There has been a realisation lately that it is impossible to actualise sustainable development in our societies without equality between men and women. Consequently, there has been a surge of conversations on gender equity.
One need not look further than the pandemic for evidence on the correlation between gender and social-economic equity. Women were disproportionately affected by socio-economic consequences when COVID-19 hit.
The gender gap in employment and uncompensated labour has widened, a veritable shadow pandemic unravelling the progress we made towards gender equality in the last few decades.
A report by the UN on the pandemic revealed that – in addition to loss of employment – there has been a rise in domestic abuse as women and girls shelter with their abusers. Since women largely engage in informal work, the fragmentation of local economies has reinforced other disadvantages like lack of information, mobility, decision-making power, and access to training and resources.
Gender Mainstreaming: Without a focus on gender equality, an equal and sustainable future remains unachievable.
Women and girls play a central role in addressing, mitigating, and solving social and economic problems in their communities. They are more likely to include communal and familial priorities in decision-making processes, allowing for more effective and holistic development. In our increasingly volatile world, the inclusion of both genders in decision-making is critical to lasting and sustainable socio-economic change.
In India, the notion of gender equality is composed of complex issues like attaining equality of opportunity, the re-imagination of gender roles, and the elimination of crimes against women. Our societal norms direct women towards the role of caregivers and workers in the informal economy. Progress is inhibited by the cultural norm of early marriage and home-based roles. Several innovative organisations have been working towards promoting gender equality through economic and social action. Some organisations are dedicated towards ensuring food security and access to productive resources for women. Others work in promoting social mobility through education and business initiatives.
Nowhere in history has there been more momentum towards gender equity. Nowhere in history has the challenges been greater. While regulatory efforts, gender budgets, and grass roots efforts are beginning to transform our nation, this change is subject to the responses of families to the workings of markets and institutions, both formal and informal. Altering these responses is another challenge. Even as we champion societal transformation, we cannot forget that change can be personal, based on our own motivations, desires, and traditions. Little wins and important conversations in our own lives can help inspire hundreds of others into adopting the values of equality and respect.
While there is more being done to attain gender equity in the political and public sphere, let us hope this Women’s Day that we will celebrate the contribution of women and girls across the world towards a more sustainable and equitable future for everyone.