Context: Recently, on the occasion of the 75th year of India’s independence, the Prime Minister articulated a bold vision that in the coming 25 years, “Nari Shakti” would play a vital role in India’s socio-economic developmental journey.
- The PM said that Culturally and mythologically, women have enjoyed an elevated status in India. For example, it is mentioned in the Kena Upanishad that it was the goddess Uma who enlightened the three powerful but ignorant gods, Indra, Vayu, and Agni, to the profound mystery of Brahman.
Significance of silent revolution by Women
Women Centric policy making :
- Silent revolution has compelled political entrepreneurs and grounded leaders to design women centric policies.
- Some of the most dramatic pro-women policy changes concerning poverty reduction through amenities such as cooking fuel, sanitation, water, and electricity are classic examples of the impact of silent revolution.
- Such Inclusive policies are also the key drivers of long-term economic growth.
- A research on women voters using historical data has revealed that since 2010, the gender gap in voter turnout has diminished significantly and the recent trends show women voter turnout often exceeds male voter turnout.
- Massive increase of women voters is a nationwide phenomenon and is also observed in less developed regions of the country where traditionally, the status of women has been significantly lower.
- Due to this women voters can no longer be marginalised or neglected; they demand respect and command attention.
Rule of Law garnering political attention:
- In less developed regions women and children have been the biggest victims of lawlessness, the silent revolution of rising women voters has compelled political parties to make law and order a critical political issue.
New breed of confident women leaders:
- Since 2010, many women have been contesting elections. For instance in the 1950s, in the state assembly elections, women contested approximately 7 percent of the constituencies, but by the 2010s, women were competing in 54 per cent of the constituencies.
- However, this dramatic increase is yet to translate into more women winning the elections.
- Certainly at panchayat level where 50 per cent seats have been reserved for women helping in developing a new breed of women leaders.
- Women’s political empowerment has been a bottom-up revolution in India and holds lessons for other countries.
Case study of developed world
- In advanced countries, where increased participation of women in the labour force has come at the expense of family structure.
- Fertility rates have declined dramatically below the replacement rate, the share of the ageing population has increased, and there is an alarming increase in the percentage of kinless elderly.
- Subsequently, the economies spend a large share of the GDP on providing care.
- The care industry is labour-intensive and, therefore, subject to Baumol Cost Disease, implying that the cost of providing care would keep rising over time.
Challenges of strengthening of silent revolution:
- Women Unemployment issue: According to World Bank data, the female labour force participation rate has declined from 32 per cent in 2005 to 19 per cent in 2022.
- However, labour force participation only accounts for marketable employment opportunities and does not consider unpaid domestic services.
- Dual burden issues: Women work approximately six hours daily in marketable employment and spend around four hours additionally on unpaid household services.
- The double burden of working women perhaps is one of the critical reasons for the decline in the women’s labour force participation rate.
- In sharp contrast, working or non-working men in the same age group spend less than 45 minutes on unpaid domestic or caregiving services.
- Unpaid domestic work issues: A new research reveals that women in the age group of 25 to 59 years spend approximately seven hours daily in unpaid domestic services.
- On adding unpaid domestic services in GDP, the level of India’s GDP would be significantly higher, and a truer picture of women’s economic contribution would emerge.
Learnings for India:
- The dynamics of the care industry and the breakdown of the family structure in advanced economies give important lessons to India.
- If India wants more women to participate in the labour force, and at the same time preserve the family structure, then men would have to share the burden of unpaid domestic services.
- This would require a break from tradition and the creation of new modern narratives and myths based on gender equality.
As India takes over the presidency of G20, it is an occasion to celebrate “Nari Shakti” and political empowerment — a stupendous increase in women voter turnout in the decade has strengthened and made Indian democracy more progressive.
Political parties and leaders are now responding to this silent revolution by improving access and affordability to basic needs of women like amenities and securities rather than focusing on the rhetoric of caste and communalism. Thus, Indian experience is in sharp contrast to the “democratic recession” that is being experienced in the rest of the world.
Source: Indian Express