Gender discrimination is one problem that continues to affect women in India. The traditional oppressive norms have relegated women to secondary status at the workplace and in the household. This has left them with little or no education at all, poor health and financial status, as well as little involvement in the political arena. They are quickly married off when too young, and that means they become mothers at a tender age. They cannot cope with the stringent domestic and financial responsibilities.
No doubt, gender equality in India is something to question. It’s shocking that women are always treated last in the society, last to receive medical attention and last to serve food for themselves. So it’s a common scenario to see malnourished women in India. Statistically, only 54% of women in India are literate, compared to 76% of men. That shows that women receive little schooling, and an unfair inheritance as well as divorce laws.The context in the developing and third world countries is worse. Women here are still subject to ‘honor killings’, they are still denied their basic rights to education and freedom, and face violence and abuse. It was observed in a CARE project working with adolescent girls in India, that these girls were considered as temporary people who would cease to exist, at least for their fathers, once they are married. In many places in India, domestic violence is acceptable to women, and cultural and ethical implications are imposed on their freedom. Because of all these factors, it’s impossible for them to accumulate a substantial financial asset which means no security for them.
In Rajasthan, gender equality issues have been aggravated by seasonal immigration. Rural Rajasthan doesn’t offer sufficient economy to sustain a family all year round. So women are left behind with the burden of taking care of the entire household. Now, statistics estimate that a woman’s income is 30% lower compared to that of a man working in the same condition in India. This is because while they work, they must also attend to domestic chores back at home. This way of life in Rajasthan undermines women’s rights for gender equality in India.
Most Indian communities have what we call a ”son preference”, and this is something that is widespread throughout the country. Cultural beliefs have made people to submit to the notion that having sons is one way of guaranteed financial security. Therefore, it’s clear that these culture work to devalue the role of women in these societies. They strive to achieve equality with men, making gender equality in India an issue !!
In an effort to restore sanity to women, several NGOs have moved in to campaign on their behalf. They have built small networks among women geared towards giving them economic stability. They also come up with ideas such as micro-finance to give women an opportunity to occupy leadership positions. Other NGOs in the area come with an aim to help women explore their talents and skills which could see them generate income. What these NGOs are doing is to organize change at a local level and also plan participatory action to eliminate stereotypes and generate awareness of what a woman can do.