Gender Biasness in the Education Sector: India’s Version

Gender Biasness in Education Sector

Gender Biasness in the Education Sector: India’s Version

Gender Biasness in the Education Sector: India’s Version


Gender Biasness is a global occurrence and unfortunately, it exists in each and every country, state, district, and villages. There are numerous researches which have proved that the gender biases exist in every sector such as religious, political, biological, social, and even in human development measures like the standard of living, health, and education. In the year 1995, the issue of gender disparity has drawn attention due to the two new forms of the index which were introduced at the international level in the United Nations Development Programme Report such as Gender-Related Development Index and Gender Empowerment Measure. Gender biases in India refer to the health, education, political and economic inequalities between men and women. Gender discrimination in India is a mixed issue that states men and women similar. Some people argue that gender equality measures state that men are at a great disadvantage but when India’s population is examined as a whole, women are at a great disadvantage in various important aspects. Gender biases in education is a tenacious problem in Indian society, specifically for girls who belong from urban areas and lower socio-economic backgrounds. India has achieved accomplishment by taking a step forward towards universal school enrollment during the past decades and also enacted certain policies to address the educational disparity such as related to gender. Nevertheless, education gaps still exist. The education system in India suffers from diverse disadvantages, of which one of those is a lack of financial resources which is necessary to establish a nationwide network of schools. In old times, the education sector has been facing shortcomings such as poor infrastructure, underpaid teaching staff, disappointed parents, and unmotivated students. With respect to the Millennium Development Goals of universal primary education, the major problem is gender biasness and the resulting financial and societal prevention of girls to access the school for education. In a society like India’s, discrimination in education can be seen through various measures such as caste, creed, religion, gender, among others. It is very interesting to see that even being such disadvantaged communities, a constant characteristic is gender biasness in educational acquirement. The section of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe girls, the gender gap in education sector is of 30 percent at the primary level and at the upper primary sector the gap is of 26 percent.1In India’s most miserable regions or areas, the prospect of girls admission in the primary education is about 42 percent less than boys and this gap will be filled through a courageous and creative policy. For that matter, the Indian Government has made the education for girls a priority by introducing a chief Programme which is “Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan” (SSA) or “Education for all”. This Programme places prominence on female education and the accomplishment of gender equality. The Gender Biasness does exist in every country, state, districts and regions for that matter and it also blocks the growth of our Indian Economy from improving the standards of Indian people. The actuality of gender biasness is very composite in nature and it varies as well because of its existence in each and every sector like education, employment opportunities, income, health, social, economic, and cultural etc.

History of Gender Biasness

In our Ancient India, an Indian woman was in the position of reverence and was considered by the word of “maata” which means “mother” or “Devi” which means “Goddess” in the Vedas and Upanishads. Also, in our ancient legal text, which is Manu Smriti, woman was considered as a valuable person and in the early Vedic age the girls were kept with love and care. Then, after some time the application of polygamy2 decreased the value of woman and then in the medieval period, the exercise of Purdha system, sati system and dowry system came into the picture. With the passing of time, the status and the position of reverence was lowered. After the evolution of Science and Technology, the practice of female foeticide in India was adopted by large number of people and due to this practice, the female ratio was decreased. The Indian Census of 2011 mentioned that the Kerala State represent the highest sex ratio with 1084 females per 1000 males while on the other hand, the state of Haryana represents the lowest sex ratio which is 877 females per 1000 males.3 The genesis of the gender disparity has been always due to the male superiority. In India, woman still needs a presenter of a husband and a family and due to the male superiority woman’s position is so miserable that they have to walk with their heads down. The woman was supposed to do purdah in front of everyone and expected to work in their houses and this custom is still applicable in some parts of India. If we talk about the reservation in the parliament for a woman, the opposing parties had a mindset that woman are born to do household work and manage children as well as the whole family. In India, there are many families who think that women are an economic and financial liability. At that point of time, the crime against women were increased rapidly such as Domestic Violence, Rape, Sexual Harassment, Molestation, Eve Teasing, forced Prostitution, Sexual Exploitation. In India, the gender selection nature has been marked since the 1980’s and then at the stage of urbanization in the early 1990s, many families and men moved to cities where they can find work for living. At this stage, the families are much well off, but they have a pressure to produce or give birth to a man as an heir and can continue the male dominance in their families. The major cause for the gender inequality is addressed as the need of a male heir in the family which will eventually bring huge dowry, continuous physical and financial support from the female side. From the above-mentioned factors, we can interpret that economic, social, political, cultural and legal factors are liable for the gender inequality in India. There is a big time need to prevent this gender inequality from our country.

Gender Biasness in India

India has the largest democracy around the world with a total population of 1.21 billion according to the census of India, 2011. The population of India has increased from 1.028 billion which includes 532.2 million males and 496.5 million females in the year of 2001 to 1.21 billion which includes 623.7 million males and 586.5 million females in the year 2011. The growth rate of the Indian population during the year 2001 to 2011 was of 17.64 percent in which the growth rate of males is of 17.19 percent and 18.12 percent of females. The population growth rate has declined from 1.97 percent annually between 1991 to 2001 and the growth rate has declined 1.64 percent annually between 2001 to 2011. This deterioration refers a downfall in the Total Fertility Rate, which is evaluated to have declined to 2.6 percent and it is also expected that it will eventually deteriorate to 2.3 percent in this present decagon.5 It has been noticed that some states have reaching or will reach the replacement level of fertility. Also, the child population in the age group of 0 to 6 years has slowed down during the year 2001 to 2011 due to a deterioration in the Total Fertility Rate. The point is, India is a huge country composing of 29 States and 8 Union Territories with various socio-cultural conditions and widely varying geographical as well as climatic circumstances. The term “Sex” and “Gender” are frequently used interchangeably in our day to day life, but in sociological literature they are often differentiated. The term “Sex” is applicable to the differences between men and women which are based upon biological differences such as anatomy, physiology, hormones and chromosomes. On the other hand, the term “Gender” is applicable to the cultural aspects of male and female character. Basically, the behavior, personality and other social aspects which are expected out of the males and females, and these social aspects becomes the grounds of male and female roles. Under our Indian Federal structure, the Centre and States have the responsibilities for the planning and execution of National Development Programmes. There are well explained provisions under our Constitutional law and procedure for sharing of resources and responsibilities between the Centre and States. There was an amendment in the year 1976 to change education from a state subject to a concurrent subject meaning thereby, after this amendment the Central Government and State Government has the responsibility for the development of the education. Unfortunately, it has been addressed that between the year of 2001 to 2011 the male literacy rates is higher than the female literacy rates. In the year 2001, the male literacy rate was 75.26 percent and the female literacy rate was 53.67 percent. However, in the year 2011 the male literacy rate was 80.89 percent and the female literacy rate was 64.64 percent. Likewise, in the year 2011 there is a bridge gap between male and female enrollment ratio at different levels. So, there is obviously a gender biasness in the education sector in our country and it also varies from state to state.

Gender Biasness in the Education Sector

India reports for 30 percent of the world’s total illiterate population and around 70 percent of them are women who are illiterate. As per the data available, women comprise 48 percent of the total population in India but unfortunately out of the 48 percent women, 46 percent are found to be illiterate.7 Problems like gender biasness and discrimination begins with the birth of a child and it can also be addressed with the access of schooling. The Gender Parity Index or GPI at the primary and upper primary levels was 0.9 and 0.8 respectively in the year 2003. According to the District Information System of Education, 2006 this Gender Parity Index remained same more or less in the year 2005 to 2006 with the account of 0.92 for primary level and for upper primary level it was of 0.84. it has been stated that when girls are enrolled in a school, they have the attitude to continue their education and have the success just like boys. The problem of access and prevention are more at the higher levels of our education system with the GPI at lower secondary and upper secondary levels 0.73 and 0.67 respectively. In our country, Female education has been conceded from a very long period and have correlations with other aspects such as human and social development. In spite of strong economic and social- evidence of the high returns to female education, most people in our society do not invest in female education comparing to male education. Even the approach of the completion of schooling increases, with reduction of gender gap in primary education in particular, but the discrimination against female in secondary and higher education is intact. Also, the economic and social entitlement affects the gender way to access the school with girls in secondary and higher education, mostly drawn from higher income and social groups and they are provided with higher social status . The rationale behind the under-investment in female education by parents are very well- known and it is of various nature. The misestimation of female labour has its very old root and they are identified primarily with the reproductive or household domain, and there are many people in our society who think that educating females will bring low returns. This has resulted in lower female education and work participation reflecting the biasness against females thinking that they are born just to do the household work. The Gender Biasness escalates with poverty, discrimination on the basis of caste and geographical location. It is stated that there is different viewpoint in family and society related to a woman on, what to do and what are the specific roles, and the inherent retention placed on female flexibility and abstinence. This genderspecific viewpoint is liable for the present gender gaps in female secondary school admission. Furthermore, there are so many responsibilities for a female like securing domestic water and fuel place tremendous time burdens on women, which are frequently shared with younger girls in the family who could otherwise join any school or at rest or play in their leisure time. The investments in water supply, sustainable energy and renewable sources of fuel, they all can have notable influence on female education. There is another reason that females are not able to access the school, Sexual Harassment and violence is one of the major restriction factors which leads prevention from freely sending their girls by their parents to school. In India, public places continue to be the unsafe place for women and rarely function in a way to make feel safe, secure and confident. There must be a critical policy measure which should focus on how to transport girls safely from secondary schools and universities to their home back safely. Likewise, some initiatives were taken to teach self-defense or cycling to girls which are considered as critical factors of gender sensitive education, which unfortunately have not been taken up and promoted extensively through the education system. Now, the most important problem faced by the higher education in India is the consistence of inequalities in access to higher education. Disparities in higher education result in socioeconomic disparities in the society which eventually highlight inequalities in education. In fact, there is a chain of inequalities which are inequalities in access to higher education resulting in disparity in access to the labour market information which resulted in disparity in employment and participation in labour market, resulting in inequalities in earnings and contributing in to socio-economic and political inequalities. The socio-economic and political inequalities eventually resulted in disparities in the field of education. The biasness in access to education reflects loss in individual as well as social welfare. The economic returns to investment in education of the under-privileged sections are estimated to be higher than returns to their equivalent which implies that disparity in education would lead to huge losses in national output. One of the most important aspect of inequality is between men and women. Women are generally found to be straggling behind men in every sector including higher education in India as well as in other countries, though reverse factor could be noticed lately in a good number of countries. During the post-independence period, there is a remarkable improvement in women’s participation in higher education. According to the UGC Statistics 2013, Women comprise 43 percent of the total enrollments in higher education in the year 2011 to 2012, while there were only 14 women per 100 males in higher education in the year 1950 to 1951. Thus, comparing to the earlier period, this 43 percent is a remarkable improvement and makes it an all India average across all disciplines of study. Nevertheless, the overall level of women participation in higher education has improved remarkably and the current overall level is quite impressive.

Programs Supporting Women Education

India is one of the founding members of the United Nations and has therefore been a member of the United Nations since 1945. In the year 2000, there was summit where 8 goals such as poverty, hesitating the spread of AIDS and providing universal primary education etc. known as Millennium Development Goals.11 In the year 2015, the UN built these goals and created the 17 Sustainable Development Goals with a time frame of 15 years. Among these 17 Sustainable Development Goals, there are two specific goals which are related to the women education and those are “Quality Education” and “Gender Equality”. The goal of quality education aims to ensure free and equal quality education for all boys and girls in primary and secondary school, equal access to affordable quality higher education and to eliminate gender biasness in all levels of education.12 The gender quality goal aims to provide equal access to social and professional system in society such as policies, decent work, health care and education. It also witnesses policies and regulations that promote gender equality and women’s empowerment and tries to put a barrier against all sort of discrimination against females all over the world. The right of children to Free and Compulsory education or the RTE Act states that all children should have a right to equal quality primary education in schools that satisfies predetermined Standards. This Act is basically connected to Article 21-A in the Constitution of India which was included to provide free and compulsory education for all children between 6 and 14 years old. Then there was a Programme called Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan or SSA, which was implemented in the year 2000-2001 to work towards removing social and gender gaps in education, achieve worldwide access and retention and improving the education quality. This Programme included other things such as opening new schools and support for academic resources. In the year 2009, a scheme called Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan was introduced with the aim of making quality secondary education accessible to everyone between 15 and 16 years old. Some of the objectives are to improve the education quality by having prescribed standards, by the year 2017 ensure total availability of secondary education, achieve extensive retention rates by the year of 2020 and to remove disability, socio-economic and gender hindrance by providing support to these groups. There was another program named Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya implemented in the year 2004 to set up upper primary schools with residences for girls belonging to disadvantaged castes and minority groups. This program was implemented in various parts of our country where the literacy gender gap is above national average and the female rural literacy is below. The majority of places is reserved for the girls belonging to the disadvantaged castes and minority groups and the rest are reserved for girls from families below the poverty line. In these schools, the girls get access to free textbooks and uniforms, medical facilities, residential schooling, support, guidance etc


I would like to conclude this Article by saying that, Gender Gaps are much higher in India with respect to the economic and political sphere. The girls and women of India face a onsequential degree of gender biased violence at their respective homes and in the outer world as well. From my viewpoint, Gender Equality has not been achieved and in the sector of health, education and economic, India still lags behind in the global coverage. India has somehow reduced the gender gaps and biasness in the sector of health, education and political but in the economic sphere, it has been drastically increased. The gender inequality and the deterioration in sex ratio, it was addressed that India’s social structure, standards, caste system, tradition and customs etc. have only made women more helpless for a very long period of time. They have been subjected to discrimination, oppression and impoverishment in the form of rape, sexual harassment, molestation, dowry death etc. however, there is one more type of discrimination for the unborn girl child who is as same as the girl or women outside the world. This type of violence against the girl child has been addressed from a very long period and the practice of female foeticide is known in many types of caste and in various parts of our country. The list of these types of Programme and schemes as well as types of biasness or inequalities will just go on, but the actual change will only be noticed, when the mentality and the mindset of men will change. When the male of our society would start treating women equally and not subordinate or weaker to them, then only we can see the transition in respect to the Gender Biasness in every field. India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world but unfortunately, the problem of Gender Biasness in education sector still exists in our country. Both the Central Government and State Government are trying their best to fill up the gender gap in the field of education. To reduce the gender gap in India, we should offer high level of education to girls and women, so that women empowerment can be addressed. We should also give them the opportunity to participate in politics and social activities so that we can accomplish the social unification in India. In this respect, Government should also introduce some policies and strategies regarding prevention of sex identification and abortions. In my opinion, politicians should frame out some policies for increasing social welfare development with respect to the subject matter. Also, our Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi started a Campaign named “Beti Bachao Beti Padhao” can only be successful, when the mindset of our Indian society will change towards women. In my opinion, we should establish an active program which will encourage girl’s participation in the field of education, by increasing the number of women teachers who will eventually be responsible for the education of girls in every part or regions of our country. The Government and NGO’s for that matter, have initiated a provision of annually scholarships to praise-worthy girls and they will be provided with free textbooks and all the education expenses will be handled by the Government and NGO’s. we should encourage and initiate an awareness program about the importance and necessity of education and also how it increases the efficiency of an individual which could lead to higher earnings and eventually, can change their socio-economic status especially in the poor sections. There must be a gender specific budget where the education budget will be divided for males and females separately for some point of time, it may be necessary that higher expenses should be made for female education so that the gender gap can be filled. The social structure or the traditions we had is the main reason for the gender biasness in education which still exist and the parents do not allow girl child to access the school, therefore there is a need to change their thinking, traditions, parameters and customs in the support of females. Also, there is a need to introduce vocational and professional courses for the girls, which will help them in future in getting employment. The employment opportunities can be an incentive to the parents to send their girls to such institutes. So, the Gender Biasness in sector like health, education, social, economic and political should be reduced and the gender gaps should also be filled, by doing this we could change our country’s position all over the world and also the economical and political status will also be changed. So, from my viewpoint, this is the high time we should all remove all the gender gaps and treat women equally in all the prospective.

Vaishvi Khare
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