Gender inequality is a crucial social issue in India. The status of women in society reflects its progressiveness. The better the status of women, the better the economic and human development of the country.
Given the gender inequalities in India, we are nowhere near building an equal society. Even 75 years after independence, women continue to face widespread social, cultural and economic discrimination in their families. Bias against women does not just affect the country's economic growth; it is the root of all evil against women.
The effects of gender inequality on adolescents are vast. Unequal treatment of women deprives them of education, employment, decision making, access to healthcare and makes them victims of teen dating violence.
What is Gender Discrimination?
Gender discrimination is any unequal treatment, including privilege or priority based on gender.
Gender discrimination starts even before a girl is born. In many cases, she is prevented from being born. The girl child is considered a burden by society. She is deprived of the basic rights and equal opportunities to lead a wholesome childhood and adult life as opposed to her male counterparts. Teen gender discrimination has long-lasting effects on a person’s self-confidence and can also block them from many opportunities.
The future of the female child looks grim as per the below statistics:
- 51% of trafficking victims were children, and out of this more than 80% were girls (NCRB 2018)
- There are 223 million child brides in India; 102 million were married before they turned 15 (UNICEF)
- 15 million children are married in India, out of which 8.9 million are girls- which is three times the number of boys (CENSUS 2011)
A girl is far more likely to be denied her rights, kept from school, forced to marry and subjected to domestic violence in teenage relationships.
What is Gender Inequality?
From the moment they are born, girls and boys face unequal gender norms regarding expectations and access to resources and opportunities in homes, schools and communities. For example, in many places, boys are encouraged to go to school and get an education and work, while girls are expected to carry household responsibilities that keep them from school. Sometimes even when they receive an education and get a job, they are still expected to carry out household duties and discouraged or forbidden to take up a career
Despite worldwide progress, gender inequality still persists. Gender inequality in adolescence manifests itself in education, child marriage and pregnancy, unrecognized domestic work or sexual violence.
Some types of gender inequality include:
- Gender inequality in education: girls are less likely than boys to get an education. Poverty, conflict and other forms of social disadvantage can result in gender inequality in education.
- Child marriage: child marriage is another form of gender-based violence resulting from gender inequality and gender discrimination. The COVID-19 pandemic saw an increase in child marriage rates throughout India.
- Gender-based violence: Gender-based violence is everywhere around the world. While it affects boys and girls, girls are particularly at risk. Gender-based violence includes prenatal sex selection, female infanticide, neglect, female genital mutilation, rape, child marriage, forced prostitution, honour and dowry killing.
- Unpaid domestic labour: In India, maintaining the house and raising children is considered the woman’s domain, and this work is mostly unrecognized and unpaid to this date. Unpaid domestic labour includes all work required to maintain the household- from chores like grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, and taking care of children, the sick and the elderly. Even when women enter the workforce, they still are responsible for all of these things that become an obstacle to their access to paid work.
What is the importance of gender equality?
Gender equality is not just a fundamental human right but a necessary foundation for a prosperous future in any society. By eradicating gender issues, one can create a world where people of all genders enjoy equal rights, resources, opportunities and protections.
Gender equality also prevents violence against women and girls. Many societies in the world are patriarchal, and men remain dominant in almost every sector. For our society to evolve, gender equality must be achieved.