Updated: Feb 20, 2022
Written by - Amisha Deshmukh
Although the world has seen great progress toward gender equality, a wide gap still remains and unfortunately may be widening because of constrained patriarchy, orthodoxy which results in inequality, discrimination, oppression, and violence.
The World Economic Forum (WEF, 2017) annually evaluates the world’s progress toward gender inequality in economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment. In their most recent report, gender inequality continues to be a persistent problem, with the gender gap in economic participation/opportunity; and health/survival actually widening rather than getting better. WEF most recently estimated that the overall global gender gap won’t be closed for another 100 years (compared to 83 years estimated a year previously), and more specifically, the economic gender gap won’t be closed for another 217 years.
Gender inequality is a social process by which people are treated differently, disadvantageously, and are discriminated, on the basis of sex or gender causing one sex or gender to be routinely privileged or prioritized over another.
The discrimination starts from even before the girl child is born. In many cases she is prevented from being born. The girl child is considered as a burden. The unequal treatment may arise from distinctions regarding biology, psychology, or cultural norms prevalent in the society. Some of these distinctions are on the basis of observation while others appear to be socially constructed. Studies show the different lived experiences of genders across many domains including education, life expectancy, personality, interests, family life, careers, and political affiliation.
India is the only large country where more girls die than boys. Globally girls have higher survival rates at birth, are more likely to be developmentally on track. In India girls are more likely to drop out of school. Here girls and boys experience adolescence differently. While boys experience greater freedom, girls tend to face extensive limitations on their ability to move freely and to make decisions affecting their work, education, marriage and social relationships.
Economic participation and opportunity
Women are more likely than men to be living at or below poverty. These gender inequalities in poverty are a direct outcome of gender inequalities in economic participation and opportunity. Across the globe, many women remain economically dependent on men. Women are barred from owning land and their control over household economic resources and spending is limited. Women are more likely to be unemployed and more likely to work in positions in which they don’t get paid (e.g. contributing family worker).
Gender inequality has been experienced in educational institutions. Girls have been discriminated against in terms of various aspects as compared to male. In rural communities, this problem has been more severe as compared to urban communities. Gender inequality in education is regarded as the major barrier within the course of overall progression of the system of education. It is very important to formulate measures and programs that are focused upon making provision of equal rights and opportunities to girls. The parents at home and teachers in school need to provide equal participation opportunities to girls. The main areas that have been taken into account are, factors causing gender inequality in education, factors influencing educational attainment, and programs promoting women’s education.
Health and survival
Worldwide, access to and use of contraceptives, family planning, reproductive and maternal health is improving. However, poor access to information, early marriage, and lack of decision-making power continue to increase women and girls’ exposure to sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies and the risk of unsafe abortions.
Thus, women in India face “extensive gender discrimination” in access to healthcare.
LAWS PROTECTING WOMEN FROM GENDER DISCRIMINATION IN INDIA
The Constitution of India plays an important role in protecting the women from discrimination and ensuring gender justice in the present times. Constitutional law is the supreme law of the land which significantly addresses the questions related to woman and also responds to the challenges.
Article 14- Equality before law
It is the fundamental right and ensures to every person the right to equality before law and equal protection of the laws. The state shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.
Article 15-Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth
Article 15 of the Indian Constitution guarantees equality before the eyes of the law for all the citizens of India. The article prohibits the Indian state against discrimination of people based on caste, religion, sex, race, or place of birth. This article constitutes the fundamental rights that the constitution of India guarantees every citizen without any sort of discrimination.
Article 16- Equality of opportunity in matters of public employment-
Equality of opportunity connotes that each person of country shall be eligible for employment or appointment to any office under the State consistent with his qualifications and capability held by the Supreme Court. Article 16 therefore doesn’t prevent the State from prescribing the specified qualifications and selective tests for recruitment of state services.
BAN ON PRENATAL DIAGNOSTIC TESTING
Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act, 1994 is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted to stop female foeticides and arrest the declining sex ratio in India. The act banned prenatal sex determination.
THE SEXUAL HARASSMENT OF WOMEN AT WORKPLACE (PREVENTION, PROHIBITION AND REDRESSAL) ACT, 2013
This act was enacted to provide protection against sexual harassment of women at workplace and for the prevention and redressal of complaints of sexual harassment and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
HINDU SUCCESSION ACT, 1956
Under the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, females are granted ownership of all property acquired either before or after the signing of the Act, abolishing their “limited owner” status. However, it was not until the 2005 Amendment that daughters were allowed equal receipt of property as with sons. This invariably grants females property rights.
EQUAL REMUNERATION ACT, 1976
No employer can, while making recruitment for the same work or work of a similar nature, can discriminate women. It is the duty of employer under the Act to pay equal remuneration to men and women workers for same work or work of a similar nature.
There are adequate laws in India which not only removes the discrimination against women but also empowers the women. The constitution itself makes discriminatory laws in favor of the women who are considered the weaker sex, disadvantaged and discriminated in the male dominated society. The Supreme Court, however, has taken initiatives too and in some cases issued directions to the Government as well. But the implementation of these legislations in actual sense is very much necessary to remove the discrimination in the society. Problem in India is not the absence of law but its effective implementation.
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