Mind the Gap

by Jayita Gupta

Mind the Gap

Anchal Gangwal, recently commissioned in the Indian Air Force is a tea seller’s daughter. She was inspired by an IAF personnel during the Kedarnath tragedy in 2013. Although her relatives and family didn’t support the decision, Anchal’s father believed in her. She and her family fought against all odds and achieved success in the sixth attempt. And when she did so she changed the mindsets of those around her by her accomplishment. A step towards reducing the gender gap index is by changing our mindset. India aims to be the economic superpower with the fastest growing economy and to achieve this, the need of the hour is to increase the participation of women in the workforce and reduce the gender gap index.The Gender Gap Index was introduced by the World Economic Forum (WEF), and designed to measure gender equality. It is determined by analysing four key areas: health, education, economy and politics.
There are currently 153 countries under WEF where India’s overall rank is 112th, disappointingly India ranks 150th in the health and survival parameter, it increases consumption of goods and services at both individual and household level, thus increasing the demand for it and therefore creating new job opportunities. One of the most inspiring women Radhika Gupta, CEO at Edelweiss Asset Management Limited said in her yet another inspiring video that Indian women are also known for providing a unique customer experience to their family members,this skill can further help in the country’s growth. Some other inspiring women leaders have shared similar thoughts — theIMF Chief Christine Lagarde and Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg said in a joint paper that the increase of women in the labor force can boost India’s GDP by 27%.(The Economic Times)
Bringing more women in the workforce does not only reduce the gender gap index or make the country strong economically but also helps in the country’s overall growth. Annette Dixon, the Vice President of World Bank South Asia stated that women’s economic empowerment is highly connected with poverty reduction as women also tend to invest more of their earnings in their children and communities. Reducing the gender gap index helps in the reduction of poverty and illiteracy as women make sure about the proper education of their children. This is witnessed through various testimonies stated in the book Half a Billion Rising — The Emergency of Women, Anirudha Dutta. The book highlights the conviction of multiple mothers to get their children well established educationally and financially partly or wholly due to the reason that they were incapacitated in doing so or were privileged by experience and wished the same for their children.
This also aids the process of reduction in crime rate as illiteracy and unemployment are major contributors to crime.(ICT for Competitive Strategies: Proceedings of 4th International Conference) Even though people have started realizing the immense need to reduce the gender gap index, the participation of women in the workforce seems to be declining rather than increasing.(The Economic Times) One of the contributing reasons is women not getting the desired job. “The number of women applying for jobs is increasing, with more opting for higher education. But many opt not to take up a job if the job profile is not what they are seeking,”says R.P. Yadav, CMD Genius Consultant Ltd, a placement agency with over 50,000 employees on its rolls.
The Maternity Benefit Act, 2017 though a step towards increasing the participation of women in the workforce, has done quite the opposite. Many start-ups and SMEs are likely to reduce the number of women in the workforce or reduce their salaries due to the heavy rates of day-care and other facilities mentioned in the act. The TeamLease report has estimated a net job loss of 11–18 lakh women for the fiscal year (FY) 2018–19 because of the Maternity Benefit Act. These numbers are higher than the average annual attrition rate of women employees in the workforce.
In today’s day and age mindset is definitely one of the key factors in the reduction of the gender gap index, we surely need to build a firm and unbiased mindset like Anchal Gangwal and her father. We need more families to have the thought process of Anchal’s family so that we can have many more women getting recruited not only in the Air Force but in all other fields as well. We can make this happen if we have the dedication and the willingness to achieve it and the education to turn it into reality. When you educate one woman, you educate the whole family and increasing women in the workforce is just one tiny but essential step to help our economy grow.

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