including in India
  2. Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), India has kicked start a collaborative industry initiative to address the sharp lack of women in STEM careers via a brand new forum called ‘WomenInTech’
  3. The forum aims to address the gap at the grassroots level through a multi-pronged approach

About the forum

  1. The forum has been conceived in association with a number of technology corporates, academia, and NGOs
  2. The forum has been designed to help accelerate the national agenda of Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao and further to work in alignment with the UN’s focus area this year – ‘Turning promises into action’
  3. One of its initiatives is to build an independent corpus of funds, in collaboration with education NGOs
  4. This fund will sponsor the tertiary education of at least three young women from economically weak backgrounds in the field of engineering to top universities in the United States and the United Kingdom
  5. The starting point of WomenInTech would be to target 100,000 women through different approaches
  6. It also aims to empower and increase the employability of women in technology careers by promoting constant upskilling — especially after sabbaticals
Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

[op-ed snap] Self Help Groups: What should be next for women-led entrepreneurship in rural India?op-ed snap


Mains Paper 2: Governnance | Development processes & the development industry the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups & associations, donors, charities, institutional & other stakeholders

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihoods Mission, Kudumbashree, Jeevika schemes

Mains level: Role of SHGs in rural development


Women-led rural entrepreneurship

  1. The last few years have seen interest among policymakers in women-led rural entrepreneurship
  2. Much of it has sought to leverage the experience gathered from the estimated 46 million rural poor women mobilized through the Self Help Group (SHG) architecture
  3. These organizations, since their start in the 1990s, have been an effective vehicle, especially in providing financial intermediation solutions for unbanked rural women

SHG structure in India

  1. India has witnessed state-led promotion of SHGs through a three-tiered architecture of community institutions at group, village and cluster levels
  2. These have been via both Central schemes – the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihoods Mission,  and state government initiatives such Kudumbashree in Kerala and Jeevika in Bihar
  3. There are today dedicated autonomous organizations called State Rural Livelihoods Missions or SRLMs – which nurture SHG initiatives with the support of development sector professionals and last-mile community cadre
  4. There have also been attempts at thrusting new functions – including using them as a delivery channel for government projects

Changes required in the SHG movement

  1. At present, the SRLMs are the primary institution responsible for promoting entrepreneurship by SHGs
  2. But these were vehicles built for social mobilization
  3. This calls for a new institution having a deep functional relationship with the SLRMs, to leverage the latter’s strengths of mobilization and last-mile presence
  4. Such a state-level institution could even be a not-for-profit company registered under Section 8 of the Companies Act, 2012
  5. The internal management team of the proposed institution should be a combination of young business management professionals and experienced government line department staff on deputation
  6. Government financial support to the new promoting institution should be restricted to initial start-up costs, thus putting the onus on it to be lean in structure and generate own revenues to cover operating costs

Financial inclusion and economic development

  1. These are two different functions, even if the target group is the same poor rural women
  2. Social cohesion has been the binding factor for SHGs and vital to their success in financial intermediation
  3. Economic development is a function where collectivization can work only if the business itself favors sharing of resources
  4. States should adopt a pyramidal strategy for financial and technical assistance, based on the stage and size of enterprises

Way forward

  1. The expansion in the SHG movement’s scope, from social mobilization and financial inclusion objectives to economic development, is an organic step in the livelihoods chain
  2. The business of entrepreneurship promotion is not the same as livelihoods promotion and realising that is key to achieving the twin goals of rural growth and promotion of women’s entrepreneurship
Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

On Women’s Day, Centre launches biodegradable sanitary napkins at ₹2.50 per pad


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana, Suvidha, National Family Health Survey

Mains level: Awareness related to menstruation in women

Ensuring safe sanitation measures

  1. The government has launched biodegradable sanitary napkins, priced at ₹2.50 per pad
  2. They will be available at Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana Kendras
  3. On the occasion of International Women’s Day, the Department of Pharmaceuticals under the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers introduced sanitary napkins under the name ‘Suvidha
  4. While other sanitary napkins available in markets are non-biodegradable, these are biodegradable

Quality sanitary pads not in use

  1. According to the National Family Health Survey 2015-16, about 58% of women aged between 15 to 24 years use locally prepared napkins, sanitary napkins, and tampons
Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Nari Shakti Puraskars for 30 women, nine institutions


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Role of women & women’s organization

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Nari Shakti Puraskars, International Woman’s Day, Beti Zindabad Bakery, National Millet Sister Network, Vanastree

Mains level: Various initiatives for women empowerment

Nari Shakti puraskar

  1. 30 women and nine institutions will receive the Nari Shakti Puraskars from the President on the occasion of International Woman’s Day
  2. The awardees were finalised by a panel set up by the Ministry of Woman and Child Development

List of awardees

  1. These include the ‘Beti Zindabad Bakery’ initiative by the Chhattisgarh government to set up a bakery unit for survivors of human trafficking among the tribals in Pathalgaon, Jashpur
  2. Avani in Kumaon region of Uttarakhand, which is a community built on the principles of community-centric rural development programmes
  3. National Millet Sister Network launched by 100 women from nine states to provide knowledge to women in the area of millet farming
  4. Vanastree, the seed saving collective in the Malnad region of South India’s Western Ghats


Nari Shakti Puraskars

  1. Stree Shakti Puraskar (Women Power Award) was a series of India’s national honors conferred on individual women for their exceptional achievement
  2. The award was given in six categories, by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India
  3. It recognizes the spirit of courage of a woman in difficult circumstances, who has established this spirit of courage in her personal or professional life
  4. Instituted in 1991, the award is conferred by the President on the occasion of International Women’s Day, 8 March every year
  5. The award is named after eminent women in Indian history, and is given in the following categories:
  • Devi Ahilya Bai Holkar Award: named after Ahilyabai Holkar, 18th-century ruler of Malwa kingdom
  • Kannagi Award: named after Kannagi, a legendary Tamil woman
  • Mata Jijabai Award: named after Mata Jijabai, mother of Shivaji, who founded the Maratha Empire in the 17th century
  • Rani Gaidinliu Zeliang Award: named after Rani Gaidinliu, a 20th-century Naga spiritual and political leader
  • Rani Lakshmi Bai Award: named after Rani Lakshmi Bai, the Queen of Jhansi
  • Rani Rudramma Devi Award (for both men and women): named after Rudrama Devi, a 13th-century ruler of Deccan Plateau

6.  From the year 2016, Ministry of Women and Child Development, has revised the guidelines for Women Awards for conferring on eminent women, organizations, and institutions

7. These awards will now be called “Nari Shakti Puruskars” (From the year 2016)

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

[op-ed snap] The high dropout rate of girls in Indiaop-ed snap


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya

Mains level: High dropout rate among girls is one of the main issues, in the Indian education system.


Reason behind the high dropout rate of girls in India

  1. Traditional gender norms push girls into helping with household chores and sibling care, leading to irregular attendance that eventually results in dropouts
  2. Early marriage, lack of safety in schools and low aspirations related to girls’ education also lead to them dropping out

Annual Survey of Education Report (Aser) 2017 findings on secondary education of girls

  1. According to the report, on average the difference between enrolment levels of boys and girls at age 14 are declining, by 18 (32% girls are not enrolled—compared to 28% boys)
  2. Because the states are not able enforce compulsory education through the RTE Act
  3. Bridging mechanisms for out-of-school children exist at the elementary stage, but are absent for secondary education
  4. Hence girls find it difficult to re-enter education once they have dropped out

Welcome steps by the government

  1. The recent recommendation by the Central Advisory Board of Education sub-committee to extend Kasturba Gandhi Vidyalayas till class XII
  2. And the plans by MHRD to develop action plans for girls’ education are welcome
  3. The new definition of a dropout, 30 days of continuous unexcused absence, is a good start
  4. But more regular touch points are needed to create timely corrective measures to ensure timely regular attendance

Findings of the CARE-India’s research

  1. The research highlights the need to address the reliance on
    (1) untrained, under-qualified and poorly remunerated unprofessional teachers,
    (2) absence of necessary learning materials and infrastructure in special training centres,
    (3) inadequate budgeting and delayed release of funds

The need of direct dialogue with parents

  1. Mechanisms for dialogue with parents and community are critical to change social norms towards girls’ education
  2. The presence of strong female role models in the community, such as women teachers, are key to changing popular perceptions in terms of what girls can do

Distance is a big contributing factor to girls dropping out

  1. Initiatives like distribution of bicycles to girls make schooling safer and enhances retention of girls
  2. Schemes like these have been shown to increase girls’ age-appropriate enrolment in secondary schools by 30%

The way forward

  1. Stronger efforts are needed to enhance the agency of girls themselves to strengthen their self-esteem, challenge gender bias and provide leadership
  2. The curriculum itself needs to enable girls to challenge gender stereotypes and become more assertive
  3. School infrastructure needs to improve through availability of usable toilets
  4. While it is important to work with and empower girls, it is also critical to engage with boys to create a better, more gender equal tomorrow


Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya

  1. The Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya scheme was introduced by the Government of India in August 2004, then integrated in the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan program, to provide educational facilities for girls belonging to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes, minority communities and families below the poverty line in Educationally Backward Blocks
Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Women to be inducted into Territorial Army

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Mains Paper 3: Internal Security | Various Security forces & agencies & their mandate

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Territorial Army, Indian Territorial Army Act, 1948

Mains level: Entry of women in combat roles across various security forces

HC orders TA to allow women 

  1. The Delhi High Court cleared the path for induction of women in the Territorial Army
  2. HC  observed that any provision that bars them from joining the Force was against the Fundamental Rights provided under the Constitution

HC decision

  1. Women are eligible for recruitment and appointment to the Territorial Army under Section 6 of the Indian Territorial Army Act, 1948
  2. It said the government has not given any rationale to justify its action of enforcing a bar against recruitment of women in the force
  3. The court noted that more and more countries have moved away from positions of total prohibition to permitting recruitment of women even in combat roles in the armed forces
  4. It listed around 22 countries, including the U.S., U.K., Canada and Australia, which permit recruitment of women even in combat roles


Territorial Army

  1. Territorial Army is an organisation of volunteers who receive military training in order to be mobilised for the country’s defence in case of an emergency
  2. It is also known as the second line of defence after the regular Army
  3. The role of the Territorial Army is to relieve the regular Army from static duties and assist the civil administration in dealing with natural calamities
  4. It also helps in maintenance of essential services in situations where life is affected or the security of the country is threatened


Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Notice to govt. on law for working women


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Role of women & women’s organization

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act of 2013, Vishaka case judgment

Mains level: Status of laws made for women empowerment and measures needed for their full implementation

Lack of implementation

  1. The Supreme Court has asked the government to respond to a petition questioning the lack of implementation of the various provisions of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act of 2013
  2. Five years after the Act came into existence, an NGO has brought to light the sheer lack of initiative on the part of government authorities to monitor the implementation and enforce the law

Making of this law

  1. The 2013 statutory law had replaced the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court in the historic Vishaka case judgment
  2. It had stemmed from the brutal gang rape of a social worker in a village of Rajasthan
  3. The Supreme Court verdict in 1997 was inspired by international conventions and the spirit of gender equality enshrined in the Constitution
  4. It declared that gender equality includes protection from sexual harassment and right to work with dignity, which is a universally recognised basic human right
  5. It took another sixteen years for Parliament to enact the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, Redressal) Act, 2013 and its Rules

Weak enforcement

  1. The petition pointed out that the government at the State level has not even bothered to appoint district officers or local committees under the 2013 Act
  2. There are no appointments of nodal officers or internal complaints committees in certain offices
  3. There has been no move to ensure the reporting and collection of annual compliance reports from workplaces


Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act of 2013

  1. The Act defines sexual harassment at the workplace and creates a mechanism for redressal of complaints
  2. It also provides safeguards against false or malicious charges
  3. The Act also covers concepts of ‘quid pro quo harassment’ and ‘hostile work environment’ as forms of sexual harassment if it occurs in connection with an act or behaviour of sexual harassment
  4. The definition of “aggrieved woman”, who will get protection under the Act is extremely wide to cover all women, irrespective of her age or employment status, whether in the organised or unorganised sectors, public or private and covers clients, customers and domestic workers as well
  5. Every employer is required to constitute an Internal Complaints Committee at each office or branch with 10 or more employees. The District Officer is required to constitute a Local Complaints Committee at each district, and if required at the block level
  6. The Complaints Committees have the powers of civil courts for gathering evidence
  7. Government can order an officer to inspect workplace and records related to sexual harassment in any organisation
Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

[pib] Draft National Policy for Women 2017 envisions participation of women as equal partners in all spheres of lifePIB


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: National Policy for Women, 2017

Mains level: Measures for women empowerment


  • The draft National Policy for Women, 2017 is being prepared in consultation with various stakeholders to deal with significant changes with regard to the status and empowerment of women.

The Draft envisions a society in which:

  1. The draft Policy addresses the diverse needs of women through identified priority areas:
  2. Health including Food Security and Nutrition;
  3. Education;
  4.  Economy (including agriculture, industry, labour, employment, soft power, service sector, science and technology);
  5.  Governance and Decision Making;
  6. Violence Against Women;
  7. Enabling Environment (including housing, shelter and infrastructure, drinking water and sanitation, media and culture, sports and social security); and
  8.  Environment and Climate Change

Way Forward

  • Draft Policy envisages that existing legislations affecting/relating to women will be harmonized in accordance with Constitutional provisions and international commitments, in order to enhance their effectiveness
Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Will Women’s Reservation Bill be passed in Lok Sabha this Winter Session?

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Mains Paper 2: Polity | Parliament & State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges & issues arising out of these.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: 108th Amendment, 73rd, and 74th Amendments, reservation provisions in constitution, provisions related to passage and lapse of bills in parliament

Mains level: All details related to women’s reservation bill

Congress president insists on early passage of bill

  1. Ahead of the Winter Session of Parliament, Congress president-elect Rahul Gandhi has insisted that his party would mount pressure on the government for early passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill in Parliament

About the bill

  1. The Women’s Reservation Bill was first introduced in Parliament in 1996
  2. The current version of the bill, the 108th Amendment, seeks to reserve 33 percent of all seats in governing bodies at the Centre, State, and Local level
  3. For reservation in the Lok Sabha, one-third of all constituencies will be reserved for women on a rotation basis
  4. This arrangement will be such that a constituency will be reserved for one general election and not reserved for the following two elections

Provisions that are already in place for women

  1. The 73rd and 74th Amendments passed in 1993, which introduced panchayats and municipalities in the Constitution, reserve one-third of seats for women in these bodies

Other reservation provisions

  1. The Constitution also provides for reservation of seats in Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes in proportion to their number in the population
  2. The Constitution makes no provision for reserving seats for women in Parliament and the state legislatures

Highlights of the Women’s Reservation Bill

  1. The Constitution (108 Amendment) Bill, 2008 seeks to reserve one-third of all seats for women in the Lok Sabha and the state legislative assemblies
  2. The allocation of reserved seats shall be determined by such authority as prescribed by Parliament
  3. One-third of the total number of seats reserved for SC/ST shall be reserved for women of those groups in the Lok Sabha and the legislative assemblies
  4. Reserved seats may be allotted by rotation to different constituencies in the state or union territory
  5. Reservation of seats for women shall cease to exist 15 years after the commencement of this Amendment Act

Progress in Parliament

  1. The Rajya Sabha passed the bill on March 9, 2010
  2. The Lok Sabha never voted on the bill
  3. The bill lapsed after the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha in 2014
Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

[op-ed snap] Empowering women through job creationop-ed snap


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the Report

Mains level: Women Empowerment is an important topic for Mains Exam.


“Global Gender Gap Report 2017”

  1. According to the World Economic Forum’s “Global Gender Gap Report 2017”, India’s ranking has fallen by 21 places from last year
  2. Not only are we currently far below the global average but also behind our neighbours China and Bangladesh
  3. Poor performance: One of the areas where we have fared poorly is in wages and participation of women in the economy where our rank is an abysmal 139
  4. As per the World Bank report, we have one of the lowest workforce female participation rates, ranking 120th among 131

Lower contribution of women in India’s GDP

  1. Even in terms of contribution to gross domestic product (GDP), women are currently under-represented. At 17%, India has a lower share of women’s contribution to GDP than the global average of 37%
  2. What is even more alarming is that the participation levels have been dropping in the last few years
  3. The National Sample Survey found that while in 1999-2000, 25.9% of all women worked; by 2011-12 this proportion had dropped to 21.9%

MGNREGA’s contribution to women empowerment

  1. The India Human Development Survey highlighted that the provision of work under the MGNREGA brought more rural women into wage labour
  2. Among MGNREGA workers in 2011-12, a whopping 45% were not in wage labour before the scheme was initiated, which means that women do seek opportunities to earn a stable wage

Indian women is at dual disadvantage

  1. Nearly 100% of net job creation in the last two decades has happened in the informal sector in small and low-productivity enterprises
  2. While pretty much every employee in the informal sector will have fewer skilling opportunities and lack of job security, the average Indian woman worker is at a dual disadvantage
  3. Not only is she less likely to find stable job opportunities within the informal sectors but she will also have to deal with poor quality and even unsafe working conditions, low wages and denial of statutory benefits like social security

What should be done?

  1. To take their rightful place within Indian workforce and society at large, our women need lot more formal sector employment opportunities with better wages
  2. And this cannot happen till formal sector employment grows in its own right
  3. Large-scale job creation in the formal sector will need sustained reforms in labour laws and skilling ecosystems

Possible future benefits of high female labour-force participation

  1. It is estimated that India can potentially boost its GDP by $700 billion in 2025
  2. by raising female labour-force participation rate by just 10 percentage points, from 31% to 41%
  3. However, this requires us to bring in 68 million more women into the workforce

The way forward

  1. Huge investments will be needed in upskilling and educating women
  2. But more than anything else it will require creating an abundance of new jobs within the formal sector and lowering barriers to job creation
  3. Increased availability of stable-wage jobs for women is critical to preventing their socio-economic exploitation
  4. Formalization of India’s job market is one the biggest gifts our policy makers can possibly give to the Indian woman

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