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The Transcendental Role Of Women In Manipur History

Dr. M. C. Arunkumar & Irengbam Arun

Related Notes of Interest while on this topic

6. Global Gender Gap Report:2007

The annual Global Gender Gap Report (2007) has however made a catalytic report to generate greater awareness as well as greater exchange between policy-makers by "quantifying the challenge" so as to facilitate closing the disparities in terms of health, education, economic status and political participation between male and female. Predictably enough, India is shown at a dismal 120th ranking (dropping from 114th position in the last survey). And of the four Nordic countries, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland grabbed the top four slots in the survey conducted by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Table 12-2: Global Gender Divide: Country Rankings: 2007 (Gaps:in %):

Country Economic Educational Health Politics

(1) (2) (3) (4) (5)
India 39.8 81.9 93.1 22.7
Sweden (No.1) 76.1 99.9 97.4 52.5
Sri Lanka 55.7 99.0 98.0 23.3
China 64.8 95.7 94.1 11.1
United States 73.8 98.2 97.9 10.2
(Source: Business Standard: Calcutta Nov 9, 2007)

Of course, India trails far behind the global gap scores: highest (93.1%) healthwise; next highest 81.9 % educationally; 39.8% economically behind men. Only in political participation their gap is the least at 22.7% (see table). But at the global level the educational gap between male and female has closed from 91.55 in 2006 to 91.60 % in 2007. In economic terms it has narrowed down from 55.78 to 57.3 % over the corresponding period; as also in political participation terms the same gender gap down from 14.07 to 14.75 % over the corresponding period. But the health and sex ratio gap widened from 96.85 in 2006 to 95.85 % in 2007. The WEF's women leadership programme chief, Saadia Zahidi eloquently bares out the purpose of the gender gap analysis in the said Report:

"[I]t shows that the highest ranking country has closed a little over 80 % of its gender gap while the lowest ranking country has closed only a little over 45 % of its gender gap By providing a comprehensible framework for assessing and comparing global gender gaps and by revealing those countries that, regardless of the overall level of resources available, are role models in dividing these resources equitably between women and men, we are expectant that this Report serves as a catalyst for greater awareness as well as greater exchange between policy makers."

Women's lot couldn't have been changed overnight in a fell swoop action of upliftment. Worse still, they get `the rough end of life' in poor countries, bearing as such the unavoidable burden of child-rearing and time-old disproportionate share of the work of running the household. Above all, they rarely imagine, far from, enjoy real equality before law. Besides, social preferences for male child have long been explicit in China and north/north-west regions of India, where 120 baby boys survive to age four for every 100 baby girls.

Yet the overall gender balance of power is found changing, albeit gradually. Evidence is also found in those 2007 World Development Indicators from the World Bank. Also found receding are gender gaps in education, a key area in human development index which will impact on other dimensions. As expected, girls outnumbered boys at secondary schools in more than half of countries (84 of 171). The number of countries in which the gap has almost disappeared has risen by a fifth since 1991. At university level girls do better still, outnumbering boys in 83 of 141 countries, but mostly in the developed world. Or else girls excel boys in Mongolia and Guyana, where higher education is still not popular. The gender literacy gap is narrowing. In 2006 the World Bank avers that literacy rates among young women (aged 15-25) were found higher that they were among young men in 54 of 123 countries. Everywhere, the gap among the young is much narrower than among the whole population. Educationally girls outnumbered boys in developed world as also in some developing countries like western India and China. The same thing is beginning to happen in the work force. Equal pay for equal job is a different matter. But as per the rough and ready measure of number of women in paid jobs, 58% of women in 2005 had paid employment, compared with 84% of men. The gap is still substantial, but it is seen closing up. For out of 200 countries, 122 saw female workforce participation rising quite sharply. Rather surprisingly some of the sharpest rise came in north African and Middle east nations.

In the last resort, female education is very intimately correlated with smaller family size. Hence the world demographic growth ought to continue its descent as countries move towards "replacement fertility" and the world population level stabilizes. More wives will have better education and possibly a higher income than their husbands. This is bound to alter family roles profoundly, albeit in unpredictable ways. In short, China's and India's surplus boys may grow up only to find a world, much less of a man's world than their parents imagined. With greater literacy and possible re-skilling much of the oft-called women's `wasteful world' (women still doing almost all household chores) can be tangibly reduced. So empowering womenfolk would mean unleashing the benefit of manifold "multiplier effect" on growth through positive stimulants and facilitators of "social change", quoting prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh's message on the occasion of Teacher's Day (5th Sept, 2008).

The United Nations' agency viz. Economic and Social Commission for the Asia-Pacific Region (ESCAP) has estimated $42-47 bn a year wasted in the region due to a 30-40 % differential between male and female employability _ naturally much less for Manipur, as discussed hereinabove. In the broad context of human resource development, economic empowerment has been given primacy as a prime index of Human Resource Development. The significance attached to this comparable gap is such that in USA, EU and Japan, their respective GDPs are officially acquiesced higher by as much as 9, 13 and 16 % due to gender empowerment.

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