One unique policy experiment in village-level governance that mandated one-third representation for women in positions of local leadership has shown promising results. Evaluations of this affirmative action policy have found that in villages led by women, the preferences of female residents are better represented, and women are more confident in reporting crimes that earlier they may have considered too stigmatising to bring to attention.
Essay Gender Discrimination in India
Female leaders also serve as role models and raise educational and career aspirations for adolescent girls and their parents. Behavioural studies find that while in the short run there is backlash by men as traditional gender roles are being challenged, the negative stereotype eventually disappears. This underscores the importance of sustained affirmative action as a way to reduce gender bias.
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Another policy change aimed at equalising land inheritance rights between sons and daughters has been met with a more mixed response. While on the one hand, it led to an increase in educational attainment and age at marriage for daughters, on the other hand, it increased spousal conflict leading to more domestic violence.
Improvements in labour market prospects also have the potential to empower women. An influential randomisation study found that job recruiter visits to villages to provide information to young women led to positive effects on their labour market participation and enrolment in professional training. When the census figures for the year were released one of the most shocking revelations was that the number of females for every males is This is a result of female foeticide and female infanticide.
Female foeticide is a result of pre-natural sex determination followed by selective female fetus abortion. Sometimes female infanticide takes place when the newly born girl is a child.
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Gender bias is so deeply ingrained in the Indian system that the discrimination between a girl and a boy begins right from the time a couple plans a baby. In most Indian families, the birth of a baby boy is considered a blessing and that it warrants a grand celebration.
In contrast to this, the birth of a girl child is considered a burden and is thus, unwelcomed. Daughters are considered a liability right from the time of their birth and treated as inferior to sons.
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The resources provided to a son for his growth and developments are of greater magnitude as compared to those provided to a daughter. The moment a girl child is born, parents start thinking of the huge amount of dowry that they have to pay at the time of her marriage.
Difficult Dialogues: A compendium of contemporary essays on gender inequality in India
On the other hand, a son is believed to carry forward the legacy of the family. Though awareness about gender bias in India is growing, it will take a long time for this awareness to transform into a social change.
It is therefore difficult to measure". In practice, the attention tends to get focused on the more visible and manageable and measurable manifestations of gender-inequality. According to Ratna Sudarshan, these include gender differentials in health, education an employment, either used on their own as indicators of gender bias, or in combination, as in the indices popularized through the UNDP human Development Report of , the gender-related development index GDI and the gender empowerment measure GEM.
However, these indicators are not the only measures of discrimination. Domestic violence, stress and cultural practices of seclusion are all recognized as having a basis in unequal gender relations and a gender differentiated impact on development outcomes. The chapter pertaining to NGO strategies, for example, focuses on NGO strategies for operationalizing change that is appropriate to the Indian context.