Women’s Equality Remains Just A Dream Until Only ‘Sir’ Can Take All Important Decisions…

Women's equality is given by law, but gender inequality exists across sectors, regimes, companies, cultures, countries, and of course at our homes.

Women’s equality is given by law, but gender inequality exists across sectors, regimes, companies, cultures, countries, and of course at our homes.

Today, 26th August, is Women’s Equality Day in the US. But why not look at it from the global perspective, too?

“Is sir not at home?”

We shifted our house during Jan 2020 to a gated community where every month meetings are conducted generally to discuss the income and expenditure of the apartment association and nowadays also for creating COVID-19 awareness.

One day our apartment watchman rang my doorbell and when I opened the door, he simply asked, “Is sir not at home?”

In turn I asked what the matter was. He showed me some sheets displaying the statement of accounts of the association that needs to be signed by all the owners and tenants. I told him that I would sign after verification yet he was not convinced and was still looking for the “sir”. But he could not talk more (because of face mask) therefore on second thought, he handed over the papers to me.

I was able to understand his hesitation when I saw the signatures. Every single signature belonged to the particular family’s male member.

Do we support gender equality?

Only ‘gents’ hold the president, the secretary and the treasurer posts of the association, even though they often show their disinterest for holding such posts apart from doing their regular office work.

It made me think – why can’t they have their wives/ other women at home hold these posts instead, or even do the work on their behalf if they must hold these posts? Why can’t a woman or a group of women analyze the income and expenditure of an apartment association?

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Unfortunately, in my apartment, women don’t even contest in the association elections. We women might think that our right and responsibility gets fulfilled by mere casting of votes at the elections (whether its association or Lok Sabha elections). In that case, we are unknowingly supporting gender inequality.

Gender equality means that men and women have equal power and equal opportunities for financial independence, education, and personal development. But despite being given this ‘equality’ by law, gender inequality exists across sectors, regimes, companies, cultures and countries and of course at our homes; the inequalities faced by girls can begin right at birth and follow them all their lives.

The road less travelled by women – our Parliament

Our Parliament should be having 33% reservation for women according to this Bill that is still pending. Our finance minister is a woman, whose job includes explaining the income and expenditure for the whole nation in the budget session.

In India, the Ministry of Women and Child development (MWCD) is the primary agency for strategic coordination and effective implementation of Gender Responsive Budgeting (GBR). The funds allocated to GRB are still confined to 5% of public expenditure and shrink to less than 1% of GDP.

Haryana government has recently announced 50% reservation for women in panchayat polls as almost 20 states of india have already implemented this 50% reservation.

However, there are enough statistics in India to show that, on one hand, women are turning out in large numbers to vote and, on the other; they haven’t been able to find equal representation in Parliament or assemblies. And that translates to government being unable, and often unwilling, to take the needs and concerns of women into account when drafting and implementing policy. Socio, economic and political conditions are interlinked and the prevalent culture in political space is a reflection of how we treat our women in society.

Whether it is a democratic, federal or presidential form of government apart from strengthening and enhancing the system, the engagement of more women in political decision-making will have many positive effects on society that can help improve the lives of women and men. Though on daily basis we are inspired by lot of women who achieve in different fields, the participation of women in politics is very low and shockingly, it has been almost 100 years since women in the United States gained the right to vote but the US still is yet to have a woman elected as president.

Women’s equality in corporates?

Women have made tremendous strides during the last few decades by moving into jobs and occupations previously done almost exclusively by men, yet only handful of women occupy the highest or topmost positions in the companies.

The corporate world often assumes that women in an office are probably in supportive roles rather than executive positions.

In 2019, women only held 28 % of managerial positions worldwide. World Health Organization (WHO) data estimates that while women comprise 70 percent of the global health workforce, they hold only 25 percent of leadership positions. This is due to numerous factors including lack of support from organizations and families, domestic responsibilities, and prevailing cultural attributes regarding the roles of women in society. Gender inequality and unequal pay co exist in corporate culture. Equal pay is the legal right for men and women to be paid equally for the same work.

Samira Ahmed, journalist at BBC has recently reached a settlement with the BBC after winning her employment tribunal over equal pay. Jeremy Vine, broadcaster and journalist was paid more than six times what Samira Ahmed was paid for doing the same work as her. Corporates need to create a work environment through better HR policy and frame work that is not only diverse, but also inclusive, an integral part of reducing the gender gap and unequal pay.

Women’s equality begins at home

Gender equality, though not a fundamental right is a human right.

Globally, no country has fully attained gender equality. Women will not be allowed to control our own lives until we are in a position to demand it and that doesn’t start from the top. It should start from the bottom, right from our homes and would be strengthened through education systems in schools and institutions.

Women’s equality day is equally important as international women’s day as women’s empowerment is a critical aspect of achieving gender equality.

Image source: a still from the film Aamhi Doghi

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Rajashree Prakash

Find the beauty in the broken pieces of yourself and there, you shall discover a masterpiece read more...

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