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A Critical Analysis of Gender Inequality in India

Das, Koushik (March, 2024). A Critical Analysis of Gender Inequality in India. INSIGHTS INTO INDIA’S FINANCIAL LANDSCAPE AND SOCIO-ECONOMIC DYNAMICS, ISBN: 978-81-964979-2-7, Vol-1, 140-146.


A Critical Analysis of Gender Inequality in India


Abstract :

For decades, gender inequality has been a significant social issue in India. This study examines how gender inequality affects socioeconomic classes, religious beliefs, and geographical areas, impeding the development of Indian society and the economy and the quality of life for Indian citizens. Gender issues and concerns have garnered the attention of policy makers in India since the country’s independence. Overall, the study highlights the inequality that exists throughout society and the difficulty that policymakers face in establishing proper equality throughout the social field. The researchers have tried to suggest some relevant strategies and policies for reducing gender inequality and advancing Indian women’s right to a dignified position.


Keywords :

Gender Inequality, Discrimination, Social Attitude, Social and Cultural Issue.


Introduction :

Gender inequality is deeply entrenched in Indian society and largely reflects in socio-economic development. We have seen that many developed countries have put a lot of attention on the concept of gender inequality in recent years. Talking about gender issues involves talking about both men and women, although women who suffer from gender inequality. Gender inequality is the most pervasive issue pertaining to gender in India. To have policy relevance, however, an index of gender inequality in India must be published. This will help draw the government’s attention to gender inequality and the policies needed to reduce it. Gender inequality was a hot topic of discussion, and policymakers felt that since women could make a good contribution to gender equality and equity, it would boost all efforts to eliminate poverty.


Definition and Concept of Gender Inequality :

“Gender” is the broad set of characteristics that are used to distinguish between male and females. “Gender” the term basically refers to the social roles and characteristics that are assigned to men and women according to their biological differences.

Gender inequality, In a simple word, is the discrimination against women based on their sex. In society, women have always been known as the weaker sex. Women are given a subordinate position to men. They are always humiliated, exploited, violated and discriminated-both within and outside of our homes. Such prejudice against women is pervasive in Indian society as well as the rest of the world.


History of Gender Inequality :

In India, the root cause of gender inequality lies in its patriarchal society. According to famous sociologist Sylvia Walby, patriarchy is a set of societal norms and behaviours in which men subjugate, oppress, and take advantage of women. Whether we follow Islam, Hinduism, or any other religion, our religious beliefs validate and legitimise this patriarchal society.

Hindu lawgiver Manu states that. women are to be under the custody of their father when they are children, their husband when they are married, and their son when they are elderly or widows. She shouldn’t be permitted to make independent statements about herself under any circumstances.

In the period of Vedas and Upanishad, Indian women’s status was very high, and they were referred to as “Mata” (mother) and “Devi” (goddess). Then, the practice of polygamy worsened women’s status, and during the Middle Ages, the purdah system, dowry system, and sati system came to being. And with the passage of time, the status of women was lowered. 

With the advancement of science and technology, female foeticide is being practised on a very large scale. The ratio of women has decreased, the 2001 census indicates that there are 927 females for every 1,000 males in India. Subsequently, dowry became widespread, and in certain places, female infanticide began. Despite their numerous contributions to our society and economy, women are viewed as an economic burden in many parts of India. The graph of increase in crime against women is concerning. The present condition of an Indian widow is very pitiable. The housewife role that women play in the household is undervalued. These days, it’s normal to witness incidents of forced prostitution, sexual harassment at work, rape, molestation, sexual exploitation, eve-teasing, and domestic abuse.


Objectives of the study :

  1. To identify the causes which are responsible for gender inequality ?
  2. To give some suggestions to reduce gender inequality.


Types of Gender Inequality :

According to Professor Amartya Sen there are currently seven different kinds of gender inequality in India. Which is presented by a diagram in below- 

  • Mortality Inequality :

This is a situation when gender inequality directly affects concerns of life and death. It manifests brutally in the form of excessively high death rates for women and the ensuing male preponderance in the general population compared to the female predominance in society. In terms of diet and health care, gender bias is little or nonexistent.

  • Natality Inequality :

In this kind of discrimination, boys are given preference over girls. This is prevalent in many male dominated societies where parents want their newborn to be a boy instead of a girl. Sex-selective abortions have grown widespread in India due to the availability of contemporary technology that can identify the sex of the foetus.

  • Employment Inequality :

When it comes to job and career advancement, women frequently face more obstacles than men. The fact that men are given preference over women when it comes to greater career possibilities and pay scales.

  • Ownership Inequality :

In many societies, property ownership can also be highly unequal. In most of India, men have traditionally had more rights over their property. The lack of property claims not only reduces women’s voice, it also makes it difficult for women to enter and thrive in commercial, economic and even some social activities.

  • Special Opportunity Inequality :

Young women may have far less access to higher education than young men, even in the case of slight variations in basic amenities like schooling. In fact, gender bias can be observed in vocational and higher education programs in India.

  • Basic Facility Inequality :

There are numerous ways that women can get into less-than-square situations, even in cases when the demographic characteristics indicate little to no anti-female bias.

  • Household inequality :

There are, often enough, basic inequalities in gender relations within the family or the household, which can take many different forms. Even in cases in which there are no overt signs of anti-female bias in, say, survival or son-preference or education, or even in promotion to higher executive positions, the family arrangements can be quite unequal in terms of sharing the burden of housework and child care.


Gender Inequality in India :

India is ranked lower than Pakistan (123) on the Gender Inequality Index, at number 132 out of 187 nations, according to the United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Report (2016). According to the survey, all South Asian nations—aside from Afghanistan—rank higher than India for women, with Sri Lanka (75) coming in first. Bangladesh is 111th, and Nepal is 102nd. In addition to denying women access to fundamental socio-economic possibilities, gender inequality gravely harms the prospects for future generations. This makes it especially terrible. Indian households tragically frequently commit female infanticide and frequently prefer males to girls. In 2011, women in India over the age of 15 made up only 29% of the labour force, while men made up 80.7%.

In addition to denying women access to fundamental socio-economic possibilities, gender inequality gravely harms the prospects for future generations. This makes it especially terrible. Indian households tragically frequently commit female infanticide and frequently prefer males to girls. In 2011, women in India who were over 15 made up only 29% of the labour force, while men made up 80.7%. In the Parliament, the proportion of female lawmakers is 10.9%, while in Pakistan it is 21.1%. The labour force of the United States, which comes in at number 42 on the list, is made up of 70.1% males and 57.5% women. China did better, coming in at number 35. In India, there are 200 deaths for every 100,000 births, according to the survey. The figure was significantly lower in China (37 deaths).


Causes Behind Gender Inequality in India :

Equal rights and opportunities for men and women are stipulated in the Indian Constitution, along with equal provision for improving the status of women in society. The majority of women still do not have access to the opportunities and rights that are promised to them.

Gender inequality in modern society can be attributed to a number of issues, including advanced science and technology, low levels of literacy, more family duties, lack of awareness, lack of supervision, low mobility, lack of confidence, and discouragement from family members. This article discusses the main causes that contribute to gender inequality, including poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, societal norms, beliefs, and anti-feminist attitudes.


  • Poverty :

70 percent of the 30 percent of Indians who live below the poverty line are women. In India, women’s poverty is closely linked to several factors, such as a lack of economic autonomy and opportunity, restricted access to financial resources including loans, land ownership, and inheritance, a lack of support services and education, and a low level of involvement in decision-making. Therefore, poverty is the primary source of gender inequality in our patriarchal culture, and the dependence on males for economic support is a contributing factor to gender inequality.

  • Illiteracy :

Educational backwardness is one of the important factors contributing to gender inequality. In 2001, the difference in literacy rates between men and women became more apparent. The percentage of male literacy rate from 56% in 1981 to almost 76% in 2001, a comprehending change in the percentage of literate women from 30% to 54%. Less striking was the reduction in the total gender difference, which peaked in 1981 at 26.6% and in 2001 at 21.7%. Male literacy rates varied far less between states than female literacy rates. State-level female literacy rates range from 35% in Bihar to 88% in Kerala; states with female literacy rates below 50% include Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir, and Rajasthan. Gender differences in education remain at the primary, upper primary, and secondary levels, and progress towards educating girls is extremely slow. Their inability to fully embrace their uniqueness and potential in every aspect of life stems only from their lack of literacy.

  • Lack of Employment Facilities :

The old domestic roles and the modern economy are at odds, and women are unable to reconcile them. The majority of unpaid domestic labour in India is performed by women, both in rural and urban areas. Women’s limited mobility as a result of internal responsibility allocation prevents them from taking advantage of new chances and changing careers. As a result, women’s economic dependence on males contributes to gender inequity and prevents them from achieving economic independence.

  • Social Attitude :

Attitude inequality still plagues our rural masses, despite the efforts of several social workers and reformers to fight for the honour and dignity of women in society, despite overwhelming difficulties. Women in our culture continue to be victims of social violence, exploitation, prejudice, and illiteracy despite evident social and technological advancements. One of the main causes of gender inequality is undoubtedly the social stigma that women should be housewives and restricted to their homes. Their family’s reputation would suffer if they spoke out about their situation. In a patriarchal society, men are highly valued.

  • Lack of Awareness of Women :

The majority of women are ignorant of their fundamental rights and skills. They don’t even realise how socioeconomic and political forces affect them. Their ignorance and unconsciousness lead them to adopt many forms of discriminatory practices that continue to exist in our family and society.

  • Social Customs, Beliefs and Practices :

Social norms, beliefs, and practices still affect Indian women. The traditional patriarchal joint family structure in India restricts women’s function to the home and gives them less authority, power, and status than men. Women are viewed as secondary caregivers who tend to the home’s hearth, while males are seen as the primary defenders and providers. A complicated phenomena that is still prevalent in many areas is the preference for sons and disinterest in daughters. Sons are viewed as ritual, political, and financial assets while daughters are viewed as liabilities, particularly in the business community. Gender inequality in our culture is primarily caused by social bias against women.


Suggestion : (how we can reduce gender inequality)

All problems have solutions, thus in order to lessen gender inequality in India, we should provide girls with a top-notch education and boost women’s empowerment. In order to facilitate their social integration into Indian society, we should also provide them with opportunities to participate in active political and social life. In that instance, governmental laws and initiatives aimed at curbing sex identity and abortion ought to be implemented. NGOs are essential to the fight against gender inequality.

Legislation, forms of discrimination, and inequality may be endless, but true change can only occur when men begin to view women as equals rather than as inferior or weak members of their species. In actuality, both men and women must adopt a new perspective since, as a result of cultural conditioning, they have joined the exploitative patriarchy and play a key role in advancing the goal of men dominating women.

Therefore, for women to be empowered, they must be able to support themselves financially, overcome their own fears, and venture out into the world boldly. They must also be able to take back their rights from males without having to ask for them. Where women are well-educated, have successful careers, own property, and, most importantly, are free to choose and make their own decisions free from the constraints.

Let us hope and pray that in the future, our participatory democracy will be able to address the issue of gender inequality in both thought and action, bringing us all closer to the much-desired goal of a genuinely contemporary society. This will require the efforts of both men and women.


Conclusion :

All the above aspects can be analysed, we can say that, a number of issues, including the country’s economy, social attitudes, illiteracy, and lack of knowledge of women, may contribute to gender inequality in India and that the country needs to take the necessary action to minimise it. The moment has come to reconsider the concept and strategies used to promote women’s rights and dignity. Today’s trends show that girls are able not only break out of the culturally determined patterns of work but also to offer advice about career possibilities that look beyond the traditional list of jobs. In terms of female empowerment, India now comes in at number 86 out of 175 nations. It gauges the Inequality between men and women’s fundamental talents. It is astonishing that women still experience stress and anxiety in this day and age, in spite of all the rules. Men and women are like two wings of a bird, the life of one without the other is incomplete.  Encouraging individuals to adopt new perspectives is the only surefire way to reduce gender Inequality.


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