Gender equality today, for a sustainable tomorrow- that’s was the theme of International Women’s Day 2022… attempting to recognise the contribution of women and girls around the world, who are leading the charge to build a sustainable future for all…8th of March, as you all know is dedicated to celebrate the cultural, political and socio-economic achievements of women across the world. But do you also know that Women’s Day is also an occasion marking a call to a gender equal world – free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination and one that is diverse, equitable and inclusive. While achieving that is a long way ahead for the world community, what’s significant is that in the process women have shattered barriers, broken glass ceilings and with their grit written stories of their empowerment in diverse fields.
Benefits of Economic Empowerment:
Women’s economic empowerment is central to realizing women’s rights and gender equality.
- Women’s economic empowerment includes women’s ability to participate equally in existing markets;
- Their access to and control over productive resources, access to decent work, control over their own time, lives and bodies; and
- Increased voice, agency and meaningful participation in economic decision-making at all levelsfrom the household to international institutions.
Empowering women in the economy and closing gender gaps in the world of work are key to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
- Particularly Goal 5, to achieve gender equality, and Goal 8, to promote full and productive employment and decent work for all; also Goal 1on ending poverty, Goal 2 on food security, Goal 3 on ensuring health and Goal 10 on reducing inequalities.
- When more women work, economies grow. Women’s economic empowerment boosts productivity, increases economic diversificationand income equality in addition to other positive development outcomes.
- For example, increasing the female employment rates in OECD countries to match that of Sweden, could boost GDP by over USD 6 trillion, recognizing, however, that growth does not automatically lead to a reduction in gender-based inequality.
Issues of unpaid work
- Balancing paid and unpaid work obligations is taxing on women. Reports of increased stress levels are not uncommon.
- In fact, women report higher levels of symptoms related to depression and anxiety, including low life satisfaction and subjective well-being.
- As women increase their paid work time, they do not achieve a corresponding reduction in their unpaid work hours. Nor have men increased their share of unpaid work at the same rate that women have increased their share of paid work.
- The Human Development Report of 2015 reports that, in 63 countries, 31 percent of women’s time is spent doing unpaid work, as compared to men who dedicate only 10 percent of their time to unpaid work.
- The double-burden is intensified when women are subjected to poverty and live in communities that lack basic infrastructure.
- In areas that lack easy access to food and water, household duties are even more time consuming.
Need for more representation of women
- Women legislators in India raise economic performance in their constituencies by about 1.8 percentage points per year more than male legislators.
- When average growth is 7%, this implies that the growth premium associated with female legislators is about 25%.
- Lower Criminalization of Politics:Male legislators are about three times as likely as female legislators to have criminal charges pending against them when they stand for election. This explains the growth difference mentioned above.
- Policy Making– Better representation of women’s and children’s concerns in policymaking. Eg: Panchayat Raj institutions serve as a good example in this front.
- Lower Corruption: The rate at which women accumulate assets while in office is 10 percentage points lower, per year than among men. These findings line up with experimental evidence that women are more just, risk-averse and less likely to engage in criminal and other risky behaviour than men.
- Economic growth: It was found that male and female politicians are equally likely to negotiate federal projects for road building in their constituencies. However, women are more likely to oversee completionof these projects.
- Eg: The share of incomplete road projects is 22 percentage points lower in female-led constituencies.
- From a feminist viewpoint politics needs to follow a road that moves women out of the traditional social and political marginalization.
- Despite so many favorable points for women, women make up 14% of the Lok Sabha and 11% of the Rajya Sabha.
- Existing patriarchal norms pose a significant constraint to the take-up of public or market services.
- Addressing the issue of childcare and flexible work could help initiate positive social norms that encourage the redistribution of unpaid care and domestic work burden.
- A huge spectrum of women’s skilled but unpaid work contributes directly to the economy. Yet, its devaluation by not being accounted for ‘work’ weakens women’s status, leading to their vulnerability.
- Sharing the responsibilities of childcare can be difficult in a culture where parental leave is given only to the mother.
- This further reinforces the notion that unpaid care work is the sole responsibility of the women.
- The government has a crucial role to play in promoting gender equality by ensuring equality of opportunity in public services.
- However, these solutions will have a limited impact unless the behavioural change of each and every individual is targeted.