Gender equality is both a core concern and an essential part of human development. Indian social fabric is highly patriarchal which has left women significantly exploited and discriminated. If caste based biases work only outside home in the open society, the discrimination against women operates both in and out of homes. Not only men always get preference in every walk of life, their attitude towards women is largely patronizing and imposing.
Their weak status, particularly in the rural areas, is at the root of most chronic problems. It is their lack of awareness or access to family planning tools and early marriage of girls and their early child bearing, which ultimately have led to high population; lack of awareness of health issues related to pregnancy and child upbringing has resulted in high mortality rate, under-nutrition and malnutrition among children; lower education and lack of freedom has resulted in low participation in societal processes. All these factors are enough to feed and sustain poverty.
On the World Economic Forum’s 2014 gender gap index (GGI) India ranked 114 out of 142 nations. India scored below average on parameters like economic participation, educational attainment and health and survival. It slipped 13 spots from its last year’s ranking of 101. It is part of the 20 worst-performing countries on the labour force participation, estimated earned income, literacy rate and sex ratio at birth indicators. The index benchmarks national gender gaps on economic, political, education and health criteria.
Indian Muslim community is perhaps most backward in terms of gender inequality. Its clergy habitually wants to live like the Arab tribes of the 7th century uncivilized Middle East, in the name of Sharia’h Law – confining women inside the veils and oppressed by polygamy and ‘triple’ Talaq.. But for their resistance, India would have by now a Uniform Civil Code for all Indians. Rise of radical Wahhabi Islam across the world in the past 2 decades will make the task of providing equal treatment to Muslim women much harder.
- EDNA MAE BUNIEL