The Gender Inequality Index (GII) is a new index for measurement of gender disparity that was introduced in the ‘2010 Human Development Report 20th anniversary edition’ by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
“Gender inequality refers to unequal treatment or perceptions of individuals based on their gender. It arises from differences in socially constructed gender roles as well as biologically through chromosomes, brain structure, and hormonal differences. Gender systems are often dichotomous and hierarchical; gender binary systems may reflect the inequalities that manifest in numerous dimensions of daily life. Gender inequality stems from distinctions, whether empirically grounded or socially constructed. There are natural differences between the sexes based on biological and anatomic factors, most notably differing reproductive roles. Biological differences include chromosomes, brain structure, and hormonal differences. There is a natural difference also in the relative physical strengths (on average) of the sexes.” (Source; Wikipedia)
Gender Inequality is the main drawback or the weakness of human development today – I have been lucky to have traveled to different places within India and around the world. This extensive travel has enriched me as well as exposed me to different lifestyles adopted by respective local inhabitants to suit their own needs, largely based on what is available to them. During my teen years, I joined the Forum of Free Enterprise headed by late Shri Nani A Palkiwala, the eminent jurist based in Mumbai. Through this platform, I attended leadership talks on gender issues faced by our society then. Woman empowerment was not receiving top priority in the early 1980s in India as it does now. I guess, the reason was not too far to find. India got her independence in recent 1947, but she has progressed from being a male dominated feudal society in the past. The erroneous assumption was clearly written on the wall : ” Men should go out and earn while women will make the home and rear children “. In fact, in most Indian villages, girls were not permitted to attend the school during those years and it was considered obligatory on them to help their mothers in cooking or house-keeping at home as soon as they attain their adolescent age. So, the boys could come home late, play out till their teen years get over, stay overnight with their friends, make their own decisions in their lives etc. But, the Girls could not do what their brothers (read as boys) could do.
“In 1995, in the Human Development Report commissioned by the United Nations Development Program set-out to create two new measurement indices for measuring development. Their aim was to add to the Human Development Index by way of including a gender dimension in the measure. They were created in order to rival the traditional income-focused measures of development such as the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the Gross National Product (GNP). The Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM) is the United Nations Development Program’s attempt to measure the extent of gender inequality across the globe’s countries, based on estimates of women’s relative economic income, participation in high-paying positions with economic power, and access to professional and parliamentary positions.
The Gender Inequality Index (GII) is a new index for measurement of gender disparity that was introduced in the ‘2010 Human Development Report 20th anniversary edition’ by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). According to the UNDP, this index is a composite measure which captures the loss of achievement within a country due to gender inequality, and uses three dimensions to do so: reproductive health, empowerment, and labor market participation. The new index was introduced as an experimental measure to remedy the shortcomings of the previous, and no longer used indicators, the Gender Development Index (GDI) and the Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM), both of which were introduced in the 1995 Human Development Report.” (Source: Wikipedia)
Despite the increase in women in the labor force since the mid-1900s, traditional gender roles are still prevalent in Indian society. Women are usually expected to put their educational and career goals on hold in order to raise children, while their husbands work. However, there are women who choose to work as well as fulfill their gender role of cleaning the house and taking care of the children. Despite the fact that different households may divide chores more evenly, there is ample evidence that supports that women have retained the primary care-giver role within familial life despite contributions economically.
Women empowerment in India is a challenging task as we need to acknowledge the fact that gender based discrimination is a deep rooted social malice practiced in India in many forms since thousands of years. This sexual discrimination can be erased only through awareness of the ‘problem’ at all levels in the society. Acknowledging the presence of problem will lead to solutions sooner or later. Some steps aimed at gender equality are suggested below :
1. Awakening the feminine principle present in all of us – All Human beings are endowed with masculine as well as feminine principles. The ratio could vary based on individual traits of each person. That’s why you find a difference in each individual which is unique to him or her. Care for others by way of empathy is not present in women alone though it is predominantly a feminine quality. I have come across several men who are in all genuineness very emphatic to others around them.
2. Building self-awareness and ability to pursue leadership – There is no rule that only one sex should rule while the other has to be ruled. Females have succeeded well – starting from leading her family, small groups to even leading several nations. In fact, each individual should be well-aware of his or her qualities and seek to lead others whenever this ability sought from him or her by others or the situations they are in.
3. Extra-curricular activities should be practiced – Let’s not condition ourselves to the routine or to a gender-biased curriculum. Rather, it is important to meet the requirements of each situation successfully. It is not a bad idea – for a man to learn to cook, to parenting a child, and expressing genuine love and affection to others. Probably in a feudal society of India in the past, these qualities were considered feminine, but not any longer. Similarly, ability to make decisions should be encouraged among females so that they are in control of their circumstances. This is a very critical requirement to arrive at gender equality and I feel that, women will feel empowered if they are allowed to make their own decisions. Even in the developed world ( like USA or the UK), women are not allowed to make their own decisions and that’s bad practice because women are much more intuitive than men are. Intuition helps in making the right decisions at many times when we are under influence of myriad options.
4. Physical exercise & fitness among women – Women should physically exercise as often as men do or what is suiting to their requirements. A healthy body will lead to a healthy mind sooner or later. Nothing is wrong if women focus on building muscles and keep themselves trim and fit even after becoming a mother ! There can be no excuse (for females) to justify being fat or lethargic.
5. Spirituality helps in full development of personality – Negative tendencies like jealousy, anger, hatred can only harm ourselves and unfortunately they are more associated with women. That should change right-away ! Anger clouds the intellect making us unable to decide correctly ; jealousy can only bring in self-pity and un-happiness ; while hatred cripples one’s life and becomes a burden to be carried throughout the life.
Only women can bring about the ‘change’ to remove the prevalent gender inequality since the onus lies on them to take up their rightful position in the society. Laws can be drawn to favor or help them ; men can only co-operate ; opportunities can be provided to women through reservations ( like it has been done in case of Rajya Sabha seats/ membership in India ) – but it is women who should rise up and regain what is lost by them or not given to them. Remember, woman alone has the unique ability to procreate ; woman can nurture and develop both her husband and children to make a happy home – so it should not be difficult for her to fight the menace of objectification of females as mere sex objects through cinema, media and entertainment industry.