GS 1, MAINS: Role of women and women’s organisation.
Women, Business and the Law 2020 tracks how the law affects women at various stages in their lives, from the basics of transportation to the challenges of starting a job and getting a pension.
This year’s study shows that progress is being made, with all regions improving their average scores. Still, the results are uneven — high-income countries tended to have the best scores, leaving women in many countries with only a fraction of the rights of men.
Research shows clearly that reforms and policies that empower women boost economic growth. When women can move more freely, work outside
Unfortunately, gender barriers persist, and laws and regulations continue to restrict women’s economic decision making and employment prospects. Governments can use the Women, Business and the Law index to identify legal impediments to women’s economic opportunities.
Better performance in the areas measured by the Women, Business and the Law index is associated with more women in the labor force and with higher income and improved development outcomes.
The economies that improved the most are Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Nepal, South Sudan, São Tomé and Príncipe, Bahrain, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Jordan, and Tunisia.
All over the world, discriminatory laws continue to threaten women’s economic security, career growth, and work–life balance. Such barriers to employment and entrepreneurship at every stage of life limit equality of opportunity, creating a business environment that does not adequately support working women.
Women, Business and the Law takes as its starting point that the equal participation of women and men will give every economy a chance to achieve its potential. Equality of opportunity allows women to make the choices that are best for them, their families, and their communities.
EQUALITY OF OPPORTUNITY IS GOOD ECONOMICS:
A significant body of research links reforms and policies aimed at achieving gender equality to women’s economic outcomes. For example, removing barriers that restrict the ability of women to move freely, sign contracts, work outside the home, or manage assets has been associated with a more abundant female labor supply.
In addition, fewer legal barriers are associated with access to better jobs for women, such as those requiring higher skill levels, offering higher wages, or presenting an opportunity to manage others.
Reforming discriminatory laws captured by the Mobility and Entrepreneurship indicators is also associated with higher levels of entrepreneurship and better access to finance for women.
Furthermore, raising the retirement age of women to match that of men is correlated with an increased female labor supply, which should facilitate larger pensions and better financial security for women of retirement age.
Earlier evidence on the relationship between legal reforms and women’s economic outcomes was generally limited to a certain number of economies, points in time, or aspects of the law.
Analysis shows that where the law ensures greater equality of economic opportunity between women and men, female labor force participation is higher. This result holds after taking into account important factors—including income levels, fertility rates, and female education—and when using different statistical methods.
WHICH ECONOMIES IMPROVED THE MOST?
In the last two years alone, 40 economies implemented 62 reforms toward equality of opportunity across the eight indicators measured. At the same time, three economies implemented changes that reduced equality: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Moldova, and West Bank and Gaza.
The 10 economies that improved the most represent three regions and comprehensive reforms implemented across a range of indicators. In particular, economies in the Middle East and North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa make up nine of the top-10 reforming economies. By contrast, no economy in East Asia and the Pacific, Europe and Central Asia, or Latin America and the Caribbean is a top reformer.
Many of the reforms in the Middle East and North Africa were supported by the work of specialized councils committed to improving gender balance in the workforce. Their success was anchored in governments’ strong commitments to improving the business environment.
THE ECONOMIC DIMENSIONS OF GENDER INEQUALITY IN INDIA:
Gender inequality subsists in Indian economy and prevails in all sectors of life like health, education, economics and politics. Men have always had the upper hand in these fields, depicting how deeply patriarchy is entrenched in India. Even though gender equality soars to great heights in post-independence era, many steps have been taken in various sectors of life to bridge the gap between men and women and to bring them up to the same level.
Women have been actively involved in economic activities and labor force in contemporary times. In the agriculture sector for instance, 74% of the labor force consists of women. Yet, the wage gap between men and women across the Indian economy despite the active involvement of reformists and feminists who have been fighting for equal pay.
Women are also discriminated in terms of credit lending and property ownership. This situation can be again drawn back to the patriarchal system prevalent in the Indian economy: women have always been disbanded from share in the properties as it is believed that men are the ones who actually carry their generation forward and earn bread and butter for the family, while women would just sustain upon the money earned by men.
Women also lack behind the corporate and government sectors. Various government programs and schemes have been launched in an attempt to provide equal opportunities for men and women. Reservations have helped to rise the number of jobs of women in government sector. This growing trend also lead to changes in the corporate sector. Earlier, not a single woman was to be seen in the top tier of the corporate world. Today, there has been escalation in the number of woman in these top sectors. Even though there have been reforms and number of women have increased in jobs but still they lag behind in the total percentage of jobs.
These issues are very debatable why women still lag behind men despite the increase in the number of opportunities and affirmative action programs. These debates in my opinion would always lead to the issue of patriarchy. Patriarchy, according to me is so entrenched in the Indian society that even though one may try their hardest to uplift women to the level of men, patriarchy would pull them down. I believe until and unless patriarchy is removed, nothing can bring equality among men and women.
PREVIOUS YEARS UPSC MAINS QUESTIONS:
‘Women’s movement in India has not addressed the issues of women of lower social strata. Substantiate your view. (2018)
How do you explain the statistics that show that the sex ratio in Tribes in India is more favourable to women than the sex ratio among Scheduled Castes? (2015)
How does patriarchy impact the position of a middle class working woman in India? (2014)
Discuss the various economic and socio-cultural forces that are driving increasing feminization of agriculture in India. (2014)
Why do some of the most prosperous regions of India have an adverse sex ratio for women? Give your arguments. (2014)