Vice President M Hamid Ansari Friday said women’s indices development in India are worst than those in Sub-Saharan African countries. Addressing the 19th convocation of the North Eastern Hills University, Ansari said, “Every third women in India suffers from energy deficiency.
This level is higher than all Sub-Saharan countries. 55 per cent of adult Indian women – every second women – suffer from iron deficiency. Here too the Sub Saharan African countries do better.”
He added: “Even as the country has witnessed good economic growth in the past decade, the benefits of such growth and macroeconomic initiatives to women are mediated through their position in homes and workplaces, and access to, and ownership of, productive assets.”
Expressing concerns with India’s sex ratio in the age group 0-6 years continues to decline since 1961, he said, “We (India) stand ninth, with only China at 926 behind us.
In our own region, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Nepal have more females in their population, while Pakistan and Bangladesh with a sex ratio of 943 and 978 have in comparison done better.” He, however, said the only silver lining is provided by Mizoram and Meghalaya having child sex ratio in this age group at 971 and 970 respectively.
Stating that discrimination and deprivation is disturbingly stark, the Vice President said that the participation of women in political decision-making at middle and higher levels is abysmally low.
He said less than 11 per cent of the seats in the Indian Parliament are held by women. The situation is worst in state Assemblies. Moreover, women hold less than ten per cent of the Ministerial position at the centre with a lone Cabinet Minister.
“Women hold less than 10 percent of Ministerial positions at the Centre with a single cabinet minister, and there have been only five women Judges of the Supreme Court since independence, constituting around 3 percent of appointments,” he added.
With regard to education, the Annual Status of Education Report 2010 shows that in all of rural India, Ansari said, 5.9 per cent of girls in the age group 11-14 years were out of school.
According to Census 2011, though there has been more rapid improvement in female literacy, there still exists a gender gap of 16.7 percentage points.
The level of female economic activity is lower and so is female participation in professional and technical works. The Vice President, said that according to the Five Year Strategic Plan of the Ministry of Women and Child Development for 2011-2016 it has been noted that just 14 per cent of women are employed, while 54 per cent of men are employed in the urban sector.
In the rural sector, the figure is 31 per cent for women and 55 per cent for men. “Since Independence there have been only five women judges of the Supreme Court, constituting just 3 per cent of appointments,” Ansari pointed out, stating: “thus the picture of discrimination and deprivation that emerges is disturbingly stark.”
He said the way out was “not to camouflage reality” by restoring to tokenism and parading exceptions, but by addressing the problem head on. He said the National Policy for Empowerment of Women, 2001 has outlined three policy approaches to do away with gender inequality and therefore a beginning was made.
Stating that mere government intervention was not enough, Ansari said, “Better results would be produced by women citizen empowering themselves and being encouraged to do by enlightened segments of public opinion.”