Much needs to be done for women

The International Women’s Day, which is celebrated every year on 8 March, is not about rhetorical slogans, Archie cards, discount sales or motivational quotes but an occasion to reflect on their current status in society and the issues that impede their growth and genuine empowerment. In the Indian context, women’s empowerment – economic, social, political and cultural – is still a work in progress. There is a need to close the gender gap across all these spheres. Catchy slogans like ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ may have helped in promoting public awareness about girl child education but the ground realities pertaining to women’s education, safety, security and equal opportunities at workplaces are far from encouraging. The atrocities against women are on the rise while the conviction rate continues to be poor. The situation in Arunachal Pradesh is a bit better, but still much is needed to be done to improve the condition of the state’s womenfolk.

At 21 percent, India has one of the lowest female participation rates in the workforces across the world. It is less than half the global average. No matter which cluster of countries one compares with – high income or low, highly indebted or least developed – India comes off worse. The dismally low labour force participation rate can be attributed, at least partially, to the restrictive cultural norms regarding women’s work, the gender wage gap and the lack of safety policies and flexible work offerings. The labour force participation rate, which includes those who are employed as well as those who are as yet unemployed but seeking work, is one of the important indicators that reflects the economy’s active workforce.