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Gender Discrimination in India

Gender equality is not a women's issue; it’s a human issue. It affects us all equally.

Modern India is the land of Indira Gandhi and Mother Theresa and of female infanticide and dowry deaths. According to the data in the United Nations Development Programme’s latest Human Development Report (HDR) 2015, India ranks 130 out of 155 countries in the Gender Inequality Index (GII) for 2014, way behind Bangladesh and Pakistan that rank 111 and 121 respectively. Many developing countries including India have displayed gender inequality in education, employment, and health. India has witnessed gender inequality from its early history due to its social, economic and religious practices, resulting in a wide gap between the position of men and women in the society. The patriarchal society of India hails the birth of a male child. In India skewed child sex ratios are alarming; the number of girls under six years old has fallen for the past 50 years and there are now 919 girls to every 1,000 boys (976 to 1,000 in 1961), according the 2011 census. High levels of gender discrimination are seen against women in the provisions of health care, nutrition, and education, in Northern and Western India. Girls are more likely to be malnourished than boys, and the discrimination against girls in nutrition, preventive and curative health care have made an impact on morbidity and mortality. Improved quality and access to education would bring about a welcomed change in the society’s attitude toward opening better venues for women. Easier access to improved healthcare for women and children, and increased representation of women in governing and parliamentarian bodies in the country’s democratic system can bring about a positive change in the outlook of women in the Indian society. Frederika Meijer, UNFPA Representative for India and Bhutan says, “Laws and their implementation are the backbone of social change. They hold the potential to change mind sets and stem generations of gender discrimination." The government has taken some well-meaning, if controversial, steps to advance the positions of women, such as the recent decision to develop an all-women's bank. But to really overcome gender inequality, India will require changes to its society that are more than cosmetic. "In most parts of the world when a girl is born her wings are clipped. She is not able to fly.” - Malala Yousafzai