The recent reports provided by the ‘World Bank’ confirms that the wide gap that has existed between the two sexes is now costing many countries. The report reveals that women account for only 38% of their country’s human capital wealth, while the men account for 62%. Thus, if this gap was closed the world together would generate $160 trillion human capital.
In India, women make 48% of India’s population, but out of them only one fourth are working. The reason for their limited participation in the economy of the country are-deprivation of education, the responsibility of the household and low opportunities in the working sector. The study conducted by Booz says that if the country were equally employed the GDP would go up 27 percent.
The major problems faced by women are the normative structures that bind their households to limit them to the kitchens at the job of feeding the males in the house. They are unable to attain education or step outside for any jobs. In cases when women are able to reach the initial steps of education, their degrees are never put to use as they are again made to cater to the needs of their husbands and kids. Amid such traditional societal boundaries, the work done by women is not seen as a part of the human capital.
Woman have been considered inferior to men for centuries. Therefore, when women set out to work they are encountered with unequal pay. The women working at the same level as a man is paid less than him, simply because she is a woman. The examples of unequal pay exist across the various jobs and industries varying from sports to movies, each practices sexism. The laws passed in certain countries have made sure that the equal pay exists for both men and women, but many countries such as India have no concrete law to ensure the same.
Across the world, women have put forth experiences at the work place where they have been demeaned by their male colleagues who outnumber them. Women have still made their mark in all fields despite the barriers that have tried to restrict them. A very appropriate example could be of the ‘Grand Slam’ tournament that are played at the International level in lawn tennis. While the struggle started back in 1973 by Billie Jean King, to attain equal pay when women were rewarded less (that too 40% less prize money than men) it was only in 2007 that finally all the slams offered equal pay to women and men. These statistics are clearly hinting towards struggles that women have to face even in the 21st century after they have established themselves as efficient and skilful professionals.
The world has undergone a revamp but sadly the status of women has only moved as much from worse to bad. A woman is as powerful, strong, intelligent and ‘capable’ as a man. Feminists have never regarded women as the superior gender but only that they are equal to men. If a society cannot accept women as the same as men, they shall continue to suffer, this time as Mr. Jim Kim, President at the World Bank suggests, this inequality will cost them!
Various studies, as well as our experience, have shown that when we work towards women empowerment, the whole society benefits. But unfortunately in India, far from being empowered, most women are denied even their basic rights like health, education, employment and a respectable status in society.
Smile Foundation’s Program – Swabhiman, meaning self-respect in English, was initiated in 2005 to address these challenges through a simple yet effective approach. The programme is specifically aimed at realization of both individual and collective self-esteem and inner strength for marginalised and socially excluded women and adolescent girls through innovative community practices.
Visit https://www.smilefoundationindia.org/swabhiman.html to know more about Swabhiman.