The “information society” is among the most discussed phenomena in recent times. New information and communication technologies (ICTs), especially the Internet, have been seen as ushering in a new age. It is also true that the information age is not all rosy – the benefits of this new age have not touched all of humanity, and all its outcomes are not necessarily positive.
It has become widely understood that promoting gender equality is an essential component of an effective economic and human development strategy. “There is now a shared understanding within the development community that development policies and actions that fail to take gender inequality into account and fail to address disparities between males and females will have limited effectiveness and serious cost implications (World Bank 2003). Gender equality refers to the view that men and women should receive equal treatment and should not be discriminated against based on gender unless there is a sound biological reason for different treatment (Universal Declaration of Human Rights).
Gender equality is, first and foremost, a human right.
FORMS OF GENDER INEQUALITY
Gender inequality refers to health, education, economic and political inequalities between men and women in India. Gender inequalities, and its social causes, impact India’s sex ratio, women’s health over their lifetime, their educational attainment, and economic conditions. Gender inequality in India is a multifaceted issue that concerns men and women alike. Some argue that some gender equality measures, place men at a disadvantage. However, when India’s population is examined as a whole, women are at a disadvantage in several important ways. (Wikipedia, 2014)
A. Economic Inequalities
· Labor participation and wages: Over 50% of Indian labor is employed in agriculture and wage inequality is prevalent between men and women in our country, which is also referred to as “gender gap in earnings. The largest wage gap was in manual ploughing operations in 2009, where men were paid 103 per day, while women were paid Rs. 55, a wage gap ratio of 1.87.
· Access to credit: Government has made many laws that are supportive of lending to women and microcredit programs targeted to women are prolific, women often get difficulty in getting loan due to low level of property ownership.
B. Education inequalities
· Schooling: In the present scenario, there are very few places where women are denied a formal right to education. However, as is already established, formal equality is inadequate to ensure and guarantee equality of rights between men and women.
· Literacy: In India, literacy rate of female has always been lower than male literacy rate. If we look at the census 2011, we find the literacy rate of females is 65.46% as compared to males (82.14%). Compared to boys, far fewer girls are enrolled in the schools, and many of them drop out. Although this gap has been reduced significantly, problems still remain in the quality of education for girls where boys in the same family will be sent to higher quality private schools and girls sent to the government schools in the village (Wikipedia, 2014).
C. Occupational inequalities:
· There are few sectors where women are being denied of getting equal opportunity. In the military services, women are being neglected in some aspects. In the armed forces permanent commission could not be granted to female officers since they have neither been trained for command nor have they been given the responsibility so far. As far as property rights of women are concerned, women have equal rights under the law to own property and receive equal inheritance rights, but in practice, women are at a disadvantage
D. Health and survival inequalities:
· On health and survival measures, International standards consider the birth sex ratio implied sex-selective abortion, and gender inequality between life expectancy of women and relative number of years that women live compared to men in good health by taking into account the years lost to violence, disease, malnutrition or other relevant factors. On the other hand, mental health has been reported as an important factor influencing an individual behavior. (Mishra et al., 2014).
E. Political inequalities:
· This measure of gender inequality considers the gap between men and women in political decision making at the highest levels. India passed 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments in 1993, which provides for 33 per cent quota for women’s representation in the local self-government institutions, but practically the percentage of women encouraged to occupy prominent places is very meager and very often women in political positions are over-ruled by men (husband or father) in decision making.
Causes of Gender Inequality in India
· Patriarchal society
· Son preference
· Discrimination against girls
· Marriage laws
· Lack of awareness
· Low educational Status
· Insufficient advancement facilities
Empowering women is also an indispensable tool for advancing development and reducing poverty. Women need encouragement and support from the family members, government, society, male counterparts etc., with the right assistance from varied groups; they can join the main stream of national economy and thereby contribute to the economic development.
ICT AND WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
ICT has made a tremendous impact in imparting knowledge on modern technology and its uses. NGOs, SHGs working in the field, governmental agencies and other private agencies have also extended their help to promote ICT among the women. ICT empower women in various areas like social, educational, psychological, political, technological and economical and well as few degree of disempowerment due to some internal and external reasons. (Beena et al.2012).
Empowerment of women in the context of knowledge societies is understood as building the ability and skills of women to gain insight into actions and issues in the external environment, which influence them. If the women will be empowered, it will build their capacity to get involved and voice their concerns in these external processes, make informed decisions, participate in the economic and political processes, and bring about an overall improvement in their quality of life (Nath, 2001).
Empowerment is a multi-dimensional social process that helps people gain control over their own lives. Women empowerment generally refers to the process by which women enhances their capacity to take control over decisions that shape their lives, including in relation to access to resources, participation in decision making and control over distribution of benefits.
Women’s empowerment has five components:
· Women’s sense of self-worth;
· Their right to have and to determine choices;
· Their right to have access to opportunities and resources;
· Their right to have the power to control their own lives, both
· Within and outside the home; and
· Their ability to influence the direction of social change to
· Create a more just social and economic order, nationally
· And internationally (Unpopin, 2010, Morshedi et al., 2012).