The United Nations Development Programme’s GII measures the human development costs of gender inequality. A higher GII value — 0.563 in the case of India — indicates a greater disparity between men and women. India ranks 130 of 155 countries on GII.

Neighbouring countries such as Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal and Myanmar, that rank way lower than India on the overall Human Development Index (HDI), have performed much better when it comes to achieving gender equality. In fact, in the entire South Asia, only war-torn Afghanistan has a worse ranking than India.

GII is based on following dimensions and indicators:

Reasons for low ranking:

Poor representation of women in Parliament.In India, merely 12.2 percent of the seats are held by women as against 27.6 percent in Afghanistan. While India still debates whether or not it should reserve a third of its seats in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies for women, some of the poorest nations such as Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Uganda, Mozambique have over a third to half of their parliament seats occupied by women.

Female labour force participation ratio is very low. It is just 27 percent for women versus 79.9 percent for men.

Record of violations against women’s rights.

Only 26.6% women above 25 years received a secondary education in 2010, compared to 50.4% of men.

Maternal Mortality Ratio: In India, 200 women died every 100,000 live child birth.

Female infanticide and Meta son preference leading to reduced child sex ratio.The data shows that despite the law in place viz Prenatal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1994 sex selective abortion is still on the rise. One estimate done by MacPherson shows that more than 100000 illegal abortions are being performed every year in India mainly for the reason that the featus is of girl child.

Government steps to fight gender inequality:

Constitutional Security:

Indian Constitution provides positive efforts to end gender discrimination. Preamble of the Constitution talks about the goal of achieving social economic and political justice and provides equal citizenship and opportunity to its citizens.

Although women have the equal right to vote with us in the political system. In addition to gender related discrimination in Article 15, prohibits the discrimination of religion, class, caste and birth place. Article 15 (3) authorizes the state to pass any special provision for women and children. Apart from this, the Directive Principles of State Policy also provide various provisions for the benefit of women and for protection against discrimination.

Legal safety measures:

Statutory measures have also been issued in addition to statutory safeguards to eliminate atrocities against women, and to give them equal status in society. Sati Prevention (1987) Dowry Treatment (1961) Inter-caste Marriage, Inter-religion Special Marriage Act, Birth Pregnancy Investigation has been implemented in 1991 and 1994. Keeping in view the needs of the society, the government keeps changing the rules from time to time to protect women. Section 304-B provides strict punishment for strict dowry and life-long prison for burning dowry and marriage.

108th Constitutional Amendment Bill provides for 33% reservation for women in Parliament and Legislature.

73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendment Act gives 1/3rd reservation for women in panchayats and municipalities. Many states have increased this limits to 50%.

Way Forward:

Every year the government initiates various schemes and programs for the benefit and empowerment of women. But there really are not enough visible changes on the ground. The change will only take place when Indian society will change its mindset. We will see the boy and the girl in one sight. The girl will not be considered burden. Only then can we completely eliminate gender inequality Index from Indian society in real terms.

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