In the past two years, policy scrutiny and public focus on continual gender inequality has grown exponentially. Women s safety and empowerment were hot topics of debate during the 2014 national and State elections. This is a paradigm shift in the attitude of both the citizenry and government regarding viewing gender concerns in the country. Gender equality is also one of the 17 goals of Sustainable Development Goals adopted by 194 member states, including India.
There is a direct link between combating climate change, alleviating poverty, empowering women and increasing productivity. The sluggish progress in pursuing the gender agenda is a result of the lack of targeted resources. Last year, the Global Gender Gap Report released by World Economic Forum ranked India 87 in terms of gender equality in education, economy, political representation and health. Women s under-representation in Parliament, declining labour participation, prevalent gender-based violence and skewed child sex ratio are recognised challenges.
In 2005, India formally adopted Gender Responsive Budgeting (GRB). While the government recognizes the latent gender issues in society, it hasn t been successful in its endeavors for the lack of better planning and implementation of the programmes. Also, the allocations have either remained stagnant or declined in the recent years.
Despite having causal interrelationships with women s empowerment, sectors such as food security, sanitation, energy, water supply and urban development continue to operate in silos development. There is a need to mainstream gender in the policy environment and commitment to invest in women and girls. Keeping the current realities and feedback in mind, we need to urgently address the issue of gender inequality.