Thursday, 13 October 2011

Economic growth does not ensure gender equality, says Jairam Ramesh

NEW DELHI: Expressing concern over the excess female and infant mortality rates in various states of the country, Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh has said that economic growth does not necessarily translate into gender equality.

"Economic growth does not automatically ensure gender equality. In fact, it is a very tenuous relationship between and I have something to say about this in the Indian context, but I think it is a very salutary finding to all those great proponents of high growth translating into better social indicators, this is not necessarily the case both across countries and within countries," said Ramesh, while releasing 'The World Development Report 2012: Gender Equality and Development'.

Though the Word Bank has provided monetary assistance to support girls' education, women's health, and women's access to credit, the report reveals the dark reality that an estimated 3.9 million women are suffering from this malice.

India has undoubtedly made rapid progress in the education sector and women self-help groups are considered to be an asset for the country, he said.

"We have great success in women self-help groups. We have 35 million women now in India, who are members of self help groups and with the help of the World Bank, we have now started a program for expanding this coverage," Ramesh said.

"We are going to go from 35 million to about 70 million over the next six to seven years, as part of the National Rural Livelihood Mission and it clearly says that states like Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra, there has been a tremendous impact of these women self help groups and now, if five years ago, Andhra, Tamil Nadu and Kerala would be a case of rounding up the usual suspects, but today you can point to Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Orissa and I hope very soon Rajasthan and Assam as well," he added.

He revealed his shock over findings that several high growth states in the country recorded lower rates of development among women, in comparison to findings in Bangladesh.

"Some years ago, I did a finding on the amount of work done in Bangladesh with the number of Indian states and it's really surprising, it came as a surprise to me that the status of women indicators in Bangladesh were superior to the indicators in West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Orissa, no great surprise, but also superior to Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, which was a great surprise," he said.

In fact, if you look at the data for infant mortality within India, you fill find that some of the high growth states are the states where infant mortality declined has become very sticky," he added.

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