India is the world’s largest democracy, with 1.2 billion people, and is expected to be the world’s most populous country by 2050. Where India makes progress towards development goals, the lives of hundreds of millions of people can be improved: in recent decades, India has made substantial progress to improve child nutrition, immunisation rates and education enrolment rates, as well as to achieve broad economic growth. Yet, gender disparities persist against a backdrop of rapid economic growth: rates of violence against women are still high, women’s participation in government is low, and discriminatory dowry and inheritance practices continue.
The Constitution grants equality to women, ensures equality before the law, and prohibits discrimination against any citizen on the basis of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth. It also allows ‘personal’ laws, however, resulting in a dual system that allows forms of discrimination against girls and women. Under civil law, for example, the minimum age for marriage is 18 years for women and 21 years for men, but in Muslim Personal Law (though not codified) Muslims can determine when marriage is acceptable (sometimes at puberty).
Implementation of relevant legislation, such as the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act (2006), has been weak, partly because the statute is unclear on whether it supersedes personal law. Similarly, The Hindu Succession Act of 2005 grants Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist and Jain women equal inheritance rights to ancestral and jointly owned property, but Muslims may follow Sharia laws on inheritance that allow daughters to inherit only half as much as sons.
India launched the National Mission for Empowerment of Women (NMEW) in 2010, mandated to facilitate the coordination of all programmes related to women’s welfare and their socio-economic development across all ministries and departments. The government leads specific initiatives focused on gender equality and other programmes that, though not focused exclusively on girls and women, benefit them nonetheless, including its push to enhance access to clean water and sanitation.
As we mark this year’s 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign, EM2030 seeks to share insights from its Global Advocates Survey on the issue of GBV.Read more
Rekha joined Video Volunteers as a way to highlight issues related to gender-based violence and discrimination taking place in her hometown in India.Read more
“Attitudes have not changed, women have come out for work, but burden and running family is still there, this is not recognized. We have to strike a balance.”
“I am gathering information on the number of young girls who have started their menstrual cycle in my community, and how many of those girls have access to – and can afford – menstruation pads. I then pass that information on to the ASHA (social health activist) to ensure the health centres can be adequately stocked.”
“Previously, when you wanted to raise an issue with the Government you had to send a formal letter that often just ended up lying on their desk. Today, we can send Government Officials our videos directly via the messenger app What´s App or YouTube.”
SAHAJ, an NGO based in Gujarat, strives to improve the health and education of marginalised girls and women through community-directed programmes, research and policy advocacy.
With the support of Equal Measures 2030, SAHAJ works with partner coalitions in six states in India and at the national level to build data-for-advocacy skills. It aims to increase political will and dialogue among government stakeholders on the importance of data-based implementation of the SDGs for girls and women, particularly SDG 3: Health and SDG 5: Gender Equality. The project analyses existing data and field-level evidence from grassroots organisations to drive advocacy, focusing on the groups of girls and women most likely to be left behind. National-level advocacy in 2018 focused on the Ministries of Health and Women’s Development, the NITI Aayog (National Institution for Transforming India), and the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.Read More
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