Patriarchy working against India's gender equality: global meet

Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 12: The age-old menace of caste system and patriarchy-based values is hindering India’s prospects of treating women on par with its men, global meet noted today.

No nation can progress as long as its women are deprived of financial benefits pointed out the International Conference on Gender Equality-2015, that began in this city. The conference is being organised by the Gender Park in partnership with UN Women.

Britain-based scholar Naila Kabeer highlighted the importance of self-employment which eventually leads to economic empowerment. “Women becoming self-employed and independent are important for economic empowerment. Such an orientation gives them education empowerment,” added the keynote speaker who works at Gender Institute under the London School of Economics.

At the opening session on ‘Economic Growth, Human Development and Grassroots Citizenship: A Gender Perspective’, she also pointed out that Bangladesh ranks first among South Asian countries in maintaining gender equality, having consecutively pushed Sri Lanka, Nepal, India and Pakistan.

“About 75 per cent of Bangladesh villages have microfinance organizations in which females are associated in a big way,” Prof Kabeer reasoned. “This eventually creates a huge difference in economic empowerment. India, on the other hand, continues to be plagued by its male-dominated society built on strong caste biases,” she added.

Even so, Bangladesh is fighting its set of economic inadequacies and skewed social profile. “Girls outnumber boys in Bangladesh’s schools, but that is only at the primary and secondary level,” the speaker noted. “Education across gender is a major factor in bringing about equality. It has to happen in higher classes and studies.”

Here, Prof Kabeer made a comparison of three nations: Ghana, Egypt and Bangladesh. “Ghana has church unions in which females are active participants. Similarly, the autonomous women union in Egypt and microfinance units in Bangladesh have created a great difference in the perspective of these nations on gender equality,” she said.

However, the speaker also applauded the Kerala’s socio-economic initiative such as Kudumbasree and its vitality in bridging the gender gap. The inaugural session of the three-day event highlighted the importance of the 1998-launched female-oriented and community-based project that aims at poverty reduction in Kerala, where women are being encouraged to become entrepreneurs through a wide range of development plans.

She also noted that Gender Park will bring economic empowerment to all gender identities in Kerala, India and the world.

The session was chaired by Prof Mridul Eapen, who is a former member of Kerala Planning Board.

The session culminated with a question-answer session where delegates raised queries and got clarified on their point of view on the topic.


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