Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Women get only 7% MSME credit: RBI ED  

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Data related to Financial Inclusion

Mains level: Barriers to Financial Inclusion

Why in the News?

  • The RBI has highlighted that low labour force participation among women is a significant barrier to financial inclusion and broader economic growth.
    • It pointed out that only 7% of the outstanding loans to micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) are to women-led businesses.

Barriers to Financial Inclusion

  • Economic Participation: RBI emphasized that greater participation of women in economic activities is essential for financial inclusion and economic growth.
  • Participation Disparity: Official data shows female labor force participation at 32.8% in FY22, compared to over 77% for men.
  • Credit Disparity: Women-led businesses constitute nearly a fifth of MSMEs, yet they receive only 7% of the outstanding credit to this sector, highlighting a significant disparity.

Efforts and Challenges in Financial Inclusion

  • Successes: RBI expressed satisfaction with access to financial services, citing the success of the Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) scheme and social security transfers.
  • Addressing Demand-side Issues: While supply-side challenges have been addressed, demand-side issues still need attention.
  • Structural Barriers: Structural issues such as low levels of capital, labour participation, societal norms restricting women from inheriting property, and limited access to education and training impede women’s financial inclusion.

Stereotyping and Behavioral Issues

  • Higher Risk Perception: Nigam noted that women borrowers often face stereotyping by financiers, being considered higher risks, leading to higher interest rates, greater insistence on collateral, or outright loan rejections.
  • Behavioural Challenges: He also mentioned behavioural issues among women borrowers, such as being more risk-averse, less confident in negotiating loan terms, and less likely to apply for new loans due to fear of rejection.

Policy Moves: Priority Sector Lending and Financial Literacy Initiatives

  • Priority Sector Lending (PSL): The PSL mandate has become a viable business model for banks and micro-lenders, but demand-side constraints persist.
  • RBI Initiatives: To address these challenges, the RBI has initiated financial inclusion efforts, including opening 2,400 financial literacy centres at the block level in partnership with nonprofits and requiring lead banks to have a literacy centre in each district.

Government Schemes:

Stand Up India Scheme Mudra Yojana Scheme Annapurna Scheme
Launched April 2016 April 2015 (under PMMY)
Objective To promote entrepreneurship among women and SC/ST To provide financial support to non-corporate, non-farm small/micro enterprises To support women entrepreneurs in the food catering business
Eligibility Women entrepreneurs and SC/ST entrepreneurs above 18 years of age All non-farm enterprises, including women-owned businesses Women entrepreneurs planning to start or expand their food catering business
Loan Amount INR 10 lakh to INR 1 crore Up to INR 10 lakh, categorized into three types:            

  1. Shishu: Up to INR 50,000           
  2. Kishor: INR 50,001 to INR 5 lakh            
  3. Tarun: INR 5,00,001 to INR 10 lakh
Up to INR 50,000
Purpose For setting up a greenfield enterprise in manufacturing, services, or trading sectors For business activities in manufacturing, processing, trading, or service sectors For starting or expanding the food catering business
Repayment Period Up to 7 years with a maximum moratorium period of 18 months 36 months, including a grace period of 1 month
  • About SEHER Program (In News)
    • The Women Entrepreneurship Platform (WEP) and TransUnion CIBIL have launched SEHER, a pioneering credit education program aimed at empowering women entrepreneurs in India.
    • SEHER aims to facilitate their access to financial tools crucial for business growth and employment creation.

 

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

[pib] SEHER Program to Empower Women Entrepreneurs

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: About SEHER Program

Mains level: NA

Why in the News?

The Women Entrepreneurship Platform (WEP) and TransUnion CIBIL have launched SEHER, a pioneering credit education program aimed at empowering women entrepreneurs in India.

About Women Entrepreneurship Platform (WEP)

  • WEP, incubated at NITI Aayog in 2018; aims to create an enabling ecosystem for women entrepreneurs in India through a public-private partnership.
  • WEP’s Financing Women Collaborative (FWC) initiative accelerates access to finance for women entrepreneurs, addressing key barriers such as information asymmetry.

About SEHER Program

  • SEHER aims to provide comprehensive financial literacy content and essential business skills to women entrepreneurs.
  • It will facilitate their access to financial tools crucial for business growth and employment creation.
  • The program includes personalized resources on financial literacy, emphasizing the importance of building a strong credit history and CIBIL score.

Need for such a program

  • India has 63 million MSMEs, with 20.5% being women-owned, employing 27 million people.
  • Accelerating women’s entrepreneurship could create over 30 million new women-owned enterprises and 150 to 170 million jobs.
PYQ:

[2019] “Empowering women is the key to control population growth”. Discuss. 

 

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Time for a Census, come what may

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Delimitation Commission

Mains level: Impact of delayed 2021 Census

Why in the news?

Why has the 2021 Census been delayed for so long? One plausible explanation is that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is postponing the Census to expedite the “delimitation” process in preparation for the 2029 Lok Sabha elections.

The 84th Amendment of the Constitution

  • Delimitation Based on Census: The 84th Amendment specifies that the next delimitation exercise must be based on the first census conducted after 2026.
  • Timing for Delimitation: If the next census occurs before 2026, delimitation would be delayed until after the subsequent census in the 2030s.
  • Impact on State Representation: Delimitation aims to adjust the shares of different states in Lok Sabha seats to match their population shares, and ensure similar population sizes across constituencies.
  • Shift in Seat Balance: The upcoming delimitation is expected to favour northern states with faster population growth since 1973, potentially at the expense of southern states.

About the 106th Amendment

  • Women’s Reservation: Passed in September 2023, this amendment provides for one-third reservation of seats for women in the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies.
  • Implementation: The reservation is to come into effect “after an exercise of delimitation is undertaken for this purpose after the relevant figures for the first census taken after [2023] have been published.”
  • Separate Delimitation for Women: The phrase “for this purpose” suggests that women’s reservation could be implemented through its own delimitation exercise, separate from the broader delimitation mandated by the 84th Amendment.
  • Interpretation: This allows for the possibility of initiating women’s reservation based on an early census, without waiting for the larger delimitation exercise.

Overall Implications

Impact on the Southern States:

  • Seat Redistribution: Delimitation is expected to shift more Lok Sabha seats to northern states with higher population growth, potentially reducing the representation of southern states.
  • Political Backlash: Southern states may react negatively to losing representation, which could lead to increased regional tensions and opposition to the BJP in these areas.

Women’s Reservation:

  • Implementation Delay: Postponing the census could delay the implementation of the 106th amendment, which mandates one-third reservation for women in the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies.
  • Separate Delimitation: There is a possibility of initiating women’s reservation through a separate delimitation exercise, independent of the broader delimitation mandated by the 84th Amendment.

Welfare and Entitlements:

  • Updated Data Needs: Census data are crucial for implementing welfare schemes and ensuring that resources are allocated based on the most recent population figures.
  • Impact on Beneficiaries: Delaying the census deprives millions of people of updated entitlements, such as food rations under the National Food Security Act, affecting their access to essential services.

Way forward: 

  • Timely Census Completion: Ensure the 2021 Census is conducted promptly to provide accurate data for welfare schemes and fair resource allocation, benefiting millions of citizens who rely on updated population figures for essential services.
  • Separate Delimitation for Women’s Reservation: Implement women’s reservation through a separate delimitation exercise as allowed by the 106th Amendment, enabling the reservation to take effect without waiting for the broader delimitation mandated by the 84th Amendment.

Mains PYQ:

Q Empowering women is the key to controlling the population growth.” Discuss. (UPSC IAS/2019)

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

India needs to close the gender gap in education and politics  

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Global Gender Gap Report

Mains level: Significance of Low Gender Gap in Education Sector and Political Representation

Why in the news?

While global gender parity has improved to 68.5% in 2024 from 68.4% in 2023, progress remains slow. The World Economic Forum’s report indicates it will take 134 years to achieve full parity at this rate.

The Global Gender Gap Report 2024

  • It is released by the World Economic Forum (WEF), and highlights significant disparities in gender parity across various sectors.

Present Scenario:

Global Gender Gap Report 2024: 

  • The global gender gap stands at 68.5% closed, indicating slow progress towards gender parity.
  • Iceland leads with over 90% closure, while India has slipped to 129th position out of 146 countries, with 64.1% closure.
  • India’s slight regression is attributed to declines in education and political empowerment indices.

Challenges in India:

  • Despite improvements in economic participation, India needs to bridge gaps in education and political representation.
  • The labour force participation rate for women is 45.9%, indicating significant untapped potential.
  • Gender disparity in literacy rates persists, with women lagging 17.2 percentage points behind men, impacting India’s global ranking.

Significance of Low Gender Gap in the Education Sector:

  • Bridging the gender gap in education is crucial for enhancing women’s economic opportunities.
  • Measures such as preventing dropout rates among girls, imparting job skills, and ensuring workplace safety are essential.
  • Improving literacy rates and educational attainment levels for women can lead to higher economic productivity and empowerment.

Significance of Low Gender Gap in Political Representation:

  • India shows low representation of women in political bodies despite some progress. Women constitute only 13.6% of the Lok Sabha members, reflecting inadequate political empowerment.
  • Implementation of the Women’s Reservation Bill, aimed at reserving one-third of seats in legislative bodies, remains crucial for enhancing women’s political participation and influence.

Way forward: 

  • Enhancing Education Access and Quality: Implement targeted policies to reduce the gender gap in education, focusing on increasing girls’ enrollment and retention rates.
  • Promoting Women’s Political Empowerment: Implement initiatives to encourage women’s active participation in politics, such as leadership training programs, awareness campaigns, and support networks.

Mains PYQ:

Q Can the vicious cycle of gender inequality, poverty and malnutrition be broken through microfinancing of women SHGs? Explain with examples. (UPSC IAS/2021)

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

A comprehensive immunisation schedule for women is ready

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Mains level: Significance of Preventive health care

Why in the news?

FOGSI launched a detailed immunization plan for women in Mumbai, featuring essential vaccines and recommended dosages, presented by women’s health advocate Kajal Aggarwal.

About the Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies of India (FOGSI)

  • The Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies of India (FOGSI) is a prominent professional organization dedicated to advancing the field of obstetrics and gynaecology in India.  
  • Foundation and Scope: FOGSI was established in 1950 and currently represents over 34,000 obstetricians and gynaecologists across India. It serves as a unified platform for healthcare professionals specializing in women’s health.
  • Objectives: The primary objective of FOGSI is to promote the study and practice of obstetrics and gynaecology through education, research, and advocacy. It aims to improve the standards of healthcare delivery for women in India.

Significance of Preventive Health Care    

  • Early Detection and Intervention: Preventive healthcare emphasizes regular screenings, vaccinations, and health checks to detect potential health issues early. This proactive approach allows healthcare providers to intervene early, often before symptoms appear, which can lead to better treatment outcomes and lower healthcare costs.
  • Promotion of Health and Well-being: By focusing on preventive measures such as healthy lifestyle choices, vaccination against preventable diseases, and routine health screenings, individuals can maintain optimal health and well-being. Preventive healthcare encourages behaviours that reduce the risk of chronic illnesses and promote longevity.
  • Reduction of Healthcare Burden: Investing in preventive healthcare can alleviate the burden on healthcare systems by reducing the prevalence and severity of diseases. By preventing illnesses before they occur or progress, fewer resources are needed for acute care, hospitalizations, and long-term management of chronic conditions.

Accessing ‘Vulnerable Period’

  • Postpartum Period: The postpartum period, typically defined as the first six weeks after childbirth, is a critical vulnerable period for women. During this time, the body undergoes significant physiological changes, including hormonal fluctuations and potential immune system alterations. These changes can increase susceptibility to infections and other health complications, necessitating close monitoring and appropriate medical interventions.
  • Menopausal Transition: Menopause marks a significant transition in a woman’s life when reproductive hormone levels decline, leading to various physical and psychological changes. This period can be accompanied by symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swings, and changes in bone density. Due to these changes, women may be more vulnerable to conditions like osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease.
  • Chronic Illness Management: Women with chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, or autoimmune disorders may experience periods of vulnerability related to their specific health challenges. Fluctuations in hormone levels, stress, and lifestyle factors can exacerbate these conditions or increase the risk of complications. Healthcare strategies during these vulnerable periods often include personalized treatment plans, regular monitoring, and patient education to optimize disease management and promote overall well-being.

Conclusion: FOGSI’s launch of a women’s immunization schedule underscores their commitment to advancing women’s health through proactive care, addressing vulnerable periods like postpartum and menopause, and promoting disease prevention and management strategies.

 

Mains PYQ:

Q  In order to enhance the prospects of social development, sound and adequate health care policies are needed particularly in the fields of geriatric and maternal health care. Discuss. (UPSC IAS/2020).

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Gender Gap Report 2024: Key Highlights

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: The Global Gender Gap Report 2024 (By World Economic Forum)

Mains level: Key points related to India as Gender Gap Report 2024

Why in the news?

India’s new cabinet has only 2 women ministers, down from 10 previously. The Global Gender Gap Report 2024 (by the World Economic Forum)  ranks India third-lowest in South Asia, highlighting significant gender disparity in leadership and representation.

Comparison of Indian Ranking with Other Countries:

  • Global Gender Gap Report 2024: India ranked 129th out of 146 economies in the overall gender gap index. Ranked third-lowest among South Asian economies, behind Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Bhutan.

Key points as Gender Gap Report 2024: 

Economic Participation and Opportunity: 142nd, Health and Survival: 142nd, Educational Attainment: 112th, and Political Empowerment: Best rank (65th), but overall political representation remains low.

  • Political Empowerment: India performs relatively better on the head-of-state indicator (40.7%). However, women’s representation in ministerial positions (6.9%) and parliament (17.2%) is significantly lower. The region of South Asia shows high political disparity, with Nepal leading in ministerial representation (23.5%).
  • Educational Attainment: Despite high enrollment rates in primary, secondary, and tertiary education for women, the gap in literacy rate between men and women is significant (17.2 percentage points). India ranks 112th globally in this indicator.
  • Economic Participation: India has seen improvement in economic participation and opportunity, although it still ranks low (142nd). Challenges remain in bridging gender gaps in earned income, leadership roles, labour force participation, and technical professions.

Major observations around the causes of the Gender Gap

  • Patriarchal Structures: Patriarchy influences decision-making processes and power dynamics, often marginalising women’s voices and restricting their participation in political, economic, and social spheres.
  • Gender Bias: Gender bias manifests in various forms, affecting women’s access to resources, healthcare, education, and career advancement opportunities compared to men.
  • Gender Pay Gap: Women in India typically earn less than men for similar work, reflecting systemic inequalities in pay and compensation.
  • Occupational Segregation: Women are often concentrated in lower-paying sectors and informal employment, facing barriers to accessing high-paying and leadership roles.
  • Political Underrepresentation: Low representation of women in decision-making bodies such as parliament and state assemblies hinders legislative reforms and policies that could promote gender equity and address systemic barriers.

Way forward:

  • Gender Quotas: Implement and enforce quotas for women’s representation in parliament, state assemblies, and ministerial positions. This can be modelled after successful practices in other countries where gender quotas have significantly increased women’s political participation.
  • Equal Pay Initiatives: Enforce equal pay for equal work through rigorous monitoring and enforcement mechanisms. Encourage transparency in salary structures and promote awareness among employers and employees.

Mains PYQ:

Q Can the vicious cycle of gender inequality, poverty and malnutrition be broken through microfinancing of women SHGs? Explain with examples.(UPSC IAS/2021)

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

The representation of women in the incoming Lok Sabha, how it compares to previous years

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Women in Lok Sabha 2024

Mains level: Different Demographic Observations and What Needs to Be Done?

Why in the news?

Over time, there has been a general inclination towards enhancing women’s representation in the Lok Sabha. However, the advancement has been gradual and inconsistent.

Women in Lok Sabha 2024 (PRS data):

  • Number of Women MPs: India has elected 74 women MPs to the Lok Sabha in 2024, which is four fewer than in 2019.
  • Percentage of Representation: Women MPs make up just 13.63% of the elected strength of the Lower House.
  • Party-wise Distribution: Women MPs come from 14 different parties, with the BJP leading with 31 women MPs, followed by the Congress with 13.

Different Demographic Observations:

  • Trend in Representation: Over the years, there has been a slow and non-linear increase in women’s representation in the Lok Sabha.
  • Historical Trends: Women’s representation started at 4.41% in 1952 and peaked at 14.36% in 2019.
  • New Faces: Out of the 74 women MPs elected, 43 are first-time MPs, indicating a higher percentage of newcomers compared to the overall House.
  • Younger Representation: The average age of women MPs is 50 years, younger than the overall House age of 56 years.

Comparison with Other Countries:

  • International Comparison: India lags behind several countries in terms of women’s representation, with countries like South Africa, the UK, and the US having higher percentages of women MPs.
  • Global Rankings: Women make up 46% of MPs in South Africa, 35% in the UK, and 29% in the US.

What Needs to Be Done?

  • Increase in Representation: There is a need for greater efforts to increase women’s representation in the Lok Sabha to achieve gender parity.
  • Policy Measures: Implementation of policy measures such as reserving seats for women in the Lok Sabha could help improve representation.
  • Encouraging Participation: Encouraging more women to enter politics and providing support for their political careers can contribute to greater representation.
  • Education and Awareness: Promoting education and awareness about the importance of gender equality in politics is essential for fostering a more inclusive political environment.

Mains PYQ:

Q What are the continued challenges for Women in India against time and space?  (UPSC IAS/2019)

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Fewer women are being hired for leadership positions

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Mains level: Women Issues;

Why in the news?

Although women’s representation in the workforce has grown over the years “LinkedIn’s Economic Graph data”  indicates that progress has stalled since 2022 and declined in 2024.

What does the data show?

  • Representation of women in the workforce has increased over the years but progress has stalled since 2022 and declined in 2024. The promotion of women to senior and leadership roles has stagnated in recent years.
  • Sectors like healthcare, education, administrative, and support services have higher female representation in senior positions, while sectors like manufacturing, construction, oil, and gas have poor representation.

Representation of women in the overall workforce and in senior positions 

Entry and career progression of women  

 

  • Oil, Gas, and Mining: Among the lowest representation of women in leadership roles, at around 11%.
  • Construction: Very few women are represented, especially in senior roles.
  • Utilities: Women face significant barriers in advancing to leadership positions.
  • Wholesale: Low entry and career progression for women.
  • Manufacturing: Poor representation of women across all positions, including senior roles.
  • Transportation: Limited career progression opportunities for women.
  • Real Estate: Few women in leadership positions, with significant entry barriers.

About the accommodation and other services  

  • Representation of women in senior roles within the accommodation and food services sector falls between 15% and 20%.
  • This sector exhibits a moderate level of female representation compared to other industries.
  • While not the highest, it surpasses sectors like oil, gas, mining, construction, utilities, wholesale, manufacturing, transportation, and real estate, where women hold just 11%-14% of leadership positions.
  • The data suggests there’s still room for improvement in increasing the number of women in leadership roles within the accommodation and food services sector.
  • Efforts to improve gender diversity and inclusion should be continued and perhaps intensified in this sector, aligning with broader industry and societal goals for gender parity in the workforce.

Administrative and support services:

  • Women hold senior positions in administrative and support services at a rate of 22% to 30%, indicating a moderate level of representation compared to other sectors.
  • This sector demonstrates a higher level of female representation in leadership roles compared to industries like oil, gas, mining, construction, utilities, wholesale, manufacturing, transportation, and real estate, where women’s leadership roles range from 11% to 14%.
  • The education sector boasts the highest representation of women in senior positions at 30%, suggesting that sectors like administrative and support services still have room for improvement.
  • Efforts to promote gender diversity and inclusion within administrative and support services should be sustained, aiming for further increases in the representation of women in leadership roles.
  • Continued focus on addressing biases, societal norms, and structural barriers is essential to achieving greater gender parity and advancement opportunities for women within this sector.

Way Forward

  • Efforts by policymakers and business leaders are needed to tackle challenges faced by women in reaching leadership roles, focusing on “women-led development”.
  • Stricter enforcement of laws such as the Companies Act, 2013, which mandates women directors on company boards. Between April 2018 and December 2023, 507 companies were fined for non-compliance, with 90% being listed companies.

Mains PYQ 

Q Micro-Finance as an anti-poverty vaccine, is aimed at asset creation and income security of the rural poor in India”. Evaluate the role of the Self Help Groups in achieving the twin objectives of empowering women in rural India. (UPSC IAS/2020)

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Menstrual hygiene in Indian prisons | Explained

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Mains level: Issues associated with the Indian Prison System;

Why in the News?

Despite improvements in menstrual hygiene, female prisoners in India face neglect, highlighting systemic biases and unmet basic needs like sanitary products and proper facilities.

About NFHS Recently Conducted Survey:

  • The 5th round of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS 2019-2020) revealed that approximately 80% of young women aged 15-24 years are now using safe menstrual hygiene products.
  • This survey highlights a positive shift in menstrual hygiene management across India, particularly in urban areas and among certain demographics.

About the NCRB Data:

  • According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), there are 23,772 women in Indian prisons. Of these, 77% are in the reproductive age group (18-50 years) and are likely to be regular menstruators.
  • The availability of sanitary napkins has been inconsistent across different prisons, and the quality has often been unsatisfactory.
  • Many States have not implemented provisions from “the 2016 Model Prison Manual”, such as supplying adequate water and washroom facilities for female prisoners.
  • Overcrowding and poor socio-economic conditions further exacerbate the struggle of incarcerated women to secure basic necessities during menstruation.

BACK2BASICS: National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB)

  • NCRB was set up in 1986 to serve as a repository of information on crime and criminals. Its establishment was based on the recommendations of the Tandon Committee, the National Police Commission (1977-1981), and the Ministry of Home Affairs Taskforce (1985).
  • It is part of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and is headquartered in New Delhi.
  • NCRB acts as a “national warehouse” for the fingerprint records of both Indian and foreign criminals. It assists in locating interstate criminals through fingerprint searches.

About the National Menstrual Hygiene Policy:

  • In 2023, India formulated this policy to recognize menstruation as a natural process requiring meaningful attention. The policy aims to ensure equity in the safe and dignified management of menstrual hygiene.
  • It prioritises ensuring that all menstruating individuals, regardless of their socioeconomic status and geographical location, have equal opportunities to access and manage their menstruation safely and hygienically.
  • The Ministry of Home Affairs, which influences menstrual hygiene management in prisons, is overlooked as a critical stakeholder in the policy.

The key challenge of the policy is that it identifies prisoners as a target population with compromised access to menstrual hygiene facilities but lacks a concrete action plan to enhance menstrual hygiene management in prisons.

Other Government Initiatives to Improve Menstrual Health and Hygiene (MHH) in India

  • Integration of MHH into ASHA’s Role (2005-2010): The government integrated menstrual health and hygiene into the responsibilities of Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) as part of the National Rural Health Mission.
  • Menstrual Hygiene Scheme (MHS) Launched (2010): India initiated the Menstrual Hygiene Scheme (MHS) to distribute sanitary napkins to young girls.
  • Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram Programme (2010): This program, under the Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health scheme, increased awareness and access to sanitary pads.
  • Menstrual Hygiene Management Guidelines Issued (2011-2015): In 2011, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare issued menstrual hygiene management guidelines. Additional directions were issued by the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation in 2015.
  • Nirmal Bharat Yatra and Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan (2012): The Nirmal Bharat Yatra, a flagship sanitation program, included MHH as an integral aspect of its agenda. Simultaneously, other similar programs under the Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan began, including initiatives to promote sanitary napkin vending machines and incinerators for safe disposal.
  • WASH targets for prisons:

Way Forward:

  • Ensure Basic Standards of Menstrual Hygiene: The Indian government must guarantee that basic standards of menstrual hygiene for women in captivity are met consistently across all prisons.
  • Implement Model Prison Manual 2016: The government must ensure that all States adhere to the recommendations outlined in the manual, which includes provisions for adequate water and washroom facilities for female prisoners.

Mains PYQ:

Q In order to enhance the prospects of social development, sound and adequate health care policies are needed particularly in the fields of geriatric and maternal health care. Discuss. (UPSC IAS/2020)

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Spotlighting Pre-eclampsia, ensuring safe motherhood

Why in the News?

The prevalence of Congenital Anomalies and Neurological Challenges in newborns highlights the need for adequate Antenatal and Perinatal care to address them.

Key observations made by the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5):

Perinatal mortality rates stand at 32 for 1,000 pregnancies, neonatal mortality rates at 25 for 1,000 live births, and hypertensive disorders in pregnancy remain a leading cause of maternal death.

  • Cause of Maternal and Perinatal Mortality: Preeclampsia (PE) is a significant cause of maternal and perinatal morbidity and mortality, with early onset PE posing higher risks.  
  • Combination of Maternal factors and Biomarkers: Screening based on maternal risk factors alone has suboptimal performance, while a combination of maternal factors and biomarkers like mean arterial pressure, uterine artery pulsatility index, and serum placental growth factor can improve detection rates significantly.
  • Early Intervention with Aspirin Prophylaxis: First-trimester screening models, like the FMF prediction algorithm, have been effective in identifying high-risk pregnancies for preterm PE, allowing for early intervention with aspirin prophylaxis to reduce the incidence of preeclampsia.

What is Pre-eclampsia?

  • Preeclampsia is a complication of pregnancy. Preeclampsia, high blood pressure, and high levels of protein in urine indicate kidney damage (proteinuria), or other signs of organ damage. 
  • Preeclampsia usually begins after 20 weeks of pregnancy in women whose blood pressure had previously been in the standard range.

 

Challenges to cure Pre-eclampsia (PE):

  • Complex Screening Protocols: Effective screening requires a combination of maternal history, demographics, color Doppler ultrasound, mean arterial pressure, and placental biomarkers, which may not be uniformly available or implemented.
  • Limited Resources: Not all healthcare facilities have access to advanced screening tools and technologies like color Doppler ultrasound and placental biomarker testing.
  • Lack of Awareness: Pregnant women may not be aware of the symptoms and risks associated with pre-eclampsia, leading to delayed presentation and diagnosis.
  • Delayed Intervention: Identifying high-risk pregnancies early is crucial, but delays in screening and diagnosis can lead to missed opportunities for timely intervention.
  • Pharmacological Challenges: Ensuring timely pharmacological intervention, such as aspirin prophylaxis, requires adherence to established protocols, which may only sometimes be followed.
  • Logistical Issues: Implementing widespread screening and management protocols involves logistical challenges, including training healthcare providers and ensuring the availability of necessary equipment.
  • Complexity of the Disorder: The systemic nature of pre-eclampsia, affecting multiple organs, complicates its management and requires a multidisciplinary approach.

Programs in India:

  • “Samrakshan” program: The Indian Radiological and Imaging Association’s (IRIA) “Samrakshan” program aims to reduce pre-eclampsia from 8%-10% to 3% and fetal growth restriction from 25%-30% to 10% by the end of the decade.
  • The program focuses on spreading awareness, screening for pre-eclampsia and fetal growth restriction, and ensuring comprehensive care throughout pregnancy.

Way Forward: 

  • Early Detection and Management: Early detection through regular prenatal care, including blood pressure monitoring and urine testing for protein, is crucial in managing pre-eclampsia.
    • Timely intervention can help prevent severe complications and ensure the well-being of both mother and baby.
  • Promoting Awareness and Education: Raising awareness about the signs and symptoms of pre-eclampsia among pregnant women is essential for early recognition and prompt action.
    • Education on risk factors, preventive measures, and the importance of regular antenatal check-ups can significantly impact maternal and neonatal outcomes.
  • Ensuring Access to Quality Maternal Healthcare: Access to quality maternal healthcare services, including skilled antenatal care, monitoring, and timely interventions, is vital in addressing pre-eclampsia and reducing maternal mortality rates.
    • Empowering healthcare providers with the knowledge and resources to manage pre-eclampsia effectively is key to ensuring safe motherhood.
  • Collaborative Efforts for Maternal Health: Collaboration between governments, healthcare institutions, non-profit organisations, and the private sector is essential in implementing comprehensive maternal health programs that prioritise the prevention, early detection, and management of pre-eclampsia.

Conclusion: By spotlighting pre-eclampsia and emphasising the importance of early detection, awareness, access to quality care, and collaborative efforts, we can strive towards ensuring safe motherhood for all women, safeguarding the health and well-being of mothers and their babies.


Mains PYQ:

Q Identify the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that are related to health.Discuss the success of the actions taken by the Government for achieving the same.(UPSC IAS/2013)

 

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Recognize ‘this leave’ as a woman’s right

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Significance of recognizing menstrual leave as a fundamental right for women

Why in the news?

The DMK’s 2024 election manifesto in Tamil Nadu pledges to advocate for a law mandating menstrual leave for women, promoting gender equality and women’s welfare.

Tracking Regional Progress:

  • Indian States:
      • The Kerala Sahitya Academy published work, Kerala in 19th Century, mentions that Kerala was the first (in the Cochin State) to recognize the need for “ period leave” for students and allowed it during examinations in 1912.
      • Kerala, in January 2023, introduced menstrual and maternity leave to all students above the age of 18.
      • Bihar, in 1992, allowed government employees two-day menstrual leave.
  • Asian Countries: 
    • Japan introduced menstrual leave in 1947, Indonesia in 1948, and South Korea. Taiwan and Vietnam have also implemented paid leave. But concerning the Asian countries, the progress made by the western world, except in Sweden and Spain, is still abysmal.

Global Scenario:

  • International Labour Organisation report, in 2003, asked nations to recognise menstrual leave.
  • The World Health Organization recognised a non-governmental organisation driven World Menstrual Hygiene Day on May 28 from 2014.
  • India’s new code on Social Security, 2020, passed by Parliament, which consolidated existing labour laws (yet to be notified), has not included the aspect of menstrual leave in its code.

Evidence related to impact:

Women laborers in the sugarcane fields of Maharashtra and agricultural laborers in Telangana have been documented to have hysterectomies as menstrual-related absences could endanger their livelihoods.

Legal Initiatives in India:

  • Bill in Tamil Nadu: In December 2021, S. Jothimani, Congress Member of Parliament (MP) from Tamil Nadu, had introduced a Private Member Bill named, ‘Right to Menstrual Hygiene and Paid Leave Bill, 2019’, which sought to bring menstrual leave into the ambit of the rights of a woman.
  • Bill in Arunachal Pradesh: Congress MP from Arunachal Pradesh, introduced a private member Bill on menstrual leave in 2017 (the Menstruation Benefit Bill, 2017).
  • Bill in Kerala: Shashi Tharoor, Congress MP from Kerala, introducing a similar Bill named The Women’s Sexual, Reproductive and Menstrual Rights Bill, 2018.
  • The Supreme Court of India, early in 2023, refused to entertain a public interest litigation in Shailendra Mani Tripathi vs Union of India which sought direction to the state on menstrual leave; it thought that it is in the policy domain of the government. 

Way Forward: 

  • Legislation and Policy Implementation: Advocate for the passage of bills at both the state and national levels that mandate menstrual leave for women. Additionally, ensure effective implementation and enforcement of these policies to guarantee that women can avail themselves of their entitled leave without fear of discrimination or repercussions.
  • Awareness and Education: Launch comprehensive awareness campaigns to remove shame of menstruation and promote understanding of its biological, social, and cultural aspects.

Mains PYQ 

Q Women empowerment in India needs gender budgeting. What are requirements and status of gender budgeting in the Indian context?

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Hindu Marriage not valid without requisite Ceremonies: SC

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Features of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and its applicability

Mains level: NA

Why in the news?

  • The Supreme Court recently emphasized the sacredness of Hindu marriage, stating it is not merely a social event but a ‘samskara’ and a sacrament of significant value in Indian society.
  • The court’s observations came in response to a case involving two commercial pilots seeking a divorce decree without a valid Hindu marriage ceremony.

About Hindu Marriage Act, 1955

Details
Enactment Passed by the Parliament of India on May 18, 1955.
Purpose Amendment and codification of laws related to marriage among Hindus and others.
Applicability
  • Applies to Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs, and others NOT governed by Muslim, Christian, Parsi, or Jewish laws.
  • NOTE: The Special Marriage Act, 1954 applies to all citizens of India, irrespective of religion, faith, or belief.  It facilitates inter-religious and inter-caste marriages.
Conditions for Marriage Section 5 specifies conditions including age, mental capacity, consent, and absence of prohibited relationships.

Features of the HMA

Guardianship for Marriage Section 6 outlines the persons entitled to give consent for a bride’s marriage.
Solemnization of Marriage Section 7 recognizes customary rites and ceremonies for Hindu marriage.
Registration of Marriage Section 8 allows for the registration of Hindu marriages for facilitating proof.
Ceremonies for a Hindu Marriage
  • Explains the special varieties of ceremonies that may be done to solemnize a Hindu marriage. Ex. ‘Saptapadi’
  • It acknowledges each conventional and court-registered marriage.
Restitution of Conjugal Rights Section 9 permits application for restitution of conjugal rights if one spouse withdraws without excuse.
Judicial Separation Section 10 provides for judicial separation based on certain grounds.
Nullity of Marriage and Divorce Grounds for voidable marriages and divorce specified in Sections 11-13.
Mutual Divorce Section 13B allows mutual divorce by consent of both parties.
Alimony and Maintenance Sections 24-25 enable spouses to seek maintenance and alimony post-divorce.
Marriage Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2010 Proposed amendments for easier divorce on grounds of irretrievable breakdown.
Judicial Review Supreme Court rulings on divorce petitions and exercise of powers under Article 142.

Essence of Hindu Marriage: Supreme Courts’ Observations

  • Denouncement of Unrecognized Marriages:
      • The Supreme Court denounced the practice of seeking marital status without a valid ceremony.
      • Emphasized that marriage is a lifelong commitment and not to be treated lightly.
  • Sacred Character of Hindu Marriage:
      • Hindu marriage is termed as a ‘sacrament’ with a sacred character.
      • It symbolizes the unity of two individuals into a dignified, equal, and consensual union.
  • Institutional Importance:
      • Viewed as a vital institution for procreation, family consolidation, and fostering fraternity within communities.
  • Adherence to Rites and Ceremonies:
      • The court reiterated that a Hindu marriage must adhere to the rites and ceremonies prescribed under the Hindu Marriage Act.
      • For instance, the ‘saptapadi’ ceremony is essential for validity.
  • Role of Marriage Registration:
    • Marriage registration aids in providing evidence of the wedding.
    • However, it does not confer legitimacy if the marriage is not solemnized according to the Hindu Marriage Act.

PYQ:

[2020] Customs and traditions suppress reason leading to obscurantism. Do you agree?

[2015] Discuss the possible factors that inhibit India from enacting for its citizen a uniform civil code as provided for in the Directive Principles of State Policy.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Data for better education, a brighter future for students

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2023

Mains level: Key findings of Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2023

PYQ Relevance:

Mains: 

Q National Education Policy 2020 isin conformity with the Sustainable Development Goal-4 (2030). It intends to restructure and reorient education system in India. Critically examine the statement.(UPSC IAS/2020)

Q The quality of higher education in India requires major improvement to make it internationally competitive. Do you think that the entry of foreign educational institutions would help improve the quality of technical and higher education in the country. Discuss.(UPSC IAS/2015)

Mentore comment: The release of the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2023 in mid-January has once again drawn significant attention, following a tradition dating back to 2005, with exceptions during the COVID-19 years. Among the multitude of insights provided by the report, particular focus has been placed on the foundational skills of 14-18 year olds, which has garnered headlines. While the learning outcomes data raises concerns, it is imperative for practitioners and policymakers to delve deeper into the data to extract actionable insights aimed at enhancing education and overall outcomes for India’s adolescents and youth.

Why in the news? 

 The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2023 was released in mid-January this year.

 Foundational learning trajectories as per ASER 2023 Beyond Basics survey  

  • District level Representation: The survey was conducted in 28 rural districts across 26 states, providing insights into the activities, abilities, and aspirations of 14-18 year olds at the district level, though not nationally representative.
  • Literacy : Overall, 26% of 14-18 year olds cannot read a standard two level text in their regional language, reflecting concerning literacy levels.  
  • Distribution of Children without Basic Reading Skills: Among 14-18 year olds without basic reading skills, 57% are enrolled in standard 10 or below, while 28% are not enrolled in any educational institution. This suggests a need for targeted interventions and efforts to encourage school attendance.

Challenges in Reading Improvement: 

  • Many children who struggle with reading may face ridicule and embarrassment, leading to disengagement with reading. The availability of reading materials, including beyond textbooks, is crucial for developing reading habits and abilities.

Children and careers

  • Educational Aspirations: More than 60% of surveyed adolescents aim to obtain a college education, with a higher percentage of girls aspiring for higher education compared to boys.
  • Work Aspirations: One in five respondents had not seriously considered their future careers. Among those who had, joining the police or defense forces was prominent for boys, while becoming a teacher or doctor was prominent for girls.
  • Perceptions of Vocational Education: Vocational education faced negative perceptions in some areas, seen as a fallback option for those unable to secure white-collar jobs. However, in Solan, Himachal Pradesh, context-driven vocational courses such as tourism and hotel management gained aspirational value, encouraging students to aspire for related professions with the support of on-the-job training and readily available career information.

Challenges related to careers 

  • Need for Support and Mentorship: Youth require support, mentorship, and inspiration to evaluate their aspirations, identify alternative prospects, and prepare for their chosen paths.
  • Lack of Familiarity with Professions: Nearly half of the surveyed adolescents with work aspirations do not personally know anyone working in their desired profession, indicating a need for greater exposure and guidance.

 Digita literacy as per ASER 2023 report

  • Smartphone Ownership: Boys in the 14-18 age group are more than twice as likely to own smartphones compared to girls, with 43.7% of males owning smartphones compared to 19.8% of females
  • Digital Literacy: Girls are less likely to know how to use smartphones or computers compared to boys, with males outperforming females in tasks like using email, Google Maps, and other digital functions
  • Educational Usage: While about two-thirds of youth use smartphones for educational purposes, there is a notable emphasis on entertainment and social media over educational activities, indicating a need to leverage digital technology for educational purposes
  • Gender Gaps: The gender gap extends to online safety awareness, with boys being more familiar with safety settings than girls, highlighting the need for comprehensive strategies to address the digital gender divide

Suggestive measures to address the identified issues:

  • Improving Foundational Learning: Encourage school attendance by addressing the needs of 14-18 year olds without basic reading skills, with a particular emphasis on those not enrolled in any educational institution.
  • Role of Community Libraries: Ensure effective management of community libraries and engage committed individuals to cultivate a culture of reading and support readers of all ages and abilities.
  • Educational and Career Aspirations: Address the lack of familiarity with professions by offering exposure opportunities and guidance to help youth make informed career choices.
  • Digital Literacy and Gender Gaps:  Promote educational usage of smartphones by leveraging digital technology for educational purposes and bridging the gender gap in online safety awareness.
  • Addressing Vocational Education Perceptions: Encourage context-driven vocational courses that align with local aspirations and provide on-the-job training and career information to support career choices.

Conclusion 

To address literacy and career challenges, prioritize targeted interventions to improve educational access and support, enhance digital literacy among girls, promote vocational education, and leverage digital technology for educational purposes, bridging gender gaps.

 

 

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Charting women’s trajectory in parliaments globally

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Social Issues; Measures to improve women's participation;

Why in the news? 

The year 2024 is being hailed as the biggest year for democracy, with 45% of the global population preparing to exercise their voting rights or having already cast their ballots

Context:

  • Women’s representation in political spheres improved in the latter half of the 20th century, with significant progress made in many nations in securing voting rights and parliamentary seats, and in climbing to the highest political offices.
  • Despite substantial gains, women continue to constitute a minority in most parliamentary bodies and are rarely seen in top political leadership positions.

Major two observations in recent times:

1) The share of countries with universal Right to Vote: Initially, there was a significant gap between men and women regarding political participation, with men gaining voting rights while women were excluded in many nations.

  • New Zealand’s Role: New Zealand stands out as a pioneer in breaking this pattern by granting universal suffrage to women in 1893, thus allowing them to vote alongside men.
  • Widening Gap: Despite women gaining suffrage in more countries, the gap between male and female political participation widened in the early 20th century. Men’s voting rights continued to expand while women remained excluded in many places.
  • World War II: By the onset of World War II, men had voting rights in a higher proportion of countries compared to women. The disparity was stark, with men having voting rights in one out of three countries, while women had them in only one out of six countries.
  • Rapid Closure of the Gap: The gap between male and female political participation rapidly closed after the discrimination against women in voting rights ended in many countries. Both men and women gained the right to vote in many nations, leading to greater equality in political participation.

2) Gender gap in the Chief-executive roles: “Chief-executive” refers to the head of state or head of government, depending on who holds more power within the political system. While women’s representation in parliament is crucial, it’s equally important for women to hold the highest political office in a country.

  • Gender Disparity in Political Chief Executives: Data from the V-Dem project indicates a significant gender gap in political chief executives. At any given time, the vast majority of political chief executives have been men.
  • Limited Increase in Female Leadership: Over the last three decades, there has been a slight increase in the proportion of countries led by women. However, the overall share of countries where women occupy the post of chief executive remains low, accounting for less than 10%.
  • Persistent Gender Disparity: Despite some progress, the data underscores the persistent gender disparity in holding the highest political office globally. Women continue to be underrepresented in top political leadership positions.

Global Scenario for women’s share as a Parliamentarian:

  • Absence of Women in National Parliaments: In the early 20th century, women were largely absent from national parliaments across the globe.
    • Norway marked a significant milestone in 1907 when women first entered parliament. Nearly 10% of the parliamentary seats were occupied by women, indicating progress in political representation.
  • Surge in Women Entering Parliament: The latter half of the 20th century witnessed a notable increase in the number of women entering parliaments worldwide.
    • This trend of increasing female representation in parliaments accelerated notably in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.
  • Rwanda’s Remarkable Achievement: Rwanda stands out as a remarkable example, with its parliamentary composition surpassing the 50% mark for women’s representation in 2008. This achievement set a notable precedent for gender equality in political representation.
  • Other Countries’ Progress: In 2008, several other countries, including Argentina, Cuba, Finland, and Sweden, had significant proportions of women parliamentarians, ranging between 40% and 50%. This indicates a global trend toward greater gender parity in political representation.

Recent Trend since 2022:

 

  • Low Representation in Many Countries: Despite advancements, women’s political representation remains constrained and inconsistent globally. Women constitute approximately half of the population but are significantly underrepresented in parliaments worldwide.
  • Persistent Gender Gap: Only a few countries have achieved gender parity in political representation, where women make up about half of all representatives. In the majority of countries, the share of women in parliament remains low. As of 2022, in nearly 60 countries, women’s representation in parliament was 20% or less.
  • Extreme Cases: In three countries, no women are represented in parliament, indicating extreme gender disparities in political participation and representation.

Suggestive Measures to improve Women’s representation in Parliament:

  • Implement Quotas for Female Representation: Setting quotas for the number of women parliamentarians has proven effective in increasing female representation. Countries with quotas have significantly higher percentages of women in parliament compared to those without quotas
  • End Violence Against Women in Politics: Gender-based violence, including physical, sexual, and psychological violence, is a significant barrier for women in politics. Establishing measures to combat violence, harassment, and hate speech is crucial to creating a safer environment for women parliamentarians
  • Increase Women’s Participation in Media: Addressing gender stereotypes perpetuated by the media is essential. Media coverage often focuses on irrelevant aspects of women politicians’ lives, reinforcing stereotypes. Educating journalists and monitoring media coverage can help combat gender bias and promote a more balanced portrayal of women in politics
  • Expand Participation through Women’s Caucuses: Women’s parliamentary caucuses provide a platform for women to amplify their voices and influence in parliament. Supporting these caucuses with resources, leadership, and organizational backing can empower women to promote legal reforms and advocate for gender equality in politics

Significant steps taken to improve women’s participation in parliament

  • Gender Quota Legislation: India has approved a landmark bill reserving 33% of seats in parliament for women. This quota is expected to lead to the promotion of women-friendly policies related to health, education, and jobs.  
  • Political Will and Proactive Measures: Despite challenges and slow progress, there is a growing recognition of the importance of women’s representation in Indian politics. Some political parties are taking proactive measures to nominate more women for assembly and parliament elections. However, there is a need for greater political will to address gender disparities and ensure a more inclusive political landscape
  • Empowerment through Representation: Increasing women’s representation in political parties and building a pipeline of female leaders are crucial steps to enhance women’s political participation.

Conclusion: Despite strides, global women’s political representation remains low. Quotas, combatting violence, media reform, and supporting women’s caucuses are vital to enhancing female participation in parliaments and fostering inclusive democracy.

Practice questions for the Mains

Q) Discuss the trajectory of women’s representation in global parliaments, highlighting persistent gender disparities and measures to enhance female participation. (250 words)

 

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

The long, bumpy road from ‘drone didis’ to ‘lakhpati didis’

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Lakhpati Didi Scheme

Mains level: Modernization of Agriculture and Role of Women

Why in the news? 

Efforts of fertilizer companies in supporting a Central government program aimed at training women to operate drones for spraying pesticides.

Context-

  • This initiative represents a broader trend of encouraging women’s entrepreneurship in India and empowering them to participate in traditionally male-dominated sectors such as agriculture and technology.
  • The involvement of fertilizer companies in funding and facilitating this program underscores the importance of public-private partnerships in driving social and economic development initiatives

Scheme Details-

Under the Namo Drone Didi scheme, 15,000 women-led Self-Help Groups (SHGs) will receive agricultural drones to assist in crucial tasks such as crop monitoring, fertiliser spraying, and seed sowing.

Costs to companies-

  • Financial Commitment by Fertilizer Companies: Fertilizer companies such as Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Limited (IFFCO) and Coromandel International Limited (CIL) are shouldering significant costs for the “drone didi” program.
  • IFFCO is investing ₹42 crore to support the training and equipment for 300 drone didis, while CIL is backing another 200.
  • Expense Breakdown: The approximate cost per woman participating in the program is ₹14 lakh. This covers expenses like the drone, four battery sets, a generator, and an electric autorickshaw for transportation.
  • IFFCO has categorized this expenditure as “benefits to farmers” in its financial records.
  • Contribution of Other Companies: Several additional fertilizer companies, including Krishak Bharati Cooperative (KRIBHCO), Indian Potash Limited (IPL), Matix, Indorama India Private Limited, Brahmaputra Valley Fertilizer Corporation Limited, and National Fertilizers Limited, are collectively providing an extra 500 drones.
  • Funding Arrangement: The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare has agreed to provide financial assistance of up to ₹8 lakh for each set of equipment. The remaining ₹2 lakh is to be sourced by the participating Self-Help Groups (SHGs).

Farmer trials-

  • Online Portal Enrollment: Haryana’s Agriculture Department, along with fertilizer companies, introduced online enrollment via the Meri Fasal Mera Byora portal to encourage farmers to apply for crop spraying through drones.
  • Subsidized Nano Urea Bottle: Farmers are offered a 1-litre nano urea bottle at ₹100, discounted from the market price of ₹225. This nano urea, when mixed with water, serves one acre.
  • Manual vs. Drone Spraying: Farmers weigh the costs of the manual application, which include subsidized granular urea and labor costs, against the higher charges of drone didis.
  • Viability for Small Landholders: Small landholders express concerns about the affordability and practicality of drone services due to limited financial resources and smaller land holdings.
  • Usefulness of Drones: Drones are seen as more cost-effective for larger plantations like coffee, tea, or sugarcane, rather than smaller-scale agricultural operations.
  • Financial Constraints: Farmers highlight financial constraints, including the inability to afford necessities like housing, education, and farm equipment, which diminishes the feasibility of investing in drone technology.

The women’s challenges-

  • Fuel Costs:  significant daily expenses (₹500 to ₹600) on fuel to run the generator required to charge the battery sets for the drone, raising concerns about the economic feasibility of the job in the long run.
  • Battery Set Limitations: Each day, exhausts one charged battery set after covering three acres with the drone. This necessitates simultaneous charging of another set in her electric vehicle (EV) to continue her work, resulting in additional time and fuel costs.
  • Economic Viability: Despite the potential earnings mentioned on paper, there are doubts about the economic viability of the job due to high fuel costs, the need for additional assistance, and uncertainties regarding the longevity of the scheme’s benefits
  • Safety Concerns and Need for Assistance: There is safety concerns while operating the drone and the necessity of having an assistant to drive the electric autorickshaw and assist with unloading and handling the heavy drone equipment.
  • Lack of Provision for Helpers: There is no provision for hiring assistants or helpers in the scheme, leading to additional expenses

Limitation of this scheme- 

  • Current Urea Usage and Subsidy: India uses 3.5 lakh metric tonnes (MT) of granular urea annually, with a significant portion subsidized by the government to make it affordable for farmers. Liquid nano urea, an alternative, is produced in limited quantities.
  • Government’s Vision for Nano Urea Production: The government aims to increase the production capacity of liquid nano urea to reduce dependence on expensive imported granular urea. The goal is to produce 48.5 crore bottles annually by 2026-27.
  • Limitations of Nano Urea: While liquid nano urea can supplement traditional granular urea, it cannot entirely replace it due to specific requirements in different stages of crop growth.
  • Ownership and Earnings Concerns: There are uncertainties regarding the ownership of drones and the distribution of earnings from drone operations among individuals, Self-Help Groups (SHGs), village organizations (VOs), or cluster-level federations (CLFs).
  • Need for Clarity and Coordination: Questions are raised about the lack of clarity on ownership, earnings distribution, and coordination among stakeholders involved in drone operations.
  • Challenges with Previous Proposals: Issues regarding the implementation of previous drone-related schemes, such as the procurement of drones under Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs), and concerns about competition from individual farmers purchasing their drones are highlighted.

To overcome the challenges outlined regarding drone operations and nano urea production, several measures can be considered:

  • Clarity in Ownership and Earnings Distribution: Establish clear guidelines and agreements on drone ownership and revenue sharing among individuals, SHGs, VOs, and CLFs. Ensure transparency in decision-making processes and consult all stakeholders involved.
  • Enhanced Coordination: Facilitate better coordination among government agencies, agricultural organizations, and drone operators to streamline operations, address concerns, and ensure effective implementation of schemes. Regular meetings, feedback mechanisms, and communication channels can aid in coordination efforts.
  • Capacity Building: Provide training and capacity-building programs for drone operators, farmers, and other stakeholders to enhance their skills in drone operation, maintenance, and data interpretation. This can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of drone-based agricultural activities.
  • Promotion of Nano Urea: Invest in research and development to improve the efficacy and availability of liquid nano urea. Conduct awareness campaigns to educate farmers about the benefits and proper usage of nano urea, emphasizing its role as a supplement to traditional fertilizers.
  • Policy Reforms: Review existing policies related to drone operations, urea subsidy, and agricultural initiatives to address loopholes and inconsistencies. Introduce new policies or amendments to support the expansion of nano urea production and drone technology adoption in agriculture.
  • Collaborative Partnerships: Foster partnerships between government agencies, private companies, research institutions, and farmer groups to leverage expertise, resources, and innovation in addressing challenges related to drone operations and urea production.
  • Monitoring and Evaluation: Implement robust monitoring and evaluation mechanisms to assess the impact of drone-based agricultural initiatives and nano urea production efforts. Collect data on key performance indicators and stakeholders’ feedback to identify areas for improvement and make informed decisions.

Conclusion-

The initiative to train women as “drone didis” for agricultural tasks faces challenges of economic viability, ownership clarity, and coordination. Solutions include clear guidelines, capacity building, policy reforms, and collaborative partnerships to ensure sustainable implementation and overcome limitations in nano urea production.

Mains PYQ-

Q- The Self Help Group (SHG) Bank Linkage Program (SBLP), which is India’s own innovation , has proved to be one of the most effective poverty alleviation and women empowerment programme. Elucidate.(UPSC IAS/2015)

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

France enshrines Right to Abortion in Constitution

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Right to Abortion

Mains level: Abortion Debate: Aspects of Morality, Women's Bodily Rights

abortion

In the news

  • France’s historic decision to enshrine the right to abortion in its constitution marks a pivotal moment in the global struggle for women’s reproductive rights.
  • Against the backdrop of International Women’s Day, this groundbreaking amendment underscores France’s commitment to upholding women’s autonomy and healthcare choices.

Debate:

  1. Right to ‘Bodily Autonomy’ of Women is paramount.
  2. ‘Right to Life’ of the foetus is paramount.

France’s constitutional council previously upheld abortion rights based on the notion of Liberty enshrined in the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man.

Why discuss this?

  • The legislative journey leading to this transformative reform and its implications resonate far beyond France’s borders, resonating with ongoing debates on reproductive rights worldwide.

Abortion in France: Legislative Progression

  • National Assembly and Senate Approval: Initially passed by the National Assembly in January, the amendment received unanimous support from the Senate last week, culminating in a joint parliamentary session for final ratification.
  • Bipartisan Consensus: With an overwhelming majority of legislators voting in favor, the reform underscores broad bipartisan consensus on safeguarding women’s reproductive freedoms.
  • Constitutional Modification: The amendment elevates abortion from a statutory right to a constitutionally guaranteed freedom, solidifying its legal protection against potential legislative changes.

Amendment Provisions

  • Constitutional Revision: The amendment revises Article 34 of the French constitution, stipulating that women’s freedom to terminate pregnancies is constitutionally guaranteed.
  • Preservation of Existing Rights: By mandating that future legislation uphold existing abortion laws, the amendment ensures continuity and stability in reproductive healthcare policies.
  • Global Context: Acknowledging global trends of encroachment on abortion rights, the legislation reaffirms France’s commitment to resisting regressive measures that curtail women’s autonomy.

Global Implications

  • Unprecedented Precedent: France becomes the first nation to embed abortion rights in its constitution, setting a groundbreaking precedent for global reproductive justice movements.
  • European Landscape: Amidst escalating efforts to restrict abortion access in some European countries, France’s bold initiative offers a beacon of hope and inspiration for defenders of reproductive rights across the continent.
  • European Charter of Fundamental Rights: The amendment’s resonance with fundamental rights principles may catalyze broader efforts to incorporate abortion protections into the European Charter of Fundamental Rights.

Public Reception and Political Landscape

  • Public Support: Reflecting widespread public sentiment, opinion polls indicate overwhelming support for constitutionalizing abortion rights, with 81% of respondents endorsing the reform.
  • Political Consensus: Unlike the polarized discourse on abortion in some countries, France’s political spectrum exhibits remarkable unity in upholding women’s reproductive autonomy.
  • Criticism and Allegations: While critics decry the reform as a political maneuver by President Macron to court left-leaning factions, its substantive impact on women’s rights remains undeniable.

Global Abortion Landscape

  • European Context: Against the backdrop of escalating abortion restrictions in some European nations, France’s progressive stance contrasts starkly with regressive measures adopted elsewhere.
  • Global Reverberations: France’s pioneering initiative may reverberate globally, emboldening movements to advance abortion rights and combat legislative regressions worldwide.

India’s Abortion Policies

  • Legal Framework: India implemented the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act in 1971, allowing abortions under specific conditions up to 20 weeks, with recent amendments extending the limit to 24 weeks in certain cases.
  • Recent Amendments: The 2021 amendment extends the permissible gestational limit for abortions and streamlines the approval process for certain categories of pregnancies.
  • Continued Advocacy: While India’s legal framework for abortion is comparatively progressive, ongoing advocacy efforts seek to further enhance access to safe and legal abortion services nationwide.

Pregnancy Laws in India:

 

  • The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, enacted on April 1, 1972, applied to all of India except Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Section 312 of IPC Code, 1860, criminalizes voluntarily causing miscarriage, even with the pregnant woman’s consent, except to save her life, leading to potential prosecution for abortion.
  • The MTP Act, 1971, permitted pregnancy termination in two stages:
  • Up to 12 weeks after conception, abortion required a single doctor’s opinion.
  • Between 12 to 20 weeks, two doctors’ opinions determined if continuing the pregnancy posed risks to the woman’s life or mental/physical health or if the child would be seriously handicapped.

Amendments in 2021:

  • The law now allows abortions up to 20 weeks based on one doctor’s advice.
  • For pregnancies between 20 to 24 weeks, two doctors’ opinions are needed.
  • Specific categories eligible for termination under section 3B of the MTP Act rules include survivors of sexual assault, minors, marital status changes, physically disabled women, mentally ill women, foetuses with severe abnormalities, and pregnancies in humanitarian settings.

Conclusion

  • By embedding abortion rights within its constitutional fabric, France sets a transformative precedent for advancing women’s autonomy and healthcare choices worldwide.
  • As the international community grapples with escalating threats to reproductive rights, France’s bold stance offers a beacon of hope and solidarity for women everywhere, underscoring the imperative of safeguarding reproductive freedoms as fundamental human rights.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Sudha Murthy nominated to Rajya Sabha

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Nominated Members to Rajya Sabha

Mains level: Women Empowerment

sudha murthy

What is the news?

  • Noted author and philanthropist Sudha Murthy has been nominated to the Rajya Sabha by the President of India on International Women’s Day.

Nominated Members to Rajya Sabha

  • 12 members are nominated to the RS by the President of India for six-year term.
  • This is for their contributions towards arts, literature, sciences, and social services.
  • This right has been bestowed upon the President according to the Fourth Schedule under Articles 4(1) and 80(2) of the Constitution of India.

Normal composition

  • The present strength is 245 members of whom 233 are representatives of the states and UTs and 12 are nominated by the President.
  • The Rajya Sabha is not subject to dissolution; one-third of its members retire every second year.

Constitutional provisions for nominated members

  • 80(1)(a) of the Constitution of India makes provision for the nomination of 12 members to the Rajya Sabha by the President of India under provisions of Article 80(3).
  • 80(3) says that the persons to be nominated as members must possess special knowledge or practical experience in respect of such matters as the following namely: Literature, science, art and social service.

Powers and privileges of such members

  • A nominated member enjoys all the powers and privileges and immunities available to an elected Member of Parliament.
  • They take part in the proceedings of the House as any other member.
  • Nominated members are however not entitled to vote in an election of the President of India.
  • They however have rights to vote in the vice presidential election.
  • As per Article 99 of the Constitution, a nominated member is allowed six months’ time should he join a political party.

Try this PYQ from CSE Prelims 2013:

Consider the following statements:

  1. The Chairman and the Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha are not the members of that House.
  2. While the nominated members of the two Houses of the Parliament have no voting right in the presidential election, they have the right to vote in the election of the Vice President.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

 

Post your answers here.
1
Please leave a feedback on thisx

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Remembering the Forgotten Women of Science in India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Indian women in STEM

Mains level: Read the attached story

women

In the news

  • As Women’s Day (8th March) approaches, the spotlight turns to women scientists throughout history who shattered glass ceilings and left indelible marks on the scientific landscape.
  • Their stories advocate for inclusivity, diversity, and equality within the realm of science.
  • Celebrating Women Scientists: Initiatives like Vigyan Prasar’s resource book profiling Indian women scientists and anthologies like “Lilavati’s Daughters” and “Gutsy Girls of Science” highlight the achievements and struggles of women in science, providing inspiration for future generations.
  • Biographical Works: Books like “Janaki Ammal: Life and Scientific Contributions” and “Chromosome Woman, Nomad Scientist” delve into the extraordinary lives of pioneering women like E.K. Janaki Ammal, offering insights into their groundbreaking research and battles against sexism, casteism, and racism.

 Gender Disparity in Indian Science

  • Underrepresentation in Leadership: The Indian Academy of Sciences, founded by Nobel Laureate C.V. Raman in 1934, has never been led by a woman scientist. Statistics reveal that women comprise only 14% of India’s working scientists, with a meager 15% representation among faculty members in research institutes nationwide.
  • Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize: Over 65 years, only 20 women scientists have been honoured with India’s prestigious SSB Prize for Science & Technology, despite 571 total recipients.

Status of Women in STEM: A Global Perspective

  • Global Gender Gap: India’s STEM workforce comprises only 27% women, compared to 32% in non-STEM fields, highlighting disparities in gender representation.
  • Research Participation: Worldwide, women constitute only 33% of researchers, with even lower representation in engineering and technology sectors.
  • Educational Disparity: A gender gap persists in STEM education, with only 18% of girls pursuing higher-level STEM studies, compared to 35% of boys.

List of Notable Women Scientists mentioned in the News Article

 

  1. Gagandeep Kang: Known for her work in the field of microbiology and vaccine development, particularly in studying the epidemiology of rotavirus and other infectious diseases prevalent in India.
  2. Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw: A prominent figure in the biotechnology industry, she founded Biocon, one of India’s leading biotechnology companies, and has contributed significantly to the development of affordable biopharmaceuticals and healthcare solutions.
  3. Rohini Godbole: Renowned theoretical physicist known for her research in high-energy physics, particularly in the field of particle phenomenology and collider physics. She has also been actively involved in promoting science education and gender equality in STEM fields.
  4. Prajval Shastri Majumdar: Notable astrophysicist known for her research on the formation and evolution of galaxies, active galactic nuclei, and black holes. She has made significant contributions to understanding the dynamics of the universe through her work in observational astronomy.
  5. Kamala Sohonie: A pioneering biochemist, she was the first Indian woman to receive a Ph.D. in the field of science. Her research focused on enzymology and biochemistry, particularly in understanding the metabolism of nitrogen-containing compounds in bacteria.
  6. Lilavati (referred to in “Lilavati’s Daughters: The Women Scientists of India” anthology): Lilavati is a legendary figure in Indian mathematics, known for her contributions to algebra and arithmetic. Her legacy has inspired generations of mathematicians and scientists.
  7. Archana Sharma: A renowned cytogeneticist known for her research in understanding chromosomal abnormalities and genetic disorders. She has contributed significantly to the field of genetics and genetic counseling.
  8. E.K. Janaki Ammal: An eminent botanist known for her research on plant breeding, genetics, and taxonomy. She made significant contributions to understanding the diversity of plant species in India and played a crucial role in the conservation of plant biodiversity.
  9. Bibha Chowdhuri: A pioneering physicist known for her research in cosmic ray physics and particle physics. She made significant contributions to understanding the properties of cosmic rays and their interactions with matter.

Significance of Women’s Participation in STEM

  • Economic Growth: Women’s involvement in STEM fields can catalyze economic growth, with potential GDP gains of up to 10% reported in studies.
  • Gender Diversity: Enhancing female representation fosters diversity and inclusivity, enriching scientific discourse and innovation.
  • Targeted Interventions: Involving women in research ensures the relevance and applicability of scientific outcomes to diverse communities.
  • Inclusive Decision Making: Women’s perspectives contribute valuable insights to scientific research, leading to more informed decision-making processes.
  • Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): STEM empowerment aligns with SDG 5, promoting gender equality and women’s access to transformative technologies.

Challenges Faced by Women

  • Implicit and Explicit Biases: Women scientists encounter biases suggesting their unsuitability for scientific pursuits, perpetuating the Matilda Effect wherein their achievements are undervalued, leading to discrimination in perks, promotions, and opportunities.
  • Societal Stereotypes: Deep-rooted stereotypes perpetuate the notion that certain STEM fields are inherently male-dominated, discouraging women from pursuing these careers.
  • Lack of Role Models: Limited visibility of female role models hinders aspiring women scientists from envisioning themselves in STEM leadership roles.
  • Self-Efficacy Gap: Gender disparities in self-efficacy beliefs create barriers for women, affecting their confidence to pursue STEM disciplines.
  • Work-Life Balance: Dual responsibilities and societal expectations impede women’s career progression in STEM, necessitating flexible policies and support systems.
  • Systemic Discrimination: Bias and discrimination in educational institutions and workplaces perpetuate the underrepresentation of women in STEM.

Government Initiatives for Women in STEM

  • STI Policy by DST: The Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI) policy aims to achieve 30% women’s participation in science and technology by 2030, with significant strides in women’s leadership roles.
  • Indo-US Fellowship: International collaborative research opportunities empower women scientists to expand their horizons and contribute to global scientific endeavors.
  • Vigyan Jyoti: Initiatives like Vigyan Jyoti encourage young girls to pursue STEM education, addressing gender disparities from an early age.
  • Gender Advancement Programs: GATI and KIRAN initiatives focus on creating gender-sensitive institutions and providing career opportunities for women in S&T.
  • CURIE Initiative: The CURIE program supports the development of research infrastructure in women’s universities, fostering a conducive environment for women’s participation in R&D.
  • SWATI Portal: It is aimed at creating a single online portal representing Indian Women and Girls in STEMM. It is a complete interactive database.

Way Forward

  • Continued Advocacy: Initiatives and publications spotlighting women scientists serve as reminders of the ongoing need for advocacy and support to address gender inequality in the scientific community.
  • Redefining the Culture in STEM: Mandating women’s representation in boards, implementing women-centric mentoring programs, and providing flexible work setups and childcare support.
  • Investment in Women-Only Institutions: Establishing women’s technology parks and institutions to address specific challenges faced by women in STEM.
  • Paid Internships: Encouraging states to offer paid internships to girl science students, particularly in rural areas, to enhance their participation in STEM.
  • Positive Parenting: Fostering supportive environments at home to challenge stereotypical perceptions and inspire young girls to pursue careers in STEM.

Conclusion

  • As Women’s Day approaches, reflections on the contributions and struggles of women scientists underscore the importance of fostering inclusivity, diversity, and equality within the scientific community.
  • By celebrating their achievements and advocating for systemic changes, we pave the way for a more equitable and empowering future for women in science.

 

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

India ranks 113 out of 190 countries in Women, Business and Law Index by World Bank

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Women, Business and Law Index

Mains level: NA

In the news

  • India’s ranking in the World Bank’s Women, Business and Law index saw a significant improvement, climbing to 113 out of 190 countries in the latest edition of the report.
  • It is intriguing to know that none of the countries globally achieved a full score in the new index, indicating pervasive gender disparities in legal rights worldwide.

About Women, Business and Law Index

  • The Women, Business and Law Index is a World Bank initiative aimed at measuring how laws and regulations impact women’s economic opportunity.
  •  The index provides objective and measurable benchmarks for evaluating global progress towards legal gender equality.
  •  Range from 0 to 100, where 100 denotes equal legal rights for men and women.
  •  The report assesses eight critical areas: mobility, workplace, pay, marriage, parenthood, entrepreneurship, assets, and pension.
  • The 2024 edition marks the 10th iteration of the report.

India’s Performance

  • Legal Rights Gap: Indian women now enjoy 60% of the legal rights granted to men, slightly below the global average of 64.2%.
  • Regional Comparison: India outperformed its South Asian counterparts, where women typically have access to only 45.9% of the legal protections compared to men.
  • Supportive Frameworks: India’s performance in establishing supportive frameworks fell short, with only 54.2% of the necessary frameworks in place.
  • Policy Efforts: India aims to increase female labour force participation, which stood at 37% in 2022-23, significantly lower than many advanced economies.
  • OECD Comparison: The female labour force participation rate in OECD countries exceeded 50% in 2022, highlighting the gap India seeks to bridge.

Try this PYQ from CSE Prelims 2015:

‘Global Financial Stability Report’ is released by which organisation?

(a) Organization for Economic Cooperation and development (OECD)

(b) World Economic Forum

(c) World Bank

(d) World trade Organization (WTO)

 

Post your answers here.
0
Please leave a feedback on thisx

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Grant Permanent Commission to Women: SC to Coast Guard

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Permament Commission vs Short Service Commission, Indian Coast Guard

Mains level: Women in Armed Forces

coast guard

In the news:

  • The Supreme Court emphasized the need for the Indian Coast Guard to grant Permanent Commission to women officers. Further, CJI too directed the Indian Coast Guard to consider it, indicating the court’s willingness to intervene if necessary.

Context:

  • Attorney-General highlighted operational difficulties in implementing permanent commissions for Short Service Commission Officers.
  • AG suggested to limit permanent commission for women to 10%, stressing that women should not be considered inferior.

About the Indian Coast Guard

  •  The Indian Coast Guard was established on August 1, 1978, as an armed force of the Union.
  • Its mission is to protect India’s maritime and national interests within its maritime zones. It enforces laws related to customs, immigration, poaching, and pollution at sea.
  •  It conducts round-the-year real-life operations at sea, despite being relatively small in size.
  • The Indian Navy operates globally, while the ICG is restricted to territorial waters extending out to 30 nautical miles from the coast.
  • The Indian Navy protects Indian ships and ports from external threats, while the ICG enforces maritime laws, ensures safety, and preserves the marine environment within territorial waters.

Significance of the Permanent Commission for Women:

  • Gender Equality: Permanent Commission for Women in the Armed Forces removes gender discrimination.
  • Secure Employment: It provides increased job security and extended tenure for women officers. It can also grant equal entitlements as men, including pension benefits after 20 years of service.
  • Fostering Opportunities: Ensures economic opportunities, and improves social conditions, and dignity for women.
  • Behavioral change in the Society: It can encourage more women to join the Armed Forces, expanding the talent pool and addressing officer shortages.

What are the challenges faced by Women Officers in the Indian Armed Forces?

  • Gender Bias and Discrimination: Women face biases from male officers who question their commitment due to marriage or family responsibilities. Biases exist among both genders, affecting the perception of women officers’ capabilities.
  • Limited Career Opportunities: Women officers have historically faced restrictions in combat roles, limiting their career advancement. Challenges in obtaining commanding positions due to gender norms and lack of representation in leadership roles.
  • Work Environment Issues: Lack of gender-sensitive facilities like separate toilets for women officers at certain postings. Unequal treatment and expectations, such as proving themselves more than male counterparts for recognition is a major challenge.
  • Societal and Cultural Barriers: Traditional societal norms hinder the acceptance of women in combat roles and leadership positions. The need for a shift in societal attitudes towards viewing women as equals in the armed forces.
  • Recruitment and Retention Challenges: Recruitment and retention rates in the armed forces are affected by the lack of a strong mixed-gender force. The Indian Army’s decision not to allow women in commanding roles impacts recruitment and retention efforts.

What can be the Balanced Approach for Women in the Armed Forces (Way Forward)?

  • Acceptance of Gender-specific Rights: Acknowledge and incorporate gender-specific rights like maternity and child care leave into the policies of the armed forces.
  • Equality in Physical Fitness Standards: Physical fitness standards should be role-based, not gender-based, to ensure equal rights and opportunities for all officers.
  • Need to go with Merit-based Promotion: Women officers should compete on merit without any preferential treatment or discrimination, following a merit-driven approach for promotions.
  • Developing of Pragmatic Policies: The armed forces need to adopt a pragmatic policy for the gradual inclusion of women in all ranks and disciplines, shedding patriarchal attitudes and creating necessary infrastructure.
  • Need for the Codification of Rules and Regulations: Codify terms of service for women officers considering organizational interests, establish military laws to address gender crimes, and ensure that only volunteer women meeting psychological and physical fitness standards join combat roles.

Try this PYQ from CS Mains 2021:

Q. “Though women in post-Independent India have excelled in various fields, the social attitude towards women and the feminist movement has been patriarchal.” Apart from women education and women empowerment schemes, what interventions can help change this milieu?

 

Post your responses here.
0
Please leave a feedback on thisx

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Examining Maintenance Rights of Divorced Muslim Women

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Section 125 of CrPC

Mains level: Personal Laws contradicting with Gender Equality

Introduction

  • The Supreme Court’s scrutiny of maintenance entitlements for divorced Muslim women under Section 125 of the CrPC reignites the discourse on the supremacy of secular laws versus personal laws.
  • The ongoing case underscores the need for judicial clarity in navigating the intersection of religious rights and gender equality.

Maintenance Entitlements: Evolution  

  • Section 125 of CrPC codified to provide maintenance for destitute family members.
  • It includes divorced spouses, without religious distinction, subject to the Magistrate’s discretion.

Exception for Muslim Women

  • Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986: Introduced to address perceived conflicts with religious law post the Shah Bano case, offering maintenance during iddat and extending till remarriage.
  • Judicial Pronouncements: Varied interpretations emerged post Danial Latifi v. Union of India (2001), with courts affirming both CrPC and 1986 Act remedies for divorced Muslim women.

Case Background

  • Dispute Synopsis: Originating from a challenge by a Muslim man against a Telangana High Court directive for interim maintenance to his divorced wife under CrPC Section 125.
  • Legal Argument: Husband contends 1986 Act supersedes CrPC provisions, citing jurisdictional overlap and prior payment during iddat, while wife asserts her right to CrPC maintenance.

Court Proceedings and Observations

  • Interpretive Dilemma: Supreme Court underscores the non-obstante clause of the 1986 Act, preserving alternative remedies under CrPC.
  • Constitutional Imperatives: Justices emphasize constitutional guarantees of equality, rejecting the notion of legislative intent to bar Muslim women from CrPC relief.
  • Precedential Insight: Recent High Court decisions affirm divorced Muslim women’s right to CrPC maintenance, notwithstanding iddat completion or khula pronouncement.

Judgments Referenced in the Input

  • Danial Latifi v. Union Of India (2001): Upheld the constitutional validity of the 1986 Act, extending maintenance rights to divorced Muslim women till remarriage, albeit limited to the iddat period.
  • Arshiya Rizvi v. State of U.P. and Anr (2022): Allahabad High Court reaffirmed divorced Muslim women’s entitlement to CrPC maintenance post iddat, ensuring continued financial support.
  • Razia v. State of U.P. (2022): Further reiterated by the Allahabad High Court, emphasizing the availability of CrPC remedies beyond iddat completion.
  • Shakila Khatun v. State of U.P (2023): High Court upheld divorced Muslim women’s right to seek CrPC maintenance, irrespective of religious personal laws.

Injustice Caused to Muslim Women

  • Limited maintenance: The 1986 law offers limited maintenance only during the iddat period and extends till remarriage.
  • Burden of personal laws: Unlike divorced women from other communities who can seek maintenance under Section 125 of the CrPC without limitations, Muslim women face restrictions imposed by personal laws.
  • Financial crisis: This results in inconsistent and inadequate financial support for divorced Muslim women, undermining their economic security and perpetuating gender inequality.
  • Unequal treatment: The injustice lies in the unequal treatment of Muslim women under the law, depriving them of the same level of protection and support afforded to women from other communities in matters of divorce and maintenance.

Implications and Future Trajectory

  • Judicial Deliberation: Pending verdict poised to shape the landscape of maintenance entitlements, balancing religious autonomy with gender justice.
  • Policy Implications: Clarification sought on legislative intent vis-à-vis CrPC and 1986 Act, crucial for uniform application and equitable access to justice.
  • Societal Impact: The outcome resonates beyond legal corridors, reflecting evolving societal norms and rights consciousness among marginalized communities.

Way Forward

  • Dialogue and Engagement: Foster open dialogue between religious leaders, legal experts, policymakers, and the Muslim community to understand concerns and perspectives.
  • Legal Reforms: Consider amending existing laws or introducing new legislation to balance religious autonomy with gender justice, especially in provisions related to maintenance for divorced Muslim women.
  • Sensitivity Training: Provide training to legal professionals on handling cases involving Muslim women with cultural competence and understanding of Islamic law while upholding equality principles.
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution: Encourage the use of mediation and arbitration within Islamic law to resolve family disputes, including matters of maintenance, fairly and amicably.
  • Consultation and Collaboration: Include Muslim women in decision-making processes and policy formulation through consultation, ensuring their voices are heard and perspectives considered.
  • Respect for Diversity: Acknowledge diversity within the Muslim community, avoiding generalizations, and upholding principles of pluralism and tolerance in addressing women’s rights issues.

Conclusion

  • The apex court’s forthcoming ruling holds the potential to bridge legal schisms and affirm the rights of marginalized segments, reinforcing the constitutional ethos of equality and justice for all.

Try this Question from CS Mains:

Q.1) Do you think marriage as a sacrament is losing its value in Modern India? (2023)

Q.2) What are the challenges to our cultural practices in the name of secularism? (2019)

Post your opinions here.
0
Please leave a feedback on thisx

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

A demand that could hamper gender equality

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Report

Mains level: debate surrounding paid menstrual leave

Two Indian Companies Are Now Endorsing Paid 'Menstrual Leave' For All Their  Women Employees

Central Idea:

The article discusses the complex issue of providing paid leave for menstruation, highlighting its potential impact on gender equality and societal perceptions of menstruation. It argues against the implementation of blanket policies, advocating instead for tailored support and inclusivity on a case-by-case basis.

Key Highlights:

  • Sabrimala Temple Issue: Highlights the struggle against discriminatory practices related to menstruation, emphasizing the need for gender equality.
  • Global Gender Gap: Discusses the widening gender gap globally and its implications on workforce participation and leadership roles for women.
  • Challenges in Implementing Paid Menstrual Leave: Raises concerns about exacerbating gender inequality, social stigma, and potential misuse of leave policies.
  • Case of Japan: Explores the experience of Japan with unpaid menstrual leave and its limited uptake, alongside persisting gender disparities in the workforce.
  • Enforcement Challenges: Cites instances of intrusive enforcement methods and underscores the need for sensitive implementation strategies.
  • Ongoing Struggles for Gender Equality: Highlights various arenas where women continue to fight for equal treatment, including combat roles and pay parity.

Key Challenges:

  • Social Stigma: Addressing societal taboos and perceptions surrounding menstruation.
  • Gender Equality: Balancing the need for menstrual support with potential impacts on women’s workforce participation and leadership opportunities.
  • Implementation Issues: Ensuring fair and non-intrusive enforcement of leave policies without perpetuating discrimination or abuse.
  • Cultural Sensitivity: Acknowledging diverse experiences and cultural contexts surrounding menstruation.
  • Policy Effectiveness: Assessing the efficacy of paid menstrual leave in addressing menstrual health needs while advancing gender equality.

Main Terms:

  • Menstruation
  • Gender Gap
  • Paid Leave
  • Gender Equality
  • Social Stigma
  • Workforce Participation

Important Phrases:

  • “Period shaming”
  • “Blanket biological disadvantage”
  • “Tailoring support”
  • “Inclusivity on a case-by-case basis”
  • “Sensitive implementation strategies”

Lettering Menstrual Leave In the Constitution

Did you know?

  • The menstrual cycle can be affected by external factors such as stress, changes in temperature and altitude, and even exposure to certain chemicals and toxins.
  • This can cause changes in the length of the cycle, the intensity of bleeding, and the severity of symptoms.
  • There is also a small percentage of women who experience menorrhagia, which is an excessive bleeding during menstruation. This can be caused by hormonal imbalances, fibroids, endometriosis, and other underlying medical conditions.

Quotes:

  • “Menstruation is not a disease, but a natural phenomenon.”
  • “Granting special status to menstruation would validate social stigma.”
  • “Recognizing the diverse nature of menstrual experiences is essential.”
  • “Women in Japan are less likely to be employed and often paid lesser.”
  • “Women continue to fight for equal treatment in various arenas.”

Anecdotes:

  • Sabrimala Temple issue highlighting the struggle against discriminatory practices.
  • Instances of intrusive enforcement methods in Bhuj and Muzzaffarnagar schools.
  • Limited uptake of unpaid menstrual leave in Japan despite its availability for decades.

Useful Statements:

  • “Paid leave for menstruation could unintentionally widen the gender gap.”
  • “Tailoring support on a case-by-case basis promotes inclusivity and addresses individual needs.”
  • “Sensitive implementation strategies are crucial to prevent discrimination and abuse.”

Examples and References:

  • Sabrimala Temple issue
  • Global Gender Gap Report 2021
  • Case of Japan and its gender disparities in the workforce
  • Incidents in Bhuj and Muzzaffarnagar schools
  • Ongoing struggles for gender equality in combat roles and pay parity

Facts and Data:

  • The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2021.
  • National Family Health Survey (NFHS) report highlighting menstrual health challenges in India.
  • Low uptake of menstrual leave in Japan, with only 0.9% of women availing it.
  • Gender disparities in Japan’s workforce despite higher education levels among women.

Critical Analysis:

The article offers a nuanced perspective on the debate surrounding paid menstrual leave, highlighting both its potential benefits and challenges. It critically examines the implications of such policies on gender equality, social stigma, and workforce dynamics, emphasizing the importance of context-sensitive approaches.

Way Forward:

  • Awareness and Education: Promote awareness and education to combat social stigma and misconceptions surrounding menstruation.
  • Tailored Support: Advocate for tailored support and accommodations for individuals experiencing menstrual challenges, rather than blanket policies.
  • Sensitive Implementation: Develop sensitive implementation strategies to ensure fair and non-discriminatory enforcement of leave policies.
  • Continued Advocacy: Continue advocating for gender equality in all spheres, including combat roles and pay parity, to address systemic inequalities.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

A global alliance to bridge the gender equity gap

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Women’s Reservation Bill.

Mains level: policies and initiatives aimed at promoting gender equity and inclusion

India scripts breakthrough at Davos on global gender equality; Minister  Irani stitches mega alliance

Central Idea:

The article highlights India’s commitment to gender equity and equality, emphasizing initiatives taken by both the government and industry to advance women’s empowerment. It discusses key achievements, challenges, and the launch of the ‘Alliance for Global Good – Gender Equity and Equality’ to drive inclusive development globally.

Key Highlights:

  • India’s dedication to equality and inclusion as pillars of development, evidenced by initiatives like the New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration and the Women’s Reservation Bill.
  • Increase in female participation in various sectors, including politics, education, and entrepreneurship.
  • Launch of the ‘Alliance for Global Good – Gender Equity and Equality’ at the World Economic Forum, aiming to accelerate socio-economic progress on a global scale.
  • India’s leadership in areas such as ed-tech, healthcare, and entrepreneurship, reflected in the Alliance’s goals.
  • The Alliance’s partnership with stakeholders like the CII, Ministry of Women and Child Development, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, along with support from the World Economic Forum.

Key Challenges:

  • Addressing persistent gender disparities in various sectors despite progress.
  • Ensuring effective implementation of policies and initiatives to promote gender equity.
  • Overcoming societal and cultural barriers that hinder women’s advancement.
  • Mobilizing resources and sustaining momentum for inclusive development efforts.
  • Encouraging broader global participation and collaboration to drive meaningful change.

Main Terms:

  • Gender equity: Fair treatment and opportunities for all genders.
  • Gender equality: Equal rights, responsibilities, and opportunities for all genders.
  • Women’s empowerment: Enhancing women’s ability to access resources and participate fully in society.
  • Inclusive development: Economic growth that benefits all segments of society, including marginalized groups.
  • Stakeholders: Individuals or organizations with an interest or concern in a particular issue or initiative.

Important Phrases:

  • “Women-led development”: Development initiatives driven by and focused on women’s empowerment.
  • “Mainstreaming gender equality”: Integrating gender considerations into all aspects of policymaking and development efforts.
  • “Shared direction”: Collaborative approach towards addressing gender-related challenges and promoting inclusion.
  • “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam”: Indian philosophy emphasizing the interconnectedness of all beings and the world.
  • “Sabka Saath, Sabka Prayaas, Sabka Vikaas”: Indian motto promoting inclusive development for all.

Quotes:

  • “Equality and inclusion are the cornerstones of India’s development journey.”
  • “The enthusiasm around the We-Lead Lounge… saw global interest and curiosity.”
  • “India’s abiding commitment to ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam – One Earth, One Family, One Future’.”

Anecdotes:

  • Success stories in space exploration, sports, entrepreneurship, and UN peacekeeping operations highlight India’s achievements and influence.
  • The We-Lead Lounge at Davos served as a platform for meaningful discussions on inclusive development.

Useful Statements:

  • “The Alliance for Global Good – Gender Equity and Equality aims to drive collective actions to augment women empowerment.”
  • “India’s leadership in areas such as ed-tech and healthcare makes it a key contributor to global development efforts.”
  • “Industry has an opportunity to invest in proven programs and initiatives to advance gender inclusion in the workspace.”

Examples and References:

  • Passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill and increased female labor force participation rates.
  • Participation of over nine crore women in self-help groups in rural India.
  • India’s digital prowess and leadership in healthcare, highlighted through initiatives like the Alliance for Global Good.

Facts and Data:

  • Increase in India’s female labor force participation rate from 23.3% in 2017-18 to 37% in 2022-23.
  • Allocation of nearly $27 billion under the gender budget in 2023-24.
  • Female enrollment in STEM courses at 43%.
  • Participation of over nine crore women in self-help groups in rural India.

Critical Analysis:

  • The article showcases India’s progress in promoting gender equity but also acknowledges ongoing challenges.
  • It emphasizes the importance of collaboration between government, industry, and other stakeholders to drive meaningful change.
  • While highlighting achievements, it also recognizes the need for sustained efforts to address persistent gender disparities.

Way Forward:

  • Strengthening implementation of policies and initiatives aimed at promoting gender equity and inclusion.
  • Continued investment in programs and initiatives to support women’s empowerment across various sectors.
  • Enhancing global collaboration and partnerships to drive inclusive development efforts.
  • Addressing societal and cultural barriers through awareness campaigns and education.
  • Monitoring and evaluation of progress to ensure accountability and sustainability in gender-related initiatives.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Budgetary increase for Lakhpati Didi Scheme

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Lakhpati Didi Scheme

Mains level: Read the attached story

Introduction

  • The interim budget for 2024-25 has introduced an expansion of the ‘Lakhpati Didi’ scheme, designed to empower women’s self-help groups.

About ‘Lakhpati Didi’ Scheme

  • Launch: The ‘Lakhpati Didi’ Scheme was inaugurated on August 15, 2023.
  • Objective: The government aims to create two crore prosperous sisters in rural villages, aligning with the broader mission of poverty alleviation and economic empowerment.
  • Skill Training: Women participants receive skill training to enable them to earn an income exceeding Rs 1 lakh annually.
  • Technology Integration: Women’s self-help groups (SHGs) will have access to drones for agricultural activities, harnessing technology to transform rural agriculture while empowering women.

Leveraging Drone Technology

  • Drone Training: Approximately 15,000 women’s SHGs will undergo training in operating and repairing drones.
  • Income Generation: This initiative not only opens new avenues for income generation but also equips women with cutting-edge skills.
  • Agricultural Revolution: Drones hold the potential to revolutionize agriculture, facilitating precision farming, crop monitoring, and pest control.

Skill Diversification

  • Skill Development: Women under this scheme receive training in diverse skills such as LED bulb making, plumbing, and more.
  • Eligibility Criteria: Participants must be active members of self-help groups.

Application Process

  • Self-Help Groups: To apply for the ‘Lakhpati Didi’ Scheme, women should be part of self-help groups.
  • Local Anganwadi Centres: Additional information and application forms are available at local Anganwadi centres.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Indian women are working more. Here’s why

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana National Rural Livelihood Mission

Mains level: The rise in the Female Labor Force Participation Rate (FLFPR) in rural India

Female Labour Force Participation - Current Affairs

Central Idea:

The rise in the Female Labor Force Participation Rate (FLFPR) in rural India, particularly over the last six years, can be attributed to strategic interventions like the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana National Rural Livelihood Mission (DAY-NRLM) and the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS). These programs, focusing on skilling support, credit access, and diversified livelihoods for women, have significantly contributed to the economic empowerment of women in rural areas.

 

Key Highlights:

  • The FLFPR in rural areas increased from 24.6% (2017-18) to 41.5% (2022-23).
  • DAY-NRLM, with over 90 lakh Women’s Self-Help Groups (SHGs), has played a crucial role in transforming the lives of over 9.96 crore women.
  • MGNREGS, providing 260 crore person-days of work annually, has emphasized individual beneficiary schemes, raising incomes for women.
  • Initiatives like MKSP and SVEP under DAY-NRLM have empowered women in agriculture and entrepreneurship, respectively.
  • Social capital of women’s collectives, supported by elected Panchayat leaders, has been instrumental in the success of these programs.

 

Key Challenges:

  • Despite progress, there’s a need for a more comprehensive understanding of the factors contributing to the increased FLFPR.
  • Low wages under MGNREGS pose a challenge, with men often opting for higher-paying jobs in the market.
  • The article hints at the need for a more detailed analysis of the impact of these programs on the overall socio-economic landscape.

 

Key Terms:

  • FLFPR: Female Labor Force Participation Rate.
  • DAY-NRLM: Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana National Rural Livelihood Mission.
  • MGNREGS: Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.
  • SHGs: Self-Help Groups.
  • MKSP: Mahila Kisan Sashaktikaran Pariyojana.
  • SVEP: Start-Up Village Entrepreneurship Programme.

 

Key Phrases:

  • “Skilling support and credit access for diversified livelihoods.”
  • “Low NPAs and the success of social capital.”
  • “Person-days of work generated annually under MGNREGS.”

 

Key Quotes:

  • “The rise in rural female FLFPR has been accompanied by a rise in the share of self-employment and agriculture among working women.”
  • “The social capital of women’s collectives has transformed the rural scenario.”

 

Key Statements:

  • “The DAY-NRLM and MGNREGS play a crucial role in improving the female labor force participation rate.”
  • “Raising MGNREGS wage rates, along with increased productivity, is crucial for securing lives of dignity for the poor.”

 

Key Examples and References:

  • Evaluation studies by the Institute of Rural Management, Anand and Stanford University team.
  • Banking correspondents from DAY-NRLM making digital payments possible.
  • Quality Council of India’s evaluation of SVEP.

 

Key Facts and Data:

  • FLFPR in rural areas increased from 24.6% (2017-18) to 41.5% (2022-23).
  • DAY-NRLM covers 9.96 crore women, with over 90 lakh SHGs accessing Rs 38,892 crore.
  • MGNREGS generates over 260 crore person-days of work annually.

 

Critical Analysis:

  • The article provides a detailed account of the initiatives and their impact but lacks a comprehensive analysis of the challenges and potential drawbacks of these programs.
  • The need for a more nuanced understanding of the interplay of factors contributing to increased FLFPR is highlighted but not thoroughly explored.

 

Way Forward:

  • The government should continue and possibly expand successful initiatives like DAY-NRLM and MGNREGS.
  • Address the challenge of low wages under MGNREGS to attract more workers.
  • Conduct further research to understand the broader socio-economic implications of these programs and refine them accordingly.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

A blurred mapping of internal female migration

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS)

Mains level: There is little dialogue surrounding female migrant issues

Big strides on path for women migrant workers in eastern India - India News  | The Financial Express

Central Idea:

The article highlights the often overlooked and underreported aspects of female migration in India, particularly in the context of internal migration. It emphasizes the need for a more accurate understanding of the challenges faced by migrant women, their motivations, and employment status, ultimately advocating for better-informed policies to address their specific needs.

Key Highlights:

  • Migrant women in India are a significant but marginalized group, with national surveys providing an inaccurate portrayal of their motivations and employment status.
  • Existing data underestimates the number of migrant women engaged in casual or informal employment due to definitional issues and societal beliefs.
  • The article argues that the entry of women into the formal labor force is hindered by factors such as low education levels, lack of social networks post-migration, and the need for more human and social capital.
  • Despite a 101% increase in female migration for labor/employment between 2001 and 2011, there is a lack of targeted policies and political attention for this demographic.
  • The article suggests that policy-making needs to be more informed about the specific needs, motivations, and conditions of female migrants.

Key Challenges:

  • Inaccurate representation in national surveys leading to a lack of understanding of the secondary motivations for migration among women.
  • Underreporting of employment status due to definitional issues and societal beliefs about women’s roles.
  • Barriers to entry into the formal labor force, including low education levels, lack of social networks, and the need for more human and social capital.
  • Marginalization of female migrant issues in policy-making due to their limited influence as a vote bank.

Key Terms:

  • Female Labour Force Participation Rate (FLFPR)
  • Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS)
  • Casual labor
  • Human and social capital
  • One Nation One ration card
  • e-Shram
  • Affordable rental housing complexes

Key Phrases:

  • “Female migration for labor/employment increased by 101% between 2001 and 2011.”
  • “Migrant women are proportionally less employed than non-migrant women.”
  • “Entry to the formal labor force is challenging for migrant women due to the need for more human and social capital.”
  • “Dismal recovery of women’s labor activity after the pandemic.”
  • “Policy-making poorly informed about the needs, motivations, and conditions of female migrants.”

Key Quotes:

  • “There is little dialogue surrounding female migrant issues.”
  • “Despite recent polls, political parties do not campaign to gain migrant women’s votes.”
  • “Women choose forms of employment that allow them to handle domestic duties while contributing to the household’s production or finances.”
  • “A change in narrative is required, starting with increased collection of female-specific data.”

Anecdotes:

  • Anecdotal evidence suggests that migrant women often engage in casual employment, indicating underestimation of their involvement in various sectors.
  • Women may view unpaid family work or self-employment as an extension of domestic commitment, leading to misreporting of employment status.

Key Statements:

  • “National surveys convey an inaccurate picture of female migration, especially regarding motivations and employment status.”
  • “Entry to the formal labor force is hindered by factors such as low education levels and lack of social networks.”
  • “Female migrants remain largely invisible, facing significant hurdles and marginalization.”
  • “Political parties do not address the needs of female migrants, resulting in poorly informed policy-making.”

Way Forward:

  • Compile more information in national surveys regarding socio-economic conditions post-migration, including access to social security benefits.
  • Advocate for the collection of time-use data for migrants to better understand the employment patterns of female migrants.
  • Increase awareness about the challenges faced by female migrants to encourage progressive policymaking.
  • Address barriers to entry into the formal labor force by focusing on education, social networks, and human and social capital.
  • Encourage a change in narrative and prioritize the needs of female migrants in policy-making.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Census postponed to October 2024

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Census of India

Mains level: Read the attached story

census

Central Idea

  • Initially planned for 2020, the Census exercise is now postponed to at least October 2024, considering the time required for preparatory activities post-boundary setting.
  • The delay also postpones the implementation of the law reserving 33% of seats for women in Parliament and State Assemblies, which is contingent on Census completion.

About the Census of India

  • The decennial Census of India has been conducted 16 times, as of 2021.
  • While it has been undertaken every 10 years, beginning in 1872 under British Viceroy Lord Mayo, the first complete census was taken in 1881.
  • Post 1949, it has been conducted by the Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India under the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • All the censuses since 1951 were conducted under the Census of India Act, 1948.
  • The last census was held in 2011, whilst the next was to be held in 2021.

Background of Women’s Reservation Delay

  • 128th Constitutional Amendment Act, 2023: Known as the Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam, this Act mandates one-third reservation for women, effective post-delimitation based on the latest Census.
  • Presidential Assent and Delimitation: The Act, receiving Presidential assent in September 2023, awaits the delimitation exercise, which depends on the new Census data.

Census Delays and COVID-19 Impact

  • Historical Consistency: India has conducted a Census every decade since 1881, with the latest phase initially set for April 2020.
  • COVID-19 Pandemic Disruption: The pandemic necessitated the postponement of the Census, leading to continued reliance on 2011 data for policy and subsidy decisions.
  • Lack of Clarity in Recent Notifications: Recent notifications have not specified reasons for the delay, moving away from earlier attributions to the pandemic.

Census Preparation and Questionnaire Status

  • Houselisting and Housing Schedule: The first phase questionnaire was notified in January 2020, including 31 questions.
  • Population Enumeration Phase: The second phase, with 28 finalized questions, awaits official notification.

Delay in Vital Statistics Reports

  • Non-Release of Recent Reports: The RGI and Census Commissioner’s office have not released reports on births, deaths, and causes of deaths for 2021, 2022, and 2023.
  • Importance of Vital Statistics: These reports are crucial for planning and evaluating health care, family planning, and educational programs.
  • Last Released Reports: The latest available reports cover up to the year 2020, including new codes for COVID-19 related deaths.

Conclusion

  • Evidence-based policymaking amidst delays: The extended timeline for the Census necessitates strategic planning to ensure accurate data collection and analysis.
  • Awaiting Women’s Reservation Implementation: The delay underscores the need for adaptive measures to implement the women’s reservation law effectively once the Census is completed.
  • Broader Implications for Governance: The postponement affects various aspects of governance and policy-making, highlighting the importance of timely and accurate demographic data.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Menaka Guruswamy writes: In India, what women who run need

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: na

Mains level: gender-inclusive sports culture

10 inspiring Indian sportswomen who triumphed against all odds- The New  Indian Express

Central idea 

The article explores the challenges and triumphs of Indian women athletes, particularly runners, revealing their resilience against societal norms and discriminatory practices. Sohini Chattopadhyay’s book, “The Day I Became a Runner,” serves as a powerful narrative, intertwining the stories of champion women runners with India’s political and cultural evolution.

Key Highlights:

  • The article explores the challenges and triumphs faced by Indian women athletes, particularly runners, navigating societal norms, laws, and personal obstacles.
  • Sohini Chattopadhyay’s book, “The Day I Became a Runner,” serves as a lens to understand the history of Indian women through the narratives of champion runners.
  • The stories of Mary D’Souza, Kamaljit Sandhu, P T Usha, Santhi Soundarajan, Pinki Pramanik, Dutee Chand, Lalita Babar, and others are intricately woven into the fabric of India’s political and cultural landscape.

Key Challenges:

  • Gender norms and societal restrictions circumscribing outdoor activities for women in India.
  • Struggles against patriarchy, poverty, identity, caste, and even controversial “sex tests” faced by women athletes.
  • The need for safe public spaces, established training programs, and a cultural shift encouraging women’s participation in sports.

Key Terms:

  • Sex test: A controversial practice involving the testing of biological parameters to define a woman athlete’s gender.
  • Patriarchy: The social system where men hold primary power and predominate in roles of political leadership, moral authority, and social privilege.
  • Stigma: Negative perceptions and attitudes associated with women athletes facing controversial tests or challenges.

Key Phrases:

  • “A women’s history of India through the lens of sport”: Describes the book’s focus on portraying Indian women’s history through the stories of athletes.
  • “To be a woman runner in India means to persevere in the face of tremendous odds”: Highlights the resilience required by women athletes to overcome societal barriers.

Key Quotes:

  • “The book is both gripping and tough — gripping, so you don’t want to put it down, and tough, since the lives written up have been hard ones.”
  • “The landmark verdict underlined that the World Athletics rules for female athletes discriminated against women by setting a threshold for testosterone.”

Anecdotes:

  • Chattopadhyay’s own experiences as a woman runner, facing challenges of being the only woman in parks or roads.
  • Stories of champion athletes like Mary D’Souza, P T Usha, and others, illustrating their resilience and achievements.

Key Statements:

  • “There is no fairy-tale running story. And the training program is not what makes these lives harsh. It’s the many obstacles that these women must clear to simply do what they love — to run.”
  • “Running requires safe public spaces, well-established training programs, and a culture that encourages women to occupy space in our streets and parks.”

Key Examples and References:

  • Instances of women athletes facing hurdles such as the controversial “sex test” and societal stigmas.
  • The case of Dutee Chand challenging and winning against discriminatory rules for female athletes.

Critical Analysis:

  • The article critically analyzes the societal and cultural barriers that women athletes face in India.
  • It emphasizes the significance of running as a sport that requires substantial investment, including safe spaces and supportive cultural attitudes.

Way Forward:

  • Advocate for gender-inclusive sports culture, encouraging more women to participate in running and other athletic activities.
  • Promote awareness and challenge discriminatory practices like the controversial “sex tests” to create a more equitable sports environment for women.
  • Continue to document and celebrate the stories of champion women athletes as a means of inspiration and advocacy for gender equality in spor

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Finally, a plus-size beauty at Miss Universe

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: na

Mains level: beauty queens who face body-shaming and criticism

 

Miss Universe 2023 contestants who've been crowned so far

Central idea 

The article reflects on the author’s childhood fascination with beauty contests and the absence of plus-size representation, celebrating the recent participation of Miss Nepal as a pivotal moment challenging traditional beauty standards. It critically analyzes the persistent norms in the beauty industry, advocates for a transformative shift towards inclusivity, and emphasizes the empowering impact on children’s dreams, urging a redefinition of beauty beyond conventional ideals.

Key Highlights:

  • Personal Reflection on Beauty Contests: The author reflects on childhood memories of watching beauty contests, idolizing winners like Sushmita Sen and Lara Dutta, and the absence of plus-size representation in such contests.
  • Evolution of Body Positivity: Over the years, there has been a shift in societal acceptance of diverse body sizes, with the fashion industry offering more inclusive options for plus-sized individuals.

Key Challenges:

  • Traditional Beauty Standards: The beauty and glamour industry continues to uphold traditional standards, requiring women, especially pageant participants, to conform to wafer-thin ideals, perpetuating unrealistic beauty norms.
  • Ongoing Scrutiny: Even after winning prestigious titles, beauty queens like Miss Universe 2021, Harnaaz Kaur Sandhu, face public scrutiny and body-shaming, highlighting the persistent pressure to maintain certain body standards.

Key Terms and Phrases:

  • Chubby Girl Stigma: The author describes her childhood perception that beauty contests were not for her due to societal perceptions of beauty and body size.
  • Plus-Size Representation: The article celebrates Miss Nepal, Jane Dipika Garrett, as a significant step toward inclusivity, breaking the mold of traditional beauty standards in beauty pageants.

Key Quotes:

  • “In the beauty and glamour industry, things remained the same.”
  • “And that it came in the form of a South Asian woman makes it even more special.”

Key Statements:

  • Evolution of Fashion Industry: While life has become easier for plus-sized individuals in terms of clothing options, the beauty and glamour industry has been slow to embrace inclusivity, maintaining stringent beauty standards.
  • Significance of Miss Nepal’s Participation: Miss Nepal’s confident presence at the Miss Universe stage is hailed as a major step towards inclusivity, breaking the norm of conventional body standards in beauty contests.

Key Examples and References:

  • Childhood Influences: The author reminisces about childhood memories of watching beauty contests and the impact of societal beauty standards on her perception.
  • Miss Universe 2021 Harnaaz Kaur Sandhu: Highlights the trolling faced by the current Miss Universe for her supposed weight gain, emphasizing the challenges faced by beauty queens even after winning titles.

Key Facts and Data:

  • Miss Nepal’s Participation: Miss Nepal, Jane Dipika Garrett, is acknowledged for confidently participating in the Miss Universe contest, challenging conventional beauty norms.

Critical Analysis:

  • Evolution of Beauty Standards: The article critically evaluates the persistence of traditional beauty standards within the glamour industry, noting that while progress has been made in the fashion sector, beauty contests remain slow to adapt. It underscores the need for a more dynamic and inclusive definition of beauty, challenging the industry’s resistance to change.
  • Impact of Plus-Size Representation: The inclusion of Miss Nepal, Jane Dipika Garrett, is recognized as a significant breakthrough, challenging the long-standing norms of beauty pageants. The analysis delves into the potential ripple effect of her participation, sparking conversations about body diversity and fostering a more inclusive environment within the beauty industry.
  • Continued Body-Shaming: The critique extends to the ongoing challenges faced by beauty queens like Miss Universe 2021, Harnaaz Kaur Sandhu, who experiences body-shaming despite her achievements. This highlights the paradox wherein even accomplished individuals in the industry are not immune to societal pressure, emphasizing the need for a cultural shift.
  • Empowering Children’s Dreams: The article makes a compelling argument for allowing children, particularly young girls, to dream without restrictive societal norms. It suggests that dismantling conventional beauty ideals is crucial for fostering a generation that embraces diverse forms of beauty and self-expression.

Way Forward:

  • Industry-Wide Reform: Advocates for a comprehensive reform within the beauty and glamour industry, urging stakeholders to redefine beauty standards and embrace diversity. This involves challenging established norms, fostering inclusivity in casting, and celebrating a range of body sizes and appearances.
  • Educational Initiatives: Proposes educational initiatives that promote body positivity and self-acceptance, targeting both industry professionals and the wider public. By fostering a cultural shift in perceptions of beauty, these initiatives can contribute to dismantling harmful stereotypes and promoting a more accepting society.
  • Advocacy for Inclusivity: Encourages influencers, celebrities, and industry leaders to actively advocate for inclusivity, leveraging their platforms to challenge beauty norms. This advocacy is seen as instrumental in driving change within the industry and influencing societal attitudes toward diverse representations of beauty.
  • Policy Changes: Calls for the formulation and implementation of policies within the beauty industry that mandate diverse representation, ensuring that beauty contests actively include participants of various body sizes. This structural change aims to create a more equitable and welcoming space for individuals irrespective of their physique.
  • Support for Beauty Queens: Stresses the importance of providing ongoing support and protection for beauty queens who face body-shaming and criticism. This includes implementing measures to counter cyberbullying and creating an environment that empowers individuals to embrace their bodies without fear of judgment.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Women’s political empowerment — more talk, less action

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: 2023 women reservation Act

Mains level: Two routes for women's political empowerment

 

Women's Reservation Bill: A Long Road Ahead - Civilsdaily

Central Idea

Political empowerment of women in India faces challenges despite the 2023 women reservation Act, with recent Assembly elections showing inadequate efforts by political parties to field more women candidates.

Key Highlights:

  • Two routes for women’s political empowerment: legislative reservation and quotas within political parties.
  • Examples from Nepal, Bangladesh, and Pakistan using legislative reservation.
  • Countries like Australia, Canada, South Africa, and Sweden achieve women’s representation without legislatively-backed quotas.
  • In India, the 2023 Act reserves 33% seats for women in State Assemblies and Parliament.
  • Despite the Act, recent Assembly elections show insufficient commitment from political parties.

Key Challenges:

  • In Madhya Pradesh, BJP and Congress fielded 28 and 30 women candidates, respectively, out of 230 seats after the Act.
  • Telangana sees minimal increase, with BJP and Congress fielding 12 women candidates each out of 119 seats.
  • No party in any state reaches the mandated 33% mark for women candidates.
  • Despite innovative moves like Congress reserving 40% seats in UP in 2022, overall progress is lacking.
  • TMC’s success in Odisha and West Bengal suggests regional parties are more proactive in women’s political representation.

Key Facts and Data:

  • Act passed in Lok Sabha with significant majority, only two opposing members.
  • In Uttar Pradesh 2022 elections, Congress reserved 40% seats for women, a bold move.
  • BJD and TMC’s success in Odisha and West Bengal elections with more women candidates.

Critical Analysis:

  • The Act, though commendable, looks good on paper due to its linkage with delimitation after 2026.
  • Regional parties like TMC have shown commitment and won with more women candidates, questioning the reluctance of national parties.

Way Forward:

  • National and regional parties need to demonstrate genuine commitment to women’s political empowerment by increasing the number of women candidates.
  • Learning from the success of regional parties like TMC, other political entities should actively promote and support women in politics.
  • Continuous monitoring and public discourse can encourage political parties to fulfill their commitment to women’s representation.

While the enactment of the 2023 women reservation Act is a positive step, recent Assembly elections reveal a gap between legislation and action, with political parties showing reluctance to genuinely empower women in politics. Continuous efforts and monitoring are crucial for bridging this gap and ensuring meaningful representation.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Social justice, sexual education, the need of our times

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Adolescent Reproductive and Sexual Health Strategy (ARSH) and the National Adolescent Health Programme (RKSK)

Mains level: social justice education

Sex education funding: There has to be a better way - National Committee  For Responsive PhilanthropySex education funding: There has to be a better way - National Committee  For Responsive Philanthropy

Central idea

In India, caste and gender issues affect students, leading to conflicts. Education, crucial for democracy, breaks down these barriers by promoting empathy and critical thinking. Additionally, sexual education in schools aims to transform relationships by fostering respect, consent, and understanding of diverse identities.

Key Highlights:

  • Intersectionality Challenges: Caste and gender intersections pose challenges for adolescents in Indian schools.
  • Media Reports Impact: Media reports highlight caste conflicts and consensual relationships, leading to legal consequences.
  • Educational Imperatives: Education for social change and sexuality is crucial for fostering critical thinking and creating a healthy society.

Key Challenges:

  • Structural Hurdles: Hierarchical societal structures hinder the establishment of well-functioning democratic institutions.
  • Cultural Emphasis: Emphasis on racial purity and cultural values perpetuates dominance by the majority/powerful.
  • Educational Gaps: Lack of faith in social justice education results in teacher absenteeism, blame on children, and physical abuse.

Key Terms:

  • Intersectonality: The interconnected nature of social categorizations such as caste and gender.
  • Affirmative Action: Policies promoting equal opportunities, especially for depressed communities.
  • Empathetic Understanding: Developing the ability to understand and share the feelings of others.
  • Socratic Active Learning: Engaging students in dialogue to stimulate critical thinking.
  • Social Constructs of Gender: Societal perceptions and expectations related to gender roles.
  • Consent and Personal Boundaries: Respect for mutual agreement and individual limits in interpersonal relationships.

Key Phrases for quality mains answers:

  • “Education for democracy requires critical thinking about one’s own life.”
  • “Children learn that self-help and seeking help are not signs of weakness.”
  • “Recognition of vulnerability is crucial for attaining social justice.”
  • “Sexual education prepares students to respect gender identities and interpersonal relationships.”
  • “Empathetic understanding and accommodation of differences are essential for a healthy democratic society.”

Key Examples and References:

  • Legal Recognition: Calcutta High Court’s judgment on children’s right to access sexual education.
  • Government Initiatives: The Adolescent Reproductive and Sexual Health Strategy (ARSH) and the National Adolescent Health Programme (RKSK).

Key Facts:

  • Impactful Research: Sexual education delays the first sexual intercourse, reduces frequency, and curbs risky behavior.
  • Government Action: Tamil Nadu’s committee, chaired by Justice K. Chandru, addressing discriminations in schools and colleges.

Critical Analysis:

  • Educational Imperatives: Emphasizes the importance of social justice education in addressing societal cleavages.
  • Empowering Teachers: Highlights the role of education in fostering empathy, critical thinking, and challenging societal norms.
  • Government Role: Recognizes the need for government support in implementing sexual education for a comprehensive curriculum.

Way Forward:

  • Advocacy for Inclusive Education: Promote comprehensive social justice education to address caste and gender-based conflicts.
  • Teacher Empowerment: Advocate for teacher training to instill faith in social justice education and create a supportive learning environment.
  • Urgent Implementation: Stress the urgent need for implementing sexual education in schools with a focus on consent, gender respect, and prevention of abuse.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Does the Indian Judiciary have a ‘Patriarchy Problem’?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Justice Fathima Beevi

Mains level: Women in Judiciary

Central Idea

  • India’s judiciary has long grappled with gender disparity, and the recent passing of Justice Fathima Beevi, the country’s first female Supreme Court judge, has brought attention to this issue.
  • Despite incremental progress, women continue to be underrepresented in both the Supreme Court and High Courts, highlighting the need for comprehensive reform.

About Justice Fathima Beevi

  • Justice Fathima Beevi, India’s first woman Supreme Court judge, passed away at the age of 96 in Kollam, Kerala.
  • She made history as the first Muslim woman judge of the Supreme Court, as well as the first woman Supreme Court Justice in Asia.

Gender Disparity in Indian Judiciary

[A] Supreme Court

  • Current Scenario: Of the 34 incumbent Supreme Court justices, only three are women: Justices Hima Kohli, Bela Trivedi, and BV Nagarathna.
  • Historical Perspective: India has had a total of 11 women judges in the Supreme Court’s history, since Justice Beevi’s appointment in 1989.
  • Low Representation: This translates to approximately 4% representation of women judges out of a total of 268 judges in the apex court’s history.
  • Recent Appointments: The current collegium, led by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, has made 14 appointments but is yet to appoint a woman judge to the Supreme Court.

[B] High Court

  • High Court Scenario: As of March 2022, India has 25 high courts with 1,114 sanctioned judge positions.
  • Working Judges: However, only 785 judges are currently working, with 329 positions remaining vacant.
  • Female Judges: Out of the working judges, only 107 are women, constituting 13% of the total.
  • Women Chief Justices: Only one of the country’s 25 high courts currently has a woman chief justice.

Efforts to Address Gender Disparity

  • Legal Perspective: The Union Law Minister stated that the Constitution’s Articles 124, 217, and 224 do not provide for caste or class-based reservations in higher judiciary appointments.
  • Recommendation for Diversity: Nevertheless, the Centre encouraged high court chief justices to consider suitable candidates who are women, minorities, scheduled castes, or tribes to ensure social diversity in the appointment process.

Challenges in Lower Judiciary and District Courts

  • Higher Representation: Women constitute approximately 27% of judges in the lower judiciary, but gender disparities persist in higher appointments such as district judges and high courts.
  • Regional Disparities: A study revealed that only a few smaller states like Goa, Meghalaya, and Sikkim had over 60% women judges, while others remained below 40%.
  • Reservation: Some states have introduced quotas for women in the lower judiciary, providing between 30% and 35% reservation for direct appointments.

Way forward

  • In April 2021, Chief Justice SA Bobde emphasized that capable candidates were required for greater women representation, rather than an attitudinal change.
  • His statement sparked controversy as female advocates challenged the assumption that women refused judgeships solely due to domestic responsibilities.
  • Advocates argued that men also decline judgeships for various reasons without hindering their appointment.

Conclusion

  • The gender disparity in India’s judiciary remains a persistent challenge, with slow progress towards equal representation.
  • It is imperative to address this issue comprehensively, from the highest courts to the lower judiciary, by promoting diversity and equal opportunities, ultimately strengthening the justice system and upholding gender equality.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Remembering Justice Fathima Beevi: India’s First Woman Supreme Court Judge

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Justice Fathima Beevi

Mains level: NA

Justice Fathima Beevi

Central Idea

  • Justice Fathima Beevi, the first woman judge of the Supreme Court of India (also the first Muslim woman Judge of SC), passed away at the age of 96 in Kerala’s Kollam.

Who was Justice Fathima Beevi?

  • Early life: Born in 1927, Justice Beevi was the eldest of eight children and came from a family where her father, Annaveetil Meera Sahib, encouraged his daughters’ education despite societal norms.
  • Decision for Law: Her father persuaded her to pursue law instead of post-graduation in Chemistry, inspired by the story of Anna Chandy, the first woman judicial officer in Travancore.
  • Breaking Barriers: She made history by graduating in law in 1950, becoming the first woman law graduate to receive the gold medal from the Bar Council.

A Symbol of Women’s Empowerment

  • Pioneering Achievement: Justice Fathima Beevi’s appointment as the first Muslim woman judge of the Supreme Court was a milestone in India’s legal history.
  • Role Model: She became an icon of women’s empowerment, encouraging women to pursue careers in the legal field.
  • Recognition for Kerala: Kerala gained recognition as the state that contributed the first female judge to the country through her appointment.

A Trailblazing Legal Career

  • Junior Advocate: She began her legal career as a junior advocate at Kollam district court, facing resistance from orthodox elements due to her headscarf.
  • Barrier Breaker: Despite initial challenges, Justice Beevi rose through the ranks, eventually joining the judicial service as a munsiff in 1958.
  • Remarkable Achievements: She continued to break barriers, becoming the district sessions judge in 1974 and getting elected as a munsiff through a competitive exam.

Political Career

  • Judicial Ascension: Justice Beevi’s journey continued as she was appointed as a judge of the Kerala High Court in 1983, and later elevated to the Supreme Court in 1989.
  • Champion of Equality: In the Supreme Court, she advocated for equality in significant verdicts, including cases related to reservation and constitutional safeguards against arbitrary state authority.
  • Governor of Tamil Nadu: Justice Beevi served as the governor of Tamil Nadu from 1997 to 2001, making headlines for her role in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case and political developments.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

What can a domestic violence survivor do when the justice system lets her down?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: National Family Health Survey 5

Mains level: domestic violence

What Is Domestic Abuse? | United Nations

Central idea

The article talks about how women facing domestic violence in India struggle to get justice due to biases in the legal system. It mentions challenges like police not taking complaints seriously and judges making unfair comments. To make things better, it suggests that judges should be fair, and the media should report responsibly to help women get the justice they deserve.

Key Highlights:

  • Systemic Flaws in Legal Process: The study of 4 lakh FIRs in Haryana exposes inherent biases against women, revealing flaws from the filing of complaints to the conviction process.
  • NGO’s Testimony on Domestic Violence: Majlis, an NGO in Mumbai, provides a firsthand account of the grave domestic violence faced by women, spanning physical, economic, verbal, emotional, and sexual abuse.
  • Alarming Crime Rates: India witnesses rising crimes against women, with 21 daily dowry-related deaths and 4 lakh cases under Section 498A of the IPC in 2019, emphasizing the urgent need for systemic change.

Challenges:

  • Reluctance to File FIRs: Police reluctance persists despite legal provisions, steering victims towards counseling instead of criminal complaints, hindering justice for domestic violence victims.
  • Patriarchal Mindset Impact: The police’s apathy is rooted in a patriarchal mindset, exacerbated by demeaning comments from the judiciary, contributing to the perception that women misuse legal provisions.
  • Impact on Victim Hope: Women turned away by police often lose hope, leading to dire consequences, such as suicide or murder, highlighting the severity of the challenges in obtaining justice.

Analysis:

  • Stereotype Reinforcement: Demeaning comments, accusing women of misusing Section 498A, perpetuate stereotypes and contribute to the reluctance of police in handling domestic violence cases.
  • Judiciary’s Role in Victim Perception: Judicial comments play a significant role in shaping public perception, impacting the willingness of women to seek justice for domestic violence.
  • Need for Judicial Sensitivity: Recognizing the need for sensitivity in judicial language and approach to avoid further victimization of women seeking legal recourse.

Key Data for mains value addition:

  • Dowry-Related Deaths: NCRB reports highlight disturbing statistics, indicating 21 daily dowry-related deaths and 4 lakh cases under Section 498A in 2019, underscoring the urgency for intervention.
  • Prevalence of Domestic Violence: National Family Health Survey 5 (2019-20) data reveals that 30% of women (over 20 crore) experience physical violence, emphasizing the widespread nature of the issue.
  • Need for Data-Driven Interventions: Utilizing crime statistics to inform targeted interventions and policy measures is crucial for addressing the increasing rates of crimes against women.

Way Forward:

  • Sensitization Programs: Implementing sensitization programs to eliminate the patriarchal mindset within the police force, fostering a more empathetic and proactive approach.
  • Legal Procedure Adherence: Ensuring strict adherence to legal procedures in handling domestic violence cases to prevent police reluctance and promote efficient and unbiased investigations.
  • Continuous Training: Continuous training programs for law enforcement officers to enhance their understanding of the complexities surrounding domestic violence cases.
  • Unbiased Judgment Enforcement: Establishing mechanisms to hold the judiciary accountable for unbiased judgments, discouraging sweeping generalizations and ensuring fair treatment of domestic violence cases.
  • Judicial Education Initiatives: Advocating for ongoing judicial education on domestic violence issues to keep judges informed and sensitive to the unique challenges faced by victims.

Conclusion:

The multifaceted challenges women face in obtaining justice for domestic violence necessitate a holistic approach involving legal reforms, sensitization programs for law enforcement, and responsible media reporting. Addressing systemic biases, legal loopholes, and societal perceptions is essential for meaningful change and ensuring justice for victims of domestic violence.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Reviving Adultery as a Criminal Offense

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Read the attached story

Mains level: Adultery De-Criminalization

Adultery

Central Idea

  • The Parliamentary Committee on Home Affairs has proposed the reintroduction of adultery as a criminal offense in the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS), 2023, a law designed to replace the Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860.
  • The committee’s recommendations have sparked a debate on the legal position of adultery and its implications on constitutional rights and gender equality.

Adultery De-Criminalization in India

  • Adultery in IPC (1860): Until 2018, Section 497 of the IPC defined adultery as a criminal offense, penalizing only men for engaging in adulterous relationships.
  • Supreme Court’s Verdict (Joseph Shine vs. Union of India, 2018): The Supreme Court unanimously struck down Section 497, citing discrimination and violations of fundamental rights.

Parliamentary Committee’s Recommendations

  • Gender-Neutral Adultery: The Committee suggests reinstating adultery as a criminal offense but making it gender-neutral, applicable to both men and women.
  • Safeguarding Marriage Sanctity: The Committee argues that safeguarding the sanctity of marriage is crucial and justifies criminalizing adultery.

Legal and Constitutional Implications

  • Discrimination and Violation of Fundamental Rights: The Supreme Court’s verdict in Joseph Shine case highlighted the discriminatory nature of Section 497 and its violation of Articles 14, 15, and 21 of the Constitution.
  • Autonomy of Women: The judgment emphasized women’s autonomy and dignity, asserting that husbands do not possess legal sovereignty over their wives.
  • Privacy and Matrimonial Sphere: Adultery as a criminal offense intrudes into the privacy of the matrimonial sphere, which is better left as a ground for divorce.
  • Relic of Victorian Morality: The Court deemed Section 497 as a relic of Victorian morality that treats women as chattels and property of their husbands.

Can the Supreme Court’s Decision Be Overturned?

  • Parliament’s Authority: While Parliament cannot directly overturn a Supreme Court ruling, it can pass legislation that addresses the basis of the court’s judgment.
  • Validating Legislation: Parliament can enact validating legislation that changes the circumstances under which the court’s judgment was rendered, effectively altering the legal landscape.

Conclusion

  • The debate surrounding the reintroduction of adultery as a criminal offence is fraught with legal, constitutional, and societal implications.
  • It calls for a nuanced examination of individual rights, gender equality, and the sanctity of marriage within the framework of Indian law and society.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

A former Police Commissioner writes: How the criminal justice system can serve women better

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: na

Mains level: criminal justice system

Dr. Meeran Chadha Borwankar: IPS, Lawyer | India | Official Site

Central idea

The article highlights gender-based challenges in India’s criminal justice system, citing delays and discrimination against women complainants. Despite increased representation and specialized stations, the study in Haryana indicates persistent issues. The central idea emphasizes the need for reforms, gender sensitivity, and equal treatment within the justice system.

Key Highlights:

  • Justice System Accessibility: Citizens face challenges accessing the criminal justice system in India due to police station unapproachability, court delays, and outdated forensic equipment.
  • Gender Disparities: The study reveals “multi-dimensional discrimination” against women in the justice system, with differential treatment at all stages and levels.
  • All-Women Police Stations: Despite efforts, the study, focused on Haryana, suggests that women face delays, dismissals, and lower conviction rates in cases where they are complainants.
  • Limited Representation: While more women are joining the justice system, the study emphasizes the need for increased sensitivity and recruitment drives for female officers.

Challenges:

  • Police Station Atmosphere: Unfriendly police stations, especially for women, contribute to delays and hinder justice delivery.
  • Legal System Inefficiencies: Overworked prosecutors, court delays, and overcrowded prisons impact the overall efficiency of the justice system.
  • Gender Bias: Discrimination against women at various stages, including delayed investigations and dismissals, poses a significant challenge.
  • Recruitment Delays: Achieving the 33% reservation target for women in police stations may take another decade, delaying the improvement of gender sensitivity.

India's Criminal Justice System is Failing Victims of Sexual Violence —  Global Issues

Key Phrases:

  • Multi-dimensional Discrimination: The study identifies pervasive gender-based discrimination throughout the justice system.
  • All-Women Police Stations: Initially created to address women’s concerns, the study questions the effectiveness of this approach.
  • Delayed Investigations: Cases with women complainants experience longer waiting times and fewer registrations.
  • Lower Conviction Rates: Women complainants have a lower chance of seeing the accused being sent to prison.

Analysis:

  • Insufficient Gender Sensitivity: Despite efforts to increase women’s representation, the study suggests that sensitivity and fair treatment are lacking in investigations and trials.
  • Systemic Inequalities: The research highlights systemic issues leading to dismissals, delays, and lower conviction rates for cases with women complainants.
  • Need for Effective Monitoring: Effective monitoring systems are essential to ensure equal treatment for all genders throughout the justice process.
  • Research Limitations: While the study raises crucial issues, the lack of validation from police or judicial officers in Haryana raises questions about the data’s accuracy.

Key Data for answer enrichment:

  • Representation: Women constitute only around 12% of the police force, emphasizing the need for increased recruitment.
  • Conviction Rate: India struggles with less than a 60% conviction rate, reflecting inefficiencies in the justice system.
  • Reservation Target: Achieving the 33% reservation target for women in police stations may take another decade.
  • Haryana Sample: The study focuses on Haryana, providing insights into the state-specific challenges faced by women in the justice system.

Way Forward:

  • Increased Recruitment: Urgent recruitment drives are needed to enhance gender diversity in police stations and improve sensitivity.
  • Efficient Justice System: Addressing inefficiencies, overhauling procedures, and providing adequate resources are essential for an accessible and fair justice system.
  • Effective Monitoring: Implementing robust monitoring systems ensures consistent and unbiased treatment for all genders.
  • Research Validation: Future research should involve direct interactions with police and judicial officers for accurate data validation and a comprehensive understanding of the issues.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Impacting a woman’s freedom to reproductive choices

 

women

Central idea

The recent Supreme Court decision in X vs Union of India has sparked a debate on the delicate balance between a woman’s right to choose and the viability of the fetus. Grounded in the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, the judgment has faced criticism for not explicitly addressing the moral and legal status of the fetus, potentially overshadowing a woman’s rights to privacy and dignity.

Key Highlights:

  • Denial of Termination at 26 Weeks: The Supreme Court, in its decision, denied permission for the termination of a 26-week pregnancy, citing limitations within the MTP Act. The judgment centers on the viability of the fetus, limiting a woman’s right to choose when the fetus becomes capable of surviving outside the uterus.
  • Omission of Crucial Questions: Despite the ruling’s focus on viability, the Court did not address vital questions surrounding the autonomous moral status, legal standing, and constitutional rights of the fetus.
  • Petitioner’s Plight: The petitioner, a 27-year-old woman battling post-partum depression, emphasized her inability to care for a third child, underscoring the complex interplay of mental health and reproductive choices.

Challenges

  • Ambiguity in MTP Act: The judgment fails to assess whether the MTP Act serves merely as an enabling legislation or if it confers fundamental rights, leading to uncertainties in interpreting the law.
  • Overlooking Fetal Rights: The absence of consideration for the rights and status of the fetus within the constitutional framework raises concerns about inadvertently favoring fetal rights over a woman’s autonomy.
  • Hierarchical Rights: The Court’s decision may unintentionally establish a hierarchy of rights, potentially elevating the fetus above a woman’s right to make autonomous reproductive choices.
Prelims focus

 

MTP Act of 1971: The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act of 1971 was the foundational legislation that regulated abortion in India. It permitted abortions up to 20 weeks of gestation under specific conditions, such as the risk to the life or physical or mental health of the pregnant woman.

 

Amendment in 2021: In 2021, the MTP Act underwent significant amendments to modernize and liberalize India’s abortion laws.

 

The key changes included:

Extending the permissible gestational limit from 20 to 24 weeks.

Expanding access to abortion services by allowing a broader range of healthcare providers to perform abortions, including mid-level providers.

 

 

Concerns

  • Establishing Fetal Constitutional Rights: The ruling’s potential implications on establishing constitutional rights for fetuses contradict existing jurisprudence, stirring concerns about the broader legal landscape.
  • Impact on Reproductive Autonomy: The judgment’s impact on a woman’s freedom to make reproductive choices without undue interference becomes a focal point of concern.
  • Enabling Legislation vs. Fundamental Rights: Potential conflicts between enabling legislation like the MTP Act and fundamental rights necessitate a reexamination of legal frameworks.

Analysis

  • Gap in Addressing Evolving Dynamics: The Court’s decision reveals a gap in addressing the evolving dynamics of reproductive rights, especially in the context of mental health and socioeconomic factors.
  • Contradiction in Privacy and Dignity: Contradictions emerge when comparing this judgment with the Court’s recent stance on privacy and dignity, as seen in X vs The Govt. of Delhi, where autonomy over reproductive choices was emphasized.

Way Forward

  • Reevaluate MTP Act: A comprehensive reevaluation of the MTP Act is imperative to address evolving societal and medical considerations in the realm of reproductive rights.
  • Dialogue on Fetal Constitutional Status: Initiating a broad dialogue on the constitutional status of the fetus is crucial, considering the potential ramifications on reproductive rights.
  • Amendments and Supplementary Regulations: Considering amendments or supplementary regulations becomes essential to bridge gaps in existing legislation and ensure a more nuanced approach to reproductive choices.

This structured approach aims to simplify complex legal and ethical discussions while highlighting the key elements of the Supreme Court’s decision and its broader implications.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

India has ignored infertility for too long

Central idea 

The article discusses the overlooked issue of infertility in India’s population policies, emphasizing its social and cultural implications, particularly for women. It argues that addressing infertility as a public health concern is crucial for achieving a balanced approach to fertility control and reproductive autonomy.

Key Highlights:

  • Infertility Stigma: Vimlesh faced societal pressure and anxiety due to her perceived infertility, particularly in producing a male child.
  • Reproductive Governance: Indian population policies historically focus on contraception, overlooking the prevalence of infertility and related reproductive rights.
  • Social Impact: Infertility in patriarchal societies like Rajasthan leads to women’s marginalization, impacting their value in households and access to resources.
  • Health-Seeking Behavior: Women seek healers for fertility, challenging epidemiological notions and emphasizing the social and economic dimensions of reproductive well-being.
  • Global Perspective: A World Health Organization report indicates that 1 in 6 people worldwide faces infertility issues, contributing to global demographic challenges.

Challenges and Concerns:

  • Marginalization: Infertile women in India face marginalization, avoidance, and reduced access to resources, impacting their overall well-being.
  • Narrow Focus: Reproductive health policies predominantly focus on contraception, neglecting the broader issues of infertility and reproductive autonomy.
  • Lack of Data: The absence of significant quantitative data in the region compromises the reproductive health rights of women, especially in poorer communities.
  • Inaccessible Treatment: Expensive fertility treatments remain out of reach for many, denying poorer individuals their rights to become parents.

Analysis:

  • Cultural Dimensions: The social and cultural meanings attached to infertility have profound consequences on women’s health, challenging narrow epidemiological perspectives.
  • Reorienting Policies: The need to shift the focus of population policies to address infertility, considering it as a crucial aspect of public health services.
  • Reproductive Autonomy: Balancing fertility control with reproductive autonomy is essential for a participatory, consensual, and rights-based approach.
  • Impact on Marginalized: Infertility exacerbates existing inequalities, especially in patriarchal societies, where decisions about women’s bodies are influenced by power dynamics.

Key Data:

  • Total Fertility Rate (TFR): Current estimates indicate a TFR of 2.1 in rural areas and 1.6 in urban areas in India.
  • Worldwide Infertility: A recent WHO report reveals that 1 in 6 people globally experiences infertility issues.
  • National Population Policy: Historically focused on contraceptives as reproductive ‘choice,’ neglecting the prevalence of widespread infertility.

Key Terms for value addition:

  • Reproductive Governance: Policies and practices influencing reproductive choices and outcomes.
  • Infertility Stigma: Societal discrimination and marginalization of individuals facing infertility.
  • Total Fertility Rate (TFR): The average number of children a woman is expected to have during her reproductive years.

Way Forward:

  • Inclusive Policies: Population policies should address infertility as a critical aspect of public health, ensuring inclusivity and reproductive autonomy.
  • Data Collection: Conduct comprehensive studies combining qualitative and quantitative data to form a robust evidence base for effective policy decisions.
  • Accessible Healthcare: Ensure access to adequate and appropriate healthcare, addressing the fear of infertility and mitigating social consequences.
  • Education and Awareness: Promote awareness about infertility to destigmatize the condition and encourage a more supportive societal attitude.
  • Affordable Treatments: Work towards making fertility treatments more affordable and accessible, particularly for poorer communities.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Women can make the world better

Central idea

The article highlights Arun Maira’s insights on the gender disparity in economic narratives, emphasizing the undervaluation of women’s contributions, the evolving challenges in global employment patterns, and the need for a more inclusive and care-focused approach to economic development, particularly in the context of India and the G-20’s call for a holistic vision beyond GDP

Challenges in How We See Money and Work:

  • Not Enough Women Recognized: The Nobel Prize in Economics mostly goes to men, leaving out women’s important contributions. Only three women have won it so far.
  • Forgetting the Value of Care: The work women do at home, taking care of family and community, isn’t seen as important for the economy. This is a big problem.
  • Jobs Changing Globally: The way people work is changing worldwide. More jobs are now short-term or in the gig economy. This is a big challenge for India, which has a lot of young people.
  • Not Paying Enough for Important Jobs: Jobs like taking care of families or working in health and education are crucial, but the people doing these jobs, mostly women, are not paid well.

India’s Economic Situation:

  • Problems for Young People: In India, even though the economy is growing fast, it’s hard for young people to find good jobs with good pay and security.
  • Need More Focus on Care: India ranks 132nd in human development, and we need to spend more on services that take care of people. But sadly, jobs like taking care of families or working in health and education are not paid much.
  • G-20’s Call for a Different Way: Our Prime Minister has asked the G-20 for a new approach, one that looks beyond just making money. He says it’s time to think of the world as one family.

Checking How Well We’re Doing:

  • Progress Slow for Big Global Goals: The G-20 says we’re not doing great halfway to our big global goals. Only 12% of the things we wanted to achieve are on track.
  • Time for a Big Change: Arun Maira says we need to change how we solve problems. The usual way is not working, so we need to try something new.

Seeing Economics in a New Way:

  • Thinking About Everyone: Maira says we need to change how we see our economy. It’s not just about making things and competing. It’s about taking care of people.
  • Looking at What Women Do: Women, according to Maira, do a lot of important work that isn’t always noticed. Nobel laureate Elinor Ostrom showed that when women are in charge, communities work well together.

What Needs to Change:

  • Giving Women More Power: Maira says we need to let women shape how things work, not just follow what men have set up.
  • Letting Local Communities Decide: Instead of having big experts decide everything, Maira says we should let local communities come up with their solutions. What works in one place might not work in another.
Unique phrases from article for upsc mains exam value addition

 

“Tragedy of the Commons Revisited:”

Referring to Nobel Laureate Elinor Ostrom’s insights, this phrase underscores the importance of cooperative governance, particularly led by women, in managing local resources sustainably.

 

“Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam: One Family, One Earth, One Future:”

This phrase encapsulates the Indian Prime Minister’s call at the G-20, emphasizing a vision that transcends traditional economic metrics and advocates for a global community approach.

 

“Paradigm Change in Economics:”

Arun Maira advocates for a fundamental shift in economic thinking, moving away from traditional models dominated by men and towards a more inclusive, caring, and community-driven perspective.

 

“The Feminine Lens on Economics:”

This phrase highlights the article’s exploration of a feminine perspective in economics, drawing attention to the undervalued contributions of women and the need for a broader understanding of economic dynamics.

 

Conclusion:

Changing how we think about our economy is not easy, but it’s important. Maira tells us that we should listen to regular people, especially women, and let them help make things better. This way, we can build a future where everyone is taken care of, and our world becomes one big family.

 

 

 

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Women, marriage and labour market participation

 

women

Central idea

The article explores the decline in women’s labor force participation rates, particularly among married women in India, emphasizing its economic implications. It discusses key challenges, including societal norms and limited educational opportunities, while highlighting government schemes and proposing solutions for enhancing women’s participation in the labor market.

 

Relevant Data from the Article:

  • World Bank estimates (2022) indicate a global female LFPR of 47.3%, with India experiencing a decline from 28% to 24% between 1990 and 2022.
  • Economist Goldin’s analysis reveals a U-shaped pattern in women’s LFPR during economic growth, influenced by factors like income and substitution effects.
  • The article emphasizes the pronounced decline (5%) in female LFPR among married women aged 25 to 49 in India from 2004-05 to 2022-23.

Present Status:

  • Married women exhibit a significant decrease in LFPR after marriage due to factors such as limited educational attainment, increased family obligations, and societal disapproval of women in the workforce.
  • Data analysis from India’s NSSO Periodic Labour Force Survey indicates a substantial drop in LFPR among married women, especially in the age group of 25-29.

Key Challenges:

  • Marital status significantly influences women’s labor market outcomes, with married women showing lower LFPR compared to unmarried counterparts.
  • Educational achievement plays a role, with less-educated women displaying a higher inclination to participate in the labor force after marriage.

women

Government Schemes and Initiatives:

  • The National Creche Scheme for The Children of Working Mothers is cited as a government initiative to support women’s labor force participation.
  • The article stresses the need for enhancing the quality and accessibility of day-care services to act as an incentive for employed women, especially married women.

Way Forward:

  • Solutions proposed include improving day-care services and crèches across various socio-economic strata in both the public and private sectors.
  • Work settings prioritizing women’s needs, secure transportation options, and the expansion of part-time job possibilities are suggested to enhance women’s participation in the labor market.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, the article underscores the economic impact of the decline in married women’s LFPR in India and advocates for targeted initiatives to promote women’s empowerment. It emphasizes the need for comprehensive solutions, including improved day-care services, supportive work environments, and part-time job opportunities, to address the challenges hindering women’s participation in the labor market.

Do follow https://www.pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1908961

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

How big is the Gender Gap in earnings?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Periodic Labour Force Surveys (PLFS)

Mains level: Read the attached story

gender gap

Central Idea

  • The Periodic Labour Force Surveys (PLFS) have diligently monitored the gender earnings gap in India from April-June 2019 to 2023.
  • This latest iteration places a vital spotlight on weekly hours worked, unveiling that the inequity in total earnings may not fully encapsulate the true narrative.

Examining the Gender Earnings Disparities

  • Claudia Goldin’s Pioneering Work: Building upon Nobel laureate Claudia Goldin’s research, India’s gender disparities in employment and wages come into focus.
  • Earnings Converted to Weekly Figures: Earnings for various worker categories are transformed into weekly earnings.
  • Ratio of Weekly Earnings: Table 1 displays the ratio of weekly earnings between men and women at the national level, encompassing rural and urban sectors. A figure above 1 denotes men earning more than women.
  • Persistent Gender Gap: Men out-earn women across all forms of work, with the self-employed experiencing the most significant gender gap in 2023, where men earned 2.8 times more than women. In contrast, male regular wage workers earned 24% more, and male casual workers earned 48% more than their female counterparts. The gender earnings gap remains a persistent challenge.
  • Changing Trends: Notably, the gender gap has increased for self-employed workers but decreased for regular wage workers, dropping to 24% in 2023 from 34% in 2019.

Analyzing Average Weekly Work Hours

  • Incomplete Picture: Disparities in earnings per unit of work are not entirely elucidated by the earnings gap alone. Women consistently work fewer hours than men across all forms of employment, as depicted in Table 2.
  • Largest Gap for the Self-Employed: In 2023, men in self-employment worked 50% more hours than women, while the gap was the smallest for regular wage workers (19%).
  • Rising Gender Gap in Hours Worked: The gender gap in hours worked has expanded, particularly for self-employed women, indicating an increase in part-time employment among them. Simultaneously, male self-employed workers continue full-time work.

Diving Deeper into Hourly Earnings Gap

  • Hourly Earnings Analysis: Calculations of hourly earnings for each worker category reveal the ratio between men and women’s hourly earnings, as presented in Table 3.
  • Significant Reduction in Regular Wage Workers’ Gap: In 2023, men in regular wage employment earned 24% more than women over the week but worked 19% longer hours. The hourly earnings gap narrows to approximately 4%, down from 11% in 2019.
  • Hourly Earnings Parity in Regular Wage Work: On average, women in regular employment earn less per week but nearly match men when hourly earnings are considered. However, these averages mask nuanced disparities across occupations and industries.
  • Higher Inequality in Other Employment Types: Inequality in hourly earnings is more pronounced in other work categories, albeit lower than when assessing total earnings. In 2023, male casual workers earned 23% more per hour than women, a reduction from 33% in 2019. Conversely, the self-employed category witnessed an increase in the hourly earnings gap from 84% in 2019 to 87% in 2023.

Factors Influencing Work Hours

  • Beyond Pure Choice: Lower hourly earnings inequality for regular wage workers doesn’t imply women opt for shorter work hours by choice.
  • Societal barriers: Barriers, such as societal expectations that women manage domestic and childcare duties, may limit their employment options.

Conclusion

  • Addressing both remuneration disparities and disparities in total work hours is crucial.
  • Policymakers should target the removal of barriers that curtail women’s working hours.
  • This involves workplace interventions like mandating childcare facilities and extended maternity leaves and broader societal transformations that challenge traditional gender norms and share childcare and domestic responsibilities more equitably.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Women’s Reservation Bill: After passing, challenge now to ensure promise translates to equality

 

What’s the news?

The Women’s Reservation Bill recently passed in Parliament after a 27-year journey, marking a crucial milestone for gender equality in politics.

Central idea

The Women’s Reservation Bill, recently approved by Parliament, signifies a pivotal step for women’s inclusion in politics after 27 years of deliberation. It addresses challenges of historical resistance and perceptions regarding equality while government initiatives like the 73rd Amendment and property rights extension aim to empower women at grassroots levels.

Theory of reflective autonomy given in the article states

  • Definition: Reflective autonomy is the ability of women to critically examine and understand their values, beliefs, and choices in the realm of politics.
  • Importance: This self-awareness empowers women to make political decisions based on their own understanding, free from external pressures or uninformed influences.
  • Example: In the context of the Women’s Reservation Bill, reflective autonomy implies that women aspiring to be MPs should critically evaluate their motivations and political goals, ensuring they align with their personal values and aspirations.
  • Commitment to Shared Values: Women’s commitment to shared values emphasizes a collective responsibility for gender equality, inclusivity, and the empowerment of women in the political landscape.
  • Importance: This commitment provides a foundation for cooperation, fostering unity and aligning individual actions with the broader societal goal of women’s empowerment.
  • Example: In the article, shared values could revolve around advocating for gender equality, creating an inclusive political space, and actively working towards the empowerment of women in India.

Three “E”s – Engagement, Emancipation, and Empathy:

  • Engagement: Women aspiring to be MPs need to actively participate in addressing societal issues and engage in political processes to contribute meaningfully.
  • Emancipation: Seeking freedom and empowerment for women, particularly those from marginalized groups, becomes a crucial goal in the pursuit of political leadership.
  • Empathy: Understanding and sharing the feelings of fellow citizens, particularly those with diverse perspectives, is essential for creating a harmonious and inclusive political environment.
  • Example: Women aspiring to be MPs in India should engage with local issues, actively contribute to the emancipation of marginalized women, and cultivate empathy for the diverse challenges faced by different segments of society. This approach ensures that their political journey is not only self-aware but also deeply rooted in shared values and a commitment to women’s empowerment.

Key Challenges:

  • Historical Resistance: Women’s reservation faced prolonged resistance, evident in debates from Sarojini Naidu to contemporary concerns about power balance.
  • Perception of Equality: Addressing skepticism regarding quotas and their alignment with the principle of equality.
  • Masculinist Dominance: Overcoming the historical dominance of men in politics and shifting towards a more inclusive representation.

Government Schemes and Initiatives:

  • Women’s Reservation Bill (Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam): A landmark legislation passed in September, marking a historic commitment to women’s empowerment.
  • 73rd and 74th Amendments: Empowering women at the grassroots level through panchayati raj institutions.
  • Extension of Property Rights: Measures benefiting women in tribal communities and initiatives like Beti Bachao Beti Padhao.

Way Forward:

  • Training and Education: Encouraging women to pursue higher education in relevant fields such as public policy, political science, and law.
  • Mentorship Programs: Establishing mentorship initiatives with experienced women politicians guiding aspiring leaders.
  • Local Engagement: Emphasizing the importance of engaging with local issues and providing solutions, fostering confidence and commitment.

Conclusion:

Advocating the theory of reflective autonomy, the focus should be on engagement, emancipation, and empathy. Women aspiring for political roles must actively participate in local problem-solving, gaining confidence, and nurturing empathy for societal harmony. The Women’s Reservation Act, a formal step towards equality, should translate into substantive equality through these concerted efforts.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Closing the gender pay gap in the workforce

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: 2023 Nobel Prize

Mains level: Women low labour force participation, Claudia Goldin's theory and solutions

What’s the news?

  • 2023 Nobel Prize winner in Economics, Goldin’s groundbreaking work highlights that the key to addressing the underrepresentation and underpayment of women lies not in their homes but in the labor market.

Central idea

  • In the realm of economic orthodoxy, long-held beliefs attributed women’s absence from the labor force to childcare responsibilities and lower education levels, perpetuating a gender pay gap. However, Claudia Goldin, the esteemed 2023 Nobel Prize winner in Economics, challenged these notions and offered a fresh perspective.

Goldin’ theory

  • Claudia Goldin’s lifetime of research has bestowed a name and a voice upon these women’s challenges.
  • She meticulously traces the evolution of the American economy from agriculture to manufacturing to services, revealing that women were historically excluded from market activities.
  • Only when jobs expanded beyond factories into offices, schools, and hospitals did women gain access to the workforce.
  • Despite their increasing educational achievements, women continued to earn less than their male counterparts.
  • Goldin’s theory attributes this persistent wage gap to the difficulty women face in pursuing jobs with demanding responsibilities.

A Solution for Gender Equity

  • Reduce Reliance on Heroic Efforts: Goldin suggests moving away from a culture of greedy work that rewards extreme efforts. Instead, organizations should create roles that don’t require superhuman commitments, promoting work-life balance.
  • Promote Moderate Work Hours: Goldin’s solution includes advocating for reasonable work hours, benefiting both genders and avoiding productivity issues associated with excessively long hours.
  • Provide Predictable Schedules: Emphasizing stable work hours helps employees better plan family responsibilities and reduces stress, contributing to gender equity.
  • Institutional Support: Supporting institutions should include educational reforms to ease parental homework burdens and urban planning that reduces commuting, making it easier for both men and women to balance work and personal life.

The Road Ahead in India

  • Service Sector Opportunities: India’s growing service sector offers the prospect of increased employment opportunities for women. This aligns with Goldin’s observation that women found jobs when economic production shifted from factories to offices, schools, and hospitals.
  • Rising Education Levels: With a continuous increase in women’s educational achievements, there is a growing potential to enhance their participation in the workforce. This trend mirrors Goldin’s emphasis on education as a factor that can boost employability.
  • Declining Fertility Rates: The decreasing fertility rates in India can contribute to freeing up more of women’s time, potentially facilitating higher workforce participation, as Goldin also noted the impact of declining fertility on women’s ability to engage in the labor market.

Reshaping the environment, as proposed by Claudia Goldin

  • Workplace Restructuring: Reducing the reliance on extreme efforts and creating roles that allow for a better work-life balance, particularly for women.
  • Moderating Work Hours: Promoting reasonable work hours to improve work-life equilibrium, avoiding productivity issues associated with excessively long hours.
  • Ensuring Predictable Schedules: Establishing stable work schedules to facilitate family planning and reduce stress, thus promoting gender equity.
  • Supportive Institutions: Reforms in education and urban planning to ease parental responsibilities and reduce commuting times, enabling both men and women to better balance their professional and personal lives.

Conclusion

  • To ensure the continued progress of gender convergence in labor market outcomes, we must heed her call for workplace reform and the development of supportive institutions. By doing so, we can pave the way for a more equitable and balanced future for both men and women in the workforce.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Women and water and the potential of green jobs

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Key facts, Government initiative's

Mains level: Water and employment link, women's role, challenges and potential

What’s the news?

  • Water, a vital resource for life, is poised to play a central role in the transition to a green economy. This transition brings not only environmental benefits but also the potential to drive significant employment growth, particularly for women.

Central idea

  • Water is essential for a green economy, offering immense potential for job generation, particularly for women. Women globally are pivotal players in water management, yet their expertise remains underutilized. As green jobs surge in India, how can women’s roles in water management be enhanced and recognized?

Backdrop

  • Green Jobs in Water Management: These jobs contribute to preserving or restoring environmental quality. A promising estimate by the International Labour Organisation posits that jobs in this sector could escalate from 3 million (2020) to 19 million by 2030 in India.
  • Water and Global Employment: A 2016 UN report underscores that nearly 1.5 billion people, or half the global workforce, are in water-related sectors. Water thus fosters both direct (managing resources, infrastructure, services) and indirect jobs.

Harse reality

  • A World Bank evaluation of 122 water projects found that those involving women were six to seven times more effective than those that did not.
  • Despite this evidence, women constitute less than 17 percent of the paid workforce in water, sanitation, and hygiene in developing economies, and women’s representation as technical experts remains disproportionately low.

The Role of Women in Efficient Water Management

  • Household Water Management: Women are typically responsible for managing water within households. They oversee water collection, storage, and distribution for domestic use, ensuring a safe and sustainable water supply for their families.
  • Community Engagement: In many communities, women actively engage in the management of communal water sources. They take the lead in maintaining these sources, making sure they remain accessible and functional for all community members.
  • Agriculture: Women play a crucial role in agriculture, which is a major consumer of water resources. They are involved in activities such as irrigation, crop cultivation, and livestock care. Their knowledge of efficient water use is vital for agricultural sustainability.
  • Environmental Stewardship: Women often act as environmental stewards, safeguarding local ecosystems, rivers, lakes, and forests. Their traditional practices and knowledge contribute to the preservation of water resources and the environment.
  • Community Development: Women actively participate in community development projects related to water infrastructure, sanitation, and hygiene. They serve on water and sanitation committees, helping plan and implement projects that benefit the entire community.
  • Innovative Solutions: Women frequently devise innovative solutions to address water-related challenges. They may create rainwater harvesting techniques, sustainable farming practices, or household-level water treatment methods, enhancing water resource management.

Unlocking Opportunities through Government Programs

  • Traditionally, women’s involvement in water management has been limited to voluntary or part-time roles, often at the lowest level of decision-making.
  • Recent government initiatives in India, such as the Jal Jeevan Mission, Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation, Atal Bhujal Yojana, and Jal Shakti Abhiyan, present an opportunity to expand women’s participation in water management and provide access to decent work.
  • These programs prioritize community ownership and support both direct and indirect jobs.

The Potential of Jal Jeevan Mission

  • The Jal Jeevan Mission, in particular, has the potential to generate a substantial number of jobs.
  • A study by the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, estimated that the mission could create millions of person-years of direct and indirect employment, although gender-disaggregated data are lacking.

Way forward

  • Addressing Skill Gaps and Capacity Building:
  • Water management jobs require specific skills and training, yet there is often a gap between the skills needed and the expertise available.
  • While some training programs exist for wastewater treatment and watershed management, they do not cover emerging employment opportunities in the water sector.
  • Promoting Sustainable Employment:
  • Despite robust policies for community participation, sustainable employment creation has been lacking.
  • Investing in training women, providing access to finance, and leveraging self-help groups can foster women’s self-employment in water management, strengthening water security in both rural and urban areas.

Conclusion

  • Government initiatives such as the Jal Jeevan Mission are poised to unlock this potential. By addressing skill gaps and promoting women’s participation, India can not only create green jobs but also empower women in the vital task of water management, contributing to a more sustainable and inclusive future.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Women’s Reservation Bill: A Fresh Start

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Women's Reservation Bill

Mains level: Gender parity in India, challenges and Women's Reservation Bill

What’s the news?

  • The recently released 17th edition of the Global Gender Gap Report (2023) predicts it will take 131 years to close the global gender gap, rising to 149 years in South Asian countries, including India.

Central idea

  • The recently released Global Gender Gap Report by the World Economic Forum, based on data from 146 countries, paints a grim picture. In light of this sobering reality, it is evident that affirmative action in the form of reservation is an essential step towards achieving gender equity and, ultimately, gender equality.

Reservation: An Effective Tool for Equality?

  • Equality through Equity: Equity is the initial and essential step toward achieving true equality. In a world where gender discrimination has persisted for centuries, equitable policies like reservations are indispensable. They provide women with the opportunities they have long been denied and help level the playing field.
  • Affirmative Action through Reservations: Reservations are undeniably one of the most effective forms of affirmative action aimed at rectifying historical injustices and promoting equity. It serves as the cornerstone for achieving gender equality and is integral to dismantling deeply entrenched societal biases.
  • Inefficiency and incompetency Misconceptions: Critics claim that reservations result in inefficiency, but this assertion lacks evidence; competency gaps, if any, are temporary and can be overcome through skill development and experience for marginalized individuals, including women.
  • A Level Playing Field: Women are not seeking to compete against their own gender; instead, they aspire to operate in an environment where gender becomes entirely irrelevant, where meritocracy triumphs over discrimination.
  • Challenging the Competency Argument: Women consistently outperform men in academics, with higher college graduation rates and increasing representation in the workforce. The glaring gender gap emerges in leadership positions, not due to women’s incompetence but because entrenched male hegemony persists.

Notable examples: Complexities of Gender and Leadership

  • Indira Gandhi’s Delayed Leadership: Despite her significant political advantages and early involvement in politics, Indira Gandhi did not become Prime Minister immediately after Jawaharlal Nehru’s death in 1964. She had to wait until the passing of Lal Bahadur Shastri in 1966 to assume the role.
  • Historical Opposition to Gender-Based Reservations: During the 1930s Round Table Conference in London, prominent women leaders like Sarojini Naidu and Begum Jahanara Shahnawaz presented a joint manifesto. They rejected the idea of providing either discriminatory or preferential treatment based on gender in legislative representation, indicating their opposition to gender-based reservation policies.
  • Diverse Perspectives Within the Women’s Movement: Begum Jahanara Shahnawaz and Radhabai Subbarayan advocated for a modest five percent reservation for women, while Sarojini Naidu opposed such reservations.

A Fresh Start: Women’s Reservation Bill

  • Historic Moment: The Women’s Reservation Bill, Constitution (One Hundred Twenty-Eighth Amendment) Bill, 2023, cleared both Houses in September 2023, marking a historic achievement in India.
  • Delayed Gender Equality: Despite early universal adult suffrage, women’s role in shaping Indian politics has remained minimal, highlighting the significance of this legislation.
  • Global Youthful Leaders: In a trend of younger political leaders worldwide, questions arise about the potential for an ordinary Indian woman to aspire to the Prime Minister’s office, as seen in leaders like Jacinda Ardern.
  • Undervalued Women’s Leadership: While women are often recognized in supportive roles, their presence in leadership positions remains limited, as evident in the case of Hillary Clinton, whose qualifications were overshadowed by an inexperienced male opponent in a prominent democracy.

Regressive Views and Misconceptions

  • Regressive Views on Gender Equality:
  • One of the most significant obstacles to gender equality is the presence of regressive views held by both men and women.
  • Even individuals who are considered progressive, like C. Rajagopalachari, have opposed women like Radhabai Subbarayan from contesting general seats.
  • Misconceptions about the Women’s Reservation Bill:
  • Mulayam Singh’s accusation in Parliament in 2010 further illustrates the challenge. He argued that the earlier version of the Women’s Reservation Bill would primarily benefit educated, urban, and elite women.
  • However, this viewpoint failed to recognize that the bill’s core objective was to provide opportunities for women who did not belong to privileged and elite classes.

Changing landscape

  • The Prolonged Gender Gap: The persistence of regressive views and misconceptions has contributed to the enduring gender gap. Women have had to wait for an extended period to close this gap. The current Women’s Reservation Bill is considered the first step toward achieving gender parity.
  • Desire for Expedited Implementation: There is a hope that the implementation of the Women’s Reservation Bill will be expedited by readjusting seats based on the 1991 Census data, similar to the process followed for Scheduled Caste seats by the Delimitation Commission.

Conclusion

  • The Women’s Reservation Bill is the first step toward achieving gender parity in India. It is time to correct historical wrongs, as women and society as a whole demand and deserve change. There is no reason to delay the journey towards true gender equality.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Shadow over women’s reservation

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Women’s Reservation Bill

Mains level: Women’s Reservation Bill, concerns and challenges

What’s the news?

  • The Women’s Reservation Bill has journeyed through decades of debates and discussions, yet its implementation remains uncertain.

Central idea

  • The recent tabling of the Women’s Reservation Bill in the Lok Sabha has brought attention to the long-awaited issue of gender representation in Indian politics. However, despite the grand announcement, there are several complexities and challenges surrounding its implementation that demand scrutiny.

Historical Background

  • The issue of women’s reservation in Indian politics dates back to the Constituent Assembly debates in 1947, where it was initially rejected as unnecessary.
  • However, subsequent decades witnessed a decline in women’s political representation, prompting further policy deliberations.
  • The quest for women’s reservation in legislative bodies began in 1996, with notable progress occurring during Manmohan Singh’s tenure in 2010, when it passed in the Rajya Sabha but faced rejection in the Lok Sabha.
  • Since then, the commitment to empowering women in India’s political landscape has remained unfulfilled.

Current Bill’s Complexities

  • Implementation Linked to Census and Delimitation: One of the major complexities is that the bill’s implementation is contingent upon two crucial factors: conducting a new census and completing the delimitation process. Unlike some previous legislation, this bill cannot be immediately enforced but rather depends on these time-consuming processes.
  • Unclear Timeline: The bill lacks a clear and specific timeline for its implementation. It leaves the question of when reservations for women in legislative bodies will become a reality unanswered. This ambiguity has raised concerns about the government’s commitment to gender equality in politics.

Census and Delimitation Challenges

  • Delay Due to the Pandemic:
  • The last census in India was conducted in 2011. Subsequent Census exercises were delayed, with the Union government attributing the postponement to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • This delay has had a direct impact on the implementation of the Women’s Reservation Bill since the bill is linked to the data obtained from the Census.
  • Potential Conflicts:
  • Even if the Census process moves forward, there is a looming possibility of conflicts arising during the delimitation process.
  • Delimitation, which involves the division of electoral constituencies, can be contentious, particularly between different regions and states. This could further delay the bill’s implementation and pose political challenges.

Key Differences from the 2008 Version

  • Intra-State Women Representation: Unlike the 2008 version of the bill, the current iteration does not include provisions for “intra-state women representation.” The 2008 bill mandated that one-third of Lok Sabha seats in each state or Union Territory should be reserved for women, ensuring representation from various regions within the state.
  • Rotation of Reserved Seats: The current bill proposes that reserved seats for women should be rotated after every delimitation exercise. This means that the seats set aside for women may change constituency boundaries periodically. In contrast, the 2008 bill did not include such a provision.
  • Unclear Status During Delimitation: The current bill does not provide clarity on the status of women’s reservations when the delimitation process is ongoing. Given that delimitation commissions typically take several years to issue their reports, it remains uncertain how the reserved seats for women will be affected during this period.

Way forward

  • Clear Implementation Plan: The government must outline a comprehensive and transparent plan for the implementation of the Women’s Reservation Bill. A clear roadmap with specific timelines can provide clarity and boost public confidence in the process.
  • Fast-Track Census and Delimitation: Expedite the Census and delimitation processes. Swiftly resolve any conflicts that may arise during these procedures to prevent further delays in implementing the bill.
  • Revise Intra-State Representation: Reconsider the exclusion of intra-state women’s representation from the current bill. Ensuring representation from various regions within a state can enhance diversity and inclusivity.
  • Seat Rotation Framework: Develop a framework for seat rotation that balances stability and change in women’s representation. Ensure that changes in constituency boundaries do not disrupt the continuity of women in politics.
  • Encourage Political Parties: Encourage political parties to proactively nominate more women candidates in elections. Parties can voluntarily set quotas for women candidates to increase their presence in legislative bodies.

Conclusion

  • For a nation that initially championed equal rights and representation for all citizens, this delay is a blemish on the visionary ideals of our founding fathers. It is high time that the promise of women’s reservation in politics transforms into a tangible reality.

Also read:

What will hold up women’s reservation Bill?

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Counting rural women’s labour

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: key findings of the Reports

Mains level: Women's labour force participation In India, existing challenges, Government Initiatives and way forward

What’s the news?

  • In a concerning revelation, India grapples with one of the world’s lowest female labor force participation rates, while rural women face widening gender wage gaps and continue to make substantial, often unpaid, contributions to the economy.

Central idea

  • As the International Day of Rural Women approaches, it is essential to shed light on the grim reality that India is grappling with. India not only records one of the lowest female labor force participation rates (LFPR) globally, but also ranks lower than most South Asian nations, trailing only Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Rural Women’s Employment Landscape

  • India has one of the lowest female LFPRs globally. The LFPR for women in the working-age group (15–59 years) is just 35.6 percent, and this figure varies significantly between rural and urban areas.
  • In rural regions, the LFPR is comparatively higher at 39.3 percent, while in urban areas, it is much lower at 26.5 percent, according to the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) data for 2021–22.
  • Self-Employment and Agriculture:
  • A significant portion of rural women in India are engaged in self-employment, particularly in agriculture and allied activities.
  • Nearly three-fourths of rural working women are involved in these sectors, which include crop cultivation, livestock rearing, and related tasks.
  • Agriculture remains a crucial source of livelihood for many rural women.

Gender Wage Gap in Rural India

  • Higher Gender Wage Gap in Rural Areas: Rural women working as regular and casual wage laborers face a more pronounced gender wage gap compared to their urban counterparts. This wage disparity is particularly significant in the rural employment sector.
  • Self-Employed Women’s Earnings: Self-employed rural women, particularly those engaged in agriculture and related activities, earn significantly less than self-employed men in similar roles. The self-employed rural women earn less than half of what self-employed men earn, indicating a substantial gender earning gap.
  • Worsening of the Gender Wage Gap: The gender wage gap for self-employed women has deteriorated from 2017 to 2021. This means that the income divide between rural men and women is widening over time.

Unpaid and underpaid labor

  • Unpaid Domestic Chores: A significant portion of rural women’s work involves unpaid domestic chores. While there has been a decline in the proportion of women engaged in these chores from 60 percent in 2017–18 to 46 percent in 2021–22, one-third of rural women will still remain involved in unpaid domestic chores in 2021–22.
  • Time Allocation: The Time Use Survey conducted in 2019 reveals that, on average, rural women spend over five hours daily in unpaid domestic services and more than two hours in unpaid caregiving services. This is substantially more than the time men spend on these activities, highlighting the unequal distribution of domestic and caregiving responsibilities.
  • Contribution to Agriculture: Rural women also make substantial unpaid contributions to agriculture. They spend over seven hours daily growing crops for both household use and the market in 2019, which is a critical but unpaid aspect of their work.

Land Ownership Disparity

  • Women face a substantial gender disparity in land ownership in rural areas.
  • The agriculture census of 2015–16 revealed that only 14.7 percent of operational landholdings were owned by women.
  • Moreover, women’s landownership is concentrated in the marginal and small holding categories.

Government Initiatives in the Context of Rural Women’s Employment

  • MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act): MGNREGA is a significant government initiative aimed at providing rural women with income-generating opportunities. It guarantees 100 days of wage employment per year to rural households, helping increase the labor force participation of rural women.
  • PM-SYM (Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maandhan): This scheme is designed to offer financial security to unorganized sector workers, including rural women. It encourages them to save for retirement by providing a pension after the age of 60, thereby ensuring economic well-being in their later years.
  • PMJDY (Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana): PMJDY promotes financial inclusion among rural women by encouraging them to open bank accounts. This initiative allows women to save money, receive government benefits directly, and access credit facilities for income-generating activities.
  • PMKVY (Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana): PMKVY focuses on skill development for rural youth, including women, to enhance employability. It offers training programs in various sectors to equip them with the necessary skills for job opportunities.
  • Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao: This campaign encourages the education and welfare of girls in rural areas, indirectly empowering rural women by reducing gender disparities and promoting education among girls.
  • National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM): NRLM aims to reduce poverty among rural women by promoting self-employment and entrepreneurship. It provides training, financial support, and market access, empowering women to start and run their own businesses.
  • Support for Training and Employment Programs for Women (STEP): STEP is another initiative focused on skill development and employment for disadvantaged women in rural areas. It offers training in various trades to enhance their employability.

Addressing the issue of unpaid labor in rural India requires a multi-faceted approach

  • Recognition: There is a need to recognize and value the significant contributions of rural women to unpaid domestic chores and agriculture. Acknowledging this work is crucial for appreciating its economic and societal importance.
  • Gender Equity: Promoting gender equity in domestic and caregiving responsibilities is essential to reducing the burden on rural women. Encouraging men to share these responsibilities can free up women’s time for productive activities.
  • Economic Empowerment: Empowering rural women through education, skill development, and access to income-generating opportunities can help them transition from unpaid to paid work, improving their economic status.
  • Policy Support: Government policies should be designed to address the gender disparities in unpaid labor and provide support mechanisms, such as access to affordable childcare and elderly care facilities, to reduce the time spent on unpaid caregiving.

Conclusion

  • The contributions of rural women in India, whether unpaid, unaccounted, or underpaid, are the backbone of the country’s rural economy. Only by acknowledging the hidden work of rural women and bridging the gender gap in land ownership and access to support schemes can we truly empower the rural women of India and pave the way for a more equitable future.

Also read:

Women and India’s Labour force: Bridging the Gap

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Need for more women police

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Women’s Reservation Bill

Mains level: Women reservation and representation, challenges and Imperative for Women in enforcement agencies

What’s the news?

  • The 2023 Constitution Amendment Bill, passed by both Houses of Parliament, reserves one-third of seats in the House of the People, State Legislative Assemblies, and the Legislative Assembly of Delhi.

Central idea

  • In the near future, women lawmakers are poised to constitute at least 33% of India’s legislative bodies. In tandem with legislative reforms, there is a pressing need for increased female representation in law enforcement agencies.

The Connection between Legislators and Law Enforcement

  • The representation of women in the Indian Parliament stands at approximately 14.4%, a notable improvement compared to the 4.9% recorded in the first Lok Sabha in 1952.
  • While the direct relationship between the number of legislators and the effectiveness of law enforcement agencies is not straightforward, the representation of women in these institutions reflects their alignment with the diverse society they serve.

Reservation and Representation in the Police Force

  • In parallel with legislative reforms, achieving greater gender diversity within law enforcement agencies is a pressing concern.
  • Several states have adopted policies mandating the allocation of 30% or 33% of vacant police positions to women, leveraging horizontal reservation.
  • This approach ensures that if minimum reserved positions for SC, ST, Other Backward Classes, and unreserved categories are not filled by women candidates on merit, women are given priority.
  • However, there is significant variation among states in implementing such policies, with some not having any reservation for women in their police forces.
  • The data published by the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D) reveals that although the total strength of state police forces grew by approximately 7.48% over five years, the representation of women in these forces increased only marginally.

Examples of Variations in Implementation

  • Kerala, Mizoram, and Goa: These states, despite not having specific reservation policies for women in the police force, manage to maintain women’s representation in a commendable range between 6% and 11%.
  • Bihar: Bihar allocates an impressive 35% reservation for women, with an additional 3% reserved for backward caste women. However, the actual representation of women in the force is around 17.4%, indicating challenges in the effective execution of these quotas.
  • Chandigarh: Chandigarh boasts the highest percentage of women in its police force, with approximately 22% representation.
  • Jammu and Kashmir: Conversely, Jammu and Kashmir have the lowest representation of women in their police force, standing at approximately 3.3%.

Challenges in Recruitment

  • Low Rate of Filling Vacancies: Recruitment is conducted for only about 4% to 5% of the total vacant positions, taking into account an attrition rate of 2.5% to 3% and an annual sanction of new posts of around 1.5% to 2%. This sluggish pace of recruitment impedes efforts to increase women’s representation.
  • Lack of Permanent Police Recruitment Boards: Numerous states lack permanent police recruitment boards, which makes it challenging to conduct regular recruitment cycles.
  • Infrequent Recruitment: Due to these impediments, recruitment cycles often occur at infrequent intervals, further delaying the process of enhancing women’s representation.
  • Reforms Implementation: Some of the key reforms aimed at enhancing women’s participation include merging women police with the regular police force and establishing police recruitment boards. However, not all states have been enthusiastic about implementing these reforms, potentially affecting their benefits.
  • State Subject: Policing falls under the purview of states as per the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution. Therefore, implementing necessary police reforms primarily remains the responsibility of individual states.

Crime Data and the Imperative for Women in Policing

  • Gender-Based Crimes:
  • According to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data, approximately 10% of the total crimes defined under the Indian Penal Code were committed against women in 2021.
  • These crimes include offenses such as domestic violence, sexual assault, and crimes against women and children.
  • This data underscores the pressing need for specialized handling of such cases, as they often require a nuanced and empathetic approach.
  • Insufficient Representation:
  • Despite the prevalence of crimes against women, only about 5.3% of total arrests in 2021 were women. This indicates that the available women police force may be insufficient to effectively address cases related to women.
  • Ensuring an adequate number of women police officers is essential to handling these cases sensitively and professionally.
  • Scope Enlargement: The Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act has expanded the scope of women’s recruitment in the police force. This expansion acknowledges the unique skills and sensitivity that women officers can bring to cases involving children and minors.
  • Versatile Capabilities: The women have demonstrated their competence in various police duties, dispelling any doubts about their ability to handle diverse assignments in a police institution. Their versatility is an asset in responding to a wide range of law enforcement challenges.
  • Democracy and Representation: In a democratic country, every institution must be representative of its populace to earn the trust of the citizens it serves. Ensuring diversity, including gender diversity, within law enforcement agencies is vital to building trust and confidence among the public.

Government efforts

  • Financial Incentives: The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) introduced financial incentives starting in 2018–19 to encourage states to implement police reforms effectively. These incentives include reserving a portion of modernization funds, with an initial reservation of 10% in the first year, followed by 20% of total modernization funds.
  • Special Initiatives: The MHA also offered a special grant to encourage states to establish a ‘women desk’ in every police station. However, there may not be sufficient women personnel to handle these desks effectively in some districts.

Way Forward: Empowering Women in Policing

  • Family Quarters Satisfaction: As of January 1, 2021, the satisfaction level regarding family quarters for women police officers stood at only about 30%. Adequate family quarters are crucial for creating a conducive work environment.
  • Infrastructure and Environment: Efforts should be made to provide a conducive environment and basic infrastructure to encourage more women to join the police force. This includes improving living conditions, providing separate toilets for women staff, and providing crèche facilities for children in police stations.
  • Uniform Police Act: Consider implementing a uniform police act for the entire country to establish consistent standards for women in the police force.
  • Recruitment: Ensure that every state has a recruitment board to oversee and facilitate regular recruitment of women into the police force.
  • Special Recruitment Drive: Launch special recruitment drives in all states and union territories to actively recruit more women officers and increase their representation in the police force, similar to the Constitutional 128th Amendment for women in legislatures.

Conclusion

  • The journey toward gender equality and representation in India’s legislative and law enforcement bodies is complex but essential. Bridging the gender gap in the police force is not just about equality, but also about enhancing the effectiveness and inclusivity of these vital institutions in a democratic society.

Also read:

Women’s reservation: What is the road ahead, before it can be implemented

 

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

What will hold up women’s reservation Bill?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Read the attached story

Mains level: Women’s Reservation Bill

reservation

What’s the news?

  • In a historic move, Parliament passed the Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-eighth Amendment) Bill, commonly referred to as the women’s reservation Bill.

Central idea

  • The Indian Parliament recently ratified the Constitution (128th Amendment) Bill. The Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam, as the bill is called, seeks to reserve one-third of all seats for women in the Lok Sabha, the State Legislative Assemblies. The bill received overwhelming support in both houses of Parliament and now awaits presidential assent to become law.

What does the bill say?

  • Reservation for Women: The primary objective of the bill is to provide 33% reservation for women in both the Lok Sabha and the State Legislative Assemblies across India. This means that one-third of the total seats in these legislative bodies would be reserved exclusively for women candidates.
  • Applicability to SCs and STs: The reservation for women extends to seats that are reserved for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) in the Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies as well. This ensures that women from marginalized communities also have an opportunity to participate in the political process.
  • Rotational Reservation: The bill stipulates that the seats reserved for women will be rotated after each delimitation exercise. Delimitation involves the adjustment of territorial boundaries and the allocation of seats based on population changes. This rotation ensures that women candidates have a chance to represent different constituencies over time.

Reservation

The groundwork for the Women’s Reservation Bill

  • The foundation for the Women’s Reservation Bill was established with the enactment of the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments in 1993.
  • These amendments introduced the concept of panchayats and urban local bodies into the Indian Constitution.
  • Notably, these amendments mandated a one-third (33%) reservation for women in these local governing bodies.
  • This marked a significant step toward increasing women’s representation in grassroots politics.
  • State-Level Initiatives:
  • Building on the provisions of the 73rd and 74th Amendments, some states took progressive steps to further enhance women’s political participation.
  • For example, Bihar became the first state to provide 50% reservation for women in panchayat bodies in 2006.
  • Over time, more than 20 states adopted a 50% reservation for women at the panchayat level.
  • Studies on Women’s Leadership:
  • Academic research conducted during this period shed light on the positive influence of women’s leadership in political bodies.
  • For example, a 2001 study by Raghabendra Chattopadhyay and Esther Duflo in West Bengal found that women leaders tended to invest more in infrastructure directly relevant to the needs of rural women, such as water supply, fuel availability, and roads.
  • Another study conducted in Maharashtra highlighted how all-women panchayats prioritized women’s issues, showcasing the potential benefits of women’s representation in politics.

Previous attempts in the parliament over the years

  • 1996:
  • The Women’s Reservation Bill, also known as the 81st Constitution Amendment Bill, was first introduced in the Lok Sabha in 1996 by the Deve Gowda-led United Front government. This bill proposed reserving one-third of the seats in the Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies for women.
  • It was referred to a Joint Committee for recommendations but failed to receive approval in the Lok Sabha. The bill lapsed with the dissolution of the Lok Sabha.
  • 1998:
  • In 1998, the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led National Democratic Alliance government reintroduced the Women’s Reservation Bill in the Lok Sabha.
  • However, like the previous attempt, it also lapsed after the government fell in 1999.
  • 1999, 2000, 2002, and 2003:
  • The Women’s Reservation Bill was reintroduced in the Lok Sabha multiple times between 1999 and 2003.
  • However, it faced resistance and failed to secure passage during these years.
  • 2010:
  • In 2010, the Manmohan Singh-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government tabled the Women’s Reservation Bill in the Rajya Sabha (the upper house of Parliament). This bill aimed to reserve one-third of the seats in the Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies for women.
  • However, the bill was never taken up for consideration in the Lok Sabha and lapsed with the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha.

Critical issues and concerns raised by the opposition

  • Delay Due to Delimitation:
  • The primary concern raised by the opposition is the linkage of women’s reservations with the periodic delimitation exercise. The last delimitation order was issued in 2008, and there is a freeze on seat readjustment until the figures of the first Census held after 2026 become available.
  • This has raised concerns that women’s reservations might not be implemented until the 2031 Census figures are available, causing a potential prolonged delay.
  • Lack of OBC Reservation:
  • Another significant issue raised by the Opposition is the absence of a separate reservation for OBCs in the Women’s Reservation Bill.
  • While the bill provides reservations for SCs and STs, it does not include a specific provision for OBCs, despite their significant population representation.

Assurance and suggestions

  • Amit Shah’s Assurance: Home Minister Amit Shah informed Parliament that the census and delimitation exercise would be conducted immediately after the general election due in 2024. This implies that the delimitation process, which has been a concern regarding potential delays in implementing women’s reservations, would be expedited.
  • Owaisi’s Suggestion: Asaduddin Owaisi and Syed Imtiyaz Jaleel of the AIMIM suggested that the bill should incorporate separate quotas for Other Backward Classes (OBC) and Muslim women, as these communities are underrepresented in Parliament and legislative assemblies.

Way forward

  • Timely Delimitation: The government can work on conducting the delimitation exercise promptly after the general election due in 2024, as stated by Home Minister Amit Shah. This would ensure that women’s reservation becomes a reality sooner.
  • Inclusive Consultations: The concerns regarding the absence of a separate reservation for OBCs should be addressed through inclusive consultations and discussions with political parties and stakeholders.
  • Research and Data: Continued research on the impact of women’s reservation at various levels of governance can provide evidence of its positive effects.
  • Political Consensus: Building consensus among political parties and garnering bipartisan support for the Women’s Reservation Bill is essential. This can be achieved through dialogue, negotiations, and compromise to address the concerns of different parties.

Conclusion

  • The passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill is a significant step toward promoting gender equality and women’s participation in the Indian political landscape. While it faces challenges related to delimitation and OBC representation, its historical context and potential benefits make it a pivotal moment in India’s journey towards inclusive and representative governance.

Also read:

Women’s share in Assemblies less than 10% in 20 States

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Women’s share in Assemblies less than 10% in 20 States

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Read the attached story

Mains level: Women’s Reservation Bill

Women

What’s the news?

  • The BJP government presented the Women’s Reservation Bill as its top priority in the newly inaugurated Parliament House.

Central idea

  • The 128th Constitutional Amendment Bill, 2023, known as the Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam, proposes reserving one-third of seats in the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies for women. Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed the bill as a historic decision and framed it as a divine mandate to empower women. The Lok Sabha, after a day of deliberations, passed the bill.

Historical Context

  • The Women’s Reservation Bill has a long and arduous history.
  • It was initially introduced in 1996 by the H.D. Deve Gowda-led United Front government but failed to gain approval.
  • Subsequent attempts to pass the bill faced similar fates, lapsing with the dissolution of houses.

Key Provisions of the Bill

  • Reservation Percentage: The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-eighth Amendment) Bill, 2023, proposes 33% reservation for women in Lok Sabha and state Legislative Assemblies.
  • Inclusion of Marginalized Groups: The reservation also includes seats reserved for women belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
  • Constitutional Amendments: The Bill introduces new articles, 330A and 332A, in the Constitution specifically for Lok Sabha and state assemblies, respectively.
  • Duration of Reservation: The proposed reservation will be in effect for 15 years from the commencement of the Act.
  • Dependence on Delimitation: Implementation of the reservation is contingent upon the completion of the delimitation process.

The current representation of women

  • Parliament:
  • As of now, the Lok Sabha has only 82 women members, constituting 15% of its total strength.
  • India has never seen a higher representation of women in its Parliament, even after over 70 years of electoral history.
  • In the 2019 general election, the share of women candidates was a mere 9%.
  • State Legislative Assemblies:
  • The situation in state legislative assemblies is even bleaker, with only Tripura surpassing the 15% mark.
  • Over 20 states and Union Territories have less than 10% women representation, including Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, and Karnataka.

Party-wise Analysis

  • Women’s representation across different political parties in the Lok Sabha
  • Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP): Currently, women make up just 13.5% of the BJP’s Lok Sabha members.
  • Biju Janata Dal (BJD): BJD leads in women’s representation, with 41.7% of its Lok Sabha MPs being women.
  • Trinamool Congress: Trinamool Congress follows closely, with 40.9% women MPs in the Lok Sabha.
  • Distribution of women MLAs in State Legislative Assemblies
  • West Bengal (Trinamool Congress): The Trinamool Congress in West Bengal boasts the highest percentage of women MLAs, standing at 15.3%.
  • Chhattisgarh (Congress): The Congress party in Chhattisgarh has 14.7% women MLAs, demonstrating a significant presence of women in the state assembly.
  • Political parties that lag behind in terms of women’s representation
  • Karnataka (Congress): The Congress party in Karnataka has only 3% women MLAs, indicating a significant gender disparity.
  • Telangana (Bharat Rashtra Samithi): The Bharat Rashtra Samithi in Telangana fares similarly poorly, with just 3.4% of women MLAs.
  • Tamil Nadu (Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, DMK): DMK in Tamil Nadu has a relatively low representation of women MLAs, with only 4.5% women in the state assembly.

Just to know:  

  • The highest proportion of women representatives elected to the Lok Sabha so far was in the 2019 elections, and it was less than 15 percent of total
  • The number of women candidates and MPs varies greatly across states and parties.
  • In the present Lok Sabha (17th), Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal have the highest numbers of women MPs. In terms of percentage, Goa and Manipur had fielded the highest proportion of women candidates.

Women

India’s parliamentary representation of women compared to other nations

  • India: India’s current women’s representation in parliament stands at a modest 15%, which, although an improvement, remains relatively low.
  • Iran: India ranks just above Iran, which has only 6% women representation in its parliament.
  • South Africa: In contrast, South Africa has made significant strides in women’s representation, with a considerably higher proportion of women in its national legislature.
  • Ethiopia: Ethiopia has also seen remarkable progress in gender parity within its national legislatures.

Challenges to Female Representation

  • Party Ticket Allocation: Despite pledges in party constitutions, records show that women candidates receive disproportionately fewer party tickets, often relying on family political connections.
  • Perceived Electability: The belief that women candidates are less likely to win elections hampers their ticket allocation.
  • Structural Barriers: Demanding and time-consuming election campaigns, coupled with family responsibilities, deter many women from active participation.
  • Vulnerability: Women politicians face humiliation, abuse, and threats, making participation even more challenging.
  • Financial Constraints: High campaign costs, limited financial independence, and a lack of party support create hurdles for women candidates.
  • Internalized Patriarchy: Many women prioritize family and household duties over political ambitions due to ingrained patriarchal norms.

Need for such a reservation

  • Ensuring Representation: Reservation guarantees women’s presence in decision-making bodies, addressing underrepresentation.
  • Encouraging Entry: Reservation encourages women to enter politics, contest elections, and engage in the political process.
  • Capacity Building: Participation in legislative processes enhances women’s political capacity, nurturing effective leaders.
  • Changing Perceptions: Reservation shifts societal attitudes toward women in politics, challenging stereotypes and promoting participation.
  • Promoting Gender-Sensitive Policies: Women politicians advocate for gender-sensitive policies addressing issues like violence against women and discrimination.

Conclusion

  • The passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill marks a historic moment in Indian politics. Achieving gender parity in political representation is a vital step towards a more inclusive democracy. It is imperative that all stakeholders work together to ensure the effective implementation of this landmark legislation and uplift women’s voices in the decision-making process.

Also read:

73rd and 74th Amendments and Reservation for Women

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

73rd and 74th Amendments and Reservation for Women

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments

Mains level: NA

Central Idea

  • The center introduced The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-eighth Amendment) Bill, 2023, marking a historic step towards reserving 33% of seats for women in Lok Sabha and state Legislative Assemblies.

73rd and 74th Amendments: Foundations 

  • Pioneering Amendments (1992): The Constitution (Seventy-third Amendment) Act, 1992, and The Constitution (Seventy-fourth Amendment) Act, 1992, laid the groundwork for women’s reservation.
  • Narsimha Rao’s tenure: Enacted during Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao’s tenure, these amendments mandated the reservation of one-third of seats for women in Panchayati Raj institutions and chairperson offices at all levels, as well as in urban local bodies.
  • Effective Dates: These amendments took effect on April 24, 1993, and June 1, 1993, respectively.

Background to the Amendments

  • Balwantrai Mehta Committee (1957): The Balwantrai Mehta Committee recommended the establishment of village-level agencies to represent community interests and execute government development programs. It called for elected local bodies with devolved resources and authority.
  • Asoka Mehta Committee (1977): The Asoka Mehta Committee proposed a shift of Panchayati Raj towards a political institution. It identified bureaucratic resistance, political apathy, and role ambiguity as factors undermining Panchayati Raj.
  • State Initiatives: Karnataka, West Bengal, and Andhra Pradesh passed laws based on the Asoka Mehta Committee report to strengthen Panchayati Raj. An attempt to enact a national strengthening law through The Constitution (Sixty-fourth Amendment) Bill in 1989, during Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s tenure, was unsuccessful in the Rajya Sabha.

Key Features of the Amendments

  • Local Self-Governance: The 73rd and 74th Constitution Amendment Acts established local self-governance in rural and urban India, respectively.
  • Institutions of Self-Government: Panchayats and municipalities became “institutions of self-government.”
  • Empowering Gram Sabha and Ward Committees: The gram sabha became the foundational unit of village democracy, while municipalities formed “ward committees.” These bodies included all adult citizens registered as voters, holding the panchayat or municipality accountable.
  • Direct Elections: Direct elections introduced for all three governance tiers: gram panchayat at the village level, taluka or block panchayat at the intermediate level, and zila panchayat or parishad at the district level. States with populations under 20 lakh were exempt.
  • Women’s Reservation: One-third of seats were reserved for women, with an additional 33% reservation for SCs and STs. Office-bearer and chairperson positions at all levels also reserved for women.
  • Fixed Tenure: Each body had a five-year tenure, and elections for successor bodies had to conclude before the previous body’s term ended. In cases of dissolution, elections had to occur within six months.
  • State Election Commissions: Each state established a State Election Commission for electoral roll supervision.
  • Development Planning: Panchayats were tasked with creating economic development and social justice plans, covering subjects in the Eleventh Schedule, such as agriculture, land, irrigation, animal husbandry, fisheries, cottage industries, and drinking water.
  • District Planning Committees: The 74th Amendment introduced District Planning Committees to consolidate plans prepared by panchayats and municipalities.

Conclusion

  • Progressive Foundations: The journey toward women’s political representation in India has been shaped by decades of struggle, starting from grassroots committees to constitutional amendments.
  • Empowering Local Governance: The 73rd and 74th Amendments laid the foundation for robust local self-governance, empowering rural and urban communities.
  • Women’s Reservation: The inclusion of women’s reservation as a crucial component signifies India’s commitment to gender parity in political decision-making at all levels.
  • Continued Progress: With the introduction of The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-eighth Amendment) Bill, 2023, India takes another step forward in its commitment to gender equality and empowerment.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Women’s Reservation Bill: A Long Road Ahead

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Women's Reservation Bill

Mains level: Read the attached story

women's reservation bill

Central Idea

  • The Indian government introduced The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-eighth Amendment) Bill, 2023, aimed at providing 33% reservation to women in the Lok Sabha and state Legislative Assemblies.
  • However, this endeavor is not new, dating back to the mid-1990s.

Women’s Reservation Bill: Overview

  • Reservation Provisions: The Bill proposes to reserve one-third of the seats in the Lok Sabha and state Assemblies for women, including those belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
  • Constitutional Amendments: Similar to a previous Bill from 2010, this one introduces new articles (330A and 332A) in the Constitution to effect these changes.
  • Sunset Clause: The Bill includes a sunset clause, stipulating that the reservation will be applicable for 15 years from the Act’s commencement.

Discourse on Women’s Reservation

  • Pre-Independence Demands: The discussion on women’s reservation dates back to the pre-Independence era, where various women’s organizations advocated for women’s political representation.
  • Recommendations: Several recommendations and reports, such as the 1955 committee’s proposal for 10% reservation in Lok Sabha and State legislative assemblies, set the stage.
  • National Perspective Plan: The National Perspective Plan for Women in 1988 called for 30% reservation in all elected bodies.
  • Panchayati Raj Act (1993): A significant step was the amendment of the Panchayati Raj Act in 1993, reserving 33% of seats in local government bodies for women.
  • Rajya Sabha Approval (2010): The Women’s Reservation Bill, introduced in 1996, finally gained momentum and was approved by the Rajya Sabha on March 9, 2010.

Practical obstacles in Implementation

(a) Delimitation Process Dependency:

  • Crucial Condition: The Bill links the implementation of women’s reservation to the delimitation process, which could significantly delay its enactment.
  • Impact of Census: Delimitation would occur after the publication of Census results, with the 2021 Census delay potentially affecting the timeline. Assuming the Census results are published after 2026, this could serve as the basis for delimitation of constituencies.
  • Operational Timeline: Given the current circumstances, women’s reservation might not be effective in the Lok Sabha until the general elections of 2029.

(b) Seat Identification Uncertainty:

  • Lack of Specifics: The Bill does not specify how the reserved seats will be identified, leaving this crucial aspect to be addressed by a separate law. Past proposals suggested rotation and a draw of lots method to determine reserved seats, but the government’s exact approach remains unclear.

(c) Current Seat Reservation Process

  • SCs and STs: The Delimitation Act, 2002, lays down principles for reserving seats for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes based on population distribution.

(d) Constitutional Amendments Required:

  • Amendment Necessity: To operationalize the women’s reservation scheme, amendments to Articles 82 and 170(3) of the Constitution are essential.
  • Impact on Panchayati Raj: While reservation for women exists in Panchayati Raj institutions, it operates under Article 243D and has achieved significant representation in several states. According to government data as of September 8, 2021, in at least 18 states, the percentage of women elected representatives in Panchayati Raj institutions was more than 50%.

Challenges to Female Representation

  • Party Ticket Allocation: Despite pledges in party constitutions, records show that women candidates receive disproportionately fewer party tickets, often relying on family political connections.
  • Perceived Electability: The belief that women candidates are less likely to win elections hampers their ticket allocation.
  • Structural Barriers: Demanding and time-consuming election campaigns, coupled with family responsibilities, deter many women from active participation.
  • Vulnerability: Women politicians face humiliation, abuse, and threats, making participation even more challenging.
  • Financial Constraints: High campaign costs, limited financial independence, and lack of party support create hurdles for women candidates.
  • Internalized Patriarchy: Many women prioritize family and household duties over political ambitions due to ingrained patriarchal norms.

Significance of Women’s Participation in Lawmaking

  • Political Empowerment: Legislative representation empowers women to participate in lawmaking and hold the government accountable.
  • Gender Parity Indicator: Women’s presence in national parliaments reflects gender equality progress in politics.
  • Unique Skills: Women bring diverse skills to politics, serve as role models, and advocate for gender justice.
  • Advocating Women’s Interests: Female politicians represent women’s interests in state policies, bridging the gap between representation and participation.
  • Efficiency and Integrity: Studies show that women legislators excel economically, exhibit lower criminality and corruption rates, and are more effective and less susceptible to political opportunism.

Need for such Reservation

  • Ensuring Representation: Reservation guarantees women’s presence in decision-making bodies, addressing underrepresentation.
  • Encouraging Entry: Reservation encourages women to enter politics, contest elections, and engage in the political process.
  • Capacity Building: Participation in legislative processes enhances women’s political capacity, nurturing effective leaders.
  • Changing Perceptions: Reservation shifts societal attitudes toward women in politics, challenging stereotypes and promoting participation.
  • Promoting Gender-Sensitive Policies: Women politicians advocate for gender-sensitive policies addressing issues like violence against women and discrimination.

Conclusion

  • Pressing Need: The Women’s Reservation Bill is long overdue, with women waiting for their rightful place in governance and nation-building.
  • Untapped Potential: Women’s leadership qualities are undeniable, and their participation is essential for India’s progress.
  • Call for Action: As India aspires to be a global leader, it must prioritize women’s political empowerment and pass the Women’s Reservation Bill without further delay.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Women’s reservation: What is the road ahead, before it can be implemented

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-eighth Amendment) Bill, 2023,

Mains level: Constitution (128tht) Bill, 2023, Key provisions, previous efforts, concerns and way forward

reservation

What’s the news?

  • In a significant legislative move, the government has tabled the Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-eighth Amendment) Bill, 2023, in the Lok Sabha.

Central idea

  • The Indian government has introduced the Constitution Bill, 2023, aimed at providing 33% reservation for women in both Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies. While the bill mirrors some aspects of the previously proposed legislation, it also introduces significant changes.

Key Provisions of the Bill

  • Reservation Percentage: The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-eighth Amendment) Bill, 2023, proposes 33% reservation for women in Lok Sabha and state Legislative Assemblies.
  • Inclusion of Marginalized Groups: The reservation also includes seats reserved for women belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
  • Constitutional Amendments: The Bill introduces new articles, 330A and 332A, in the Constitution specifically for Lok Sabha and state assemblies, respectively.
  • Duration of Reservation: The proposed reservation will be in effect for 15 years from the commencement of the Act.
  • Dependence on Delimitation: Implementation of the reservation is contingent upon the completion of the delimitation process.

Comparison with the Previous Bill

  • Reservation in Lok Sabha: The Bill reserves one-third of the total seats in Lok Sabha for women, including those from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
  • Sunset Clause: Similar to the 2010 Bill passed by the Rajya Sabha, the current Bill includes a 15-year sunset clause.
  • Delimitation Dependency: A significant difference is that the current Bill ties the implementation of women’s reservations to the delimitation process, which was not present in the 2010 Bill.

Current Reservation Framework

  • Panchayati Raj Institutions: India already has reservations for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and women in Panchayati Raj institutions.
  • Legal Mandate: Article 243D of the Constitution mandates that not less than one-third of the seats reserved for SCs and STs should be reserved for women.
  • Achievements in States: Several states have achieved over 50% women’s representation in Panchayati Raj institutions.

How does reservation for women in Panchayati Raj institutions and urban local bodies work?

  • Panchayati Raj: Article 243D ensures reservation for women, SCs, and STs in Panchayati Raj institutions.
  • Flexibility for States: States have the flexibility to reserve seats for backward classes.
  • High Women Representation: Many states have over 50% women representatives in Panchayati Raj institutions.

Concerns associated with the bill

  • Potential Delay: The bill’s implementation depends on the completion of the delimitation process, which could postpone its effect until the 2029 general elections.
  • Lack of Clarity: The bill does not specify how reserved seats will be identified, raising questions about the selection process.
  • Operational Challenges: Implementing the reservation, particularly ensuring fair representation, may pose logistical difficulties.

What constitutional amendments will be needed to operationalize the scheme of women’s reservation?

  • Amending Article 82: To enable women’s reservation, amendments to Article 82, which deals with the adjustment of constituencies for Lok Sabha and state assemblies following each census, are necessary.
  • Amending Article 170(3): Amendments to Article 170(3), which pertains to the composition of legislative assemblies, are also required.
  • Prerequisites for Implementation: These amendments are prerequisites for the delimitation process and, subsequently, the implementation of women’s reservations.

Conclusion

  • The introduction of the Constitution 128th Bill, 2023, marks a significant step towards empowering women in Indian politics. However, its effectiveness hinges on the timely completion of the delimitation process, and the method for identifying reserved seats remains a subject of debate. Nevertheless, this bill reflects a continued commitment to promoting gender equality in India’s democratic institutions.

Also read:

Private Member’s Bill for women’s reservation

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Supreme Court Ruling on ‘Self-Respect’ Marriages

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Self Respect Marriages

Mains level: Read the attached story

Central Idea

  • The recent Supreme Court ruling on ‘self-respect’ marriages under Section 7(A) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 has clarified the legal standing of these marriages.
  • The court’s decision has significant implications for the validity and recognition of such unions, particularly in the state of Tamil Nadu.

Self-respect Marriages

  • Amendment: The Hindu Marriage (Tamil Nadu Amendment) Act, 1967 introduced Section 7-A into the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, applicable solely in Tamil Nadu.
  • Recognition of ‘Self-Respect’ Marriages: Section 7-A recognizes and legalizes ‘self-respect’ or ‘suyamariyathai’ marriages, allowing them to be solemnized without the need for traditional rituals or priests.
  • Ceremony Description: Such marriages are performed in the presence of relatives, friends, or other individuals, with couples declaring each other as spouses in a language understood by them. Exchange of garlands, rings, or tying a ‘thali’ (mangal sutra) is required. Registration remains obligatory.

Legal Controversy

  • Madras High Court Ruling (2014): A 2014 Madras High Court ruling declared marriages solemnized by advocates as invalid, asserting that ‘self-respect’ marriages must not be secretive and should be celebrated publicly.
  • Current Supreme Court Ruling: The recent Supreme Court ruling, passed by Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Arvind Kumar, overruled the 2014 Madras High Court decision.

Supreme Court’s Interpretation and Decision

  • The Supreme Court clarified that there is no blanket ban on advocates solemnizing ‘self-respect’ marriages under Section 7(A) of the Hindu Marriage Act.
  • The court held that ‘self-respect’ marriages can indeed be solemnized and recognized, and the 2014 Madras High Court ruling was set aside.
  • The ruling was delivered in response to a petition filed by Ilavarasan, who sought recognition of his ‘self-respect’ marriage and the release of his wife from her parents’ custody.
  • The Supreme Court’s decision is based on the interpretation of Section 7(A) and its application in the context of ‘self-respect’ marriages.

Precedents and Past Rulings

  • In the case of Nagalingam vs. Sivagami (2001), the Supreme Court had already recognized the validity of ‘self-respect’ marriages under Section 7(A) of the Hindu Marriage Act.
  • The court emphasized that the presence of a priest is not obligatory for a valid marriage, and parties can enter into a marriage with the participation of relatives, friends, or other individuals.

Conclusion

  • The recent Supreme Court ruling has resolved the ambiguity surrounding the legality of ‘self-respect’ marriages solemnized by advocates under Section 7(A) of the Hindu Marriage Act.
  • By overturning the previous Madras High Court ruling, the Supreme Court has clarified the validity and recognition of such marriages, ensuring that ‘self-respect’ marriages can be solemnized without the need for traditional rituals or priests in Tamil Nadu.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Deconstructing Gender Stereotypes: The Supreme Court’s Handbook

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Gender stereotypical vocabs in Indian Legal System

gender

Central Idea

  • The Supreme Court of India has taken a significant step to challenge outdated ideas, especially those affecting women, by releasing a special guide.
  • This guide introduces new words for lawyers and judges to use in court, aiming to fight harmful beliefs.

Handbook on Combating Gender Stereotypes

  • The handbook provides a list of biased words and suggests better alternatives for legal documents.
  • Its main aim is to provide legal experts with the means to “identify, understand, and challenge stereotypes about women.”
  • It includes a list of terms that promote gender bias and offers alternative, fairer terms to be used in legal documents.

Objective and Scope of the Handbook

  • Challenging Old Beliefs: The Supreme Court’s initiative aims to discard old-fashioned and harmful stereotypes, particularly those related to women, through the ‘Handbook on Combating Gender Stereotypes.’
  • CJI’s Vision: The handbook is introduced by Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, who explains its purpose: to help legal professionals recognize and counter gender-based stereotypes.
  • Language Transformation: The handbook includes a glossary of terms that contribute to gender bias and suggests better alternatives to be used in legal writings.

Why such a move?

[A] Language inflicting Stereotypes

  • The handbook points out terms in legal language that promote gender bias and provides suggestions for change.
  • Examples of Change: Instead of using “adulteress,” the handbook recommends using “Woman who has engaged in sexual relations outside of marriage” to avoid disrespectful language.
  • Removing Biases: The handbook encourages using simple terms like “woman” and “wife” instead of prefixes like “chaste” or “obedient.”
  • Using Neutral Language: Instead of negatively using “effeminate,” the handbook suggests using neutral terms like “confident” or “responsible.”

[B] Avoiding labelling

  • Empowering Language: The handbook suggests using “survivor” or “victim” to describe individuals affected by sexual violence.
  • Respecting Preferences: The choice between “survivor” and “victim” should be based on the individual’s preference.

[C] Conscious Reporting of Cases

  • Separating Attire and Consent: The handbook emphasizes that a person’s clothing should never excuse unwanted touching; consent remains essential.
  • Breaking Stereotypes: The handbook rejects the idea that delayed reporting of sexual assault means it didn’t happen.
  • Encouraging Reporting: The handbook acknowledges the bravery required to report sexual offenses due to societal pressures.

Negative Effects of Gender Stereotypes

  • Widespread Impact: Gender stereotypes lead to exclusion and prejudice in workplaces, schools, and public places.
  • Education Example: The handbook illustrates how stereotypes affect students from marginalized communities, adding stress during exams.
  • Government Data: Minister Subhas Sarkar’s data on dropout rates among marginalized students is shared as an example.

Legal reforms rebutting Gender Stereotypes

  • Cases for Equality: The Supreme Court points out cases that reject stereotypes, like Joseph Shine vs. Union of India, which struck down the “adultery” law.
  • Example Rulings: The court’s decisions in cases like the State of Jharkhand vs. Shailendra Kumar Rai and the State of Punjab vs. Gurmit Singh are explained.

Conclusion

  • By offering alternatives to outdated and biased language, the handbook aims not only to reshape legal discussions but also societal viewpoints.
  • Its potential impact is anticipated to extend beyond legal matters, influencing everyday perspectives and contributing to a more equitable society.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Demographic transition and change in women’s lives

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NFHS findings

Mains level: Changing dynamics of women in India and Aging women and its implications

What is the news?

  • The observance of World Population Day (11 July) provides an opportunity to reflect upon India’s demographic journey and its transformative impact on the lives of its citizens, particularly women. This article presents insights and perspectives on how population growth, fertility decline, and social norms have influenced various aspects of women’s lives in India.

Central idea

  • From a population of 340 million at Independence to a staggering 1.4 billion today, India has experienced remarkable growth fueled by advancements in public health, diminished starvation, and medical breakthroughs. This demographic transition has had profound implications for Indian women throughout their lives, presenting both positive and negative changes.

Challenges Faced by Indian Women

  • Son Preference and Gender Bias: Indian society’s preference for sons is reflected in the sex ratio imbalance. The number of girls per 100 boys under the age of five dropped from 96 to 91 between 1950 and 2019. This decline can be attributed to practices such as sex-selective abortion and the neglect of sick daughters, resulting in limited opportunities and discrimination against girls.
  • Early Marriage and Childbearing: The early marriage and childbearing continue to be significant challenges for Indian women. The average age at first birth has remained low, with women born in the 1980s still having a first birth below 22 years of age. Early motherhood limits women’s educational and employment prospects, perpetuating gender inequality.
  • Limited Access to Education: While recent improvements have been made, access to quality education remains limited for many girls and women in India. The article emphasizes that although over 70% of girls enroll in secondary education, early marriage and childbearing restrict their educational opportunities, hindering their skill development and access to better employment prospects.
  • Gender-based Violence and Harassment: There is prevalence of gender-based violence and harassment, including domestic violence, dowry-related violence, and sexual harassment. Such incidents negatively impact women’s physical and psychological well-being, restrict their freedom, and limit their ability to fully participate in society.
  • Limited Economic Opportunities: Gender pay gaps, occupational segregation, and biases in hiring and promotion processes contribute to limited economic opportunities for women in India. The burden of unpaid domestic and caregiving work falls disproportionately on women, hindering their ability to engage in paid employment and achieve economic empowerment.
  • Lack of Social and Financial Support: The widowed or elderly women often lack adequate social and financial support systems. Dependence on male family members, particularly sons, for financial support can perpetuate gender inequality and leave women vulnerable to economic hardships, social isolation, and limited access to healthcare and pension benefits

Aging women and its implications

  • Increase in Proportion: The proportion of the female population aged 65 and above has risen significantly over the years. Between 1950 and 2022, the proportion of women aged 65 and above increased from 5% to 11% and is projected to reach 21% by 2050.
  • Outliving Husbands: Women tend to marry older men and are more likely to outlive their husbands. As a result, a higher percentage of elderly women are widowed compared to men in the same age group. The 2011 Census shows that while only 18% of men above age 65 are widowed, about 55% of the women are widowed.
  • Financial Challenges: Widowed women often face financial difficulties, as they may lack access to savings, property, and other financial resources. This dependence on their husbands and subsequent reliance on their children, primarily sons, can perpetuate the cycle of son preference.
  • Limited Agency: Widowed women may experience limited decision-making power and agency in their later years. Their dependence on sons for support can restrict their ability to make independent choices and contribute to a sense of social and economic vulnerability.

Changing Dynamics for Indian Women

  • Difficulty in ensuring the birth of a son: With families having fewer children, the likelihood of not having a son increased. Social norms, patrilocal kinship patterns, and financial insecurity reinforced the preference for sons. This led to practices such as sex-selective abortion and neglect of sick daughters.
  • Decreased years spent on active mothering: As fertility rates declined, women had more time for education and employment. NFHS finds that the number of years women spend caring for children under five declined from 14 years in 1992-93 to eight in 2018-20; the years spent caring for children ages six to 15 dropped from 20 to 14 years.
  • Persistent early marriage and childbearing: While women’s educational attainment increased, with over 70% of girls enrolling in secondary education, early marriage and childbearing remain the predominant forces defining women’s lives. As a recent article by Park, Hathi, Broussard, and Spears documents, the average age at first birth has hardly budged about 20 for women born in the 1940s and still remains well below 22 years for those born in the 1980s.

What is mean by Gender Dividend?

  • Gender Dividend refers to the concept that societies can achieve greater productivity and equity by investing in women and girls and closing gender gaps, particularly in the labor market.
  • It emphasizes that by realizing the economic potential of women and girls through increased investments and opportunities, societies can become more productive and equitable.

Strategies to harness the Gender Dividend

  • Education and Skill Development: Promote gender equality in education by ensuring equal access to quality education for girls and women. Encourage girls’ enrollment and retention in schools, address barriers to education, and provide skill development programs that equip women with relevant skills for employment.
  • Economic Empowerment: Create an enabling environment for women’s economic participation by addressing gender disparities in the labor market, promoting entrepreneurship, and ensuring equal pay for equal work. Implement policies and programs that support women’s access to financial resources, credit, and business opportunities.
  • Women’s Leadership and Decision-making: Increase women’s representation and participation in leadership positions across sectors, including politics, business, and public institutions. Encourage women’s involvement in decision-making processes at all levels to ensure their perspectives and voices are heard.
  • Legal Reforms and Gender Equality: Enact and enforce laws that protect women’s rights and promote gender equality. Address discriminatory practices, such as early marriage, dowry, and violence against women. Strengthen the implementation of existing laws to ensure justice and protection for women.
  • Health and Well-being: Improve women’s access to healthcare services, including reproductive healthcare, maternal health, and preventive care. Address specific health issues affecting women, such as gender-based violence, reproductive health concerns, and mental health.
  • Social Support and Safety: Establish social support systems that provide safety nets for women, particularly vulnerable groups such as widows, elderly women, and single mothers. Create awareness campaigns to challenge social norms and attitudes that perpetuate gender inequality and violence against women.
  • Engaging Men and Boys: Engage men and boys as allies in promoting gender equality and challenging harmful gender norms. Encourage men’s involvement in caregiving, domestic responsibilities, and advocating for women’s rights.
  • Data Collection and Monitoring: Collect sex-disaggregated data and conduct gender analysis to identify gaps, monitor progress, and inform evidence-based policymaking. Regularly evaluate and measure the impact of gender equality initiatives to ensure accountability and guide future interventions.

Strategies for enhancing childcare access

  • Utilize National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS): Consider making staffing crèches an acceptable form of work under NREGS. This would involve using NREGS workers to help staff childcare centers, thereby expanding access to affordable childcare services.
  • Leverage the Self-Help Group Movement: Harness the self-help group movement to establish neighborhood childcare centers in urban and rural areas. This can involve utilizing the network and resources of self-help groups to set up and manage childcare facilities.
  • Expand Anganwadis: Increase the reach and scope of Anganwadis, which are government-funded centers providing integrated childcare and early education services. Expand their capacity and include provisions for crèche services to accommodate working parents.
  • National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM): Integrate childcare services within the NRLM framework, which aims to enhance the livelihoods of rural households. This can involve incorporating childcare as part of the skill development and income-generation activities supported by NRLM.
  • Financial Support for Childcare: Explore the implementation of subsidy programs or financial assistance schemes to make childcare more affordable for low-income families. This could include income-based subsidies, vouchers, or tax credits to alleviate the financial burden of childcare expenses.
  • Neighbourhood Childcare Centers: Encourage the establishment of neighborhood-based childcare centers, particularly in urban areas, to cater to the local community’s childcare needs. This approach ensures proximity and accessibility for parents, making it easier for them to balance work and childcare responsibilities.
  • Recognition of Childcare as Work: Recognize the valuable work of childcare providers and promote the professionalization of the childcare sector. This can include offering training programs, certification, and support systems to improve the quality of care provided by childcare professionals

Conclusion

  • Realizing India’s demographic dividend requires fully harnessing the gender dividend by empowering women throughout their lives. Access to childcare plays a pivotal role in facilitating women’s labor force participation. Efforts to improve childcare access should be combined with strategies to challenge patriarchal norms and create an enabling environment for women’s education, employment, and asset ownership. By embracing these measures, India can empower its women and achieve inclusive and sustainable development.

Also read:

Women’s Political Representation in India: Moving Beyond Tokenism

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Women’s reproductive autonomy as the new catchword

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NFHS report

Mains level: India's progress and challenges in family planning and the concept of Reproductive autonomy,

reproductive

Why is this news?

  • India’s progress in family planning initiatives and achievements in areas such as life expectancy, maternal health, and gender empowerment. Instead of ensuring reproductive autonomy for each woman, society has obsessed with total fertility rates and the ideal population size of a family.

Central Idea

  • The theme of this year’s World Population Day, Unleashing the power of gender equality: Uplifting the voices of women and girls to unlock our world’s infinite possibilities, holds significant relevance for India. In order to foster women-led development across various sectors in India, it is imperative to prioritize reproductive autonomy as a core component.

What is mean by reproductive autonomy?

  • Reproductive autonomy refers to an individual’s right and ability to make informed decisions regarding their reproductive health and choices without interference, coercion, or discrimination.
  • It encompasses the freedom to decide whether or when to have children, the number of children to have, and the spacing between pregnancies.
  • Reproductive autonomy includes access to comprehensive reproductive healthcare services, including family planning methods, contraceptives, sexual education, prenatal care, safe abortion services, and support for reproductive health decisions.

India’s progress in family planning

  • Family planning initiatives: India has been commended for its family planning initiatives, aiming to provide comprehensive reproductive health services to every potential beneficiary.
  • Reproductive health services: Efforts have been made to expand the contraceptive basket and provide a range of modern short and long-acting reversible contraceptives, permanent methods, information, counseling, and services, including emergency contraception.
  • Maternal health improvements: India has made impressive strides in maternal health, as reflected in the significant reduction in maternal mortality rates. The current rate stands at 97 per 100,000 live births, down from 254 in 2004.
  • Gender empowerment: India has achieved progress in empowering women and girls. The number of child marriages has been cut in half since the early 2000s, and teen pregnancies have significantly decreased.
  • Access to vital services: India has witnessed improved access to crucial services, including health, education, and nutrition.
  • Longer life expectancy: Life expectancy at birth has significantly increased in India over the years, with Indians now living a decade longer compared to the 1990s.

What are the Challenges?

  • Lack of physical autonomy: Despite the progress made, many women in India continue to lack physical autonomy.
  • Limited decision-making power: According to the National Family Health Survey, only 10% of women in India are independently able to make decisions about their own health.
  • Acceptance of marital violence: The survey also reveals that 11% of women believe that marital violence is acceptable if a woman refuses to have sex with her husband.
  • Unplanned pregnancies: Nearly half of all pregnancies in India are unplanned, highlighting a challenge in ensuring effective family planning services and education.
  • Ongoing gender disparities: While progress has been made, there are persistent gender disparities and inequalities that need to be addressed to achieve true gender equality.
  • Societal attitudes: Attitudes and societal norms that perpetuate gender-based discrimination and violence continue to pose challenges to women’s empowerment.

Opportunities for India

  • Advancing gender equality: India has a significant opportunity to advance gender equality, which can have far-reaching positive effects on various aspects of society, including economic growth, social progress, and inclusive development.
  • Economic growth potential: By increasing women’s labor force participation by 10 percentage points, India could unlock significant economic growth potential. It is estimated that this could contribute to more than 70% of the potential GDP growth, amounting to an additional $770 billion by 2025.
  • Human capital development: Empowering women through education and family planning can lead to the accumulation of human capital, which is crucial for sustainable development and economic progress.
  • Harnessing women’s potential: By enabling women to participate fully in various sectors, including science, technology, agriculture, education, and healthcare, India can tap into the immense talent, ideas, and innovation that women bring to the table.
  • Rights-based legislation and policies: India has the opportunity to formulate and implement legislation and policies that empower women, girls, and marginalized individuals, enabling them to assert their rights and make life-changing personal decisions.
  • Inclusive economic development: Promoting gender equality and empowering women can contribute to inclusive economic development by ensuring equal opportunities and participation for all segments of society.
  • Shifting population dynamics: By focusing on reproductive choices and ensuring reproductive autonomy for individuals, India can shape its population dynamics in a way that respects individual rights and choices, while also addressing demographic challenges.

Way forward

  • Investments in women’s lives: Ensuring gender equality and empowering women requires making investments in every stage of a woman’s life, from childbirth to adolescence to maturity. This includes providing access to quality education, healthcare, and support systems that enable women to make informed choices and assert their rights.
  • Legislation and policies: Formulating and implementing rights-based legislation and policies that empower women, girls, and marginalized individuals is crucial. This involves engaging with these groups, understanding their needs, and creating an enabling environment that supports their rights and decision-making.
  • Comprehensive reproductive health services: Continued efforts should be made to provide comprehensive reproductive health services that are accessible, affordable, and of high quality. This includes expanding the contraceptive basket, ensuring access to family planning methods, information, counseling, and emergency contraception.
  • Gender-just approaches: Adopting gender-just approaches and solutions is essential for building a prosperous and inclusive India. This involves challenging societal norms and attitudes that perpetuate gender discrimination and violence, and promoting gender equality as a fundamental value.
  • Population and development discourse: Reaffirming the commitment to placing individual rights, particularly women’s rights and well-being, at the center of the population and development discourse is crucial. Shifting the focus from population stabilization to respecting reproductive choices and promoting reproductive autonomy is essential.

Conclusion

  • On this World Population Day, let us reiterate our commitment to placing individual rights, particularly women’s rights and well-being, at the forefront of population and development discourse. Embracing gender-just approaches and solutions is essential for building a prosperous India and a better world for all.

Also read:

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Meira Paibis: Manipur’s ‘torch-bearing’ Women Activists

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Meira Paibis

Mains level: Not Much

meira paibis

Central Idea

  • During Home Minister’s visit to Manipur amidst ongoing violence in the state, he met with various civil society groups, including the Meira Paibis.
  • This article explores the significance of the Meira Paibis in Manipur’s civil society, their social role, and major actions they have undertaken.

Who are the Meira Paibis of Manipur?

  • The Meira Paibis, also known as Imas or Mothers of Manipur, are Meitei women who represent a powerful moral force in Manipur’s civil society.
  • They come from various sections of society in the Imphal valley and are widely respected for their activism.
  • They Paibis are loosely organized, led by groups of senior women, and lack rigid hierarchy or overt political leanings.

Social Role of Meira Paibis

  • Originating in 1977, the Meira Paibis began as a grassroots movement primarily focused on combating alcoholism and drug abuse.
  • Over time, their scope expanded to address human rights violations and work towards the development of society at large.
  • They serve as the conscience keepers of Manipuri society and have a permanent and palpable presence in civil society.

Major Actions Undertaken

  • Support for Irom Sharmila: The Meira Paibi women actively supported Irom Sharmila during her 16-year hunger strike against the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), which grants immunity to armed forces in “disturbed” areas.
  • Advocacy for Inner Line Permit (ILP) System: In 2015, the Meira Paibis played a significant role in demanding the introduction of the ILP system, aiming to protect local interests, culture, and commercial opportunities.
  • Bandh Protests: The Meira Paibis organized bandhs and shutdown calls in markets to protest against perceived injustices, such as the broken promise of a marriage by an elected representative.
  • Recent Actions: During the current crisis, the Meira Paibis reportedly influenced the release of 12 KYKL cadres (an extremist group) who were apprehended by the armed forces, highlighting the influence of women activists in confronting security personnel.

Conclusion

  • The Meira Paibis of Manipur play a crucial role in the state’s civil society.
  • Their activism spans a range of social and political issues, and they have consistently fought for justice, human rights, and the betterment of society.
  • Despite the recent controversy surrounding their alleged interference in security operations, their contribution as a powerful force for social change should be acknowledged and appreciated.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Key Findings from the Gender Gap Report, 2023

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Global Gender Gap Report

Mains level: Gender parity in India

gender gap

Central Idea

  • India climbed eight places to rank 127 among 146 countries in the Gender Gap Report 2023 by the World Economic Forum.
  • Improvement in India’s ranking from 2022 and partial recovery towards 2020 parity levels.

What is Global Gender Gap Report?

  • The Global Gender Gap (GGG) Report is an index designed to measure gender equality.
  • It was first published in 2006 by the World Economic Forum.

Key Areas of Analysis:

  1. Economic participation and opportunity: Examines salary levels, workforce participation, and access to high-skilled employment.
  2. Educational attainment: Assesses access to basic and higher education for both genders.
  3. Political empowerment: Measures representation of women in decision-making structures.
  4. Health and survival: Considers life expectancy and sex ratio, accounting for differences in mortality rates.
  • On each of the four sub-indices as well as on the overall index the GGG index provides scores between 0 and 1, where 1 shows full gender parity and 0 is complete imparity.
  • It is the longest-standing index, which tracks progress towards closing these gaps over time since its inception in 2006

India’s Ranking and Progress

  • In 2022, India was ranked 135, indicating an improvement of 1.4 percentage points towards its 2020 parity level.
  • India has closed 64.3% of the overall gender gap, showcasing progress in various areas.
  • However, economic participation and opportunity in India achieved only 36.7% parity.
  • India has achieved parity in enrolment across all levels of education.

Comparison and Regional Context

  • Pakistan ranked 142, Bangladesh at 59, China at 107, Nepal at 116, Sri Lanka at 115, and Bhutan at 103.
  • Iceland remains the most gender-equal country, with over 90% of its gender gap closed.
  • Southern Asia achieved 63.4% gender parity, the second-lowest among the eight regions.

Challenges and Areas of Concern in India:

  • Despite some improvement in wage parity, the representation of women in senior positions and technical roles declined.
  • Political empowerment in India showed 25.3% parity, with women comprising 15.1% of MPs.
  • Notably, 18 countries, including India, have achieved women’s representation of over 40% in local governance.

Efforts and Impact

  • Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani highlighted the importance of women’s participation in local government bodies, which was acknowledged by the WEF.
  • India saw a 1.9 percentage point improvement in the sex ratio at birth, contributing to increased parity after more than a decade.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Gender Disparities in Clinical Trials: Recognizing the Need for Sex-Specific Research

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Male-centric approach in medicine, Challenges and way ahead

Clinical Trials

Central Idea

  • The persistent male-centric approach in medicine disregards the physiological differences between men and women. Despite the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) Revitalization Act of 1993 mandating the inclusion of women and minorities in clinical trials, gender disparities prevail. India, known as the pharmacy of the world, faces significant implications in clinical trials due to its generic drug production and consumption.

Generic Drugs, Trials, and Women’s Response

  • Gender Disparities in Clinical Trials: Historically, clinical trials have predominantly included male participants, leading to a lack of understanding of how medications specifically affect women. This gender disparity in clinical trials contributes to gaps in knowledge regarding women’s response to generic drugs.
  • Physiological Differences: Women’s bodies have unique physiological characteristics, such as hormone levels, body composition, and enzymatic activity, that can impact their response to medications. However, these differences have often been overlooked in clinical trials, resulting in a lack of data on how women specifically respond to generic drugs.
  • Underrepresentation of Women: Women have been underrepresented in clinical trials for generic drugs, which has significant implications for their healthcare. Without adequate representation, it is challenging to determine the optimal dosages and potential side effects of medications for women.
  • Inaccurate Dosages: Studies have revealed that nearly one-fifth of medications show differences in the active dose between men and women. This means that women may be receiving either inadequate doses or unintended overdoses of certain generic drugs due to the lack of gender-specific research.
  • Suboptimal Treatment Outcomes: The underrepresentation of women in clinical trials for generic drugs can lead to suboptimal treatment outcomes. Women may not receive the appropriate dosage of medication, resulting in ineffective treatment or potential harm due to overdosing.
  • Personalized Medicine: Including more women in clinical trials for generic drugs is crucial for the development of personalized medicine. By understanding how women specifically respond to medications, healthcare providers can tailor treatment approaches to better meet the needs of female patients.
  • Importance of Representation: The inclusion of diverse populations, including women, in clinical trials is essential for accurate and comprehensive data collection. It enables researchers to identify potential gender-specific variations in drug response and ensure that medications are safe and effective for both men and women.

Cardiac issues and the perpetuation of stereotypes: Significant challenges for women’s healthcare

  • Prevalence of Cardiac Issues: While traditionally seen as a male-dominated health concern, cardiac issues are now recognized as having a slightly higher prevalence in women. However, stereotypes and biases often lead to delayed diagnosis, misdiagnosis, and inadequate treatment for women experiencing cardiac problems.
  • Diagnostic Disparities: Women with cardiac symptoms may face challenges in receiving timely and accurate diagnoses. Symptoms of heart disease can manifest differently in women compared to men, with women more likely to experience atypical symptoms. Unfortunately, these differences are not always fully understood or considered by healthcare professionals, leading to underdiagnosis or misdiagnosis.
  • Treatment Disparities: Studies consistently demonstrate that women are less likely to receive appropriate medications, diagnostic tests, and clinical procedures for cardiac issues, even in developed countries. This discrepancy can be attributed to stereotypes that portray women as “lesser men” or dismiss their symptoms as anxiety or stress-related, undermining the urgency of necessary interventions.
  • Stereotypes and Bias: Stereotypes, such as the notion of the hysterical woman, continue to persist and influence healthcare decisions. These stereotypes can lead to a lack of trust and credibility when women seek medical attention for cardiac symptoms. It is essential to challenge and overcome such biases to ensure that women receive the appropriate care they need.

Clinical Trials

Reproductive Health and Maternal Mortality

  • Maternal Mortality: Maternal mortality refers to the death of a woman during pregnancy, childbirth, or within 42 days of delivery. Despite significant progress in reducing maternal mortality globally, it remains a pressing issue, particularly in low-resource settings. Factors contributing to maternal mortality include inadequate access to healthcare, lack of skilled birth attendants, limited emergency obstetric care, and delays in receiving appropriate medical interventions.
  • Complications of Pregnancy and Childbirth: Pregnancy and childbirth can pose various health risks to women. Complications such as hemorrhage, hypertensive disorders, infections, and unsafe abortions can lead to severe health consequences or even death
  • Pre-existing Medical Conditions and Pregnancy: Women with pre-existing medical conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension, or heart disease, face increased risks during pregnancy. These conditions can interact with pregnancy, leading to higher rates of complications and maternal mortality.
  • Reproductive Rights and Autonomy: Reproductive health includes the right to make informed decisions about one’s reproductive choices, including family planning, pregnancy, and childbirth. Women’s reproductive rights are often restricted, denying them the autonomy to control their reproductive health.
  • Inequities in Maternal Healthcare: Socioeconomic disparities, geographic location, and marginalized populations face additional challenges in accessing quality maternal healthcare. Women in rural or remote areas, indigenous communities, or minority groups may experience disproportionately higher maternal mortality rates due to limited access to healthcare facilities, cultural barriers, and discrimination.
  • Postpartum Mental Health: Postpartum mental health disorders, such as postpartum depression and anxiety, pose significant challenges to women’s well-being. However, these disorders are often overlooked and underdiagnosed, leaving women without proper support and treatment.

Gaps in Sex-Specific Research

  • Underrepresentation in Clinical Trials: Women have historically been underrepresented in clinical trials across various medical conditions and treatments. This gender disparity limits our understanding of how different therapies, medications, and interventions specifically affect women.
  • Limited Focus on Sex-Specific Illnesses: Many diseases and conditions affect women differently than men, such as breast or endometrial cancers, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and pregnancy-related issues. However, there are significant gaps in research focusing specifically on these sex-specific illnesses, leading to limited knowledge about their causes, prevention, and treatment.
  • Lack of Understanding of Sex-Specific Symptoms: Women often experience different symptoms or manifestations of certain diseases compared to men. For example, heart attack symptoms can be atypical in women, which can lead to delayed diagnosis and treatment. Insufficient research on sex-specific symptoms hinders accurate diagnosis and appropriate medical interventions for women.
  • Insufficient Data on Medication Safety and Efficacy: Medications may affect women differently due to hormonal fluctuations, body composition, or metabolism. However, clinical trials often fail to collect enough data on potential sex-specific differences in drug safety and efficacy. This can lead to inadequate dosing guidelines and potential adverse effects for women.

Clinical Trials

Way forward

  • Increased Representation in Clinical Trials: Efforts should be made to ensure adequate representation of women in clinical trials for generic drugs and across various medical conditions. This will enable researchers to gather comprehensive data on how medications specifically affect women and tailor treatments accordingly.
  • Sex-Specific Research: There is a need for increased focus on sex-specific research, particularly in areas such as reproductive health, sex-specific illnesses, and conditions with gender-specific variations. This research should explore differences in symptoms, treatment responses, and healthcare outcomes between men and women.
  • Policy Interventions: Governments and healthcare authorities should implement policies that promote sex-specific research in medicine. This can include providing funding and resources for research projects focused on women’s health and establishing guidelines that emphasize the inclusion of women in clinical trials.
  • Public Awareness and Education: Raising awareness among healthcare providers, researchers, and the general public about gender disparities in medicine is crucial. Educational initiatives should emphasize the importance of considering sex-specific differences in treatment approaches and highlight the need for equitable healthcare for women.
  • Empowering Women in Healthcare: Empowering women to actively participate in their healthcare decisions and advocate for their needs is essential. This can be achieved through providing comprehensive health education, promoting self-advocacy, and encouraging women’s involvement in healthcare research and policy-making.
  • Collaborative Efforts: Stakeholders, including healthcare professionals, researchers, policymakers, and advocacy groups, should collaborate to address gender disparities in medicine. By working together, they can identify gaps, share knowledge and best practices, and implement strategies to promote gender equality in healthcare.
  • International Cooperation: The issue of gender disparities in medicine is not limited to one country or region. International cooperation, such as sharing research findings and collaborating on initiatives, can contribute to a more comprehensive and effective approach to addressing gender inequalities in healthcare globally.

Clinical Trials

Conclusion

  • To ensure equal access to healthcare, women’s ailments must be properly understood and addressed. As India assumes the G-20 presidency, it presents an ideal opportunity to highlight this issue and align with the Sustainable Development Goals on women’s health. It is time to bridge the gender disparities in medicine and create a more equitable healthcare system for all.

Also read:

Menstrual health hygiene and sexual and reproductive health: The link

 

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Prioritizing Adolescent Girls’ Nutrition: Unlocking India’s Full Potential

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Nutrition schemes

Mains level: Nutrition of girls, Programs', challenges and way ahead

Nutrition

Central Idea

  • India’s future prosperity hinges on the well-being and development of its adolescent girls. The period of adolescence is critical for cognitive growth, making improved access to nutrition during this phase crucial. By addressing any nutrient deficiencies acquired in early developmental stages, we can unlock the full potential of the girl child.

Ever-growing Nutritional Concerns

  • High Prevalence of Anemia: The National Family Health Survey-5 (2019-21) reveals that a staggering 59.1% of adolescent girls in India are anemic. Anemia not only affects their overall health but also hampers their cognitive development and academic performance.
  • Underweight and Malnourishment: According to NFHS-4 data, over 41.9% of school-going girls in India are underweight. Malnourishment deprives girls of essential nutrients necessary for their growth, development, and overall well-being.
  • Menstruation-Related Nutritional Challenges: The onset of menstruation poses specific nutritional challenges for adolescent girls. The increased nutrient requirements during this phase, coupled with inadequate access to nutritious food and hygiene products, further exacerbate the risk of undernutrition and anemia.
  • Impact on Cognitive Development: Poor nutrition during adolescence can have long-lasting effects on cognitive development, affecting academic performance and limiting educational attainment. This hampers opportunities for employment and economic self-sufficiency later in life.
  • Increased Risk of Chronic Diseases and Pregnancy Complications: Undernourished adolescent girls are at a higher risk of developing chronic diseases and experiencing complications during pregnancy. This not only burdens families and communities with healthcare costs but also leads to financial instability and increased poverty.
  • Impediment to Women’s Labor Force Participation: Adolescent health serves as a significant indicator of women’s long-term participation in the labor force. Improved nutrition during adolescence enhances the prospects of young girls to engage in productive activities, contributing to economic growth and development

Long-term Consequences of Neglecting Nutrition among adolescent girls

  • Academic Performance and Educational Attainment: Poor nutrition during adolescence can lead to cognitive impairments, affecting academic performance. Malnourished girls may struggle to concentrate, learn, and retain information, ultimately limiting their educational attainment.
  • Economic Self-Sufficiency: Limited educational attainment and reduced job prospects due to undernutrition can impede economic self-sufficiency for adolescent girls. They may face challenges in finding stable employment and earning a sufficient income, perpetuating cycles of poverty and dependence.
  • Health Consequences: Undernourished adolescent girls are at a higher risk of developing chronic diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disorders, later in life. Poor nutrition during this crucial developmental phase also increases the likelihood of experiencing complications during pregnancy
  • Inter-generational Cycle of Malnutrition: Neglecting the nutritional needs of adolescent girls perpetuates an inter-generational cycle of malnutrition. Malnourished girls are more likely to give birth to undernourished babies, continuing the cycle of poor health and nutrition from one generation to the next.
  • Increased Healthcare Burden: The long-term consequences of undernutrition, including chronic diseases and pregnancy complications, impose a significant healthcare burden on both families and communities. The cost of treating and managing these health issues places additional strain on healthcare systems and can lead to financial instability for families.
  • Social Participation and Empowerment: Adequate nutrition plays a vital role in enabling individuals to actively participate in society. Undernourished adolescent girls may face limitations in engaging in social and community activities, including work, politics, and community involvement.

What needs to do to address these challenges?

  • Policy and Programmatic Interventions: Governments should prioritize nutrition interventions for adolescent girls by developing and implementing policies and programs that specifically target their nutritional needs.
  • Convergence and Collaboration: There should be effective convergence and collaboration among various government departments and stakeholders involved in nutrition and health programs.
  • Awareness and Education: Comprehensive awareness campaigns and nutrition education programs targeted at adolescent girls, their families, and communities should be implemented.
  • Strengthening Health Systems: Health systems should be strengthened to effectively deliver nutrition interventions to adolescent girls. This includes training health workers to provide appropriate counseling, screening for nutritional deficiencies, and ensuring the availability of necessary supplements and treatments.
  • Research and Data: There is a need for continued research and data collection on the nutritional status of adolescent girls. This data should be disaggregated by various parameters such as age, location, and socio-economic background.
  • Empowering Girls: Empowering adolescent girls is essential for their overall development and well-being. This can be done by providing opportunities for education, skill-building, and economic empowerment. Empowered girls are more likely to prioritize their own health and nutrition and become agents of change within their communities.
  • Partnerships and Investments: Public-private partnerships and investments from both domestic and international stakeholders are crucial for scaling up nutrition interventions for adolescent girls.

Need for the Strategic Modifications and Collaborations

  • Integration of Government Initiatives: Various government initiatives targeting adolescent girls’ nutrition should be integrated and coordinated to ensure comprehensive coverage and avoid duplication. For example, the Scheme for Adolescent Girls (SAG) can be brought under the umbrella of the Prime Minister’s Overarching Scheme for Holistic Nutrition programme (POSHAN) 2.0, facilitating a more cohesive and synergistic approach.
  • Strengthening Awareness and Nutrition Education: Targeted adolescent-oriented schemes, such as the Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram (RKSK), should incorporate robust awareness and nutrition education programs. Integration of behavior change communication (BCC) efforts can generate greater demand and promote the adoption of good nutrition practices.
  • Collaborative Efforts for Convergence: Effective convergence and collaborations among relevant departments and stakeholders are crucial. This includes collaboration between the health, education, and women and child development departments to ensure a coordinated approach.
  • Regional Contextualization: Social and Behavior Change Communication (SBCC) efforts should be tailored to the regional context and cultural nuances to ensure better acceptance and uptake of nutrition interventions. Collaboration with local community leaders, influencers, and organizations can help in designing region-specific interventions and strategies.

Nutrition

Conclusion

  • Addressing nutrition among girls is not just a health concern but an investment in the nation’s future. We have a responsibility and an opportunity to prioritize the nutritional needs of India’s girls, nurturing a healthier, stronger India where every girl can reach her full potential.

Also read:

A reality check on Nutrition programs

 

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Menstrual Health in India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Menstruation

Mains level: Menstrual health and Hygiene, Importance, challenges and way ahead

Menstrual Health

Central Idea

  • In a recent incident in Maharashtra, a man mistakenly perceived period stains on his sister’s clothes as a sign of a sexual relationship, highlighting the prevalence of misinformation about menstruation in urban India. Despite living in the public domain, girls and women face challenges related to periods due to shame, stigma, and discrimination.

What is Menstruation?

  • Menstruation, or period, is normal vaginal bleeding that occurs as part of a woman’s monthly cycle.
  • It is a normal process for girls and women who have reached puberty.
  • Every month, girl or women’s body prepares for pregnancy.
  • If no pregnancy occurs, body gets rid of the lining in the uterus.
  • The menstrual blood is partly blood and partly tissue from inside the uterus.
  • The length of a period can be different for each person, but usually lasts for 3-7 days.

Barriers to Menstrual Hygiene in Urban Areas

  • Lack of Awareness: Low-income groups in urban areas have limited understanding of periods and menstrual health, leading to poor practices and hygiene management.
  • Limited Access to Menstrual Products: While period products are more easily available in urban areas, they are often wrapped in paper or black plastic bags, contributing to the associated shame and stigma.
  • Inadequate Toilet Facilities: Low-income slums, pavement dwellers, educational institutions, and workplaces lack easily accessible, safe, clean, and convenient toilet facilities.
  • Poor Waste Management: Improper disposal of menstrual waste poses health risks to sanitation workers who are forced to sort through waste without proper protection, undermining their health and dignity.

Did you know?

  • The menstrual cycle can be affected by external factors such as stress, changes in temperature and altitude, and even exposure to certain chemicals and toxins.
  • This can cause changes in the length of the cycle, the intensity of bleeding, and the severity of symptoms.
  • There is also a small percentage of women who experience menorrhagia, which is an excessive bleeding during menstruation. This can be caused by hormonal imbalances, fibroids, endometriosis, and other underlying medical conditions.

Actions for Improvement

  • Awareness and Education: Continuous efforts should be made to raise awareness about periods, address harmful social norms, and challenge gender stereotypes related to menstruation.
  • Availability of Menstrual Products: Reusable and disposable menstrual products should be made more accessible through retail outlets, government schemes, social enterprises, and NGOs, ensuring people have the freedom to choose the products they prefer.
  • Female-Friendly Toilets: Initiatives such as ‘She Toilets’ and ‘Pink Toilets’ that provide safe, private, and clean facilities with essential amenities for managing periods should be expanded.
  • Menstrual Waste Management: Innovative solutions like providing dustbins and incinerators in female toilets, along with waste segregation initiatives like the ‘Red Dot Campaign’ and ‘PadCare Labs,’ can contribute to proper waste management.

Way ahead: Addressing Remaining Gaps

  • Reaching Marginalized Groups: Efforts should be made to reach people living in unregistered slums, pavements, refugee camps, and other vulnerable conditions in urban areas. Outreach programs, community engagement, and partnerships with local organizations can help provide access to accurate information, menstrual products, and improved facilities.
  • Worksites Support: Both formal and informal worksites need to cater to the menstrual needs of women who work. This can include providing clean and private toilet facilities, ensuring access to menstrual products, and promoting supportive workplace policies that address menstrual health needs.
  • Innovations in Menstrual Waste Management: Continued support for innovative solutions in menstrual waste management is essential. This includes safe and effective methods for disposal, such as incineration or environmentally friendly alternatives, as well as scalable approaches that can be adopted in different urban contexts.
  • Engaging Men and Boys: Promoting gender equality and breaking menstrual taboos require engaging men and boys as allies and advocates. Educating them about menstrual health, addressing gender stereotypes, and fostering supportive attitudes can help create an environment of acceptance and inclusion.
  • Research and Data Collection: Robust research and data collection on menstrual health in urban areas are crucial for evidence-based interventions and policy formulation. Collecting data on access to facilities, product usage, hygiene practices, and health outcomes can guide targeted efforts and measure progress.
  • Strengthening Partnerships: Collaboration among government agencies, NGOs, private sector entities, and community-based organizations is vital for comprehensive and sustainable interventions.
  • Education and Awareness: Continuously raising awareness about menstrual health is pivotal. This includes comprehensive menstrual health education in schools, community workshops, and media campaigns to dispel myths, challenge social norms, and promote positive attitudes towards menstruation.
  • Policy Advocacy: Advocating for supportive policies at the local, regional, and national levels can help address systemic gaps. This involves advocating for menstrual health as a public health priority, ensuring budget allocations for menstrual health initiatives, and integrating menstrual health into broader policies related to health, education, sanitation, and gender equality.

Conclusion

  • As the world observes Menstrual Hygiene Day (28 May), it is essential to recognize menstrual health as vital to personal health, public health, and human rights for all. Urban India must overcome taboos, improve awareness, enhance access to products and facilities, and promote proper waste management. By addressing these issues, we can empower girls and women to navigate public spaces with dignity and ensure their overall well-being.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your personal mentor for UPSC 2024 | Schedule your FREE session and get the Prelims prep Toolkit!

Must read:

Menstrual health hygiene and sexual and reproductive health: The link

 

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

25 years of Kudumbashree Scheme

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Kudumbashree Scheme

Mains level: Women empowerment initiatives

kudumbashree

Central Idea: President Droupadi Murmu inaugurated the silver jubilee celebrations of Kudumbashree.

What is Kudumbashree?

  • Kudumbashree is a poverty eradication and women empowerment program implemented by the State Poverty Eradication Mission (SPEM) in Kerala, India.
  • The program was established in 1997 based on recommendations from a task force appointed by the state government.
  • It was created in the context of devolving powers to the Panchayat Raj Institutions (PRIs) and the People’s Plan Campaign in Kerala.
  • Membership in Kudumbashree is open to all adult women, with one membership allowed per family.
  • In 2011, the Centre recognized Kudumbashree as the State Rural Livelihoods Mission (SRLM) under the National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM).

Working mechanism

  • Kudumbashree operates through a three-tier structure:
  1. Neighbourhood Groups (NHGs),
  2. Area Development Societies (ADS), and
  3. Community Development Societies (CDS).
  • The community network was gradually expanded to cover the entire state between 2000 and 2002.

Evolution and Contributions of Kudumbashree

  • Kudumbashree has transformed significantly over the past 25 years.
  • During the Kerala flood, Kudumbashree donated a substantial amount to the Chief Minister’s relief fund, surpassing contributions from tech giants and foundations.
  • The organization was initially conceptualized as an all-women poverty alleviation program.
  • Despite being flood victims themselves, Kudumbashree members showed resilience and contributed generously to help others.

Role during the COVID-19 Pandemic

  • Kudumbashree played a crucial role in responding to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • They manufactured and distributed masks and sanitisers.
  • The organization set up COVID treatment centres and worked as the nodal agency for COVID management in several local bodies.
  • ‘Janakeeya Hotels’ provided affordable meals to those in need, including those in home quarantine.

Empowerment and Social Impact

  • Kudumbashree has empowered women and facilitated grassroots planning for employment generation, poverty alleviation, and women’s empowerment.
  • It mobilized women for community activities and increased their participation in local bodies.
  • Kudumbashree’s initiatives include micro-enterprises, agricultural projects, rural development, and compassion programs.
  • The organization has made significant strides in empowering Dalit and tribal women.

Challenges and Future Directions

  • Critics highlight the need for Kudumbashree to evolve gender perspectives and alternative development models.
  • Despite criticism, Kudumbashree’s contribution to poverty reduction is unparalleled.
  • The organization aims to address gender-based crimes and eliminate social evils.
  • Mental and cultural empowerment are deemed crucial for overcoming the ‘gender paradox’ in Kerala.

Conclusion

  • Kudumbashree success in reducing poverty is widely recognized.
  • Continued efforts are needed to combat gender-based crimes and challenges.
  • Kudumbashree aims to be a force for positive societal change and women’s empowerment.

 

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your personal mentor for UPSC 2024 | Schedule your FREE session and get the Prelims prep Toolkit!

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Matrilineality in Meghalaya

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Matrilineality in India

Mains level: Not Much

meghalaya

Central Idea: A tribal council’s order not to issue a Scheduled Tribe (ST) certificate to any Khasi person who adopts the surname of her or his father has triggered a war of words in matrilineal Meghalaya.

Matrilineal Society of Meghalaya

  • Multiple tribes in Meghalaya, northeast India, practice matrilineal descent.
  • Khasi and Garo people are the primary tribes discussed in the article.
  • The term “Ki Hynniew Trep” (The Seven Huts) refers to the Khasi people, while the Garo people are also known as Achik people.
  • These tribes have a proud heritage of matrilineality, but there are concerns about the decline of matrilineal traits.

Background

  • Khasi people are an ancient tribe and are considered the largest surviving matrilineal culture in the world.
  • Khasis, along with other subgroups like the Garo, reside in Meghalaya, as well as bordering areas of Assam and Bangladesh.
  • The matrilineal tradition practiced by the Khasi people is unique within India.
  • Matrilineal principles are emphasized in myths, legends, and origin narratives of the Khasi tribe.
  • Reference to “Nari Rajya” in the epic Mahabharata likely correlates with the matrilineal culture of the Khasi and Jaintia Hills in Meghalaya.

Rights, Roles and Responsibilities

  • Women play a dominant role in the matrilineal society of Meghalaya.
  • The youngest daughter, known as Ka Khadduh, inherits ancestral property.
  • Husbands live with their mother-in-law after marriage.
  • Children take their mother’s surname.
  • In case a couple has no daughters, they can adopt a daughter and pass property rights to her.
  • The birth of a girl is celebrated, and there is no social stigma associated with women remarrying or giving birth out of wedlock.
  • Women have the freedom to intermarry outside their tribe.
  • Independent, well-dressed, unmarried women enjoy security and prefer not to get married.
  • Many small businesses are managed by women.

Comparison between Garo and Khasi Practices

Bina Agarwal compared the Garo and Khasi practices in 1994. (Aspirants with Sociology optional are bound to remember the sociologist’s name.)

  • Garo also practices matrilineal inheritance and matrilocal post-marital residence.
  • Both tribes accept pre-marital sex by women, but adultery by women is punished.
  • The Khasi practice duolocal post-marital residence, where the husband lives separately from the wife’s parents’ residence.
  • The Khasi have an aversion to cross-cousin marriage.

Roles of Men and Political Representation

  • Mothers or mothers-in-law are responsible for the care of children.
  • Khasi men perceive themselves as having a secondary status and established societies to protect men’s rights.
  • Representation of women in politics, legislative assembly, village councils, and panchayats is minimal.
  • Women believe they handle money matters better and enjoy economic freedom.

Matrilineal, not matriarchal

  • While society is matrilineal, it is not matriarchal. In past monarchies of the state, the son of the youngest sister of the king inherited the throne.
  • Even now in the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly or village councils or panchayats the representation of women in politics is minimal.

Issues with the system

  • Some Khasi men perceive themselves to be accorded a secondary status.
  • They have established societies to protect equal rights for men.
  • They express that Khasi men don’t have any security, they don’t own land, they don’t run the family business and, at the same time, they are almost good for nothing.

 

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your personal mentor for UPSC 2024 | Schedule your FREE session and get the Prelims prep Toolkit!

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Unpaid Care Work: Recognizing and Valuing Women’s Contributions

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Unpaid Care Work and women's crucial contribution and need for changing societal attitudes

Unpaid Care Work

Central Idea

  • Unpaid care work, predominantly performed by women, plays a crucial role in the well-being of families and contributes significantly to a country’s economy. However, it often goes unrecognized and undervalued, leading to gender inequality and economic implications. On this Mother’s day and beyond it is necessary to introspect and change the attitudes towards the women’s role of essential well being.

The Importance of Unpaid Care Work

  • Daily chores essential for their well-being: Unpaid care work encompasses daily chores, such as cleaning, cooking, and tending to the needs of family members, which are essential for their well-being.
  • Crucial contribution: It accounts for a substantial portion of a country’s GDP, ranging from 10 to 39 percent according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and 7.5 percent in India, as per the State Bank of India report.

Implications of Unpaid Care Work

  • Gender Inequality: Unpaid care work reinforces traditional gender roles and perpetuates gender inequality. The unequal distribution of caregiving and domestic responsibilities limits women’s opportunities for education, employment, and advancement, creating a cycle of economic and social disadvantage.
  • Economic Invisibility: Unpaid care work is often invisible in economic systems and measurements, such as GDP calculations. This invisibility devalues the contributions of caregivers and neglects the economic significance of care work, leading to an underestimation of women’s economic contributions.
  • Economic Loss and Reduced Income: The time and energy spent on unpaid care work can limit women’s ability to engage in paid employment or pursue economic opportunities. This leads to reduced income potential and financial dependence, contributing to income inequality between men and women.
  • Limited Time for Personal Development: The significant time and effort devoted to unpaid care work leave women with limited time for personal development, education, skills training, and leisure activities. This constrains their ability to pursue individual goals and self-fulfillment.
  • Health and Well-being: The burden of unpaid care work can have adverse effects on women’s physical and mental health. The constant juggling of caregiving responsibilities, household chores, and other duties can lead to stress, fatigue, and burnout, negatively impacting well-being.
  • Education and Professional Advancement: The unequal distribution of care work can hinder women’s educational opportunities and limit their ability to pursue higher education or career advancement. This perpetuates a cycle of limited professional growth and fewer leadership roles for women.
  • Workforce Gender Gap: Unpaid care work affects women’s participation in the formal labor force. The time constraints and caregiving responsibilities make it challenging for women to engage in paid employment, contributing to the gender gap in workforce participation and representation.
  • Social and Intergenerational Impact: The gendered division of unpaid care work can reinforce traditional gender norms and perpetuate inequality across generations. Children growing up in households where women bear the majority of care work may internalize and replicate these gendered roles in their own lives.
  • Policy and Societal Implications: The undervaluation and invisibility of unpaid care work hinder the formulation of effective policies and social structures that support caregivers. Lack of recognition and support can perpetuate gender inequality and limit progress towards gender-responsive policies and systems.

Gendered Division of Labor: Reasons and impact

  • Historical and Cultural Norms: Deeply ingrained historical and cultural norms shape societal expectations regarding gender roles. Traditional gender norms often dictate that women should be primarily responsible for caregiving and domestic chores, while men are expected to engage in paid work outside the home.
  • Gender Stereotypes and Expectations: Stereotypical beliefs about men’s and women’s inherent abilities and inclinations influence societal expectations regarding work and family responsibilities. Stereotypes portraying women as nurturing, emotional, and inclined towards caregiving, and men as strong, assertive, and suited for paid employment, contribute to the gendered division of labor.
  • Economic Factors and Structural Inequality: Structural inequalities in the labor market, such as gender wage gaps and limited opportunities for women’s advancement, create economic barriers for women. The undervaluation of traditionally female-dominated sectors contributes to the devaluation of women’s labor and reinforces the gendered division of labor.
  • Socialization and Education: Socialization processes from an early age play a crucial role in shaping gender roles and expectations. Children are often socialized into specific gender roles through various channels, including family, education, media, and peer influences.
  • Family Dynamics and Household Responsibilities: Within the family unit women are frequently assigned the bulk of caregiving and domestic tasks, regardless of their employment status. Unequal distribution of household chores and caregiving responsibilities creates a cycle where women’s time and energy are disproportionately dedicated to unpaid work, limiting their opportunities for paid employment and career advancement.
  • Power Dynamics and Patriarchy: Patriarchy grants men greater authority and control over resources, while women’s labor is often devalued and overlooked. These power dynamics reinforce traditional gender roles and limit women’s ability to challenge or negotiate their participation in different spheres of life, including work and family.

Way ahead: Need for Redefining Societal Attitudes

  • Recognizing the Value of Care Work: Unpaid care work is essential for the well-being and functioning of families and societies. It is important to acknowledge and value the contributions of caregivers, particularly women, as their work has significant economic, social, and emotional implications.
  • Challenging Gender Stereotypes: Societal attitudes often reinforce traditional gender roles, where caregiving is seen as primarily women’s responsibility. Redefining attitudes involves challenging these stereotypes and promoting the idea that caregiving should be shared by all members of the family, regardless of their gender.
  • Promoting Gender Equality: Redefining societal attitudes towards care work is crucial for promoting gender equality. It involves recognizing that caregiving is not solely a woman’s duty but a shared responsibility between partners, families, and society as a whole.
  • Empowering Women: By redefining societal attitudes, women can be empowered to pursue their educational, professional, and personal aspirations. When the burden of unpaid care work is shared more equitably, women have the opportunity to participate fully in the workforce, contribute to economic growth, and exercise their rights and choices.
  • Breaking the Cycle of Gendered Division of Labor: Redefining societal attitudes helps break the cycle of gendered division of labor, where women are primarily responsible for unpaid care work. It encourages men to take an active role in caregiving, fostering a more balanced and equitable distribution of responsibilities within households.
  • Creating Supportive Environments: Redefining societal attitudes also involves creating supportive environments that facilitate and value caregiving responsibilities. This includes workplace policies that enable work-life balance, access to affordable and quality childcare facilities, and social systems that recognize and support caregivers.
  • Building Inclusive and Progressive Societies: Societal attitudes towards care work reflect broader social norms and values. By redefining these attitudes, societies can become more inclusive, progressive, and equitable, where the contributions of all individuals, irrespective of their gender or caregiving roles, are valued and respected.

Unpaid Care Work

Conclusion

  • On Mother’s Day and beyond, it is crucial to acknowledge and appreciate the work done by women, transcending the singular role of mothers or caregivers. Collective efforts are needed to challenge and change societal attitudes that neglect the rights of women and perpetuate gender inequality.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your personal mentor for UPSC 2024 | Schedule your FREE session and get the Prelims prep Toolkit!

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Women’s Political Representation in India: Moving Beyond Tokenism

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Women's Reservation

Mains level: Reservation and Women’s political participation

Representation

“The progress of a community can be measured by the degree of progress which women have achieve” ——Babasaheb Ambedkar

Central Idea

  • Women have broken the glass ceiling of patriarchy in various sectors; however, they still face significant barriers to political participation in India. Despite achieving suffrage early, women hold only 14% of seats in the Parliament even 75 years after independence. It is time to acknowledge the systematic exclusion of women from politics and demand action for creating a more equitable political landscape.

Women’s political participation

  • Role in India’s fight for independence: Women played a crucial role in India’s fight for independence, by organising demonstrations, leading rallies, and raising awareness.
  • Representation in Constituent Assembly: There were numerous female representatives in the Constituent Assembly as well.
  • Women Chief Ministers: Just a decade ago, three of India’s largest States, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, and Uttar Pradesh, were in the spotlight for being led by women Chief Ministers.
  • For instance: While Sushma Swaraj led the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Sonia Gandhi served as both President of the Congress Party and Chairperson of the United Progressive Alliance. Also, India had its first woman President, Pratibha Patil around the same time.

The discourse on women’s reservation

  • Dates back to pre-Independence era: The discourse on women’s reservation in India originates from the pre-Independence era when several women’s organisations demanded political representation for women.
  • 10% of seats in the Legislature: It can be traced back to 1955 when a government appointed committee recommended that 10% of seats in the Lok Sabha and State legislative assemblies should be reserved for women.
  • National Perspective Plan for Women (1988): The National Perspective Plan for Women (1988) recommended that 30% of seats in all elected bodies should be reserved for women.
  • National Policy for the Empowerment of Women: This recommendation was reiterated in the National Policy for the Empowerment of Women, which was adopted in 2001.
  • 33% reservation under Panchayati raj Act: In 1993, the Panchayati Raj Act was amended to reserve 33% of all seats in local government bodies for women, which was a significant step towards women’s political empowerment.
  • Women’s Reservation Bill in Lok Sabha: The success of this reservation led to demands for similar reservations in other elected bodies; in 1996, the Women’s Reservation Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha. The Bill proposed to reserve one-third of seats in the Lok Sabha and State legislative Assemblies for women. However, facing strong opposition from some political parties it lapsed but gained more momentum again in the early 2000s. On March 9, 2010, the Bill was approved in the Rajya Sabha.

Why female representation in Parliament and state legislatures remained low?

  • Inaccessibility of Institutions: Election records show that most political parties, though pledging in their constitutions to provide adequate representation to women, in practice give far too few party tickets to women candidates. A study found that a large section of women who do get party tickets have family political connections, or are ‘dynastic’ politicians. With normal routes of accessibility limited, such connections are often an entry point for women
  • Notion of women less likely to win: It is still widely held in political circles that women candidates are less likely to win elections than men, which leads to political parties giving them fewer tickets.
  • Challenging Structural Conditions: Election campaigns in India are extremely demanding and time-consuming. Women politicians, with family commitments and the responsibilities of child care, often find it difficult to fully participate
  • Highly vulnerable: Women politicians have been constantly subjected to humiliation, inappropriate comments, abuse and threats of abuse, making participation and contesting elections extremely challenging.
  • Expensive electoral system: Financing is also an obstacle as many women are financially dependent on their families. Fighting parliamentary elections can be extremely expensive, and massive financial resources are required to be able to put up a formidable contest. Absent adequate support from their parties, women candidates are compelled to arrange for their own campaign financing this is a huge challenge that deters their participation
  • Internalized patriarchy: A phenomenon known as ‘internalized patriarchy’ where many women consider it their duty to priorities family and household over political ambitions.

Why women participation in law making process is so important?

  • Political empowerment: Legislative representation is fundamental to political empowerment, enabling participation in the law-making process. Legislatures play a vital role in raising debates and discussions on various aspects of governance and in exacting accountability from the government.
  • Shows the status of gender parity: Women’s representation in the national parliament is a key indicator of the extent of gender equality in parliamentary politics.
  • Women bring different skills to politics: According to Political scientist, Anne “women bring different skills to politics and provide role models for future generations; they appeal to justice between sexes.
  • Facilitates specific interests of women in policy: Their inclusion in politics facilitates representation of the specific interests of women in state policy and creates conditions for a revitalized democracy that bridges the gap between representation and participation.
  • Highly effective and less likely to be criminal and corrupt: Study found that, women legislators perform better in their constituencies on economic indicators than their male counterparts also women legislators are less likely to be criminal and corrupt, more efficacious, and less vulnerable to political opportunism.

How reservation for women in India can help increase political participation?

  • Ensuring representation: Reservation of seats for women in legislatures can ensure that women are represented in decision-making bodies. This can help address the issue of underrepresentation of women in politics.
  • Encouraging women to enter politics: Reservation can provide women with an opportunity to enter politics and participate in the political process. This can help increase the number of women who contest elections and engage in politics.
  • Building capacity: Reservation can help build the capacity of women politicians by providing them with an opportunity to participate in legislative processes and gain experience in politics. This can help them to become effective leaders and represent the interests of women.
  • Changing attitudes: Reservation can help change societal attitudes towards women in politics. It can help create a perception that women are capable of holding political office and making important decisions. This can help break down stereotypes and encourage more women to participate in politics.
  • Promoting gender-sensitive policies: Women politicians can help promote gender-sensitive policies that address issues such as violence against women, gender-based discrimination, and women’s health. Reservation can help ensure that these issues are given due consideration in the legislative process.

Conclusion

  • Women have been waiting for too long for their right to govern not just for themselves but for the greater common good. Women’s leadership qualities are not hidden from anyone, so the denial of opportunity for political representation represents grave injustice. As India strives to become a Vishwa Guru, we must not overlook the pivotal role women can play in nation building and development. The women’s reservation Bill cannot wait any longer. The Bill must be passed.

Mains Question

Q. Women’s leadership qualities are not hidden from anyone, so the denial of opportunity for political representation represents grave injustice. Comment.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your personal mentor for UPSC 2024 | Schedule your FREE session and get Prelims prep Toolkit!

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Women and India’s Labour force: Bridging the Gap

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Women's labour force participation In India

Labour force

Central Idea

  • Recent data reveals that despite more Muslim women than men enrolling in higher education courses, the number of Muslims in higher education has decreased. Additionally, Muslim women’s employment rates are still lagging behind, in line with the secular trends of low female labour force participation rates and increasing unpaid labour.

The Current Scenario: Women’ Labour force participation

  • The PLFS reports show three disturbing secular trends:
  1. The female labour force participation (FLFP) rate has stagnated at very low levels in our country.
  2. Women’s employment is seen as a supplemental source of income, and that is only activated in dire times for the family.
  3. The share of women employed in unpaid labour has increased even for highly educated women. In 2017-18, 6.2 per cent of women (age 15-59) with graduate (or higher) level of education worked as unpaid helpers. By 2021-22, this share had increased to 11.2 per cent.

Female labour force participation rate of Muslim women

  • The female labour force participation rate of Muslim women in the country is 15 per cent, as compared to 26.1 per cent for Hindu women.
  • Over the past three years, Muslim women have had the lowest LFP rate amongst all religious groups in the country, while the gender gap in participation has also been the widest for the community except for the Sikh community.
  • While salaried work is perhaps the more stable source of income, only 12.4 per cent of working Muslim women the lowest of all communities are salaried as compared to 16.2 per cent of Hindu women.
  • Research shows that Muslim women face significant discrimination in hiring at entry level roles.

Labour force

Why women labour force participation is low in India?

  • Cultural and social norms: Traditional gender roles and stereotypes often view women as responsible for domestic work and caregiving. Women are expected to prioritize their role as wives and mothers over their careers.
  • Lack of educational opportunities: Women from rural areas or lower socio-economic backgrounds may not have access to quality education or vocational training, limiting their employment opportunities.
  • Lack of safe and flexible work environments: Many women face challenges in finding safe and secure work environments, especially in fields that require mobility or working late hours. Women with children also face challenges in finding work that accommodates their caregiving responsibilities.
  • Discrimination and bias: Women face discrimination and bias in the workplace, including lower wages and fewer opportunities for advancement. Muslim women may also face additional discrimination based on their religion.
  • Legal barriers: Some laws and policies, such as restrictions on working night shifts, may limit women’s employment opportunities.
  • Patriarchal norms in family and society: Patriarchal norms often limit women’s decision-making power within the family and restrict their mobility outside of the home, further limiting their employment opportunities.

Labour force

Why the female labour force participation rate of Muslim women Is low?

  • Educational attainment: Muslim women, particularly those living in rural areas, have lower levels of educational attainment compared to women from other communities. This limits their access to better-paying and more skilled jobs, making it more difficult for them to enter the workforce.
  • Traditional gender roles: Muslim families, particularly those in conservative areas, have traditional gender roles where women are expected to prioritize household work and child-rearing over paid employment. This social norm is a significant barrier to women’s labor force participation.
  • Religious and cultural factors: Some Muslim women may face discrimination in the workplace due to religious and cultural stereotypes, which can limit their opportunities for employment.
  • Lack of safe and accessible transportation: Many women, particularly those from conservative communities, may face safety concerns when traveling alone. This limits their ability to commute to work and makes it difficult for them to access job opportunities outside of their immediate neighbourhoods.
  • Lack of support from family and community: Women may face resistance from their families and communities when they seek employment, particularly if it is seen as a threat to traditional gender roles or cultural norms.

Women’s low participation in the labour force and impact on society and the economy

  • Economic loss: The low participation of women in the labour force leads to an economic loss for the country. Women’s potential contributions to the economy are not utilized, leading to a loss of output and income.
  • Gender inequality: The low participation of women in the labour force perpetuates gender inequality. It limits women’s access to economic opportunities and reduces their bargaining power, leading to their exclusion from decision-making processes.
  • Social welfare: The low participation of women in the labor force also affects social welfare. It limits the resources available to women and their families, leading to a lack of access to education, healthcare, and other basic services.
  • Demographic imbalance: The low participation of women in the labor force also leads to a demographic imbalance. It limits the number of women in positions of power and decision-making, which affects the representation of women in different sectors of the economy.
  • Poverty: The low participation of women in the labor force also affects poverty reduction efforts. It limits the number of women who are able to earn a living and provide for their families, which affects poverty reduction efforts in the long run.

Way ahead: To increase inclusive women’s LFP

  • Society and Families must create supportive and sharing ecosystem: Society and families need to prioritize women’s employment as a means of contributing to the economic growth of the country. The stereotype of men being the sole breadwinner of the family puts a lot of pressure on them. Women can and should be brought in to share this burden while men share the burden of housework. It is essential to create a supportive ecosystem for women from all communities.
  • Providing skills training: Women should be provided with skills training and education to improve their employability. This could be achieved through vocational training programs, apprenticeships, and mentorship programs.
  • Employers must take intersectional approach: Employers need to ensure that they incorporate mechanisms to address unconscious biases in hiring. This can be done by designing inclusive networking opportunities and company events, promoting cultural awareness, creating an inclusive schedule for employees with faith-related needs, and offering compassion and support. Employers must work on women’s inclusion in the workplace and take an intersectional approach.
  • Policymakers must enable ecosystem for employment of women: The government and policymakers need to make those jobs available that women want and create ecosystems that are supportive of employed women. This involves creating space for women from all communities in policy conversations. There needs to be an emphasis on women’s employment as a means for them to have agency, express themselves, and expand their sources of happiness.
  • Encouraging entrepreneurship: Women entrepreneurs could be encouraged through access to credit, mentorship programs, and business incubators.

Labour force

Conclusion

  • India needs more women in the workforce to increase the size of the economic pie. Addressing the issue of Muslim women’s employment could significantly contribute to India’s economic growth. To bridge the gap, employers, policymakers, families, and society must work together and create a supportive ecosystem for women from all communities.

Mains Question

Q. The recent data suggests that Muslim women have had the lowest Labour force participation (LFP) rate amongst all religious groups in the country. Enumerate the reasons and Discuss overall impact of women’s low LFP on society and economy along with suggestions to improve women’s LFP .

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your personal mentor for UPSC 2024 | Schedule your FREE session and get Prelims prep Toolkit!

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Women Cadres (Maoist): Structural Violence and Exploitation

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Inner party women representation and hardships

Women Cadre

Central idea

  • The Communist Party of India (Maoist) claims to fight for gender equality, but the reality is that women cadres are subject to structural violence and exploitation.

Women’s representation in the party

  • Negligible representation in the council: Despite constituting 35%-40% of the party, women’s representation in the Central Committee and the Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee (DKSZC) is negligible
  • Members in the cadre: Only one-woman cadre is a Central Committee member out of more than 20 members, and only two women cadres are DKSZC members out of approximately 20 members

Concerns over women’s health and nutrition

  • Health challenges: Women face additional health challenges in the jungle and receive inadequate nutrition and healthcare. Most women become anaemic due to the lack of proper nutrition.
  • Menstrual hygiene challenges: Women cadres do not receive menstrual leave and need to be alert all the time with a gun. Only one loin cloth is provided to two women cadres to be shared as a sanitary napkin for six months.
  • Fundamental necessities are not adequate: Women cadres are not allowed to liberally use water and are at the mercy of the unit commander who carries some medical necessities

Conditions for marriage and reproduction

  • Marriage is not to enjoy family life: The party permits marriage only between willing partners to fight together, not to enjoy family life.
  • Forced vasectomy: Male cadres are forced to undergo vasectomy either before marriage or immediately after marriage.
  • Forced abortion: If a woman cadre gets pregnant, she has to undergo an abortion
  • Silent on divorce and polygamy: The party is silent on issues of divorce and polygamy

Sexual exploitation and ill-treatment of women

  • Sexual exploitation and ill treatment: Sexual exploitation of women is not uncommon in the party, and instances of suicide by women cadres due to ill-treatment and suspicion are reported.
  • Nominal punishment: Disciplinary action is taken against cadres for moral turpitude, but the maximum punishment is only suspension for a year or demotion.

Conclusion

  • Women who join the Communist Party of India (Maoist) in the hope of bringing about a revolution for the proletariat and the landless class are often subject to the same structural violence that they are supposed to fight. The party needs to ensure gender equality in reality, not just in its claims, and provide better conditions for women cadres.

Mains Question

Q. How do structural inequalities and power dynamics within political movements impact the fight for gender equality? Illustrate.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Mahila Samman Savings Certificate operationalized

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Mahila Samman Saving Certificate

Mains level: Not Much

Finance Minister while presenting the Budget 2023 announced a new scheme for women, Mahila Samman Saving Certificate. This scheme has now been operationalized.

Mahila Samman Saving Certificate

  • It is a one-time new small savings scheme of the government of India announced in the Budget 2023.
  • It will be made available for a two-year period up to March 2025.
  • This will offer deposit facility upto Rs 2 lakh in the name of women or girls for a tenure of 2 years.
  • The deposit facility will offer fixed interest rate of 7.5 per cent with a partial withdrawal option.

Benefits offered

  • It is a suitable alternative to fixed deposits (FDs) invested in the name of a woman for the short term.
  • The returns are higher than bank FDs and partial withdrawal makes liquidity less of a concern.

Other details

  • The Scheme will be rolled out through banks and post offices across the country.
  • The taxation structure is yet to be known and the scheme is expected to be available from April 1, 2023.

How is it different from Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana?

  • SSY is a small deposit scheme of the government of India meant exclusively for a girl child. The scheme is meant to meet the education and marriage expenses of a girl child.
  • The current rate of interest offered by Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana is 7.6%, which is compounded annually.
  • Account can be opened in the name of a girl child till she attains the age of 10 years.
  • The total amount deposited in an account shall not exceed Rs 1,50,000 in a financial year.
  • Sukanya Samriddhi scheme has tax benefits under Section 80C.
  • The account matures after 21 years from the date of opening or on marriage of the girl child under whose name the account is opened, whichever is earlier.

 

 

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Women Leadership: Conditions To Unleash Her Potential

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Women empowerment, Reforms to thrive Women leadership

Women

Central Idea

  • Today the world is home to a transformative generation of 900 million adolescent girls and young women poised to shape the future of work and growth. If this cohort of young women could be equipped with the right resources and opportunities to nurture the 21st century skills, they would become the largest segment of women leaders, change-makers, entrepreneurs, and innovators in history.

Women In India

  • India is home to one of the largest generations of girls and young women, has made significant progress across various domains, such as education, health, digital and financial inclusion, and leadership building, to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 5, which envisions a more gender-equal world by 2030.
  • To unleash the gender dividend and create conditions for female leadership to flourish, women at all levels of society must have inclusion in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT), bodily autonomy and safety, shared responsibility within the household, and equal participation in decision-making spaces.

Women

What are the necessary conditions that must be in place for Women leadership to thrive?

  1. Cultivating Agency:
  • Given the socio-economic barriers that adolescent girls confront from their earliest years that the work to cultivate their agency must begin early.
  • India’s initiatives across various domains, such as education, health, digital and financial inclusion, and leadership building, to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 5, which envisions a more gender-equal world by 2030.
  1. Inclusion in ICT:
  • Inclusion in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) for women at all levels of society is very important.
  • As access to digital technology increasingly becomes an arena of opportunity and basic service, EdTech can bridge the accessibility gap in education through hybrid learning models, even where girls’ access to schooling is restricted by harmful norms.
  1. STEM Education:
  • The prevailing stereotypes that characterize STEM education as a traditionally masculine domain, even though over 43% of Indian STEM graduates are women.
  • The gender norms that disproportionately allocate domestic and care responsibilities to women, representation of men as leaders of STEM, finance, and entrepreneurial fields in the public perception, and institutional mechanisms are some of the barriers that explain why increased women’s representation in STEM education does not translate into work participation.
  • There is need of inclusion of grade-appropriate STEM, financial education, and entrepreneurship syllabi into the educational curriculum for girls to counter these stereotypes actively.
  1. Bodily Autonomy and Safety
  • Empowering women to make decisions about their bodies and be free from all forms of violence and harassment is very important.
  • These basic conditions are critical to enable women and young girls to chart the trajectory of their personal and professional lives.
  1. Sport for Leadership
  • The sporting activities can promote leadership, self-sufficiency, and teamwork. The inclusion of adolescent girls and young women in sports can build their self-confidence, strengthen self-belief, and impart the nuances of teamwork.
  • The National Sports Policy and inclusion programs for children from vulnerable communities, which have seen remarkable success.
  1. Redistribute Care Work
  • The backbone of thriving families, communities, and economies largely falls on women, increasing in times of crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • It is crucial to recognize, reduce and redistribute unpaid care and domestic work, so that women may enjoy economic opportunities and outcomes on an equal footing to men.
  • The policies that provide services, social protection and basic infrastructure, promote sharing of domestic and care work between men and women, and create more paid jobs in the care economy, which are urgently needed to accelerate progress on women’s economic empowerment.

Do you know?  STEM education

  • STEM education refers to a curriculum that focuses on four academic disciplines: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.
  • STEM education is designed to promote and enhance the critical thinking, problem-solving, and analytical skills of students, while also encouraging their creativity and innovation.
  • The curriculum typically integrates these four subjects to show how they are interconnected and applicable to real-world problems.
  • STEM education is becoming increasingly important in today’s world, as technology continues to advance and the demand for skilled workers in these fields grows.

Women

Conclusion

  • Nurturing the leadership abilities of adolescent girls and young women is crucial for breaking down restrictive gender norms and barriers and accelerating progress across the Sustainable Development Goals. By working together to empower girls and women, we can create a more gender equal world and unlock the full potential of the next generation of female leaders.

Mains Question

Q. What are the necessary conditions that must be established for female leadership to flourish in India?


Are you an IAS Worthy Aspirant? Get a reality check with the All India Smash UPSC Scholarship Test

Get upto 100% Scholarship | 900 Registration till now | Only 100 Slots Left


 

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

World Bank Index on Life Cycle of Working Women

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: World Bank Index on the Life Cycle of Working Women

Mains level: Women in workforce

women

Central idea: The article reports on India’s score in the World Bank Index on the life cycle of working women.

World Bank Index on the Life Cycle of Working Women

  • It is a tool developed by the World Bank to measure and track the progress of women’s economic participation and opportunities over their lifetimes.
  • It is based on a set of indicators that measure factors such as laws and regulations affecting women’s employment, access to finance, and gender-based violence and harassment in the workplace.

The index is divided into three categories:

  1. Starting a job,
  2. During employment, and
  3. After employment.
  • Each category includes a set of indicators that measure the specific challenges and opportunities faced by women at different stages of their careers.
  • The purpose of the index is to provide policymakers and stakeholders with data and insights that can be used to inform policies and programs aimed at improving women’s economic opportunities and outcomes.
  • The index is updated periodically to track progress over time and identify areas where more action is needed.

India’s performance

  • India has scored 74.4 out of 100 in the World Bank Index on the life cycle of working women, which measures factors like laws, regulations, and practices affecting women’s economic participation.
  • This score places India at 140th out of 190 countries surveyed in the index.

Issues highlighted

  • India has made progress in certain areas, such as maternity benefits and anti-discrimination laws.
  • There are still significant gaps in areas like equal pay and access to finance.
  • The report also highlights the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women’s economic participation, with many women facing job losses and reduced hours of work.

Key recommendations

  • The report concludes by recommending actions that can be taken to improve women’s economic participation, such as-
  1. Increasing access to childcare
  2. Promoting flexible work arrangements and
  3. Addressing gender-based violence and harassment in the workplace

 

Attempt UPSC 2024 Smash Scholarship Test | FLAT* 100% OFF on UPSC Foundation & Mentorship programs

Get your Rs 10,000 worth of UPSC Strategic Package for FREE | PDFs, Zoom session, Tests, & Mentorship

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Menstrual Leave and its Global Standing

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Menstrual Leave

menstrual

Recently, the Supreme Court refused to entertain a PIL about menstrual leave for workers and students across the country, calling it a policy matter.

Menstrual Leave: Explained

  • Menstrual leave refers to a policy that allows women to take paid or unpaid leave from work when experiencing painful menstrual symptoms.
  • This means that female employees who are experiencing discomfort, pain, or other symptoms related to their menstrual cycle can take time off from work without having to worry about losing pay or facing disciplinary action.
  • It is a relatively new concept and is not yet widely available, but it has gained attention in recent years as more countries and companies consider its implementation.

Recent debate

  • The concept of menstrual leave for workers and students has swirled around for a couple of centuries.
  • Such policies are uneven and subject to much debate, even among feminist circles.

How prominent is the idea?

  • Menstruating women were given leave from paid labour in Soviet Russia in the 1920s.
  • A historian even claims that a school in Kerala granted period leave as early as 1912.
  • In light of this, we explore the global framework for menstrual leave and which countries currently have them.

Need for menstrual leave

  • Pain and discomfort: Menstrual leave is needed because menstruation can cause a range of symptoms that can be painful and debilitating, making it difficult for women to perform their jobs.
  • Ensure job security: Such leave allows women to take time off when they need it, without having to worry about losing pay or facing disciplinary action.
  • Ensure productivity: This helps ensure that women are able to fully participate in the workforce and can perform to the best of their abilities.
  • Detaches stigma and discrimination: Additionally, menstrual leave can help reduce the stigma surrounding menstruation and promote a culture of openness and support for women.

Issues if policy measures are enforced

Not everyone— not even all those who menstruate— are in favour of menstrual leave.

  • Create employer discrimination: Some believe either that it is not required or that it will backfire and lead to employer discrimination against women.
  • Obligation may backfire: If govt policy compels employers to grant menstrual pain leave, it may operate as a de facto disincentive for employers to engage women in their establishments.

Arguments against menstrual leaves

  • Potential for discrimination against women: If women are given additional leave days, they may be viewed as less capable or less committed to their jobs compared to their male counterparts.
  • Concerns about decreased productivity: Opponents of menstrual leave policies argue that allowing women to take time off work during their menstrual cycle could result in decreased productivity, and ultimately harm businesses.
  • Challenges in implementation: Enforcement of such policies could be challenging for businesses, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises. These businesses may struggle to manage their workforce effectively if employees are taking additional leave days throughout the year.

What kind of menstrual leave policies are in place globally?

  • Spain: Recently, Spain became the first European country to grant paid menstrual leave to workers, among a host of other sexual health rights. Workers now have the right to three days of menstrual leave— expandable to five days— a month.
  • Japan: It introduced menstrual leave as part of labour law in 1947, after the idea became popular with labor unions in the 1920s. At present, under Article 68, employers cannot ask women who experience difficult periods to work during that time.
  • Indonesia: It introduced a policy in 1948, amended in 2003, saying that workers experiencing menstrual pain are not obliged to work on the first two days of their cycle.
  • Philippines: In the Philippines, workers are permitted two days of menstrual leave a month.
  • Taiwan: It has an Act of Gender Equality in Employment in place. Employees have the right to request a day off as period leave every month, at half their regular wage. Three such leaves are permitted per year— extra leaves are counted as sick leave.
  • Zambia: Among the African nations, Zambia introduced one day of leave a month without needing a reason or a medical certificate, calling it Mother’s Day.
  • Others: The petition also mentioned that the United Kingdom, China and Wales have menstrual leave provisions.

Thus we can say that almost every alternate country has provisions for menstrual leave.

What attempts are being made in India?

  • In India, too, certain companies have brought in menstrual leave policies— the most famous example being Zomato in 2020, which announced a 10-day paid period leave per year.
  • Time reported that 621 employees have taken more than 2,000 days of leave after the policy was introduced.
  • Other such as Swiggy and Byjus have also followed suit.
  • Among State governments, Bihar and Kerala are the only ones to introduce menstrual leave to women, as noted in the petition before the Supreme Court.

Parliamentary measures

Parliament has seen certain measures in this direction, with no success.

  • In 2017, MP Ninong Ering from Arunachal Pradesh introduced ‘The Menstruation Benefits Bill, 2017’ in Parliament.
  • It was represented in 2022 on the first day of the Budget Session in the Lok Sabha, but was disregarded as an “unclean topic,” the petition says.
  • Shashi Tharoor also introduced the Women’s Sexual, Reproductive and Menstrual Rights Bill in 2018, which proposed that sanitary pads should be made freely available for women by public authorities in their premises.

Way forward

  • Education and Awareness: Education and awareness campaigns can be conducted to educate employers, employees, and policymakers about the importance of menstrual health and the need for menstrual leave policies.
  • Flexible Work Arrangements: In lieu of specific menstrual leave policies, companies can offer flexible work arrangements, such as remote work or flexible scheduling, to accommodate employees who are experiencing menstrual discomfort.
  • Consultation with Experts: Policymakers can consult with health experts, labor organizations, and other stakeholders to develop comprehensive menstrual leave policies that meet the needs of both employees and businesses.
  • Pilot Programs: Pilot programs can be implemented to test the effectiveness of menstrual leave policies and evaluate their impact on businesses and employees.
  • Workplace Culture: Companies can work to create a workplace culture that supports menstrual health and normalizes conversations around menstruation. This can help to reduce the stigma associated with menstruation and promote gender equity in the workplace.

 

Attempt UPSC 2024 Smash Scholarship Test | FLAT* 100% OFF on UPSC Foundation & Mentorship programs

Get your Rs 10,000 worth of UPSC Strategic Package for FREE | PDFs, Zoom session, Tests, & Mentorship

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Can’t legislate on Women’s Marriage Age: Supreme Court

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Legal age of marriage , Related considerations

marriage

The Supreme Court has rejected a petition seeking a uniform minimum age of marriage for men and women stating that the matter is within the domain of the legislature and not the judiciary.

Central idea: The minimum age of marriage, especially for women, has been a contentious issue.  It was evolved in the face of much resistance from religious and social conservatives.

What laws govern marriage age in India?

Following laws prescribe/mention 18 and 21 years as the minimum age of consent for marriage for women and men respectively:

  1. Special Marriage Act, 1954: It allows people from two different faith/religious backgrounds to come together in the bond of marriage
  2. Sarda Act, 1978: Named 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.
  3. Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006: It provides that the minimum age of marriage is 21 years in case of males, and 18 years in case of females.

Evolution of the idea: Age of Consent

  • The IPC enacted in 1860 criminalised sexual 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 declared that marriage with a girl under 12 would be invalid.
  • The law faced opposition from leaders including Lokmanya Tilak, who saw the British intervention as an attack to create rift within family intuitions in the name of equal rights.
  • A legal framework for the age of consent for marriage in India only began in the 1880s.

Central idea: Attainment of Majority

  • 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.
  • The law prescribes a minimum age of marriage to essentially outlaw child marriages and prevents the abuse of minors.

How this confers ‘Unequal Treatment’?

  • Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution guarantee the right to equality and the right to live with dignity.
  • They are clearly violated by having different legal age for men and women to marry, argue activists.

Supreme Court rulings supportive to this

  • NALSA vs. Union of India, 2014: The Supreme Court while recognizing 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.”
  • Joseph Shine v Union of India, 2019: The Court decriminalized adultery and said that “a law that treats women differently based on gender stereotypes is an affront to women’s dignity.”

Contention over different legal standards

  • No rationale behind: There is no reasoning in the law for having different legal standards of age for men and women to marry.
  • More of religious decree: The laws are a codification of custom and religious practices.
  • Stereotype for male dominance: The Law Commission consultation paper has argued that having different legal standards “contributes to the stereotype that wives must be younger than their husbands”.
  • Promotes premature marriage of girl child: Women’s rights activists have argued that the law also perpetuates the stereotype that women are more mature than men and therefore, can be allowed to marry sooner.
  • Motherhood complexities: An early age of marriage, and consequent early pregnancies, also have impacts on nutritional levels of mothers and their children, and their overall health and mental wellbeing.
  • Other factors: Early marriage age has latent outcomes such as early dropouts from school, deprivation from higher education etc.

Why is the law being relooked at?

  • Prevalence of child marriage: Despite laws mandating minimum age and criminalizing sexual intercourse with a minor, child marriages are very prevalent in the country.
  • Bring gender-neutrality: From bringing in gender-neutrality to reduce the risks of early pregnancy among women, there are many arguments in favour of increasing the minimum age of marriage of women.
  • Protection from abuse: This will essentially outlaw premature girls marriages and prevent the abuse of minors.
  • Women empowerment: The decision would empower women who are cut off from access to education and livelihood due to an early marriage.

Policy measures in this regard: Jaya Jaitly Committee

  • In June 2020, the Ministry of WCD set up a task force to look into the correlation between the age of marriage with issues of women’s nutrition, prevalence of anaemia, IMR, MMR and other social indices.
  • The committee was to look at the feasibility of increasing the age of marriage and its implication on women and child health, as well as how to increase access to education for women.

Key recommendations

  • The committee has recommended the age of marriage be increased to 21 years, on the basis of feedback they received from young adults from 16 universities across the country.
  • The committee also asked the government to look into increasing access to schools and colleges for girls, including their transportation to these institutes from far-flung areas.
  • Skill and business training has also been recommended, as has sex education in schools.
  • The committee said these deliveries must come first, as, unless they are implemented and women are empowered, the law will not be as effective.

Criticism of the move to raise the legal ages

  • Promote illegal marriages: Such legislation would push a large portion of the population into illegal marriages leading to non-institutional births.
  • Ineffectiveness of existing laws: Decrease in child marriages has not been because of the existing law but because of an increase in girls’ education and employment opportunities.
  • Unnecessary coercion: The law would end up being coercive, and in particular negatively impact marginalized communities, such as the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes, making them law-breakers.

Way forward

  • Enacting Legislation: Establishing a Uniform Minimum Age of Marriage for Both Men and Women
  • Effective Implementation and Enforcement: Preventing Child Marriages and Gender-Based Discrimination
  • Addressing Root Causes: Improving Access to Education and Healthcare, Promoting Women’s Participation, and Reducing Gender-Based Violence and Discrimination
  • Coordinated Multi-Sectoral Approach: Involving the Government, Civil Society and religious scholars.

 

Crack Prelims 2023! Talk to our Rankers

(Click) FREE 1-to-1 on-call Mentorship by IAS-IPS officers | Discuss doubts, strategy, sources, and more

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Marital age: Laws Are Not Enough As Enforcement Is Poor

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: The Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021 and Marital age of women and issues

age

Central Idea

  • Recently, the Supreme Court dismissed a petition seeking to increase the minimum age of marriage of women in India from 18 years to 21 years. The Chief Justice of India, D.Y. Chandrachud, noted that the power to amend the law lies with Parliament.

Crack Prelims 2023! Talk to our Rankers

The Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021

  • Amendment to the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006: The Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021 is a proposed amendment to the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, which is an Indian law that prohibits the marriage of children below the age of 18 for girls and 21 for boys.
  • Aim to strengthen the existing laws: The bill was introduced in the Indian Parliament in March 2021 with the aim of strengthening the existing law and further protecting the rights of children. Some of the key provisions of the bill include
  • Referred to the Standing Committee: But after Opposition MPs demanded greater scrutiny of the Bill, it was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee.

Why the age of marriage of women matters?

  • Age of marriage has bearing on maternal mortality rates, fertility levels, nutrition of mother and child, sex ratios, and, on a different register, education and employment opportunities for women.
  • It is also argued that other factors such as poverty and health services were far more effective as levers for improving women’s and children’s health and nutritional status.

Some of the key provisions of the Bill

  • Making registration of marriages mandatory: The bill proposes to make registration of all marriages, including child marriages, mandatory. This is aimed at improving the implementation of the law and making it easier to track and prevent child marriages.
  • Making child marriages voidable: The bill proposes to make child marriages voidable at the option of the contracting party who was a child at the time of marriage. This means that a child who was married before the age of 18 can seek to have the marriage declared void, provided it is done within two years of attaining adulthood.
  • Punishment for promoting or permitting child marriage: The bill proposes to increase the punishment for promoting or permitting child marriage. The punishment for such offences will now be imprisonment of up to two years and/or a fine of up to one lakh rupees.

age

Scrutiny before passing it?

  • Despite of the legal age girl married before their 18th birthday: The caution exercised by the Supreme Court and the advice of the Opposition MPs to scrutinise the Bill before passing it is well grounded. This is because, despite the legal age of marriage for women being 18 years, almost 23% of women who were aged between 20 and 24 years in 2019-21 married before their 18th birthday.
  • State wise: In fact, in the eastern States of Bihar and West Bengal, the share was over 40% In Assam, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan, the share was over 25%. The share was below 10% in Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and Uttarakhand, among other States.
  • Less no of cases reported despite of high prevalence: Despite such a high share of women marrying before turning 18 years, only 1,050 cases were registered under The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act in 2021, according to the National Crime Records Bureau.
  • Question of enforcement gets even bigger: With the Bill proposing to raise the legal age from 18 to 21, the question of enforcement gets even bigger. In India, over 60% of women who were aged between 25 and 29 in 2019-21 married before their 21st birthday. In the eastern States of Bihar and West Bengal, the share was over 70%.

Way ahead

  • While laws can be changed, enforcement may remain weak as underage marriages are rarely reported.
  • Education, more than wealth, determines women’s marital age
  • Better-educated women have had more control over when they should get married for decades now.
  • The Data Point also showed that due to awareness and better negotiation powers, younger women have pushed up their median marriage age by many years compared to their mothers and grandmothers.

age

Conclusion

  • Overall, the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021 is an important step towards strengthening the legal framework to prevent child marriages in India and ensuring that children are protected from this harmful practice. However, raising the bar alone may not be sufficient. Enforcement while emphasizing education awareness will be the key.

Mains Question

Q. While laws can be changed, enforcement may remain weak as underage marriages are rarely reported In this light discuss why the age of marriage of women matters?

(Click) FREE 1-to-1 on-call Mentorship by IAS-IPS officers | Discuss doubts, strategy, sources, and more

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Menstrual health hygiene and sexual and reproductive health: The link

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Challenges to Menstrual health hygiene and sexual and reproductive health

Menstrual

Context

  • Maternal mortality rates remain high in low- and middle-income countries, where 94 percent of all cases are recorded. In India, maternal mortality ratio stands at 113 per 100,000 live births; the government is aiming to reduce the incidence to below 70 by 2030. Experts agree that the promotion of sexual and reproductive health (SRH) is among the keys to addressing this massive challenge. Achieving global targets on SRH, in turn, greatly depends on a collective commitment to improve menstrual health and hygiene (MHH).

Crack Prelims 2023! Talk to our Rankers

Challenges for Menstrual hygiene

  • Lack adequate access to information and service: The stark reality is that individuals who menstruate lack adequate access to information and services around SRH and are unable to exercise their SRH rights throughout their life cycle. Among the factors for this lack of access are poor economic and educational outcomes.
  • For instance: Multiple studies in different developing countries have shown that those with fewer number of schooling years tend to experience early sexual initiation and early marriage, have higher fertility rates, and suffer poor maternal outcomes.
  • Multiple barriers hinder the promotion of menstrual health and hygiene: Barriers that include socio-cultural norms that regard menstruation as taboo, and biological and medical issues such as urinary tract infections, and abnormal urinary bleeding that can be caused by fibroids.
  • Vicious circle of poor SRH: These issues diminish the agency of menstruating individuals in making decisions related to sex, relationships, family planning, and contraceptive use. This sets them back into the vicious circle of poor SRH.
  • Lack of privacy and dignity: Menstruation-related challenges are seen in schools, work places, and communities where menstruating individuals cannot safely manage their needs with privacy and dignity.
  • Taboos and myths: In certain communities, restrictive social norms do not allow menstruating individuals to pray, bathe, sleep in the same bed as others, or make food. In India, taboos and myths hinder the optimal use of the more than 8,000 Adolescents-Friendly Health Clinics (AFHCs) set up by the government across the country.

Global Outlook

  • Menstrual health is often neglected in SRH agendas: Despite strong evidence that one of the anchors of sexual and reproductive health is menstrual health, governments, policymakers, and NGOs rarely include menstrual health in their SRH agendas.
  • Little attention had been paid: Although SRH was the focus of both the World Population Day and Gender Equality Forum in 2021, little attention has been paid, if at all, to menstrual health.
  • For example during the vaccination, menstrual health was not taken into account: Early studies also suggest that during the production of COVID-19 vaccines, menstrual health was not taken into account while conducting the pilot studies on understanding the efficacy of the vaccine.
  • The education aspect is also lacking: A study of education policy documents across 21 developing countries found little attention to menstrual health. Of those countries that appeared to have MHH in their health and education agenda in the last decade, the focus was on the distribution of disposable sanitary pads, largely for schoolgirls; they tended to ignore the other issues related to menstrual health and hygiene including safety, disposal, right to dignity and providing choices to people who menstruate.

A Framework for mainstreaming menstrual health and hygiene in India

  • Promoting Menstrual Health and Hygiene Education: Conversations around menstruation should be started in schools and local communities by including menstrual health and hygiene in sessions on reproductive health.
  • For instance: In 2007, the Indian government introduced the Adolescent Education Program to promote discussions around sexual education, but it received backlash from teachers and parents. Sociocultural issues are equally important and should be given attention by stakeholders.
  • Knowledge about the products they use: Programmes should be initiated that will focus on distributing disposable sanitary pads to girls and women, and not only those who are in school. As the discourse on menstruation is now shifting toward sustainable menstruation, it is crucial to equip individuals who menstruate with knowledge about the potential harm of the period products they use.
  • Sensitizing gatekeepers: Organising sensitisation workshops for gatekeepers such as teachers, healthcare workers, and women in local communities would go a long way in helping young people who menstruate. Recent studies, suggest that mothers, teachers, and healthcare workers are the first sources of information for adolescent girls about menstruation in India.
  • Creating supportive space: Adolescent boys, and men, need to be involved in the conversation around MHH to create supportive spaces. These conversations will help them understand the importance of MHH and prompt changes in societal norms, including removing the stigma around menstruation.
  • Conversations around menstruation need to include trans and non-binary individuals: Menstruation is a variable concept, such that many women do not menstruate, while some transmen, non-binary individuals, and people with masculine gender identities do. The feminisation of menstruation has led to the exclusion of transgender and non-binary people from the discourse.
  • Improving MHH infrastructure and WASH facilities: Workplace policies for individuals who menstruate should be laid out, including the provision of adequate WASH facilities. There need to engage with the multi-sector stakeholders who can work in improving MHH infrastructure and WASH facilities.

Way ahead

  • Raising awareness about the menstrual cycle should be among the priorities of communities and policymakers.
  • There is a need to make SRH programming gender-transformative, first by recognising the link between MHH and SRH.
  • The task is urgent, given the economic case to sexual and reproductive health: i.e., promoting SRH helps improve a country’s economic, educational and development outcomes.
  • The UN High-Level Meeting (UNHLM), 2023 Action Plan, which underlines the need to “leave no one behind” in global goals on universal health care, must bring menstrual health and hygiene to the forefront of the SRH agenda.
  • As per 2011 Census data, around 0.5 million individuals self-identify as third gender[b] in India. There is a need to engage communities and educate them about the LGBTQIA+ population and enhance their SRH knowledge by looking at the menstrual health discourse with the core principle of inclusivity.

Conclusion

  • Global and national agendas on sexual and reproductive health continue to give little attention to its link with menstrual health. Integrated attention to the links between MHH and SRH can advance the mutual goals of both sectors, and improve the health and well-being of individuals who menstruate, throughout their entire life cycle.

Mains question

Q. The link between Menstrual health and hygiene with sexual reproductive health is often neglected in policymaking. Highlight the challenges for promoting menstrual health and give suggestions.

(Click) FREE 1-to-1 on-call Mentorship by IAS-IPS officers | Discuss doubts, strategy, sources, and more

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Urban space for women: India can show the path

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Read the attached article

Urban

Context

  • More than half of the population worldwide lives in cities, making urban centres critical to socioeconomic growth and development. However, rampant urbanisation has led to unequal distribution of resources and a lopsided development approach that ignores the specific needs of women. Despite projections of two-thirds of the population living in cities by 2050, urban development remains exclusive of women’s perspectives and needs.

Crack Prelims 2023! Talk to our Rankers

Gender inequality in cities

  • Primary reason: One of the primary reasons behind gender inequality in cities is that modern cities are planned mainly by men and for men, thus sidelining the needs of women.
  • Designed assuming that the role of women is confined to household: The cities have been traditionally designed on the premise that a woman’s role is primarily confined to the household, barring their need to access the immediate neighbourhood.
  • Patriarchal approach has taken away the Fundamental rights: This patriarchal approach, while shaping the power dynamics between men and women, has also taken away the fundamental right of women to live and thrive in a safe and inclusive outdoor environment.

Urban

Role of women and the challenges they face in urban spaces

  • Women one of the most vulnerable groups in society: Women, one of the most vulnerable groups in society, face violence in physical and cyber mode, making it difficult for them to access opportunities that come with urbanisation.
  • For instance: Due to poorly lit streets and a lack of women-friendly mobility systems, women cannot actively participate in the workforce. Only 27 percent of women participate in the workforce in India as compared to 79 percent of men.
  • Male dominated nature of job opportunities available in the cities: Most of them are male-dominated, such as the platform economy jobs of delivery agents and those at vast construction sites, leaving less space for women to intervene.
  • Women professionals are burdened with dual work responsibilities: Moreover, with an increase in the number of households in cities, women are devoting most of their time to home and caring work, thus, leaving less time for them to do a job. In this scenario, women professionals are burdened with dual work roles, impacting their physical and mental well-being.
  • Discouraged drop outs: Furthermore, the social tendency to discourage urban women from working after marriage has generated a trend of ‘discouraged drop-outs’, leaving them out of the workforce.
  • Role in urban planning and governance is abysmally low: Women’s participation in urban planning and governance has been abysmally low. Women hold only 10 percent of the highest ranks globally in architecture and urban planning offices. With women left out of city planning institutions, city planners ignore the needs of women and the challenges they face.

Urban

Do you know: The concept of a 15-minute city?

  • The concept of a 15-minute city, i.e., where everything needed will be available within a walkable distance of 15 minutes, is attracting the interest of planners even in India.
  • However, for stray examples such as Magarpatta, a city in Pune, the concept has failed to move beyond rhetoric.

Focus areas of development

  • City society intervention is a prerequisite: The intervention of civil society and policymakers on specific parameters can help build gender-responsive cities that accommodate the concerns of all citizens.
  • Building safer cities: Better street lighting, women-friendly transport systems, and behavioural change programmes that help people understand that the onus of safety is not on women but on society as a whole will surely improve women’s access to safer cities.
  • For instance: Building technology systems such as the Safetipin app helps women map safe areas and take necessary actions in emergencies by collating a list of important contacts, GPS tracking and so on, thus, trying to make streets safer.
  • Changing the attitude and mindset of society at large: Counselling sessions for men, sensitising them about how women feel if a certain social behaviour is practised, can trigger an eventual change in their mindset towards women’s needs.
  • Building gender-inclusive jobs: Data suggests that 10 percent increase in women’s workforce participation rate can add US$ 770 million, approximately 18 percent, to India’s GDP. Teaching men to shoulder family responsibilities, making workspaces women-friendly, promoting women to leadership positions, and diversifying the availability of jobs can go a long way in improving the situation.
  • Role of women in urban governance: Having women at the top can have a domino effect in society, making other women aspirational of the positions they can reach and the impact they can create.
  • For example: Cities like Athena, Bogota, Nairobi, Dakar, and San Francisco that have had female leadership have witnessed greater socio-economic and sustainable development.
  • Developing gender-sensitive infrastructure: Globally, one in three women do not have access to safe toilets. Building toilets for women and places to breastfeed and baby changing stations improves the turnout of women on the streets. Improving access to clean water will also improve overall health for women as globally.

Urban

Way ahead

  • Need a paradigm shift in approaches to policymaking: Including more women in decision-making roles to identify shared concerns and build integrated solutions will need a paradigm shift in approaches to policymaking. This calls for a policy focus on optimum resource allocation and equitable distribution, ensuring easy, safe, and affordable access to all.
  • Feminist approach in policymaking: Policymakers need to adopt a feminist approach to urban development.
  • Feminist urbanism: Feminist urbanism seeks to understand and integrate the concerns of women and other gender and sexual minorities across caste, class, age differences, disabilities, etc.
  • Developing cities on the lines of feminist urbanism: Creating a city on the lines of feminist urbanism refers to constructing compact and mixed-use neighbourhoods, inclusive streets focusing on pedestrian needs and building other critical urban infrastructure.

Conclusion

  • Building global partnerships to aid gender mainstreaming in urban spaces can prove fruitful. India has a chance to further this cause as it assumes the G20 presidency. The Urban 20 grouping can bring urban policymakers from the -20 nations to deliberate on women’s rights and evolve gender-inclusive development processes to help cities attain the 2030 agenda for sustainable development holistically.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Menstrual leave: The topic of debate

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Menstruation a biological process

Mains level: Menstrual leave policy debate

Menstrual leave

Context

  • Menstrual leave is a workplace policy that allows female employees to take time off from work during their menstrual cycle due to physical discomfort or pain. This policy has been a topic of debate, with some arguing that it is necessary to accommodate the needs of women during their period, while others argue that it creates discrimination and reinforces gender stereotypes.

Crack Prelims 2023! Talk to our Rankers

Menstrual leave

Background

  • Recently, Kerala government announced that the state government will grant menstrual leave for female students in all state universities under the Department of Higher Education.
  • The declaration occurred shortly after the Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT) announced the decision, in response to a request by the students’ union, to grant menstruation leave to all of its female students.

Menstrual leave and the debate

  • Widespread conversation in recent years: The adoption of voluntary menstrual leave policies by some companies in recent years has led to a widespread conversation on periods in India.
  • Termed as Special leave for women: When the Bihar government implemented a period leave policy in 1992, it was termed special leave for women due to the stigma attached to the word menstruation.
  • Normalising conversation: The recent initiative by employers to provide period leave has been discussed and debated in the public sphere, thereby normalising the conversation around menstruation to an extent.

Who are menstruators?

  • Menstruators is an inclusive term refers to individuals who have female reproductive anatomy and experience menstrual periods.
  • It includes, women, trans men, and non-binary persons as well.
  • This biological process also decouples menstruation from womanhood.

Menstrual leave

Arguments in favour

  • Biological process comes with physical pain: Though menstruation is a biological process, it is accompanied by cramps, nausea, back and muscle pains, headaches, etc.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): Additionally, these can take a debilitating form amongst menstruating people who suffer from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and endometriosis.
  • For instance: In India, 20 per cent of menstruators have PCOS and approximately 25 million suffer from endometriosis. The intensity of pain can vary for individuals for a variety of reasons.
  • Acknowledges the reality: For many menstruators, it is a biological process intertwined with medical symptoms. Mandatory period leave is an affirmative action policy that acknowledges this reality.
  • Kerala governments announcement is a welcome step: The Kerala government’s announcement to grant menstrual leave to all female students of state universities is a welcome move that takes the discourse a step further into educational institutions.
  • It should be replicated across universities and schools in India: This will also help reduce the drop-out rates of female students from government schools in rural India caused by the lack of clean toilets, running water, sanitary pads, etc.

Arguments against

  • Fear of bias in hiring: The major opposition to a menstrual leave policy is the fear of bias in hiring due to the financial costs to employers. Discriminatory hiring has been a cause of concern in many countries.
  • Probable decline in women labour force participation: It is often equated to the decline in the labour force participation of women following the introduction of mandatory paid maternity leave.
  • Medicalising normal biological process: Period leave is often seen as medicalising a normal biological process.

Menstrual leave

Did you know?

“Female sugarcane cutters surgically remove their uteri to secure work”

  • A widely accepted menstrual health framework can also ameliorate the conditions of female workers in the unorganised sector.
  • In Maharashtra’s Beed district, contractors in the sugarcane industry do not hire anyone who menstruates.
  • More than 10,000 female sugarcane cutters have had to surgically remove their uteri to secure work.
  • Most of them are in their twenties and thirties, and now experience various post-surgery health complications. Such exploitation is a human rights violation.

Way ahead

  • Need to bridge the gaps: The path to equality does not lie in inaction due to fear of further discrimination. What is needed is a holistic outlook aimed at bridging existing gaps.
  • Comprehensive and inclusive approach is must: The implementation of menstrual leave should be based on a comprehensive and inclusive approach that takes into account the needs and rights of all employees, regardless of gender.
  • Mandatory self-care leaves as an alternative: Employers should be made to introduce a mandatory self-care leave as an alternative to period leaves for those who cannot avail of the latter. Employees should be able to utilise their self-care leave as they deem fit. This will reduce burnout and increase productivity.
  • Self-care leave will also destigmatise menstruation: The names menstrual leave and self-care leave will also destigmatise menstruation and self-care respectively. Further, employers should be made to implement a stringent diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) framework.
  • Safeguards menstruators in unorganized sector: A formal menstrual leave policy in the organized sector can act as a catalyst in safeguarding menstruators in the unorganized sector too.

Conclusion

  • Menstrual health is a public health issue. Considering the sizable population of menstruators in India who face stigma, period leave cannot be dismissed anymore as a foreign concept. It is a pivotal step in ensuring proper reproductive health equity in India.

Mains question.

Q. The topic of Menstrual leave is in the headlines for some time now. Anaalyse the dabate

(Click) FREE 1-to-1 on-call Mentorship by IAS-IPS officers | Discuss doubts, strategy, sources, and more

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Nari Shakti at the parade

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Particulars of Republic day parade

Mains level: Women in combat, advantages and challenges

parade

Context

  • Watching women lead many of the contingents in the 74th Republic Day parade in New Delhi was encouraging. Their presence was heartening and something for future generations of girls to emulate. While much was made about the induction of women fighter pilots, we need to see how many more have been inducted since then.

Crack Prelims 2023! Talk to our Rankers

parade

Nari Shakti at the parade

  • Nari shakti dominated the parade: Nari Shakti dominated the 74th Republic Day parade as women officers led the marching contingents of the armed forces, CRPF, Akash missile system and Army’s Daredevil team
  • first ever women armed police battalion: In a first, the marching contingent of the CRPF, which has the distinction of raising the first-ever women-armed police battalion in the world, had all women personnel this time.
  • BSF women on the borders: Also, for the first time, BSF women soldiers in colorful uniforms who have been deployed along the desert border with Pakistan joined the parade as part of the camel contingent.

Light on whether induction of women is mere tokenism?

  • Opening up of opportunities for women: Among the best developments of recent times is the opening of opportunities for girls and young women in Sainik schools and the National Defence Academy.
  • As more women on the field, less logistical issues: Once they don the uniform and there are many more women on the field, then the logistical issues will become less relevant.
  • Promotion for the rank of colonel: The recent news about women being considered in the promotion board for the rank of colonel and subsequently, to command units is tremendously empowering.
  • Military remains an excellent example: The military is an excellent place for women to work in and it is the military’s responsibility to not break that faith.

Women in commands: Significance

  • Leadership opportunity: Despite working at the grassroots level as junior officers, women officers hitherto did not get an opportunity to prove their leadership skills as they were not eligible to command a unit.
  • Gender parity: Most importantly, it grants women officer’s parity with their male counterparts.
  • Higher ranks: Earlier promotions were staff appointments which are more administrative in nature and not purely command appointments in which an officer commands troops on ground.
  • Benefits after permanent commission: With a longer career in the Army, women officers will be considered for promotions, including to the rank of Colonel and beyond.

How are women still discriminated?

  • Women are still not eligible in core combat arms such as Infantry, Mechanised Infantry and Armoured Corps.
  • Indian Army is not open to women fighting wars at the borders as foot soldiers.
  • Much of this resistance stems from past instances of male soldiers being taken as prisoners of war and tortured by the enemy.
  • However, the Army has recently decided to open the Corps of Artillery, a combat support arm, to women.

What more needs to be done?

  • Promoting gender equality at the Parade: It is a great idea to have women’s contingents, with the theme of Nari Shakti, at the parade. However, we must refrain from describing this as an opportunity that has been given to them.
  • Challenges in achieving gender equality in frontline forces: The slow and steady induction of women in ranks below the officer level in a paramilitary force like the Assam Rifles is a far cry from enabling women to be part of the frontline force, as part of the Kumaon Regiment, for example. The regiment’s war cry may be Kalika mata ki jai, but it stops there.

parade

Way ahead

  • The military, just like any other institution, is but a reflection of society and, like the other institutions, it is also subject to reform and change for the advancement of society as a whole.
  • We must push for this alongside cheering for Captain Shikha Sharma, the first woman in the Daredevil squad, who so effortlessly displayed her skills at the parade.

Conclusion

  • Republic Day parade did well to celebrate Nari Shakti. But the day after R-Day, much more needs to be done on inclusion of women in the force.

Mains question

Q. Nari shakti said to be dominated the India’s 74th republic day parade. In this context highlight the Significance Women in commands and discuss the challenges.

(Click) FREE 1-to-1 on-call Mentorship by IAS-IPS officers | Discuss doubts, strategy, sources, and more

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Menstrual leave and the question of gender equality

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Menstruation

Mains level: Menstruation a biological process and the debate over the mandatory leaves

Menstrual

Context

  • On January 19, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan announced on social media that the state government will grant menstrual leave for female students in all state universities under the Department of Higher Education.

Crack Prelims 2023! Talk to our Rankers

Background

  • The announcement came shortly after the Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT) decided to provide menstrual leave to all its female students after a representation made by the students’ union.
  • Vijayan has described the government’s decision as part of its commitment to realising a gender-just society. The government’s claim should inaugurate a wider conversation.

Menstrual

What is Menstruation?

  • Menstruation, or period, is normal vaginal bleeding that occurs as part of a woman’s monthly cycle.
  • It is a normal process for girls and women who have reached puberty.
  • Every month, girl or women’s body prepares for pregnancy.
  • If no pregnancy occurs, body gets rid of the lining in the uterus.
  • The menstrual blood is partly blood and partly tissue from inside the uterus.
  • The length of a period can be different for each person, but usually lasts for 3-7 days.

What is the idea behind the Menstrual leave?

  • Paid leaves: Menstrual leave is a Policy of allowing women to take paid leave from work or school during their menstrual period.
  • Allows to rest: This leave is specifically for the days when a woman is menstruating and is intended to allow her to rest and manage symptoms such as cramps and fatigue, which can be particularly severe for some women.
  • Reducing the stigma: The idea behind menstrual leave is to help reduce the stigma associated with menstruation and acknowledge that it is a normal and natural bodily process.

Did you know?

  • The menstrual cycle can be affected by external factors such as stress, changes in temperature and altitude, and even exposure to certain chemicals and toxins.
  • This can cause changes in the length of the cycle, the intensity of bleeding, and the severity of symptoms.
  • There is also a small percentage of women who experience menorrhagia, which is an excessive bleeding during menstruation. This can be caused by hormonal imbalances, fibroids, endometriosis, and other underlying medical conditions.

Menstrual

Debate over the mandatory Period leave

Advantages:

  • Acknowledging the pain and discomfort: Making period leave available to students and, going forward, to women in the workforce, perhaps would be an important step towards acknowledging and addressing the often-debilitating pain and discomfort that so many are often forced to work through.
  • Will help create workplaces more inclusive: Instituting period leave would help create workplaces and classrooms that are more inclusive and more accommodating.
  • Reducing the stigma associated with menstruation: By making menstrual leave official leaves can help to reduce the stigma associated with menstruation and acknowledge that it is a normal and natural bodily process.
  • Increase productivity: By allowing women to take time off during their menstrual period, they can return to work or school more refreshed and better able to focus on their responsibilities, which can lead to increased productivity.

Menstuation

Concerns:

  • Context within which such policy decisions are taken matters: In a traditional society like India, where menstruation remains a taboo topic, it is possible that a special period leave could become another excuse for discrimination.
  • The examples of similarly traditional societies like South Korea and Japan are not encouraging: Both countries have laws granting period leave, but recent surveys showed a decline in the number of women availing of it, citing the social stigma against menstruation.
  • Medicalising normal biological process: There is also the risk of medicalising a normal biological process, which could further entrench existing biases against women.
  • Mandatory leaves may hamper women hiring: There is a possibility that the perceived financial and productivity cost of mandatory period leaves could make employers even more reluctant to hire women.
  • Reinforcing gender stereotypes: Implementing menstrual leave could reinforce the stereotype that women are weaker and less capable than men, which could have negative consequences for women in the long term.

Conclusion

  • The ongoing conversation around menstrual leave and menstrual health is crucial and welcoming. It is also encouraging to see the governments are recognizing the importance of this issue. However, implementing menstrual leave as a legal requirement comes with its own set of challenges. It’s important for governments to navigate these challenges while ensuring that the ultimate goal of gender justice and equality is met.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Indian women’s labor force participation is declining

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Women's declining labour participation, analysis and solutions

participation

Context

  • According to the World Bank report released in June 2022, Indian women’s labour force participation proportion of the population over the age of 15 that is economically active has been steadily declining since 2005 and is at a low of 19 percent in 2021.

Crack Prelims 2023! Talk to our Rankers

How the experts are analysing the falling participation of women?

  • Patriarchy in continuity: According to some experts there is continuities of patriarchal oppression and structural barriers to women’s economic participation in India.
  • Informal economy not accounted: Other group of experts says these claims fail to acknowledge that this measure does not capture women’s participation in the informal economy.
  • Preference for home-based work: In developing economies such as India, women are concentrated in the informal sector and demonstrate a preference for home-based work opportunities that allow them to balance their domestic duties with income-generating activities.
  • Social consideration: It is simplistic and instrumental link between women’s labour force participation and measures of societal development.
  • Reductionist approach: It is important to move beyond reductionist explanations and probe how women’s employment operates in specific contexts. This calls for a more comprehensive understanding of women’s decision-making and navigation around employment.

participation

Economy theory about women participation in labour force

  • Standard economic theory: Standard economic theory predicts that as household income increases, women withdraw from devalued labour because their income is no longer required to run the household.
  • Income employment: As household income rises and educational attainment improves, women re-enter the workforce.
  • Mismatch of skills: But for moderately educated women from upwardly mobile families, there is often a mismatch between available jobs and their skills and ambitions.
  • Aversion towards low-paid jobs: As their families are in the process of claiming middle-class status, young women are often averse to taking up low-paid jobs in the formal economy.
  • Class and social mobility: If they are unable to secure high-status white-collar jobs, they prefer home-based work such as tailoring or running tuitions for young children. Thus, women’s employment preferences are often intertwined with family-centred projects of class and social mobility.

participation

Study of ground reality about women employment

  • Facilitated study group: In a recent study, facilitated study group (FSG) interviewed 6,600 women of working age from low-income communities across 16 cities in India.
  • Small job and business: It found that women’s ability to work outside the home is defined by the views of their family members who prefer women working from home or engaging in a small business to allocate more time to household responsibilities. But 59 percent of women prefer jobs in the formal sector over entrepreneurship.
  • Less use of child care: Less than 1 percent of working mothers with children under 12 years old have used paid childcare services. 89 percent are unwilling to use paid childcare services.
  • Preference to family care: Affordability isn’t a key factor in not considering paid day-care. It’s because mothers do not trust day-care services as they do not provide ‘family-like’ care.
  • Balancing the familial expectations: These findings suggest that Indian women’s employment-related decisions are shaped by considerations of providing caregiving to their children and balancing their preferences with familial expectations.

What should be the right approach about women participation?

  • Family responsibility and career: women, especially in low-income communities in India, have a composite view of their lives (jobs, enterprises, care work, upholding traditions, and community connections) and navigate through these with their household and extended family.
  • Comprehensive view of life: The non-compartmentalisation emerges from a culturally embedded and empirically grounded perspective that does not view culture as a limitation, but as a resource and enabler that provides a comprehensive valuation for all kinds of work that women do (informal and formal).
  • Understanding the cultural context: This translates into everyday negotiations that have less to do with upturning the current social structure and more with negotiating for increased autonomy within the cultural context.
  • Flexible working Hours: Policy solutions must derive from the negotiations women are interested in undertaking with their employers around home-based work or flexible working hours. It is important to perceive women’s employment goals as reflective of preferences defined not only by their gender but also by their social and cultural context.

participation

Conclusion

  • The breakdown of the family structure and caregiving systems in developed economies offers an important lesson. If Indian women want to participate in the formal labour force while retaining their family structure, this preference should be accommodated in institutional and interpersonal responses.

Mains Question

Q. In the context of world bank report analyse the declining participation of women in labour force. What should be the right approach to increase the participation of women in labour force?

(Click) FREE 1-to-1 on-call Mentorship by IAS-IPS officers | Discuss doubts, strategy, sources, and more

 

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Private Member’s Bill for women’s reservation

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Private members bill, reservation seats for women

Mains level: Women representation in legislatures

Bill

Context

  • As strong advocates of more representation of women in politics, looking at the number of women elected in the Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh assemblies has been saddening. With just 14.9 per cent women elected to our Lok Sabha, India ranks 144 out of 193 countries in the representation of women in parliament according to Inter-Parliamentary Union’s latest report. Among our immediate neighbours, India falls behind Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Nepal.

Click and get your FREE Copy of CURRENT AFFAIRS Micro Notes

Background: Recent elections and women’s participation

  • Gujrat: Gujarat elected just 8 per cent of women legislators in its 182-member assembly.
  • Himachal Pradesh: Himachal Pradesh, where every second voter is a female, has elected 67 men and only one woman.
  • National Average: The national average of women in all state assemblies remains around 8 per cent. The figure is grim
  • Representation of women in local governments increased: After the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments, the representation of women in local governments increased from a mere 3-4 per cent to nearly 50 per cent now.

Bill

History of Women’s Reservation Bill

  • First introduced in 1996 but lapsed with the dissolution of Lok Sabha: The Women’s Reservation Bill was first introduced in 1996 by the Deve Gowda government. After the Bill failed to get approval in Lok Sabha, it was referred to a Joint Parliamentary Committee chaired by Geeta Mukherjee, which presented its report in December 1996. However, the Bill lapsed with the dissolution of the Lok Sabha and had to be reintroduced.
  • Bill reintroduced in 1998 but failed and lapsed: PM Vajpayee’s NDA government reintroduced the Bill in the 12th Lok Sabha in 1998. Yet again, it failed to get support and lapsed. In 1999, the NDA government reintroduced it in the 13th Lok Sabha.
  • One-third reservations for women: Subsequently, the Bill was introduced twice in Parliament in 2003. In 2004, the government included it in the Common Minimum Programme that said that the government will take the lead to introduce legislation for one-third reservations for women in Vidhan Sabhas and in the Lok Sabha.
  • The bill introduced and passed in Rajya Sabha: In 2008, the government tabled the Bill in the Rajya Sabha so that it does not lapse again. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Justice recommended the passage of the Bill in December 2009. It was cleared by the Union Cabinet in February 2010. On March 9, 2010, the Bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha with 186-1 votes after immense debate. History was created.
  • Lapsed again in 2014: The Bill, then, reached the Lok Sabha where it never saw the light of day. When the House was dissolved in 2014, it lapsed. Now we are back to square one.
  • Renewed push: In the current Winter Session of Parliament, there is a renewed push from most Opposition parties to pass the Women’s Reservation Bill.

Bill

The case study: Political parties and Women representation

  • Political parties that reserved seats for women for election candidature: So far only two regional political parties in India, Odisha’s Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and West Bengal’s Trinamool Congress (TMC) have reserved seats for women for election candidatures.
  • Candidature and results of 2019 general elections: TMC and BJD fielded 40 per cent and 33 per cent women candidates respectively. Interestingly, 65 per cent of the TMC’s women candidates won in comparison to 44 per cent of their men, whereas 86 per cent of the BJD’s women candidates won in comparison to 43 per cent of their men.

Private Member’s Bill for women’s reservation in all legislative bodies

  • Acknowledging the inequality and barriers: Women have historically suffered due to systemic inequality and barriers. Without a gender quota, women’s representation will continue to remain marginal causing a massive deficit in our democracy.
  • Reserved seats for women: Understanding this reality, there is a need to introduce a Private Member’s Bill demanding women’s reservation in all legislative bodies Lower and Upper Houses, and also reserved seats within that for women who come from historically marginalised communities.
  • Ensuring greater representation: It is a single step that will, if passed, immediately ensure at least 33 per cent representation of women.

What is Private Member’s Bill?

  • Piloted by member other than minister: A private member’s Bill is different from a government Bill and is piloted by Member of Parliament (MP) who is not a minister. A Member of Parliament who is not a minister is a private member.
  • To draw governments attention: Individual MPs may introduce private member’s Bill to draw the government’s attention to what they might see as issues requiring legislative intervention.

bill

Way ahead

  • The case for women’s reservation emanates from their lack of representation in legislative bodies. We cannot rely on incremental changes.
  • We cannot let another generation fight for what is fundamental to participating in a democracy the right to be heard and make decisions.
  • Women’s reservation will jump-start the democratic process. It will allow a significant majority to have a say in how their lives must be governed.
  • Over the years, though, women’s vote share has increased significantly, but the number of women in positions of power has not.

Conclusion

  • Victor Hugo famously said, “No force on earth can stop an idea whose time has come”. Women’s reservation in legislatures is one idea which has been discussed, debated, and agreed upon by most political parties. It is now time to take it to fruition. With its massive women population, India has a huge reservoir of potential which, if unleashed, will take the country much ahead.

Main Question

Q. Women reservation bill has introduced and lapsed no of times. In this context discuss why it is necessary to have reserved seats for women in all legislative bodies?

(Click) FREE 1-to-1 on-call Mentorship by IAS-IPS officers | Discuss doubts, strategy, sources, and more

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

The silent revolution of “Nari Shakti”

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Women empowerment and Political Participation

revolution

Context

  • On the occasion of the 75th year of India’s independence, the Prime Minister articulated a bold vision that in the coming 25 years, “Nari Shakti” would play a vital role in India’s socio-economic developmental journey.

Click and get your FREE Copy of CURRENT AFFAIRS Micro Notes

Background: Status of women In India

  • Elevated status in ancient texts and thoughts: Culturally and mythologically, women have enjoyed an elevated status in India. For example, it is mentioned in the Kena Upanishad that it was the goddess Uma who enlightened the three powerful but ignorant gods, Indra, Vayu, and Agni, to the profound mystery of Brahman.
  • Experience of women in modern era is far from ideal: Women have faced discrimination in the household and at jobs, and for a long time, they were victims of political indifference and neglect.
  • Recognizing the Nari Shakti: In recent decades, “Nari Shakti” has been reasserted through micro and silent revolutions. There are some silent women-led changes transforming our society politically and economically But there is need to highlight the challenges that remain in women fulfilling their true potential as modern nation-builders of India.

revolution

Nari Shakti The silent revolution: Role of Women in Indian democracy

  • Gender gap in voter turnout is diminishing rapidly as women often exceeds male voter turnout: Research on women voters using historical data has revealed that since 2010, the gender gap in voter turnout has diminished significantly and the recent trends show women voter turnout often exceeds male voter turnout. This massive increase is a nationwide phenomenon and is also observed in less developed regions of the country where traditionally, the status of women has been significantly lower.
  • Dramatic increase in women contesting election particularly in panchayat level: Since 2010, many more women have been contesting elections. To put this in perspective, in the 1950s, in the state assembly elections, women contested elections in approximately 7 per cent of the constituencies, but by the 2010s, women were competing in 54 per cent of the constituencies. This is particularly remarkable at the grass roots panchayat level where 50 per cent seats have been reserved for women for over a decade now.

Results of this positive change

  • Women voters can no longer be neglected or marginalized: A key implication of this is that women voters can no longer be marginalised or neglected; they demand respect and command attention.
  • Political entrepreneurs compelled to address women issues: This silent revolution has compelled political entrepreneurs and grounded leaders to design policies addressing issues that women care about. It is not surprising that some of the most dramatic policy changes concerning poverty reduction since 2015-16 have been in the form of networking of households across the nation through amenities such as cooking fuel, sanitation, water, and electricity. These are also the key drivers of long-term economic growth.
  • Rising women voters compelled political parties to make law and order a critical issue: In less developed regions where women and children have been the biggest victims of lawlessness, the silent revolution of rising women voters has compelled political parties to make law and order a critical political issue.
  • Positive response by political parties: Political parties and leaders are now responding to this by improving access and affordability to basic needs of ordinary people like amenities and infrastructure rather than focusing on the rhetoric of caste and communalism. This is in sharp contrast to the “democratic recession” that is being experienced in the rest of the world.

revolution

Challenges ahead

  • Women employment a biggest challenge: According to World Bank data, the female labour force participation rate has declined from 32 per cent in 2005 to 19 per cent in 2022. Labour force participation does not consider unpaid domestic services, which include household services such as taking care of the children and the elderly.
  • More hours spent is in unpaid domestic services: Our research based on data from the time use surveys in India in 2018–19 reveals that women in the age group of 25 to 59 years spend approximately seven hours daily in unpaid domestic services.
  • Double burden of working is one of the reasons behind decline of women labour participation: Double burden of working women perhaps is one of the critical reasons for the decline in the women’s labour force participation rate. In sharp contrast, working or non-working men in the same age group spend less than 45 minutes on unpaid domestic or caregiving services.
  • Declined fertility rate: Fertility rates have declined dramatically below the replacement rate, the share of the ageing population has increased, and there is an alarming increase in the percentage of kinless elderly.

Did you know Baumol Cost Disease?

  • The care industry is labour-intensive and, therefore, subject to Baumol Cost Disease, implying that the cost of providing care would keep rising over time.

Way ahead

  • On labour force participation: It is essential to look at the experience of advanced countries, where increased participation of women in the labour force has come at the expense of family structure.
  • On dynamics of household and elderly care, sharing burden by men is a necessity: If we want more women to participate in the labour force, and at the same time preserve the family structure, then men would have to share the burden of unpaid domestic services. This would require a break from tradition and the creation of new modern narratives and myths.

revolution

Conclusion

  • As India takes over the presidency of G20, it is an occasion to celebrate “Nari Shakti” and political empowerment a stupendous increase in women voter turnout in the decade has strengthened and made our democracy more progressive. Women’s political empowerment has been a bottom-up revolution in India and holds lessons for other countries.

Mains question

Q. Culturally and mythologically, women hold a high position in India. However, there are still challenges in women fulfilling their true potential as India’s modern nation-builders. Discuss.

(Click) FREE1-to-1 on-call Mentorship by IAS-IPS officers | Discuss doubts, strategy, sources, and more

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Removing the Menopause taboo

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Menopause

Mains level: Menopausal transition, the taboo and the work ethics

Menopause

Click and get your FREE Copy of CURRENT AFFAIRS Micro Notes

Context

  • Recent announcement by the National Health Services (NHS) in the UK that menopausal women on their staff will be able to work out of the home should their symptoms require it, is about path-finding and working the middle ground in the workplace.
  • NHS chief Amanda Pritchard said that other employers should follow suit to help middle-aged women “thrive” at work and those “silently suffering” should not be expected to “grin and bear it.”

Background: A menopausal taboo questions women’s potential?

  • The context opening up the conversation at least: If nothing, such a move has at least been a conversation starter about what has been so far a taboo in the workplace and a reason to hive off women than allow them ease of thriving.
  • Misconception that women may not work efficiently: Yet, just like pregnancy, the end of a woman’s reproductive cycle is seen as her losing energy, drive, desire, stamina, excitement and capability, in short, a cliff-jumping drop of her value in wisdom and experience.
  • On the contrary most women do best in this phase: Ironically, this phase, between the mid-40s to the mid-50s, is where you would find most women reaching the top, having battled biases of motherhood, leaving no questions unanswered on their competence and commitment.
  • Yet questions raised about her worth and never about her comfort: When a woman employee crosses the age bar, she has to prove her worth all over again. Is she as good, is she capable of thinking afresh, can she pull long hours? It is never about “is she comfortable?” Sadly, her body of work matters little.
  • Constant pressure on women to prove the worth forces to overlook themselves: And it is this constant pressure to feed expectations that forces even confident women to overwork themselves to stay relevant despite those painful bouts of endometriosis, heavy bleeding, hot flushes, insomnia, fatigue, anxiety, hypertension and palpitations. All of these are terribly debilitating but manageable with a little breathing space.

What is menopause?

  • Menopause is a point in time 12 months after a woman’s last period.
  • Menopausal transition may commonly be referred to as “menopause,” true menopause doesn’t happen until one year after a woman’s final menstrual period.

Menopause

Menopausal transition

  • The years leading up to that point, when women may have changes in their monthly cycles, hot flashes, or other symptoms, are called the menopausal transition or perimenopause.
  • The menopausal transition most often begins between ages 45 and 55.
  • It usually lasts about seven years but can be as long as 14 years.The duration can depend on lifestyle factors such as smoking, age it begins, and race and ethnicity.
  • During perimenopause, the body’s production of estrogen and progesterone, two hormones made by the ovaries, varies greatly.
  • Estrogen is used by many parts of a woman’s body. As levels of estrogen decrease, one could have various symptoms. Many women experience mild symptoms that can be treated by lifestyle changes. Some women don’t require any treatment at all.

Did you know?

  • According to the Harvard Medical School, a post-menopausal woman’s symptoms of a heart attack are “different from a man’s and she’s much more likely than a man to die within a year of having a heart attack.
  • Women also don’t seem to fare as well as men do after taking clot-busting drugs or undergoing certain heart-related medical procedures.”

What are the signs and symptoms of menopause?

  • Change in your period: Women periods may no longer be regular. They may be shorter or last longer. Bleeding may be more or less than usual.
  • Hot flashes: Many women have hot flashes, which can last for many years after menopause. They may be related to changing estrogen levels. A hot flash is a sudden feeling of heat in the upper part or all of the body.
  • Disturbed Sleep: Around midlife, some women start having trouble getting a good night’s sleep.
  • Vaginal health and sexuality: After menopause, the vagina may become drier, which can make sexual intercourse uncomfortable. Women may find that the feelings about sex are changing.
  • Mood changes: Women might feel moodier or more irritable around the time of menopause. Scientists don’t know why this happens. It’s possible that stress, family changes such as growing children or aging parents, a history of depression, or feeling tired could be causing these mood changes.
  • Body features may alter: The body begins to use energy differently, fat cells change, and women may gain weight more easily. Women might have memory problems as well as joints and muscles could feel stiff and achy.

Menopause

How menopause affects Women health?

  • Severe and unexpected physiological challenges: As the hormone oestrogen dips, it pushes up bad cholesterol or LDL levels, raising their cardiac risk more than men. They even have higher concentrations of total cholesterol than men.
  • Psychological challenges: Strangely even women in the menopausal period are not concerned about their life risks as they get caught in the vanity trap and worry more about issues related to their body image, sexuality and self-esteem. Some rush into Menopausal Hormone Therapy (MHT), which is not quite the elixir of youth, and often has deadly side effects like uterine and breast cancer. These elevated risk factors, however, can be reduced if women were to be less stressed about tiring out their bodies to prove a point.

The conversation over the menopause

  • In India: However, in India, where motherhood is seen as a major career impediment for women, menopause is a far cry, often bottled up in hushed conversations among women in the office loo.
  • Progressive step in UK: The UK Parliament commissioned a survey that showed how one in three women were missing work due to menopause.
  • Italy and Australia: Italy and Australia are debating about including menopause in work ethics norms.
  • EU parliament: Recently, the EU Parliament put out a statement, saying, “The failure to address menopause as a workplace issue is increasingly leading to insufficient protection of female workers and the early exit of women from labour markets, and thereby increasing the risk of women’s economic dependence, poverty and social exclusion, contributing to the loss of women’s knowledge, skills and experience, and leading to significant economic losses.”

Menopause

Conclusion

  • Considering that women will go through this biological phase at least for eight years in their work life, a little sensitivity to their concerns would matter more than a debate on whether they should be allowed extra benefits.

Mains Question

Q. What is menopausal transition? Menopause at work place often seen as taboo to talk, In this background, highlight the changes taking place.

(Click) FREE1-to-1 on-call Mentorship by IAS-IPS officers | Discuss doubts, strategy, sources, and more

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Political participation and representation of Women in India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Women centric Social reforms

Mains level: Political representation of women In India

representation

Context

  • A truly representative democracy seeks adequate representation of women in politics. India is the largest and one of the most resilient parliamentary democracies in the world. Women’s representation in India’s Parliament has improved since independence. It is an important metric to evaluate progress in bridging gender inequalities in the country.

Background: Gender Inequality in Politics

  • Women historically been Politically marginalized: Women, who constitute almost one-half of the world’s population (49.58 percent), have historically been politically marginalized in both developed and developing nations.
  • Beginning of social reforms: From the mid-19thcentury onwards, however, social movements have succeeded in effecting widespread reforms.
  • UN charter: The charter of the United Nations Organization (UNO, started in 1945) supported women’s rights.
  • International Bill of Rights for women: With the rise of feminist movements of the 1960s and ‘70s, the UN General Assembly in 1979 adopted the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)often considered as an International Bill of Rights for women. In the Convention, Article 7 upholds women’s right to hold political and public office.
  • Millennium development goals (MDGs), included gender equality: In 2000, UN member states adopted the Millennium Declaration and outlined eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), to be achieved by 2015, which included promoting gender equality.
  • Empowering women under Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): In January 2016 the initiative was extended to pursue 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of which Goal 5 seeks to “achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”, ensuring “women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life.”

representation

The present status of Women representation in politics worldwide.

  • Representative governments increased but women count remains low: According to UN Women, as of September 2022, there were 30 women serving as elected heads of state and/or of government in 28 countries (out of a total of 193 UN member states).
  • Dichotomy in active participation: There is the dichotomy between the rapid increase of women’s participation as voters in elections and other political activities, and the slow rise of female representation in Parliament.
  • Global average women representation: As of May 2022, the global average of female representation in national parliaments was 26.2 percent.
  • Above average representation: The Americas, Europe, and Sub-Saharan Africa have women’s representation above the global average;
  • Below average representation: Asia, the Pacific region, and the Middle East and Northern Africa (MENA) region, are below average.
  • Varied representation within Asian countries:
  • The South Asian countries faring worse than the others.
  • IPU data of May 2022 showed that women’s representation in Nepal, for example, was 34 percent, in Bangladesh 21 percent, in Pakistan 20 percent, in Bhutan 17 percent and in Sri Lanka 5 percent.
  • For India, women’s representation in the Lok Sabha (the Lower House) has remained slightly below 15 percent.
  • The study does not include Afghanistan, but World Bank data of 2021 stated that female representation in the country’s last parliament was 27 percent.

representation

Journey of Women’s Political Participation in India 

  • Before Independence: India has a history of marginalization and exploitation of women framed by patriarchal social structures and mindsets.
  • Beginning of social reforms and participation in Freedom struggle: The Indian freedom movement, starting with the swadeshi in Bengal (1905-08) also witnessed the impressive participation of women, who organized political demonstrations and mobilized resources, as well as occupied leadership positions in those movements.
  • Post-Independence: After India attained independence, its Constitution guaranteed equal status for men and women in all political, social and economic spheres.
  • Equality guaranteed by The Constitution:
  • Part III of the Constitution guarantees the fundamental rights of men and women.
  • The Directive Principles of State Policy ensure economic empowerment by providing for equal pay for equal work by both men and women, humane conditions of work, and maternity relief.
  • Any Indian citizen who is registered as a voter and is over 25, can contest elections to the lower house of Parliament (Lok Sabha) or the state legislative assemblies; for the upper house (Rajya Sabha) the minimum age is 30.
  • Articles 325 and 326 of the Constitution guarantee political equality and the right to vote.
  • Reservation for women in local bodies: In 1992, the 73rdand 74th amendments to the Constitution provided for reservation of one-third of the total number of seats for women in Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) and municipal bodies.

representation

Three main parameters to assess women’s participation in politics in India

  1. Women as Voters: In the last Lok Sabha election of 2019, almost as many women voted as men a watershed in India’s progress towards gender equality in politics which has been called a “silent revolution of self-empowerment The increased participation, especially since the 1990s, is attributed to a number of factors.
  2. Women as Candidates: Overall, however, while women candidates in parliamentary elections have increased over time their proportion compared to male candidates remains low. In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, of the total of 8,049 candidates in the fray, less than 9 percent were women.
  3. Women’s Representation in Parliament: Although women’s participation as voters in elections has increased significantly, the data on women’s representation in both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha suggests that the proportion of women representatives has remained low in comparison to their male counterparts.

Just to know:  

  • The highest proportion of women representatives elected to the Lok Sabha so far was in the 2019 elections, and it was less than 15 percent of total
  • The number of women candidates and MPs varies greatly across states and parties.
  • In the present Lok Sabha (17th), Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal have the highest numbers of women MPs. In terms of percentage, Goa and Manipur had fielded the highest proportion of women candidates.

Why female representation in Parliament and state legislatures remained low?

  • Inaccessibility of Institutions: Election records show that most political parties, though pledging in their constitutions to provide adequate representation to women, in practice give far too few party tickets to women candidates. A study found that a large section of women who do get party tickets have family political connections, or are ‘dynastic’ politicians. With normal routes of accessibility limited, such connections are often an entry point for women
  • Notion of women less likely to win: It is still widely held in political circles that women candidates are less likely to win elections than men, which leads to political parties giving them fewer tickets.
  • Challenging Structural Conditions: Election campaigns in India are extremely demanding and time-consuming. Women politicians, with family commitments and the responsibilities of child care, often find it difficult to fully participate
  • Highly vulnerable: Women politicians have been constantly subjected to humiliation, inappropriate comments, abuse and threats of abuse, making participation and contesting elections extremely challenging.
  • Expensive electoral system: Financing is also an obstacle as many women are financially dependent on their families. Fighting parliamentary elections can be extremely expensive, and massive financial resources are required to be able to put up a formidable contest. Absent adequate support from their parties, women candidates are compelled to arrange for their own campaign financing this is a huge challenge that deters their participation
  • Internalized patriarchy: A phenomenon known as ‘internalized patriarchy’ where many women consider it their duty to priorities family and household over political ambitions.

Why women participation in law making process is so important?

  • Political empowerment: Legislative representation is fundamental to political empowerment, enabling participation in the law-making process. Legislatures play a vital role in raising debates and discussions on various aspects of governance and in exacting accountability from the government.
  • Shows the status of gender parity: Women’s representation in the national parliament is a key indicator of the extent of gender equality in parliamentary politics.
  • Women bring different skills to politics: According to Political scientist, Anne “women bring different skills to politics and provide role models for future generations; they appeal to justice between sexes.
  • Facilitates specific interests of women in policy: Their inclusion in politics facilitates representation of the specific interests of women in state policy and creates conditions for a revitalized democracy that bridges the gap between representation and participation.
  • Highly effective and less likely to be criminal and corrupt: Study found that, women legislators perform better in their constituencies on economic indicators than their male counterparts also women legislators are less likely to be criminal and corrupt, more efficacious, and less vulnerable to political opportunism.

Way ahead

  • It should be made legally obligatory for every registered political party to give one-third of the total number of party tickets it distributes at every election to women. The Representation of People Act, 1950, will have to be amended to enable this strategy.
  • Second, if the party-level reform proves difficult, the Women’s Reservation Bill 2008 which mandated reservation of one-third of parliamentary and state assembly seats for women will have to be revived.

Notes in short: Can be used in answers, essays and debates accordingly.

  1. Despite strong patriarchal norms, the country is seeing an increase in women’s political participation, parallel to higher levels of education and growing financial independence.
  2. The number of women contesting parliamentary and state legislative elections remains limited.
  3. Where constitutionally mandated reservation of seats for women has been provided at the local self-government level, women’s representation has increased.
  4. However, political parties, the primary vehicle of electoral politics, remain largely inaccessible for women to contest parliamentary and legislative elections even after 75 years of Indian independence.

Conclusion

  • The organic shift to opening up spaces for women in Indian parliamentary politics has been slow. More women are needed in these platforms to transform the discourse on governance and policy-making, and bring India closer to becoming a truly inclusive and representative democracy.

 

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Supreme Court asks government to grant pension to 32 women IAF officers

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Permanent Comission

Mains level: Women in Armed Forces

women

The Supreme Court has ordered the government to grant pension to women officers who fought for 12 years to get reinstatement and permanent commission in the Indian Air Force (IAF).

Women in IAF: A case for Permanent commission

  • History is replete with examples where women have been denied their just entitlements under law and the right to fair and equal treatment in the workplace.
  • The women had been fighting for 12 years for a chance to be considered for permanent commission.
  • The women pointed out to the court’s judgment in Babita Puniya Case.
  • It upheld the right of women short service commission officers to be considered for permanent commission on a par with their men colleagues.

Why males have ever dominated the armed forces?

  • Militaries across the world help entrench hegemonic masculine notions of aggressiveness, strength and heterosexual prowess in and outside their barracks.
  • The military training focuses on creating new bonds of brotherhood and camaraderie between them based on militarized masculinity.
  • This temperament is considered in order to enable conscripts to survive the tough conditions of military life and to be able to kill without guilt.
  • To create these new bonds, militaries construct a racial, sexual, gendered “other”, attributes of whom the soldier must routinely and emphatically reject.

Dimensions of the Issue

  • Gender is not a hindrance: As long as an applicant is qualified for a position, one’s gender is arbitrary. It is easy to recruit and deploy women who are in better shape than many men sent into combat.
  • Combat Readiness: Allowing a mixed-gender force keeps the military strong. The armed forces are severely troubled by falling retention and recruitment rates. This can be addressed by allowing women in the combat role.
  • Effectiveness: The blanket restriction for women limits the ability of commanders in theatre to pick the most capable person for the job.
  • Tradition: Training will be required to facilitate the integration of women into combat units. Cultures change over time and the masculine subculture can evolve too.
  • Cultural Differences & Demographics: Women are more effective in some circumstances than men. Allowing women to serve doubles the talent pool for delicate and sensitive jobs that require interpersonal skills, not every soldier has.

Hurdles for Women

  • Capabilities of women: Although women are equally capable, if not more capable than men, there might be situations that could affect the capabilities of women such as absence during pregnancy and catering to the responsibilities of motherhood, etc.
  • Adjusting with the masculine setup: To then simply add women to this existing patriarchal setup, without challenging the notions of masculinity, can hardly be seen as “gender advancement”.
  • Fear of sexual harassment: Sexual harassment faced by women military officers is a global phenomenon that remains largely unaddressed, and women often face retaliation when they do complain.
  • Gender progressiveness could be an illusion: Women’s inclusion is criticized as just another manoeuvre to camouflage women’s subjugation and service as women’s liberation.
  • Battle of ‘Acceptance’: Acceptance of women in the military has not been smooth in any country. Every army has to mould the attitude of its society at large and male soldiers in particular to enhance acceptability of women in the military.
  • Job Satisfaction: Most women feel that their competence is not given due recognition. Seniors tend to be over-indulgent without valuing their views. They are generally marginalised and not involved in any major decision-making.
  • Doubts about Role Definition: The profession of arms is all about violence and brutality. To kill another human is not moral but soldiers are trained to kill.
  • Physical and Physiological Issues: The natural physical differences in stature, strength, and body composition between the sexes make women more vulnerable to certain types of injuries and medical problems. The natural processes of menstruation and pregnancy make women particularly vulnerable in combat situations.
  • Comfort Level: Most women accepted the fact that their presence amongst males tends to make the environment ‘formal and stiff’. The mutual comfort level between men and women colleagues is often very low.

Conclusion

  • Concern for equality of sexes or political expediency should not influence defence policies.
  • Armed forces have been constituted with the sole purpose of ensuring defence of the country and all policy decisions should be guided by this overriding factor.
  • All matters concerning defence of the country have to be considered in a dispassionate manner.
  • No decision should be taken which even remotely affects the cohesiveness and efficiency of the military.

Way ahead

  • Induction of women into armed forces should be on the basis of their abilities and not on the basis of their gender.
  • The training for both women and men should be standardized to eliminate differentiation based on physical capabilities.
  • The career aspects and opportunities for women need to be viewed holistically keeping the final aim in focus.

 

(Click) FREE1-to-1 on-call Mentorship by IAS-IPS officers | Discuss doubts, strategy, sources, and more

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Good News: Child marriage is on the decline

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Child marriage issue and associated problems

Child marriage

Content

  • The steering committee of a global programme to end child marriage is on a visit to India to witness state interventions which have helped reduce the prevalence of child marriage.

What are the findings of the committee?

  • Increase in Child marriage as a pandemic effect: The visit by the UNFPA-UNICEF Global Programme to End Child Marriage team is in view of an estimated increase in number of child brides due to the pandemic. The UNFPA-UNICEF estimates that 10 million children could become child brides as a result of the pandemic globally.
  • Child marriages reduced in India according to NFHS-5: In India, child marriage reduced from 47.4% in 2005-06 to 26.8% in 2015-16, registering a decline of 21% points during the decade. In the last five years, it declined by 3.5% points to reach 23.3% in 2020-21, according to the latest National Family Health Survey-5 data.

What is the situation in the world?

  • As per the UNICEF data: The total number of girls married in childhood stands at 12 million per year, and progress must be significantly accelerated in order to end the practice by 2030 the target set out in the Sustainable Development Goals. Without further acceleration, more than 150 million additional girls will marry before they turn 18 by 2030.
  • Progress is Uneven and not enough: While it is encouraging that in the past decade great progress has been made in South Asia, where a girl’s risk of marrying before she is 18 has dropped by more than a third, from nearly 50% to below 30%, it is not enough, and progress has been uneven.
  • Dire consequences of child marriage: Rights activists and health experts say the consequences of child marriage are dire, not only because it violates children’s rights, but also because it results in more infant and maternal deaths. Children born to adolescent mothers have a greater possibility of seeing stunted growth as they have low weight at birth. According to NFHS-5, prevalence of child stunting is 35.5% in 2019-21.

Child marriage

Where does India stand?

  • Declining trend in overall child marriage: There is a growing trend for decline in the overall prevalence of child marriage, but 23.3% is still a disturbingly high percentage in a country with a population of 141.2 crore. Eight States have a higher prevalence of child marriage than the national average.
  • High prevalence in some bigger States: West Bengal and Bihar have the highest prevalence of girl child marriage. States with a large population of tribal poor have a higher prevalence of child marriage. West Bengal, Bihar and Tripura top the list with more than 40% of women aged 20-24 years married below 18, according to NFHS data.
  • Scenario in Jharkhand and Assam: In Jharkhand, 32.2% of women in the age bracket 20-24 got married before 18, according to NFHS-5; infant mortality stood at 37.9%, and 65.8% of women in the 15-19 age bracket are anaemic. Assam too has a high prevalence of child marriage (31.8% in 2019-20 from 30.8% in 2015-16).
  • Child marriages reduced in some states: Some States have shown a reduction in child marriages, like Madhya Pradesh (23.1% in 2020-21 from 32.4% in 2015-16), Rajasthan (25.4% from 35.4%) and Haryana.
  • Several States are pegged just below the national average: In Odisha, 20.5% of women were married off before 18 in 2020-21 from 21.3% in 2015-16.
  • States on better social indices as a result of high literacy: States with high literacy levels and better health and social indices have fared much better on this score. In Kerala, women who got married before the age of 18 stood at 6.3% in 2019-20, from 7.6% in 2015-16. Tamil Nadu too has shown improved figures with 12.8% of women in the age group 20-24 years getting married before 18 compared to 16.3% in 2015-16.

Child marriage

What are the laws and policy interventions?

  • Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012: These laws aim at protecting children from violation of human and other rights.
  • A positive debate on raising the age of Marriage: A parliamentary standing committee is weighing the pros and cons of raising the age of marriage for women to 21, which has been cleared by the Union Cabinet. With various personal laws governing marriages in India, the government wants to amend the law, a reform that activists and agencies have said will not be enough to stop the practice of child marriage.
  • Various schemes: There are no of Centralised schemes like the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, which are performing better on empowering the girl children
  • Various initiatives by the states: States have launched many initiatives to improve the factors linked to child marriage, from education to health care and awareness programmes. For instance, West Bengal’s Kanyashree scheme offers financial aid to girls wanting to pursue higher studies, though women’s activists have pointed out that another scheme Rupashree, which provides a one-time payment of ₹25,000 to poor families at the time of a daughter’s marriage, may be counter-productive. Bihar and other States have been implementing a cycle scheme to ensure girls reach safely to school; and U.P. has a scheme to encourage girls to go back to school.

Child marriage

What needs to be done?

  • Need a multidimensional approach: According to Sandeep Chachra, ActionAid Association India, which has been working with UNICEF and UNFPA said the solution lies in empowering girls, creating proper public infrastructure and addressing societal norms.
  • Awareness not only about the law but also about the dire consequences on Health: Uma Mahadevan-Dasgupta, who serves in the IAS, says several thousand child marriage prohibition officers have been notified in Karnataka and 90,000 local gram panchayat members have been oriented to spread awareness on child marriage, not only that it is illegal to get a child married off before 18, but also the dangers to the child’s health and her offspring.
  • Focusing on the overall girl child development: They stress on an all-pronged approach to end the practice; strong laws, strict enforcement, preparing an ideal situation on the ground to ensure that the girl child girls with either or below primary level education have experienced higher levels of child marriage as data show gets an education and preferably vocational training as well so that she can be financially independent.
  • Schemes need better implementation: Centralised schemes like the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, which need better implementation on the ground. Various schemes by the states needs through analysis and better implementation at the grass root level.

Conclusion

  • Data shows that child marriage is a key determinant of high fertility, poor maternal and child health, and lower social status of women. There has been a rise in child marriages during the pandemic, but many have been prevented as well. A lot more needs to be done on factors closely linked to child marriage, including eradication of poverty, better education and public infrastructure facilities for children, raising social awareness on health, nutrition, regressive social norms and inequalities.

Question

Q. Child marriages comes with dire consequences on adolescent mothers and children born to them. Evaluate the status on prevalence of child marriages In India and how to address the situation?

Click and Get your FREE copy of Current Affairs Micro notes

 

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Abortion Right extends to the Cisgenders: SC

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Cisgenders

Mains level: Abortion rights debate

In a significant judgment, the Supreme Court said it was unconstitutional to distinguish between married and unmarried women while allowing abortion when the foetus is between 20-24 weeks.

What is the news?

  • Going a step further, the court said the term ‘woman’ in the judgment included persons other than cisgender women.

What is cisgender?

  • The term cisgender is used to define people whose gender identity and expression match the identity assigned to them at birth.
  • When a child is born, it is assigned a gender identity based on its physical characteristics.
  • Many believe that gender is a social construct, and growing up, the child may or may not confirm to the birth identity.
  • For transgender people, their sense of gender identity does not match the one assigned to them at birth.
  • Thus, a cisgender woman is a person who was assigned female at birth and continues to identify as a woman.
  • On the other hand, a child assigned female at birth can feel it identifies more authentically as a man as it grows up.

Use of gender-inclusive vocabularies in official documents

  • Before India’s Supreme Court used ‘cisgender’ in the context of reproductive rights, last year in June, the US government had replaced the word ‘mothers’ with ‘birthing people’.
  • Those who advocate the use of ‘birthing people’ say it is not just women who give birth.
  • Transmen — a person assigned the female gender at birth but who identifies as a man – and genderqueer people – who identify as neither man nor woman – also give birth.

Why the word cisgender is important?

  • If there are ‘transgender’ people, there should be a word for those who are not.
  • Giving a label to only one section of the population, especially when that is in the minority, implies that the others are default, ‘normal’, and only that section needs to be labelled.
  • Having distinct words for transgender and cisgender people denotes that both are equally valid, neutral experiences, with neither being an aberration.
  • Also, cis and trans are not the only gender identifiers in use.
  • There are many other terms, such as gender-queer, gender fluid and gender variant.
  • Some also choose not to use the traditionally gender-tied pronouns of he/she/her/his, and go for they/them.

Criticism of the term

  • Some people, including those working on trans rights, feel terms like ‘cisgender’ belong in the realm of gender theory alone.
  • They feel that their usage can be counterproductive – people are less likely to grasp a message if they have to look up the individual words that make up the message.
  • Others feel that ‘cisgender’ as a counter to ‘transgender’ is restrictive – reinforcing a binary of genders that many choose to reject.

 

UPSC 2023 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Gender pay gap in India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Women empowerment

women empowermentContext

  • Despite notable progress in closing the gender pay gap over time in India, the gap remains high by international standards. Asymmetries still abound in the country’s labor market stopping women empowerment .
  • Time to reassess the progress made in to close the Gender pay gap.

Background

  • The third International Equal Pay Day is observed globally on September 18, 2022.
  • It is a United Nations-recognized event to highlight the issue of gender pay gap.
  • International Labor Organization’s “Global Wage Report 2020–21” which suggests the crisis inflicted massive downward pressure on wages and disproportionately affected women’s total wages compared to
  • This greater wage reduction for women means that the pre-existing gender pay gap has widened.

women empowermentCovid-19 Impact

  • While it is difficult to tell exactly what the economic damage from the global covid-19 pandemic has been, it is clear that its impact has been uneven, with women being among the worst affected in terms of their income security.
  • Many women reverted to full-time care of children and the elderly during the pandemic, foregoing their livelihoods to do so.

What is gender pay gap?

  • The gender pay gap or gender wage gap measures the difference between the average earnings of women and men in the workforce.
  • In simple term it is a measure of what women are paid relative to men.
  • Women are generally found to be paid less than men.

Why is the gender pay gap?

  • Education: low investment o girl education, Girl children are kept out of schools, or made drop out of school at early age, girl is considered as burden on family in many societies.
  • workforce : even if they are educated they are not allowed to work by their families, very limited or no decision making power, lack of women friendly work environment, discriminatory practices at workplaces.
  • Household: early marriage , responsibilities of the household at early age , spending more times on domestic chores,
  • Healthcare: malnutrition, anemia, Maternity, child care, looking after health of the elderly family members etc.

 

These are some of the reasons which affect education, skills, experience and the career prospectus of women as compared to men and contribute to widen the gender wage gap.

 

women empowermentDiscrimination as factor

  • A part of gender pay gap attributed to education, skills or experience, a large part of the gender pay gap can still purely because of discrimination based on one’s gender or sex.
  • Gender-based discriminatory practices include: lower wages paid to women for work of equal value; undervaluation of women’s work in highly feminized occupations and enterprises, and motherhood pay gap lower wages for mothers compared to non-mother.

women empowermentStatus in India

  • The gender pay gap in India is among the widest in the world.
  • Indian women earned, on an average, 48% less compared to their male counterparts in 1993-94
  • According to labor force survey data of the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) gap declined to 28% in 2018-19.
  • Periodic Labor Force Survey (PLFS) 2020-21 show an increase in the gap by 7% between 2018-19 and 2020-21.
  • Recently, the World Economic Forum (WEF) ranked India at 135 out of 146 countries in its Global Gender Gap (GGG) Index for 2022.
  • According to the estimates of the World Inequality Report 2022, in India, men earn 82 per cent of the labor income whereas women earn 18 per cent of it.

women empowermentSteps taken by India

  • Minimum Wages Act in 1948: It is an act of parliament, aimed at statutory fixation of minimum wages that must be paid to skilled and unskilled labours. Payment of wages below the minimum wage rate amounts to forced labour.
  • Equal Remuneration Act in 1976: This act of parliament provides for the payment of equal remuneration to men and women workers for the prevention of discrimination. It helps in bridging the gap between unequal remuneration faced by the women of our country.
  • Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) 2005: MGNREGA contributed to the rapid rise in overall rural and agricultural wages in the country. It benefited rural women workers and helped reduce the gender pay gap, both directly and indirectly. Directly, by raising the pay levels of women workers and indirectly to women involved in agricultural occupations through higher earnings.
  • The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act 2017: has increased the duration of paid maternity leave available for women employees to 26 weeks from 12 weeks for all women working in establishments employing 10 or more workers. This is expected to reduce the motherhood pay gap among mothers in the median and high end wage earners working in the formal economy also it will help in women empowerment.
  • Skill India Mission: To equip women with market-relevant skills to bridge the learning to-livelihood gap and the gender pay gap.
  • In 2019, India carried out comprehensive reforms in both the legislation and enacted the Code on Wages.

Way ahead

  • While the gender pay gap is slowly narrowing, acceleration and bold actions to prevent the widening of gender pay gap is the need of the hour.
  • Equal pay for work of equal value is necessary to close the gender pay gap.
  • Closing the gender pay gap is key to achieving social justice for working women, as well as economic growth for the nation as a whole
  • Without social justice women empowerment is a futile exercise.

 

Mains Question

Q. Define gender equality .Equal pay for equal work is necessary to bridge the gender pay gap India .Comment.

UPSC 2023 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

 

 

 

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Domestic violence needs to stop for true women empowerment

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: women empowerment

domestic violenceContext

  • Due to prevalence of patriarchy women have been discriminated not only in India but in most parts of the world. According to The United Nations, one out of every three women experience domestic violence. The same UN report suggests that the most dangerous place for women is their home. Gender equality and women’s empowerment are essential for the development and well-being of families, communities and nations.

How UN women defines Violence against women and girls

  • Any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering to women and girls, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.

Why Women are the victim?

  • Domestic violence is one of the most common forms of violence experienced by women globally.
  • Women are usually the victim of domestic violence that derives from unequal power relationships between men and women.

domestic violenceWhy there is recent spike in violence against women?

  • According to UN, Violence against women and girls is one of the world’s most prevalent human rights violations, taking place every day, many times over, in every corner of the world.
  • Conditions created by the pandemic – including lockdowns, reduced mobility, heightened isolation, stress and economic uncertainty have led to an alarming spike in domestic violence and have further exposed women and girls to other forms of violence, from child marriage to sexual harassment online.

What is Domestic violence?

  • Domestic violence is any pattern of behavior that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner. It encompasses all physical, sexual, emotional, economic and psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person.
  • Domestic violence can include the following.
    • Psychological violence: Psychological violence involves causing fear, threatening physical harm or forcing isolation from friends, family, school or work.
    • Economic violence: Making or attempting to make a person financially dependent by maintaining total control over financial resources.
  • Emotional violence: Undermining a person’s sense of self-worth through constant criticism; belittling one’s abilities; verbal abuse.
  • Physical violence: Use of Physical force or hurting or trying to hurt a partner .it also includes denying medical care.
  • Sexual violence: Forcing a partner to take part in a sex act when the partner does not consent

What is the current Status in India?

  • Nearly one-third of women in India have experienced physical or sexual violence
  • The most common type of spousal violence is physical violence (28%), followed by emotional violence and sexual violence
  • While domestic violence against women has declined from 31.2% to 29.3% in the country, 30% women between the age of 18 and 49 have experienced physical violence since the age of 15 years, while 6% have experienced sexual violence in their lifetime,.
  • Only 14% of women who have experienced physical or sexual violence by anyone have brought the issue up.
  • 32% of married women (18-49 years) have experienced physical, sexual, or emotional spousal violence.

Recent findings from National Family health Survey Report-5

  • Status: Domestic violence against women is highest in Karnataka at 48%, followed by Bihar, Telangana, Manipur and Tamil Nadu. Lakshawdeep has the least domestic violence at 2.1%.
  • Ruralurban difference: Physical violence is more common among women in rural areas (32%) as compared to their urban areas (24%).
  • Impact of schooling and education: 40% women with no schooling are subject to physical violence compared to 18% who completed their schooling.
  • Impact of employment and wealth: The experience of physical violence ranges between 39% among women in the lowest wealth quintile and 17% in the highest wealth quintile.

 Why women left behind as compared to men in India?

  • Patriarchal structure: Patriarchal structures and ideologies and the mindset lead to women subordination and gender inequalities
  • Low sex ratio: Sex ratios for women in India Is not good comparatively. It was even bad at the time of independence.
  • Life expectancy: Women’s life expectancy, health, nutritional levels are significantly lower than that of men.
  • Education: low investment on girl education, Girl children are kept out of schools, or made drop out of school at early age, girl is considered as burden on family in many societies.
  • Employment: even if they are educated they are not allowed to work by their families Discrimination at the workplaces, lower wages for the work of equal value.
  • Decision making: The have little say in the families, socio economic, legal and political rules and policy formulations. Very limited or no decision making power.
  • Political participation: The participation of women in political and social decision making power is abysmally low. Their number in parliament has never exceeded more than 10%.

What can be done for empowering women?

  • Recognition: Recognition of women as productive, vital agents of family and environment should be a precondition for addressing their social needs. We need to change the way they are perceived.
  • Treatment: They must not be only treated only as objects of welfare but needed to be treated as those who are contributing to the economy.
  • Health: To provide quality and affordable healthcare and must be easily accessible.
  • Education: Education of women is the most important component for women’s empowerment.
  • Safe and secure environment: providing safety and security is the precondition for empowerment and social justice.
  • Economic Independence: Helping women to stand on their legs, become independent and also to earn for their family is necessary to empowering women and to raise their hand in decision making process of family, society and nation

domestic violenceWoman as the foundation stone of every family, society and nation

  • India has an ancient woman worship tradition.
  • In India we see woman as a mother goddess. There are no of evidences to support this idea
  • For instance the Sanskrit text “Yatra naryastu pujyante ramante tatra Devata”which means where women are honored, there gods resides.
  • Which means there is a overall development if the women of the family is happy.

domestic violenceConclusion

  • Domestic violence against women is major obstacle on progress on achieving development targets. Without addressing it, anybody have little chance of meeting millennium development. Recognition of women as productive, vital agents of family and environment should be a precondition for addressing their social needs. Gender equality and women’s empowerment are essential for the development and well-being of families, communities and nations.

Mains Question

Q. Empowering women on every front is the pre-condition for the overall development of the nation. Discuss.

UPSC 2023 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Glass ceiling needs to be broken to unlock women potential

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Government schemes

Mains level: Gender issues

glass ceilingContext

  • According to available UNESCO data on some selected countries, India is at the lowest position, having only 14% female researchers working in STEM areas highlighting the presence of glass ceiling.

What is glass ceiling?

  • A glass ceiling is a metaphor used to represent an invisible barrier that prevents women from rising beyond a certain level in a hierarchy. The metaphor was first coined by feminists in reference to barriers in the careers of high-achieving women.

What Is a Gender-equal Society?

  • A society in which both women and men shall be given equal opportunities to participate voluntarily in activities in all fields as equal partners, and be able to enjoy political, economic, social and cultural benefits equally as well as to share responsibilities.

How glass ceiling limits women progress?

  • Few opportunities: Due to deep-rooted biases, it is difficult for women to access many experiences and networks that are easily accessible to men.
  • Social barriers and gender norms: Personal barriers include notions of compromise and sacrifice that are ingrained in women. This feeds into how women present themselves. External barriers and cultural cues reinforce how men and women “ought” to behave.
  • Gender Inequity: Stereotypes related to gender brilliance or gender-based intrinsic aptitude generate inequity which remains unnoticed.
  • Low self-confidence: Our socio-cultural constructs reflect absolute patriarchy causing even women to be sceptical about their abilities, to accept the roles set for them in the household.

glass ceiling The gender gap in employment

  • Around the world, finding a job is much tougher for women than it is for men. When women are employed, they tend to work in low-quality jobs in vulnerable conditions, and there is little improvement forecast in the near future.

glass ceilingWhat are STEM areas?

  • STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics and refers to any subjects that fall under these four disciplines.

What are the drivers at policy and programme level to promote women in STEM in India?

  • Breaking myths and stereotypes around STEM is crucial to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 5 (gender equality) which includes women’s use of enabling technology, including ICT as a means of achieving economic empowerment and greater agency and also many other STEM-related SDGs.

glass ceilingGovernment initiatives

  • GATI: It will be called GATI (Gender Advancement through Transforming Institutions). The DST is incorporating a system of grading institutes depending on the enrolment of women and the advancement of the careers of women faculty and scientists.
  • CURIE: For infrastructure in women’s universities
  • Vigyan Jyoti Scheme: Encourage girls in high school to pursue STEM
  • The Athena Swan Charter: is a framework which is used across the globe to support and transform gender equality within higher education (HE) and research.
  • KIRAN: (Knowledge Involvement in Research Advancement through nurturing) Scheme to encourage women Scientists
  • Indo-US Fellowship: for Women in STEMM (STEM and Medicine)

Conclusion

  • Gender equality or parity will happen only when there is a change in mind-set and institutions consider women as assets rather than simply a diversity rectification issue. Policies that help women advance in science and society globally are needed. The world cannot afford to miss out on what women have to offer.

Mains question

Q. What do you understand by the term glass ceiling? Discuss how it has hampered the women participation in high end research STEM jobs by citing some government initiatives to address this.

UPSC 2023 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Cervavac: India’s first indigenously developed Vaccine for Cervical Cancer

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Cervavac, Cervical cancer

Mains level: Menstrual hygiene and related diseases

Cervavax

Union Minister of Science and Technology has announced the scientific completion of Cervavac, India’s first indigenously developed quadrivalent human papillomavirus (qHPV) vaccine for the prevention of cervical cancer.

What is Cervavac?

  • Cervavac was developed by the Pune-based Serum Institute of India in coordination with the Department of Biotechnology (DBT).
  • The project to develop the vaccine was implemented by the then secretary of the DBT, Dr. M K Bhan in 2011.
  • Since then, 30 meetings of scientific advisory groups and site visits conducted by DBT have helped review the scientific merit of the entire journey to develop the vaccine.
  • Cervavac received market authorisation approval from the Drug Controller General of India on July 12 this year.

What is so unique about Cervavac?

  • HPV vaccines are given in two doses and data has shown that the antibodies that develop after both are administered can last up to six or seven years.
  • Unlike Covid vaccines, booster shots may not be required for the cervical cancer vaccine.
  • Until now, the HPV vaccines available in India were produced by foreign manufacturers at an approximate cost of Rs 2,000 to Rs 3,500 per dose.
  • Cervavac is likely to be significantly cheaper, slated to cost approximately Rs 200 to 400.
  • It has also demonstrated a robust antibody response that is nearly 1,000 times higher than the baseline against all targeted HPV types and in all dose and age groups.

Significance of the vaccine

  • Despite being largely preventable, cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer among women globally, according to the WHO.
  • In 2018, an estimated 57000 women were diagnosed with the disease and it accounted for 311,000 deaths across the world.

How common is cervical cancer in India?

  • India accounts for about a fifth of the global burden of cervical cancer, with 1.23 lakh cases and around 67,000 deaths per year.
  • Almost all cervical cancer cases are linked to certain strains of human papillomavirus (HPV), a common virus that is transmitted through sexual contact.
  • The body’s immune system usually gets rid of the HPV infection naturally within two years.
  • However, in a small percentage of people, the virus can linger over time and turn some normal cells into abnormal cells and then cancer.

How dangerous is cervical cancer?

  • Cervical cancer is preventable if detected early and managed effectively.
  • Screening and vaccination are two powerful tools that are available for preventing cervical cancer.
  • Still, there is little awareness among women about the prevention of this cancer and less than 10% of Indian women get screened.
  • All women aged 30-49 must get screened for cervical cancer even if they have no symptoms and get their adolescent daughters vaccinated with the HPV vaccine.

What are the challenges?

  • The biggest task will be in allocating adequate resources and manpower for vaccinating the massive demographic of adolescent girls aged between 9 and 15, to ensure that they are protected from HPV early.
  • There is a huge need for stepping up awareness about the disease and the vaccine in the community.
  • Unlike Covid and the vaccination programme, there is very little awareness about cervical cancer.
  • Overall awareness and screening are very low in the community and that is a concern.
  • Since this is a preventable disease and hence a huge awareness programme is required

Way forward

  • School-based vaccination programmes might work effectively.
  • Currently, none exist and therefore planning will have to be done along those lines.
  • Those accessing public health programmes will get the vaccine free of cost at government-aided schools.
  • However concerted efforts will have to be made to ensure the involvement of private healthcare facilities and NGOs towards an effective rollout.

 

UPSC 2023 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Strong gender norms of japan reducing gender equality

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: gender norms , women empowerment

Gender norms Context

  • Japan ranked lowest among the developed countries in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index 2022 due to its prevalent gender norms.

What Is a Gender-equal Society?

  • A society in which both women and men shall be given equal opportunities to participate voluntarily in activities in all fields as equal partners, and be able to enjoy political, economic, social and cultural benefits equally as well as to share responsibilities.

What is sexism in simple words?

  • Prejudice or discrimination based on sex especially discrimination against women. Behaviour, conditions, or attitudes that foster stereotypes of social roles based on sex.

What is the meaning of gender norms?

  • Gender norms are social principles that govern the behaviour of girls, boys, women, and men in society and restrict their gender identity into what is considered to be appropriate. Gender norms are neither static nor universal and change over time.

Gender norms Persistent gender norms in japan

  • Men should work outside the home.
  • Genders should be brought up differently.
  • Women are more suited to household work and child rearing than men.
  • Full time housewives are valuable to society because of their family raising role.

What is womenomic’s?

  • “Womenomics”, a theory linking the advancement of women to increased development rates. The concept, originally defined by the Japanese Prime Minister Abe.

What is women’s empowerment all about?

  • Women’s empowerment can be defined to promoting women’s sense of self-worth, their ability to determine their own choices, and their right to influence social change for themselves and others.

gender norms

Measures toward the Realization of a Gender-equal Society

  • Promoting the Participation of Women in National Advisory Councils and Committees.
  • Recruiting and Promoting of Female National Public Officers.

What is needed to improve women’s welfare?

  • Community sensitization: Persistent effort must be directed toward community sensitization to root out patriarchal social norms.
  • Directional efforts: In addition to enforcing existing regulations like minimum wages, there must be supportive ancillary policies including childcare; secure transport; lighting; safety at work; and quotas in hiring, corporate boards, and politics to foster more  women  in  leadership.

Key fact

Japan is the world’s fourth largest economy.

Conclusion

  • Due to the labour shortage in Japan, women are undoubtedly an essential resource for the nation. Hence, they should also be further involved in policy-making and social decisions such as gender inequality solving and feasible Womenomic’s adjustments for the next future.

Mains question

Q. Japan’s struggle with gender parity teaches us that investing in women’s education and health may have limited impact if that society is trapped in gender norms that restrict women from capitalising these investments for themselves, the society and the country. Critically analyse.

UPSC 2023 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Long road ahead: Towards women empowerment

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Global Gender Gap Report 2022.

Mains level: Women issues,Affirmative actions.

Context

  • Gender parity is not recovering, according to the Global Gender Gap Report 2022. It will take another 132 years to close the global gender gap.
  • As crises are compounding, women’s workforce outcomes are suffering and the risk of global gender parity backsliding further intensifies.

Why in news?

  • India has one of the world’s lowest female labour force participation rates (LFPR).
  • This means the productive potential of half of the population goes unutilized.

What is women’s empowerment all about?

  • Women’s empowerment can be defined to promoting women’s sense of self-worth, their ability to determine their own choices, and their right to influence social change for themselves and others.

Why it is needed?

  • Human resource: Empowerment of women is a necessity for the very development of a society, since it enhances both the quality and the quantity of human resources available for development.
  • Sustainable development: Women’s empowerment and achieving gender equality is essential for our society to ensure the sustainable development of the country.

Constraints in women empowerment

  • Illiteracy: Illiteracy has been found as major constraints for the attainment of women Empowerment in the nation. It is the rate of literacy which governs the reservation, takeover and competition among women for their right in country. Female child are less privileged for attaining schools.
  • Discriminatory nature of male towards female: In India, since the olden days, the men have been in control of politics, social, economical as well as cultural and traditional spheres of life.
  • Religious and cultural beliefs: This is another important constraint of women’s empowerment in India which tightens up the female population. It is because of unknowing believes and following superstitions.
  • Less participation of women in political field: In particular, women them self involves less in the political filed. Their participation is very insignificant in political issues and right as compared to male population.

What happens if we don’t act?

  • Economical losses: Evidence shows that economic disempowerment of women can result in losses of 10% of GDP in industrialized economies and over 30% in South Asia and in the Middle East and North Africa.
  • Work opportunities: India’s GDP could grow by nearly ₹3 trillion if women were brought into the labour market and given access to formal, ‘decent’ work opportunities.

Case study

Mahila Sanatkar a craftswomen cooperative located in Hyderabad.

Economic and social  effects: It  is  noticeable  some  social  results  such  as  skill building, self-confidence  enhancement,  the  mobility acquired  by the  women.

What is needed to improve women’s welfare?

  • Community sensitization: Persistent effort must be directed toward community sensitization to root out patriarchal social norms.
  • Directional efforts: In addition to enforcing existing regulations like minimum wages, there must be supportive ancillary policies including childcare; secure transport; lighting; safety at work; and quotas in hiring, corporate boards, and politics to foster more  women  in  leadership.
  • Universal social mobilization: Identification and inclusion of the poor remains a challenge. There is need to develop community resource persons for participatory identification of poor.
  • Training, Capacity Building & Skill Upgradation: There is lack of appropriate training plans, quality training and availability of expert training institutions.
  • Universal Financial Inclusion: Lack of uniform financial management systems at all tiers of SHGs has impacted the growth in bank accounts, improvement in financial literacy, and absorption capacity of community members.
  • Multiple & Diversified Livelihoods: There is lack of progressive leadership for inclusiveness of small-sized enterprises at the federal level. Market/ forward linkages, is largely missing.

Conclusion

  • If we improve women’s labour force participation, not only do we harness the massive productive potential of half of the population, but their earnings will yield enormous dividends for the future of the country and economy.

Mains question

Q. What do you consider as true women empowerment? Assess the constraints for the same and give directional efforts needed to overcome it.  

UPSC 2023 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

 

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

How to bring Indian women into the workforce?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Labour force participation rate (LFPR)

Mains level: Women's partificaption in workforce

Fewer than one in five Indian women are in the labour force. Four out of five are neither working nor looking for work.

Why in news?

  • India has one of the world’s lowest female labour force participation rates (LFPR).
  • This means the productive potential of half of the population goes unutilized.

Why women’s LFPR is so low in India?

  • There are many reasons:
  1. A lack of demand for women workers;
  2. Poor working conditions including low wages,
  3. Safety concerns and exploitation;
  4. Girls studying longer; migration;
  5. Nuclearization of families where there are fewer women to share domestic responsibilities; and
  6. Middle-income effect is where women stop working because the household has enough income.
  • The root of much of this is deep-set patriarchy and neglect for women’s claim to their equal place in a man’s world.

Why enhancing women’s LFPR is critical?

  • Research and experience highlight that when women have money, they spend it on the well-being of their families.
  • From Brazil’s Bolsa Familia to the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan package for women with Jan Dhan accounts, policymakers have tried to reap the benefits of putting money in women’s hands.
  • One way to do this is to ensure that more women have jobs, higher wages, and equal pay.

What is needed to improve women’s employment?

  • Persistent effort must be directed toward community sensitization to root out patriarchal social norms.
  • In addition to enforcing existing regulations like minimum wages, there must be supportive ancillary policies including childcare; secure transport; lighting; safety at work; and quotas in hiring, corporate boards, and politics  to  foster  more  women  in  leadership.

What obstacles do we confront?

  • Correcting asymmetries of power is hard, especially when it entails changing convention.
  • Men who are blind to their privilege, or will be forced to share their privileges, will resist change.
  • Engendered discrimination results in a lack of labour market demand for women workers.
  • This is visible in policies such as honorariums instead of wages for Anganwadi and Asha workers.
  • It is also evident from over-reliance on home-based work for women, on and offline, instead of doing the hard work to ensure equal opportunity, outcomes, and real choice.

What happens if we don’t act?

  • A concerted effort to advance gender equity must be a central priority over the next 25 years.
  • Evidence shows that economic disempowerment of women can result in losses of 10% of GDP in industrialized economies and over 30% in South Asia and in the Middle East and North Africa.
  • India’s GDP could grow by nearly ₹3 trillion if women were brought into the labour market and given access to formal, ‘decent’ work opportunities.

Way forward

  • If we improve women’s labour force participation, not only do we harness the massive productive potential of half of the population, but their earnings will yield enormous dividends for the future of the country and economy.

 

UPSC 2023 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Right to abortion won’t be restricted by a woman’s marital status

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Article 21

Mains level: Paper 2- Abortion rights

Context

Recently, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court of India delivered a significant order, clarifying that the right to a medical abortion that was available to married women could not be denied to unmarried women.

Background of the case

  • The SC’s order granting permission to undergo an abortion was passed in the case of a petitioner who was in a consensual relationship, and whose partner deserted her.
  • The Delhi High Court had denied the petitioner’s right to terminate her pregnancy.
  •  Rule 3B of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Rules 2003, lays down the categories of women who are eligible for termination of pregnancy up to 24 weeks:
  • Survivors of sexual assault or rape or incest; minors; where there is a change of marital status during the ongoing pregnancy (widowhood and divorce); women with physical and mental disabilities, women with pregnancies in humanitarian settings; foetal “malformations” that have a substantial risk of being incompatible with life, or which, if the child is born, may cause it to suffer from a serious physical or mental handicap.
  • The High Court found that the petitioner had not undergone a “change in marital status”.
  • The SC found that prima facie, the High Court had been too restrictive in its approach, and that the term “change in marital status” should be given a purposive interpretation.

Three key judgments

  • The Supreme Court in this casebased this finding on the 2021 Amendment to the MTP Act, which no longer restricts itself to an unwanted pregnancy between a “husband” and “wife”, but to a woman and her “partner”, by marriage or not.
  • The Court relied on three key judgements:
  • 1] The 2010 S Khushboo case, which recognised the legality of live-in relationships and pre-marital sex.
  • 2] The 2009 Suchita Srivastava case, which recognised that a woman’s right to make reproductive choices is part of the “personal liberty” guaranteed under Article 21.
  • 3] The 2017 K S Puttaswamy case, which reaffirmed that women’s right to bodily integrity is part of the fundamental right to privacy.
  • The Court observed: The statute has recognised the reproductive choice of a woman and her bodily integrity and autonomy.
  • Contrast with rights in the US: The SC’s order attains significance in contrast to the recent Dobbs decision in the US.
  • Constitutional rights are interconnected: Unravel one and the entire edifice of protections could fall apart.

Conclusion

The Supreme Court offers hope that right to abortion won’t be restricted by a woman’s marital status.

UPSC 2023 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Women have Right to Safe Abortion: SC

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Right to Safe Abortion

Mains level: MRTP Act

Denying an unmarried woman the right to a safe abortion violates her personal autonomy and freedom, the Supreme Court held in an order.

What did the SC say?

  • A woman’s right to reproductive choice is an inseparable part of her personal liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution.
  • She has a sacrosanct right to bodily integrity, the court quoted from precedents.
  • The court said forcing a woman to continue with her pregnancy would not only be a violation of her bodily integrity but also aggravate her mental trauma.

Indispensable clause of safety

  • The court ordered a medical board to be formed by the AIIMS to check whether it was safe to conduct an abortion on the woman and submit a report in a week.

What is the case?

  • A Bench led by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud was hearing the appeal of a woman who wanted to abort her 24-week pregnancy after her relationship failed and her partner left her.
  • The lower court had taken an “unduly restrictive view” that her plea for a safe abortion was not covered under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act.
  • This was since the pregnancy arose from a consensual relationship outside wedlock.

What was the last amendment?

  • The court noted that an amendment to the Act in 2021 had substituted the term ‘husband’ with ‘partner’, a clear signal that the law covered unmarried women within its ambit.

Reiterating the live-in recognition

  • Chastising the lower court, the Bench said live-in relationships had already been recognised by the Supreme Court.
  • There were a significant number of people in social mainstream who see no wrong in engaging in pre-marital sex.
  • The law could not be used to quench “notions of social morality” and unduly interfere in their personal autonomy and bodily integrity.

Back2Basics: Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act

  • Abortion in India has been a legal right under various circumstances for the last 50 years since the introduction of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act in 1971.
  • The Act was amended in 2003 to enable women’s access to safe and legal abortion services.
  • Abortion is covered 100% by the government’s public national health insurance funds, Ayushman Bharat and Employees’ State Insurance with the package rate for surgical abortion.

The idea of terminating your pregnancy cannot originate by choice and is purely circumstantial. There are four situations under which a legal abortion is performed:

  1. If continuation of the pregnancy poses any risks to the life of the mother or mental health
  2. If the foetus has any severe abnormalities
  3. If pregnancy occurred as a result of failure of contraception (but this is only applicable to married women)
  4. If pregnancy is a result of sexual assault or rape

These are the key changes that the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Act, 2021, has brought in:

  1. The gestation limit for abortions has been raised from the earlier ceiling of 20 weeks to 24 weeks, but only for special categories of pregnant women such as rape or incest survivors. But this termination would need the approval of two registered doctors.
  2. All pregnancies up to 20 weeks require one doctor’s approval. The earlier law, the MTP Act 1971, required one doctor’s approval for pregnancies upto 12 weeks and two doctors’ for pregnancies between 12 and 20 weeks.
  3. Women can now terminate unwanted pregnancies caused by contraceptive failure, regardless of their marital status. Earlier the law specified that only a “married woman and her husband” could do this.
  4. There is also no upper gestation limit for abortion in case of foetal disability if so decided by a medical board of specialist doctors, which state governments and union territories’ administrations would set up.

 

UPSC 2023 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

India ranks 135 out of 146 in Gender Gap Index

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Global Gender Gap Index

Mains level: Women empowerment

India ranks 135 among a total of 146 countries in the Global Gender Gap Index, 2022, released by the World Economic Forum.

What is Global Gender Gap Index?

  • The report is annually published by the World Economic Forum (WEF).
  • It benchmarks gender parity across four key dimensions or sub-indices — economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment.
  • It measures scores on a 0-to-100 scale, which can be interpreted as the distance covered towards parity or the percentage of the gender gap that has been closed.
  • The report aims to serve “as a compass to track progress on relative gaps between women and men on health, education, economy and politics”.
  • According to the WEF it is the longest-standing index, which tracks progress towards closing these gaps over time since its inception in 2006.

How has India fared on different sub-indices?

Here’s how it stands on different sub-indices:

(1) Political Empowerment

  • This includes metrics such as the percentage of women in Parliament, the percentage of women in ministerial positions etc.
  • Of all the sub-indices, this is where India ranks the highest (48th out of 146).
  • However, notwithstanding its rank, its score is quite low at 0.267.
  • Some of the best-ranking countries in this category score much better.
  • For instance, Iceland is ranked 1 with a score of 0.874 and Bangladesh is ranked 9 with a score of 0.546.
  • Moreover, India’s score on this metric has worsened since last year – from 0.276 to 0.267.
  • The silver lining is that despite the reduction, India’s score is above the global average in this category.

(2) Economic Participation and Opportunity

  • This includes metrics such as the percentage of women who are part of the labour force, wage equality for similar work, earned income etc.
  • Here, too, India ranks a lowly 143 out of the 146 countries in contention even though its score has improved over 2021 from 0.326 to 0.350.
  • Last year, India was pegged at 151 out of the 156 countries ranked.
  • India’s score is much lower than the global average, and only Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan are behind India on this metric.

(3) Educational Attainment

  • This sub-index includes metrics such as literacy rate and the enrolment rates in primary, secondary and tertiary education.
  • Here India ranks 107th out of 146, and its score has marginally worsened since last year.
  • In 2021, India was ranked 114 out of 156.

(4) Health and Survival

  • This includes two metrics: the sex ratio at birth (in %) and healthy life expectancy (in years).
  • In this metric, India is ranked last (146) among all the countries.
  • Its score hasn’t changed from 2021 when it was ranked 155th out of 156 countries.
  • The country is the worst performer in the world in the “health and survival” sub-index in which it is ranked 146.

Where does India stand amongst its neighbour?

  • India ranks poorly among its neighbours and is behind Bangladesh (71), Nepal (96), Sri Lanka (110), Maldives (117) and Bhutan (126).
  • Only the performance of Iran (143), Pakistan (145) and Afghanistan (146) was worse than India in South Asia.
  • In 2021, India ranked 140 out of 156 nations.

 

UPSC 2023 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Judicial Validity of the Talaq-e-Hasan mode of Divorce

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Read the attached story

A public interest litigation (PIL) seeking to invalidate Talaq-e-Hasan, the prescribed Islamic way of divorce, has been filed in the Supreme Court.

What is the PIL about?

  • The petition seeks to make the prescribed Islamic way of divorce Talaq-e-Hasan unconstitutional as it is violative of Articles 14, 15, 21 and 25 of the Constitution.
  • The petitioner has been unilaterally divorced through the Talaq-e-Hasan mode by her husband.
  • She also prayed that Section 2 of the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937 that permits Muslims to practise unilateral divorce be declared void.

Basis of the PIL

  • The hearing comes almost five years after the five judge Bench headed by then CJI J.S. Khehar invalidated instant triple talaq in their verdict in the Shayara Bano vs the Union of India Case.
  • The invalidation of instant triple talaq where the court held, “What is bad in theology is bad in law as well”, led to the enactment of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act 2019.

What is Triple Talaq?

  • In instant triple talaq a man pronounces multiple divorce in one go.
  • It has no scope for reconciliation between the feuding couple, and often ends a marriage instantly.
  • It is, as the judges held, not mentioned anywhere in the Quran which prescribes a code of divorce largely through Surah Baqarah, verses 226 to 237 and the opening six verses of Surah Talaq.
  • Incidentally, triple talaq in this manner has been banned in many Muslim countries, including Egypt, Pakistan, Jordan, Kuwait, Iraq, Malaysia etc.

How is Talaq-e-Hasan different from instant triple talaq?

  • Unlike instant triple talaq, Talaq-e-Hasan is pronounced with a gap of at least one month or one menstrual cycle.
  • Only a single revocable divorce takes place through the first pronouncement of Talaq-e-Hasan.
  • The husband and wife are supposed to live together after this pronouncement and have the option of rapprochement.
  • If the couple is not able to mend fences in the intervening period and the husband does not annul divorce through word or by establishing intimacy, the talaq stays valid.
  • At the end of this month, the husband has to pronounce divorce for the second time.
  • Likewise for the third time. After the second pronouncement too, the divorce is revocable, and the couple may resume their conjugal relationship anytime they so desire.
  • If, however, the third pronouncement is made after at least one menstrual cycle, then irrevocable divorce takes place.

Why such hue over menstrual cycle?

  • Significantly, no divorce can be administered when the woman is undergoing her menstrual cycle.
  • Even in the case of pregnancy, no divorce takes place.
  • And if such a pronouncement is made, it remains in abeyance till the end of pregnancy.

Are there other options of divorce apart from the Talaq-e-Hasan?

  • The third option of divorce besides Talaq-e-Hasan and the now repudiated instant triple talaq, is Talaq-e-Ahsan.
  • Under this form, a single pronouncement is made.
  • Following the pronouncement, a woman has to go through iddat or a waiting period of three months.
  • During this period the divorce can be cancelled.
  • However, failure to annul divorce during this period results in it being finalised after which a woman is independent, and free to marry another man or stay single, as she may choose.
  • Both Talaq-e-Hasan and Talaq-e-Ahsan enjoy legal validity in almost all Muslim countries.
  • Interestingly, women too have a right to end an unsuccessful marriage through Khula.

Legal status of Khula in India

  • In April 2021, the Kerala High Court held this form of divorce valid.
  • The court overruled a 49-year-old verdict in K.C. Moyin vs Nafeesa and Others (1972) that barred Muslim women from dissolving their marriage through non-judicial modes.
  • There is some debate among religious scholars on the ways of Khula.
  • Some hold that the man’s consent is necessary in Khula while most say that he enjoys no such privilege.

 

 

UPSC 2023 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Child Marriage in India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- Child marriage issue

Context

There has been an ongoing debate on whether increasing the age of marriages can solve the problem of child marriage in India.

Background

  • It is defined as a marriage of a girl or boy before the age of 18 and refers to both formal marriages and informal unions in which children under the age of 18 live with a partner as if married.
  • The Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021, fixes 21 years as the marriageable age for women.

Prevalence of child marriage in India

  •  NFHS-5 data show that about 25% of women aged 18-29 years married before the legal marriageable age of 18.
  • Marginal decline: The proportion has declined only marginally from NFHS-4 (28%).
  • Higher in rural India: Expectedly, the prevalence is higher in rural than urban India (28% and 17%, respectively).
  • West Bengal has the highest prevalence (42%), followed by Bihar and Tripura (40% each).
  • Oddly, the decline in child marriage has been paltry at best in these high-prevalence States.
  • At the other end of the spectrum are Goa, Himachal Pradesh and Kerala (6% to 7%).
  • 39% of child marriages in India take place among Adivasis and Dalits.
  • The share of advantaged social groups is 17% and the remaining share is of Other Backward Classes.

Role of structural issues in adverse health and educational outcomes

  • Impact: Studies associate early marriage of women with early pregnancy, lower likelihood of accessing ante-natal care, higher risks of maternal morbidity and mortality, poor nutritional status of women and poor nutritional and educational outcomes of children.
  • These studies seem to provide a rather compelling case for increasing the age of marriage of women from 18 to 21 years, as a delayed marriage might offer significant public health dividends.
  • Structural factors at play: But a closer reading of the evidence shows that the association between child marriage and adverse health outcomes does not emerge in a vacuum. 
  • Rather, it is abetted by structural factors, including social norms, poverty, and women’s education.
  • Role of social norms: It is because of social norms in many regions and cultures that parents begin preparations for a girl’s marriage once she has reached menarche.
  • Role of poverty: A large proportion of child marriages take place primarily because of poverty and the burden of the huge costs of dowry associated with delayed marriages.
  • Role of education:  The NHFS-5 data confirm that a significant proportion of child marriages takes place among women with less than 12 years of schooling and households that are socially and economically disadvantaged.
  • The average age at marriage increases from 17 years among women who are illiterate and have had up to five years of schooling to 22 years among women who have had more than 12 years of schooling.
  • This indicates that an increase in years of schooling goes hand in hand with an increase in age at marriage.
  • While an increase in education is most likely to delay marriage, the increase in age at marriage may or may not increase women’s education.

Why the age of marriage of women matters

  • Age of marriage has bearing on maternal mortality rates, fertility levels, nutrition of mother and child, sex ratios, and, on a different register, education and employment opportunities for women.
  • It is also argued that other factors — such as poverty and health services — were far more effective as levers for improving women’s and children’s health and nutritional status.
  • Child marriage curtail a girl’s opportunities to continue her education.
  • And in turn, the lack of educational opportunities plays an important role in facilitating child marriage.

Way forward

  • The fact that about one-fourth of women (18-29 years) in India have married before 18 years despite the law tells us that legally increasing the age of marriage may not fully prevent child marriages. 
  • 1] Ensure education for at least up to 12 years: Much of the benefits can be reaped by ensuring that women complete education at least up to 12 years.
  • Bangladesh shows that improving women’s education and imparting modern skills to them that increase their employability reduces child marriage and improves health and nutrition.
  • 2] Educational attainment criteria in schemes: Schemes which ease the financial burden of marriage but the eligibility criteria of which should essentially link to educational attainment in addition to age demand attention.
  • The lessons from Janani Suraksha Yojana and the zeal demonstrated in ending open defecation might provide valid insights here.

Conclusion

A legalistic approach to increasing the age at marriage will produce positive results only if it leads to an improvement in women’s education and skill acquisition for employability. In the absence of an enhancement in women’s schooling or skills, a legalistic approach to ending child marriage might become counterproductive.

UPSC 2023 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Nanhi Pari Programme

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Nanhi Pari Programme

Mains level: Not Much

The ‘Nanhi Pari’ programme was recently launched by the Northwest Delhi district administration.

Nanhi Pari Programme

  • Nanhi Pari programme aims to provide a one-stop solution to parents, eliminating their need to visit various offices to obtain documents.
  • Under the programme, essential services such as the provision of a birth certificate, Aadhaar card registration and opening a bank account for girls are completed and delivered in government hospitals in the district before the mother and baby are discharged.
  • The programme will help in getting registration of baby girls and mothers under various schemes such as the Sukanya Samriddhi Account scheme, the Ladli scheme and Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana at the hospital itself.

Significance of the Programme

  • The programme makes the processes for schemes as simple as possible for all children and mothers.
  • Parents would not have to go from here to there, trying to avail themselves of the essential schemes.
  • Apart from ensuring that schemes reach target beneficiaries and protecting the interests of girl children, the programme also aims to promote institutional deliveries.

 

UPSC 2023 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Supreme Court recognizes Sex Work as a ‘Profession’

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Plight of the sex workers in India

In a significant order recognising sex work as a “profession”, the Supreme Court has directed that police should neither interfere nor take criminal action against adult and consenting sex workers.

What did the Supreme Court say?

  • Sex Work is a profession whose practitioners are entitled to dignity and equal protection under law.
  • Criminal law must apply equally in all cases, on the basis of ‘age’ and ‘consent’.
  • It need not be gainsaid that notwithstanding the profession, every individual in this country has a right to a dignified life under Article 21 of the Constitution, the court observed.
  • The order was passed after invoking special powers under Article 142 of Constitution.

A caution to the police

  • It is clear that the sex worker is an adult and is participating with consent, the police must refrain from interfering or taking any criminal action.
  • The Bench ordered that sex workers should not be “arrested or penalised or harassed or victimised” whenever there is a raid on any brothel.
  • Since voluntary sex work is not illegal and only running the brothel is unlawful.
  • Basic protection of human decency and dignity extends to sex workers and their children, the court noted.
  • A child of a sex worker should not be separated from the mother merely on the ground that she is in the sex trade, the court held.
  • Further, if a minor is found living in a brothel or with sex workers, it should not be presumed that the child was trafficked.

Sexual crimes against sex workers

  • The court ordered the police to not discriminate against sex workers who lodge a criminal complaint of offence committed against them is of a sexual nature.
  • Sex workers can also be victims of sexual assault should be provided every facility including immediate medico-legal care.
  • The court said media should take “utmost care not to reveal the identities of sex workers, during arrest, raid and rescue operations.

Sex work in India

  • According to the Indian Penal Code (IPC), prostitution in its broader sense is not really illegal per se.
  • But there are certain activities which constitute a major part of prostitution that are punishable under certain provisions of the act, which are:
  1. Soliciting prostitution services in public places
  2. Carrying out prostitution activities in hotels
  3. Indulging in prostitution by arranging for a sex worker
  4. Arrangement of a sexual act with a customer

Various issues faced by Sex Workers

  • Stigma and Marginalization: This is experienced as the major factor that prevents women in sex work from accessing their rights.
  • Denial of basic amenities: Due to this discrimination, women in sex work have been denied safety, proper healthcare, education and, most importantly, the right to practice the business of making money from sex.
  • Risks of violence: People in sex work are not only at a higher risk for violence, but they are also less likely to get protection from the police—often the very perpetrators of this violence.
  • Backwardness: Illiteracy, ignorance and fear of the medical establishment make it difficult for women to access healthcare.
  • Health hazards: Current discourse on HIV/AIDS has served to further stigmatize sex workers by labeling them as “vectors” and “carriers” of the disease.

Protection against forceful sex work

  • The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1986 is an amendment of the original act.
  • As per this act, prostitutes are to be arrested if they are found soliciting their services or seducing others.
  • Furthermore, call girls are prohibited from making their phone numbers public.
  • They can be punished for up to 6 months along with penalties if found doing so.

Constitutional protection

Article 23 of the Indian Constitution, amended in 2014, includes the following provisions:

  1. Prohibition of human trafficking and forced labour.
  2. Traffic in human beings and bears and other similar forms of forced labour are prohibited and any contravention of this provision shall be an offence punishable in accordance with the law.
  3. Nothing in this article precludes the State from imposing compulsory service for public purposes, and the State shall not discriminate solely on the basis of religion, race, caste, or class, or any combination thereof, in imposing such service.

So, where does India stand?

  • Prostitution is not illegal in our country, but soliciting and public prostitution are.
  • Owning a brothel is also illegal, but because places like GB Road are already in place, these laws are rarely enforced.

What will change in India if the Centre accepts the court’s direction?

  • Sex workers will be accorded equal legal protection.
  • If a sex worker reports a criminal/sexual or other type of offence, the police will take it seriously and act in accordance with the law.
  • If a brothel is raided, the sex workers involved will not be arrested, penalised, harassed, or victimised.
  • Any sex worker who is a victim of sexual assault will be given all of the same services as a survivor of sexual assault, including immediate medical attention.
  • Police will be required to treat all sex workers with dignity and not verbally or physically abuse them, subject them to violence, or coerce them into any sexual activity.

Where do other countries stand?

Some countries choose to outright ban the practice, while others have attempted to regulate prostitution and provide health and social benefits to sex workers.

Here are a few examples of countries where prostitution is legal:

  • New Zealand: Prostitution has been legal since 2003. There are even licenced brothels operating under public health and employment laws, and they get all the social benefits.
  • France: Prostitution is legal in France, though soliciting in public is still not allowed.
  • Germany: Prostitution is legalised and there are proper state-run brothels. The workers are provided with health insurance, have to pay taxes, and they even receive social benefits like pensions.
  • Greece: The sex workers get equal rights and have to go for health checkups as well.
  • Canada: Prostitution in Canada is legal with strict regulations.

Conclusion

  • While sex worker collectives have shown tremendous progress in asserting the rights of sex workers across India, they face an uphill battle as the country continues to foster a globalized economy.
  • In the globalized world, sex work will become more institutionalized, functioning through escort services, and will no longer need traditional street brothels.
  • Legislators needs to ensure all rights to the sex workers at par with citizens.

 

UPSC 2023 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

MTP Act 2021

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- Termination of pregnancy as an unconditional right

Context

The issue of abortion is in the news again, internationally.

Criminal law provisions related to termination of pregnancy

  • Under the general criminal law of the country, i.e. the Indian Penal Code, voluntarily causing a woman with child to miscarry is an offence attracting a jail term of up to three years or fine or both, unless it was done in good faith where the purpose was to save the life of the pregnant woman.
  • A pregnant woman causing herself to miscarry is also an offender under this provision apart from the person causing the miscarriage, which in most cases would be a medical practitioner.

Background of the MTP Act

  • In 1971, after a lot of deliberation, the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act was enacted.
  • This law is an exception to the IPC provisions above.
  • Who, when, where, why and by whom? The law sets out the rules — of when, who, where, why and by whom — for accessing an MTP.
  •  This law has been amended twice since, the most recent set of amendments being in the year 2021 which has, to some extent, expanded the scope of the law.
  • The law does not recognise and/or acknowledge the right of a pregnant person to decide on the discontinuation of a pregnancy.
  • The law provides for a set of reasons based on which an MTP can be accessed.

Reasons allowed for MTP

  • Reasons: The continuation of the pregnancy would involve a risk to the life of the pregnant woman or result in grave injury to her physical or mental health.
  • The law explains that if the pregnancy is as a result of rape or failure of contraceptive used by the pregnant woman or her partner to limit the number of children or to prevent a pregnancy, the anguish caused by the continuation of such a pregnancy would be considered to be a grave injury to the mental health of the pregnant woman.
  • The other reason for seeking an MTP is the substantial risk that if the child was born, it would suffer from any serious physical or mental abnormality.
  •  A pregnant person cannot ask for a termination of pregnancy without fitting in one of the reasons set out in the law.
  • Gestational age of pregnancy: The other set of limitations that the law provides is the gestational age of the pregnancy.
  • The pregnancy can be terminated for any of the above reasons, on the opinion of a single registered medical practitioner up to 20 weeks of the gestational age.
  • From 20 weeks up to 24 weeks, the opinion of two registered medical practitioners is required.
  • Any decision for termination of pregnancy beyond 24 weeks gestational age, only on the ground of foetal abnormalities can be taken by a Medical Board as set up in each State, as per the law.
  • The law, as an exception to all that is stated above, also provides that where it is immediately necessary to save the life of the pregnant woman, the pregnancy can be terminated at any time by a single registered medical practitioner.

Issues with the MTP Act provisions

  • While India legalised access to abortion in certain circumstances much before most of the world did the same, unfortunately, even in 2020 we decided to remain in the logic of 1971.
  • Right to health and right to life: By the time the amendments to the MTP Act were tabled before the Lok Sabha in 2020, a number of cases came before the courts.
  • In these cases, the courts had articulated the right of a pregnant woman to decide on the continuation of her pregnancy as a part of her right to health and right to life, and therefore non-negotiable.
  • Violation of right to privacy: In right to privacy judgment of the Supreme Court of India it was held that the decision making by a pregnant person on whether to continue a pregnancy or not is part of such a person’s right to privacy as well and, therefore, the right to life.
  • The standards set out in this judgment were also not incorporated in the amendments being drafted.
  • Not in sync with central laws: The new law is not in sync with other central laws such as the laws on persons with disabilities, on mental health and on transgender persons, to name a few.
  • In conflict with other laws: The amendments also did not make any attempts to iron out the conflations between the MTP Act and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act or the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, to name a few.

Conclusion

While access to abortion has been available under the legal regime in the country, there is a long road ahead before it is recognised as a right of a person having the capacity to become pregnant to decide, unconditionally, whether a pregnancy is to be continued or not.

UPSC 2023 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Care economy

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: ILO

Mains level: Paper 2- Supporting care economy

Context

The importance of care work is now widely acknowledged and covered in various international commitments such as the SDGs. However, the investment in the care economy has not matched the pace.

Significance of care work

  • Care work encompasses direct activities such as feeding a baby or nursing an ill partner, and indirect care activities such as cooking and cleaning’.
  • Whether paid or unpaid, direct or indirect, care work is vital for human well-being and economies.
  • Unpaid care work is linked to labour market inequalities, yet it has yet to receive adequate attention in policy formulation.
  • Paid care workers, such as domestic workers and anganwadis in India, also struggle to access rights and entitlements as workers.
  • Greater investment in care services can create an additional 300 million jobs globally, many of which will be for women.
  • In turn this will help increase female labour force participation and advance Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 8.
  • This year, to commemorate International Women’s Day, the ILO brought out its new report titled, ‘Care at work: Investing in care leave and services for a more gender-equal world of work’.
  • The report highlights the importance of maternity, paternity, and special care leave, which help balance women’s and men’s work and family responsibilities throughout their lives.

Gaps in the current policies

  • Bridging the gaps in current policies and service provisions to nurture childcare and elderly care services will deliver the benefits of child development, aging in dignity and independent living as the population grows older and also generate more and better employment opportunities, especially for women.
  • Maternity leave: Maternity leave is a universal human and labour right.
  • Yet, it remains unfulfilled across countries, leaving millions of workers with family responsibilities without adequate protection and support. India fares better than its peers in offering 26 weeks of maternity leave, against the ILO’s standard mandate of 14 weeks that exists in 120 countries.
  • However, this coverage extends to only a tiny proportion of women workers in formal employment in India, where 89% of employed women are in informal employment (as given by ILOSTAT, or the ILO’s central portal to labour statistics).
  • While paternity leave is recognised as an enabler for both mothers and fathers to better balance work and family responsibilities, it is not provided in many countries, including India.
  • Access to quality and affordable care services such as childcare, elderly care and care for people with disabilities is a challenge workers with family responsibilities face globally.
  • Limited implementation: While India has a long history of mandating the provision of crèches in factories and establishments, there is limited information on its actual implementation.
  • Domestic workers, on whom Indian households are heavily reliant, also face challenges in accessing decent work.
  • According to the Government’s 2019 estimates, 26 lakh of the 39 lakh domestic workers in India are female.
  • Ensure decent work for domestic workers: While important developments have extended formal coverage to domestic workers in India, such as the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act and the minimum wage schedule in many States, more efforts are required to ensure decent work for them.

Way forward

  • Increase spending: India spends less than 1% of its GDP on the care economy; increasing this percentage would unfurl a plethora of benefits for workers and the overall economy.
  • Strategy: In consultation with employers’ and workers’ organisations and the relevant stakeholders, the Government needs to conceptualise a strategy and action plan for improved care policies, care service provisions and decent working conditions for care workers.
  • 5R Framework: The ILO proposes a 5R framework for decent care work centred around achieving gender equality. The framework urges the Recognition, Reduction, and Redistribution of unpaid care work, promotes Rewarding care workers with more and decent work, and enables their Representation in social dialogue and collective bargaining.

Conclusion

A human-centred and inclusive recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic that benefits workers, employers, and the government, requires a more significant investment in and commitment to supporting the care economy, which cares for the society at large.

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Women and Politics

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Maternal mortality rate

Mains level: Paper 2- Women's representation in politics

Context

For a proper appraisal of the relations between gender and democracy, we ought to examine the links between violence, representation, and the political participation of women.

Role of women in South Asian democracy

  • Historically, one of the peculiar paradoxes of South Asian democracy has been the continued presence of strong women leaders at the executive centre coupled with a generally appalling condition of women in society at large.
  • South Asia has had the largest number of women heads of state — including Sirimavo Bandaranaike, Chandrika Kumaratunga, Indira Gandhi, Khaleda Zia, Sheikh Hasina, and Benazir Bhutto — of any region in the world till recently.
  • Under-represented: While women have played very visible and important roles at the higher echelons of power and at the grassroots level in social movements, they have been under-represented in political parties as officials and as members of key decision-making bodies.

Electoral representation of women in India

  • In India, women currently make up 14.6 per cent of MPs (78 MPs) in the Lok Sabha, which is a historic high.
  • Although the percentage is modest, it is remarkable because women barely made up 9 per cent of the overall candidates in 2019.
  • In electoral representation, has fallen several places in the Inter-Parliamentary Union’s global ranking of women’s parliamentary presence, from 117 after the 2014 election to 143 as of January 2020. 
  • In terms of electoral quotas, there were two outstanding exceptions in the 2019 general elections.
  • Voluntary parliamentary quota: West Bengal under Mamata Banerjee and Odisha under Naveen Patnaik opted for voluntary parliamentary quotas, fielding 40 per cent and 33 per cent women candidates, respectively.

Growing turnout of women voters and its implications

  • Assertion of citizenship rights: In 1962, the male voter turnout in India was 16 percentage points higher than for women. Six decades later, in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, women’s participation exceeded that of men for the first time.
  • This suggests an increasing assertion of citizenship rights among women.
  • The growing turnout of women voters could influence political parties’ programmatic priorities and improve their responsiveness to women voters’ interests, preferences, and concerns, including sexual harassment and gender-based violence.
  • Women-centric schemes: The state government in Bengal ran and highlighted many women-centric schemes that potentially played a central role in their victory.
  • The central government must be commended for its achievements in two areas in particular: Its DBT schemes such as the Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana and the Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan.
  • As a result, maternal mortality rate has reduced from 167 (2011-13) to 113 (2016-18).
  • The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2017 is another landmark achievement that extended the paid maternal leave to 26 weeks from the existing 12 weeks.

Way forward

  • Government must use its parliamentary majority to finally pass the Women’s Reservation Bill, as was promised in their 2014 election manifesto.
  • Until that happens, the initiative taken by the governments of Banerjee and Patnaik to increase women’s parliamentary presence must serve as an inspiration to other Indian states.

Conclusion

The extent to which parties represent women and take up their interests is closely tied to the health and vitality of democratic processes.

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

What is Public Order?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Public Order

Mains level: Hijab Row

The Karnataka High Court is hearing a challenge to the constitutionality of the state government’s ban on students wearing a hijab in educational institutions. The judges heard an argument on whether the state can justify the ban on the ground that it violates ‘public order’.

What is Public Order?

  • Public order is one of the three grounds on which the state can restrict freedom of religion.
  • It is also one of the grounds to restrict free speech and other fundamental rights.
  • Article 25 of the Constitution guarantees to all people’s right to freedom and conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion subject to public order, morality and health.

Who can check it?

  • Public order is normally equated with public peace and safety.
  • What affects public order is contextual and is determined by the state.
  • According to List 2 of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution, the power to legislate on aspects of public order rests with the states.

How does it relate to the hijab ban?

  • According to the government order issued under the Karnataka Education Act, 1983, “public order” is one of the reasons for not allowing students to wear a headscarf in educational institutions along with “unity” and “integrity”.
  • The petitioners have asked the state to show how the mere wearing of a hijab by students could constitute a public order issue.
  • Another argument made is that the government cannot delegate the power to college committees the function of determining whether the hijab was detrimental to public order.
  • The government order states that while individual college committees are free to determine the uniform, in the absence of such rules the government order banning the headscarf would apply.
  • Only the government can make an assessment of public order.

How has the state responded?

  • The government order makes no mention of “public order” and that the petitioners reading of the order could be an error in translation.
  • The order, in Kannada, uses the words “sarvajanika suvyavasthe”.
  • Incidentally, the official Kannada translation of the Constitution uses “sarvajanika suvyavasthe” for “public order” in all nine instances.

How has public order been interpreted by courts?

  • Courts have broadly interpreted it to mean something that affects the community at large and not a few individuals.
  • In Ram Manohar Lohia vs State of Bihar (1965), the Supreme Court held that in the case of ‘public order’, the community or the public at large have to be affected by a particular action.
  • One has to imagine three concentric circles:
  1. the largest representing ‘law and order’
  2. the next representing ‘public order’ and
  3. the smallest representing ‘security of State’

Arguments against the K’taka Order

  • In the Karnataka case, the petitioners have argued:
  1. Public order is not every breach of law and order.
  2. Public order is an aggravated form of disturbance that is much higher than a law and order issue.

Conclusion

  • Thus it is evident that wordplay is given more cognisance over the interpretation of constitution.

 

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Raising marriage age won’t lead to women’s empowerment

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- Age marriage of women issue

Context

The announcement of a cabinet decision to raise the age at marriage for women from 18 to 21 years marks the fruition of a plan that was first revealed almost two years ago when a Task Force was set up for the purpose.

Why the age of marriage of women matters

  • Age of marriage has bearing on maternal mortality rates, fertility levels, nutrition of mother and child, sex ratios, and, on a different register, education and employment opportunities for women.
  • It is also argued that other factors — such as poverty and health services — were far more effective as levers for improving women’s and children’s health and nutritional status.

Issues with the decision

[1] Role of poverty neglected

  •  If women who marry at higher ages seem to have better health and nutrition indicators, this is not caused by their marrying later than others — it is because women from better-off groups tend to marry at higher ages.
  • Conversely, the health indicators of poorer women do not change just because they marry at a higher age.
  • An illustration of this truth is found in the National Family Health Survey (IV) data, which show that levels of anaemia — which is the highest cause of maternal mortality in India and one of our worst statistics — show no change even at ages of marriage up to 25 years, once we control for other factors.
  • World Bank study finds no impact on women: Population control was at the heart of the 1978 amendment to the Sarda Act of 1929.
  • Moreover, reducing fertility rates globally by banning marriage before the age of 18 years is very much on the agenda of international agencies to this very day.
  • A major multi-country study undertaken by the World Bank in 2017 estimated that “savings” of no less than $5 trillion would accrue if marriage before the age of 18 was eliminated.
  • But such savings would be mostly due to reductions in fertility and consequent reductions in public health investments due to fewer births.
  • The same study saw no significant gains from raised age of marriage for women’s decision making, for lowering the levels of violence they face, or helping them find employment.
  • Restriction on the right of an adult woman: Globally, the age of 18 is widely regarded as the age of adulthood.
  • It is also viewed as an upper limit in terms of the physical and reproductive maturity of women, as well as the age of majority by child rights conventions to which India is a signatory.
  • Thus, the proposed move will restrict the rights of already adult women, an issue for legal experts to debate.
  • Law is meant to set minimum age not the right age: Equally important is the crucial slippage in the arguments made on behalf of the government from the minimum age at marriage to the right age at marriage.
  • The minimum age is obviously a floor, not a standard or desirable norm.
  • Laws are meant to set minimum levels, a threshold for triggering legal or penal action, because of the harm that may be done.

Way forward: Address issues that drive empowerment

  • Going by the NFHS 4 data (2015-16), more than half — 56 per cent — of women in the age group 20-24 years marry before the age of 21 years.
  • The problem is that the real reasons that drive empowerment are not being addressed, at least not adequately.
  • Educational attainments have improved enormously in recent years.
  • But the shocking fact (evident in all major data sets) is that decline in early marriages has been accompanied by a fall in women’s employment rates, that persisted even during the 1990s boom.
  • Paradoxical outcomes: The proportion of women not in paid work increases at higher ages of marriage!
  • Complex paradoxes like these are the hallmark of our society.
  • They cannot be addressed by a legal fix, particularly one that will be very hard to implement.

Consider the question “How the age of marriage of women is connected with the issue of women empowerment? What are the concerns with increasing it to 21 years? Suggest the way forward.

Conclusion

Instead of criminalising our youth, the government must take concrete steps to really empower women. If they are truly in charge of their own lives — through affordable education, meaningful and decent employment opportunities — they will be able to make better decisions about whether, when and whom to marry.

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Cabinet clears push to raise marriage age of women from 18 to 21

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Jaya Jaitly Committee

Mains level: Issues with marriage age

The proposal to raise the minimum age of marriage for women from 18 to 21 was cleared by the Union Cabinet based on the recommendations of a task force headed by Jaya Jaitley.

Minimum Age for Marriage in India

  • Personal laws of various religions that deal with marriage have their own standards, often reflecting custom.
  • For Hindus, 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.
  • In Islam, the marriage of a minor who has attained puberty is considered valid.
  • Now, the govt will have to amend the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, the Special Marriage Act and personal laws such as the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

Reasons behind the decision

  • Gender-neutrality: With this decision, the government will be bringing the age of marriage for both men and women at par.
  • Motherhood complexities: An early age of marriage, and consequent early pregnancies, also have impacts on nutritional levels of mothers and their children, and their overall health and mental wellbeing.
  • Mother and Child Mortality: It also has an impact on Infant Mortality Rate and Maternal Mortality Rate.
  • Women empowerment: The decision would empower women who are cut off from access to education and livelihood due to an early marriage.
  • Protection from abuse: This will essentially outlaw premature girls marriages and prevent the abuse of minors.

What is the Jaya Jaitly Committee?

  • In June 2020, the Ministry of WCD set up a task force to look into the correlation between the age of marriage with issues of women’s nutrition, prevalence of anemia, IMR, MMR and other social indices.
  • The committee was to look at the feasibility of increasing the age of marriage and its implication on women and child health, as well as how to increase access to education for women.

Key recommendations

  • The committee has recommended the age of marriage be increased to 21 years, on the basis of feedback they received from young adults from 16 universities across the country.
  • The committee also asked the government to look into increasing access to schools and colleges for girls, including their transportation to these institutes from far-flung areas.
  • Skill and business training has also been recommended, as has sex education in schools.
  • The committee said these deliveries must come first, as, unless they are implemented and women are empowered, the law will not be as effective.

Criticism of the move

  • Illegal marriages: Such legislation would push a large portion of the population into illegal marriages leading to non-institutional births.
  • Ineffectiveness of existing laws: Decrease in child marriages has not been because of the existing law but because of an increase in girls’ education and employment opportunities.
  • Unnecessary coercion: The law would end up being coercive, and in particular negatively impact marginalized communities, such as the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes, making them law-breakers.

 

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

A multi-pronged approach to end child marriage

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- Issue of child marriage

Context

Reports suggest that more child marriages have been noticed during the Covid pandemic.

Covid-19 and Girls

Socio-economic impacts of Covid-19 are gendered, evident in the form of educational inequality, sexual violence, and increased household burden.

  • Increased domestic violence: In India, the National Commission for Women reported 2.5 times to increase in domestic violence during the initial months of nationwide lockdown.
  • Abuse & Trafficking: Closure of schools and pandemic induced poverty has increased the vulnerability of children especially the girl child to abuse and trafficking
  • School dropout: UNESCO’s Global Education Monitoring Report (2021) throws light on increased educational inequalities for adolescent girls during the Covid-19 crisis. UNESCO estimates that around 11 million girls may not return to school.
  • School Closures pushed Children into Labour: In 2021, says UNESCO, 24 million children may not find their way back to schools after the pandemic. Any child who is not in school is a potential child laborer.
  • Child Marriages: India witnessed an increase in the number of child marriages since 2020. Girls are further at risk – married off early, these child brides are also often child laborers.
  • Reduced Education Budget: Despite knowing the impact of the Pandemic on the education system & thus on Children’s future, the Union budget has Rs 5,000 crore less to spend on education for children this year.
  • Digital gender gap: The digital gender gap deters girls’ remote education and access to information.

Child Marriage

  • It is defined as a marriage of a girl or boy before the age of 18 and refers to both formal marriages and informal unions in which children under the age of 18 live with a partner as if married.
  • UNICEF estimates suggest that each year, at least 1.5 million girls under 18 get married in India, which makes it home to the largest number of child brides in the world – accounting for a third of the global total.
  • A recent study by the Lancet shows that up to 2.5 million more girls (below the age of 18) around the world are at risk of marriage in the next 5 years because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Prevalence of child marriage in India

  • Data from the fourth round of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS4) in 2015-16 shows that even before Covid, one in four girls in India was being married before 18.
  • Around 8 percent of women aged 15-19 years were mothers or pregnant at the time of the survey.
  • The first phase findings of NFHS5 (2019-20) show that the needle has not moved substantially on ending child marriage.

Why did Child Marriages have increased during Lockdowns?

  • Lack of Alert Mechanism: Earlier, when child marriages happened at wedding halls, temples, etc, there were people who would alert the relevant authorities or activists who would be able to reach on time to stop it.
    • But now, with marriages happening at homes, we may get fewer alerts and our going there could be treated as trespass.
  • Pandemic Induced Pressures: Economic pressures due to the pandemic have pushed poor parents to marry off girls early.
    • With no schools, the safety of children, particularly girls, was a major reason for the increase in violence against children and child marriages.

Causes for Child Marriages

  • Age Factor: Some parents consider the age period of 15-18 as unproductive, especially for girls, so they start finding a match for their child during this age period.
    • Further, the Right To Education Act makes education free and compulsory up to the age of 14 only.
  • Insecurity: Law and Order are still not able to provide a secure environment for the girls in adolescent age, so some parents get their girl child married at a young age.
  • Other Reasons:
    • Poverty,
    • Political and financial reasons,
    • Lack of education,
    • Patriarchy and gender inequalities, etc.

Consequences of child marriage

  • Violation of human rights: Child marriage violates girls’ human rights. It makes them almost invisible to policy.
  • Impact on education and health: It cuts short their education, harms their health, and limits their ability to fulfill themselves as productive individuals participating fully in society.
  • The low domestic status of teenage wives typically condemns them to long hours of domestic labor; poor nutrition and anemia; social isolation; domestic violence; early childbearing; and few decision-making powers within the home.
  • Malnutrition: Poor education, malnutrition, and early pregnancy lead to low birth weight of babies, perpetuating the intergenerational cycle of malnutrition.
  • The costs of child marriage include teenage pregnancy, population growth, child stunting, poor learning outcomes for children, and the loss of women’s participation in the workforce.

What should be the policy interventions to end child marriage?

  • CCTs: Conditional cash transfers (CCTs) have been the main policy instrument introduced by most states in the last two decades to end child marriage.
  • CCTs alone cannot change social norms. We need a comprehensive approach.
  • Legislative measures: Legislation is one part of the approach.
  • Karnataka amended the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act in 2017, declaring every child marriage, making it a cognizable offense.
  • Expansion of education: These include expansion of secondary education, access to safe and affordable public transport, and support for young women to apply their education to earn a livelihood.
  • Expansion of education goes beyond access. Girls must be able to attend school regularly, remain there, and achieve.
  • States can leverage their network of residential schools, girls’ hostels, and public transport, especially in underserved areas, to ensure that teenage girls do not get pushed out of education.
  • Teachers should hold regular gender equality conversations with high school girls and boys to shape progressive attitudes that will sustain them into adulthood.
  • Empowerment measures: Empowerment measures, too, are required to end child marriage, such as community engagement through programs like Mahila Samakhya.
  • Children’s village assemblies in the 2.5 lakh gram panchayats across India can provide a platform for children to voice their concerns.
  • Government actions driving social change: Field bureaucrats across multiple departments, including teachers, Anganwadi supervisors, panchayat, and revenue staff, all of whom interact with rural communities, should be notified as child marriage prohibition officers.
  •  Decentralizing birth and marriage registration: Most important of all, decentralizing birth and marriage registration to gram panchayats will protect women and girls with essential age and marriage documents, thus better enabling them to claim their rights.

Consider the question “What are the consequence of child marriage? Suggest the measures to deal with the issue.”

Conclusion

We need to adopt a comprehensive approach to deal with the problem of child marriage. The approach should include a focus on education and legal measures.

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

NDA to admit Women: Centre

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Women in Armed FOrces

The Centre gave the Supreme Court the “good news” that it had taken a decision to allow women entry into the National Defence Academy (NDA), so far a male bastion for recruitment into the Armed Forces.

About National Defence Academy

  • The NDA is the joint defence service training institute of the Indian Armed Forces, where cadets of the three services train together before they go on to respective service academy for further pre-commission training.
  • It is located in Khadakwasla, Pune, Maharashtra.
  • It is the first tri-service academy in the world.
  • Applicants to the NDA are selected via a written exam conducted by the UPSC every year, followed by extensive interviews by the Services Selection Board.

What was the latest development?

  • Recently, the Supreme Court upheld the right of serving Short Service Commission (SSC) women officers of the Navy to be granted Permanent Commission (PC) on a par with their male counterparts.

Women in Armed Forces: Significance

  • The court ruled that women naval officers cannot be denied the right to equal opportunity and dignity entitled to under the Constitution on specious grounds such as physiology, motherhood and physical attributes.
  • The battle for gender equality is about confronting the battles of the mind.
  • History is replete with examples where women have been denied their just entitlements under law and the right to fair and equal treatment in the workplace.

Why males have ever dominated the armed forces?

  • Militaries across the world help entrench hegemonic masculine notions of aggressiveness, strength and heterosexual prowess in and outside their barracks.
  • The military training focuses on creating new bonds of brotherhood and camaraderie between them based on militarized masculinity.
  • This temperament is considered in order to enable conscripts to survive the tough conditions of military life and to be able to kill without guilt.
  • To create these new bonds, militaries construct a racial, sexual, gendered “other”, attributes of whom the soldier must routinely and emphatically reject.

Dimensions of the Issue

Gender is not a hindrance: As long as an applicant is qualified for a position, one’s gender is arbitrary. It is easy to recruit and deploy women who are in better shape than many men sent into combat.

Combat Readiness: Allowing a mixed-gender force keeps the military strong. The armed forces are severely troubled by falling retention and recruitment rates. This can be addressed by allowing women in the combat role.

Effectiveness: The blanket restriction for women limits the ability of commanders in theatre to pick the most capable person for the job.

Tradition: Training will be required to facilitate the integration of women into combat units. Cultures change over time and the masculine subculture can evolve too.

Cultural Differences & Demographics: Women are more effective in some circumstances than men. Allowing women to serve doubles the talent pool for delicate and sensitive jobs that require interpersonal skills, not every soldier has.

Hurdles for Women

Capabilities of women: Although women are equally capable, if not more capable than men, there might be situations that could affect the capabilities of women such as absence during pregnancy and catering to the responsibilities of motherhood, etc.

Adjusting with the masculine setup: To then simply add women to this existing patriarchal setup, without challenging the notions of masculinity, can hardly be seen as “gender advancement”.

Fear of sexual harassment: Sexual harassment faced by women military officers is a global phenomenon that remains largely unaddressed, and women often face retaliation when they do complain.

Gender progressiveness could be an illusion: Women’s inclusion is criticized as just another manoeuvre to camouflage women’s subjugation and service as women’s liberation.

Battle of ‘Acceptance’: Acceptance of women in the military has not been smooth in any country. Every army has to mould the attitude of its society at large and male soldiers in particular to enhance acceptability of women in the military.

Job Satisfaction: Most women feel that their competence is not given due recognition. Seniors tend to be over-indulgent without valuing their views. They are generally marginalised and not involved in any major decision-making.

Doubts about Role Definition: The profession of arms is all about violence and brutality. To kill another human is not moral but soldiers are trained to kill.

Physical and Physiological Issues: The natural physical differences in stature, strength, and body composition between the sexes make women more vulnerable to certain types of injuries and medical problems. The natural processes of menstruation and pregnancy make women particularly vulnerable in combat situations.

Comfort Level: Most women accepted the fact that their presence amongst males tends to make the environment ‘formal and stiff’. The mutual comfort level between men and women colleagues is often very low.

Conclusion

  • Concern for equality of sexes or political expediency should not influence defence policies.
  • Armed forces have been constituted with the sole purpose of ensuring defence of the country and all policy decisions should be guided by this overriding factor.
  • All matters concerning defence of the country have to be considered in a dispassionate manner.
  • No decision should be taken which even remotely affects the cohesiveness and efficiency of the military.

Way ahead

  • Induction of women into armed forces should be on the basis of their abilities and not on the basis of their gender.
  • The training for both women and men should be standardized to eliminate differentiation based on physical capabilities.
  • The career aspects and opportunities for women need to be viewed holistically keeping the final aim in focus.

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

[pib] National Commission for Women

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: National Commsision for Women

Mains level: Read the attached story

The Central Government has nominated Smt. Rekha Sharma, as Chairperson of the National Commission for Women for another term of three years.

National Commission for Women

  • The NCW is the statutory body generally concerned with advising the government on all policy matters affecting women.
  • It was established on 31 January 1992 under the provisions of the Indian Constitution as defined in the 1990 National Commission for Women Act.
  • The first head of the commission was Jayanti Patnaik.

Constitutional provision

  • The Indian Constitution doesn’t contain any provision specifically made to favor women intrinsically.
  • Article 15 (3), Article 14 and Article 21 protect and safeguard women. They are more gender-neutral.

Objectives

  • The objective of the NCW is to represent the rights of women in India and to provide a voice for their issues and concerns.
  • The subjects of their campaigns have included dowry, politics, religion, equal representation for women in jobs, and the exploitation of women for labor.
  • They have also discussed police abuses against women.

Composition of National Commission for Women

The Commission shall consist of:

  • A Chairperson, committed to the cause of women, to be nominated by the Central Government.
  • five Members to be nominated by the Central Government from amongst persons of ability, integrity and standing who have had experience in law or legislation, trade unionism, management of an industry potential of women, women’s voluntary organizations (including women activist), administration, economic development, health, education or social welfare;
  • Provided that at least one Member each shall be from amongst persons belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes respectively;

Powers of NCW

  • Provide consultation on all major policy matters that affect women.
  • Issuing summons for the examination of documents and the witnesses.
  • It has the power to make any public record.
  • Receiving evidence on affidavits
  • Discovery and production of documents
  • Summoning and enforcement

Functions of the NCW

  • Presentation of reports: Table reports should be submitted to the Central Government every year. When the commission feels it’s appropriate. The reports upon the functioning and working of the safeguards.
  • Investigation and Examination: There should be proper investigation and examination made under the Constitution and other laws. This is related to the protection of the rights of women.
  • Review of laws: Constantly all laws are reviewed and scrutinized. And necessary amendments and alterations are made to meet the needs of the current world.
  • Cases of Violation: Ensure there is no violation against women and taking due care of such cases.
  • Suo Motu Notice: It takes care of complaints and also suo motu matters about the deprivation of rights of women. Implementation of laws favoring the welfare of women.
  • Evaluation: Assessing the development and the progress of the women community under the Center and State level.
  • Special studies and investigation: To understand the limitations in the system and curb it with strategic plans and mechanisms.

Powers of the NCW

  • Not concrete powers: The NCW is only recommendatory and has no power to enforce its decisions. Often it takes action only if the issues are brought to light.
  • Legal powers: Commission lacks constitutional status, and thus has no legal powers to summon police officers or witnesses.
  • Less funding: NCW’s functions are dependent on the grants offered by the central government. Financial assistance provided to the Commission is very less to cater to its needs.
  • Political interference: It does not have the power to choose its own members.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

What is Horizontal Quota?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Horizontal quota

Mains level: Debate over 50% cap of reservations

The Bihar government recently announced 33% horizontal reservation for women in State engineering and medical colleges.

What are vertical and horizontal reservations?

  • Reservation for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and Other Backward Classes is referred to the as vertical reservation.
  • It applies separately for each of the groups specified under the law.
  • Horizontal reservation refers to the equal opportunity provided to other categories of beneficiaries such as women, veterans, the transgender community, and individuals with disabilities, cutting through the vertical categories.

How are the two categories of quotas applied together?

  • The horizontal quota is applied separately to each vertical category, and not across the board.
  • For example, if women have 50% horizontal quota, then half of the selected candidates will have to necessarily be women in each vertical quota category.
  • This means half of all selected SC candidates will have to be women, half of the unreserved or general category will have to be women, and so on.
  • The interlocking of the two types of reservation throws up a host of questions on how certain groups are to be identified.
  • For example, would an SC woman be put in the category of women or SC? Since quotas are fixed in percentages, what percentage of quota would be attributed to each?

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Socio-Economic Impact of Pandemic on Women

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- Disproportionate burden of pandemic on women

The article highlights the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on women and suggests measures to soften the impact.

Widening gender employment gap

  • Even prior to 2020, the gender employment gap was large.
  • Only 18% of working-age women were employed as compared to 75% of men.
  • Reasons include a lack of good jobs, restrictive social norms, and the burden of household work.
  • The nationwide lockdown hit women much harder than men.
  • Data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy Pvt. Ltd. show that 61% of male workers were unaffected during the lockdown while only 19% of women experienced this kind of security.
  • Men who did lose work were able to regain it, even if it was at the cost of increased precarity or lower earnings, because they had the option of moving into fallback employment arrangements.
  • Even as new entrants to the workforce, women workers had poorer options compared to men.
  • Women were more likely to enter as daily wage workers while men found avenues for self-employment.
  •  So, not only did women enter into more precarious work, it was also likely to be at very low earnings compared to men.

Growing domestic work

  • With schools closed and almost everyone limited to the confines of their homes, household responsibilities increased for women.
  • The India Working Survey 2020 found that among employed men, the number of hours spent on paid work remained more or less unchanged after the pandemic.
  • But for women, the number of hours spent in domestic work increased manifold.
  • This increase in hours came without any accompanying relief in the hours spent on paid work.

Way forward

  • The following measures are needed now:
  • The National Employment Policy, currently in the works, should systematically address the constraints around the participation of the women’s workforce.
  • Expansion of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) and the introduction of an urban employment guarantee targeted to women as soon as the most severe forms of mobility restrictions are lifted.
  • There is a need for coordinated efforts by States to facilitate the employment of women while also addressing immediate needs through the setting up of community kitchens, the opening of schools and anganwadi centres, and engagement with self-help groups for the production of personal protective equipment kits.
  • Further, a COVID-19 hardship allowance of at least ₹5,000 per month for six months should be announced for 2.5 million accredited social health activists and Anganwadi workers, most of whom are women.
  • The pandemic has shown the necessity of adequate public investment in social infrastructure.
  • The time is right to imagine a bold universal basic services programme that not only fills existing vacancies in the social sector but also expands public investments in health, education, child and elderly care, and so on, to be prepared for future shocks.

Consider the question “Examine the impact of the pandemic on women. Suggest the measures to mitigate the impact.”

Conclusion

As the country meets the challenge of the second wave of the pandemic, it is crucial to learn lessons from the first wave to chart the policy path ahead.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

State of World Population Report 2021

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: State of World Population Report 2021

Mains level: Womens' right issues

The United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA) flagship State of World Population Report 2021 titled ‘My Body is My Own’ was recently launched.

State of World Population Report 2021

  • The State of World Population report is UNFPA’s annual flagship publication.
  • It has been published yearly since 1978.
  • It highlights emerging issues in the field of sexual and reproductive health and rights, bringing them into the mainstream and exploring the challenges and opportunities they present for international development.

Key findings of the 2021 report

This is the first time a UN report has focused on bodily autonomy, defined as the power and agency to make choices about your body without fear of violence or having someone else decide for you.

  • The report measures both women’s power to make their own decisions about their bodies and the extent to which countries’ laws support or interfere with a woman’s right to make these decisions.
  • The data show a strong link between