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HT EDIT -The quest for gender parity at the workplace Structural discrimination has held women back. India must address it

December 23, 2019 05:18 AM


The quest for gender parity at the workplace
Structural discrimination has held women back. India must address it
Equality at the workplace is a distant dream for women, with a World Economic Forum (WEF) report saying that the gap will be closed only by 2276, a good two centuries from now. While demands for equality at the workplace have become more vocal, the gap is growing despite women doing well in politics, health and education.

While the Nordic countries have been successful in closing the gap faster, India’s rank has slipped from 108th to 112th over the last year. Women’s participation in the workforce is 28% in India. Many things keep Indian women out of the workplace, from patriarchy, safety, stereotypes, and the difficulty in gaining a foothold in male-dominated jobs. They are not given equal opportunities in education; they are often the primary caregivers for children and the elderly; they have far less mobility than men; and there is a serious issue of safety in public places.

India must address this. This will require a comprehensive approach, and include measures such as eliminating discrimination at the workplace; making hours more flexible; pushing the private sector to create a level-playing field in the workplace; and making it easier for women to access finances for self-employment. While gender equality is accepted in principle, there is a long way to go in translating it into practice. The alarming figures on parity at workplace must serve as a wake-up call that the issue of equality needs a far more concerted push.

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