There is progress, but gender parity is still far off
Drop-out, violence, rape and patriarchal notions continue to affect womenUpdated: Mar 05, 2020, 17:21 IST
The gains made by women and girls in the 25 years since the historic Beijing conference on women’s rights are impressive. But equally worrying are the huge impediments they still face across the world. A New era for girls: Taking stock on 25 years of progress, a report brought out by Unicef, Plan International and United Nations Women, shows that the promises made by governments to eliminate harmful practices against women at that time have only been realised in part. More girls are going to school than before, and while this should translate into greater empowerment, many still face an unequal and violent environment. One in every 20 girls in the age group of 15-20 has experienced rape, both within and outside marriage. Women are also disproportionately the victims of trafficking.
In India, the rate of drop-outs for girls in schools has gone down from 20% in 2008 to 13.5% in 2018, but this does not automatically translate into economic and social empowerment. Many are married by the time they finish school, perpetuating the dependency syndrome, and leaving them vulnerable to violence from their partners. The female workforce participation has been declining from 36.9% in 2008 to 26.7% in 2019. While the focus of government schemes is largely on the girl child and women, adolescents tend to fall through the cracks. Early marriage, discriminatory practices within the family, and lack of access to reproductive health have a profound effect on their well-being. The government must aggressively focus on policies for adolescents, especially when it comes to gender-based violence.