Gender and Income Inequality In India Leah rakhlin

What question did you investigate and why?

I investigated the question "Income Inequality" and "Women’s Rights and Gender Equality" in India. I chose to investigate these questions because I am interested in the advancement of gender equality in India. In this essay, I will uncover various inequalities that Indian women face throughout their lives.

What did you find?

I found out that India's job market is very sexist because they don't pay women nearly as much as men for completing similar tasks, and their abilities and talents are oftentimes underestimated. The Hindu publication states that the gender pay gap is 27% and in IT services the difference between women's and men's wages is 34%. In addition to this wage gap, crime against women increased 6.4% during 2012, and a crime against a woman is committed every three minutes. According to the National Crime Records Bureau of India, about 93 women are raped everyday, acid throwing is also a very common crime committed towards women. This is an environment that we do not encounter in a developed countries such as the United States.

A story that I found Intriguing

Sakshi Malik is the 1st Indian female wrestler in the Olympics. She won bronze, was the first Indian to take a medal in this past year's 2016 Summer Olympics, and is only the 4th Indian woman to win a medal. She was born in Rohtak, Haryana, a town which has one of the largest gender gaps in the state. For example, woman were not allowed to ride the train with men until 2002. Her town did not allow women to wrestle with men until 2005, and for some time before that, prohibited women from wrestling at all. With the help of her parents, she worked very hard, defying the ideas of many people in her town, city, and even country by taking home medal after medal. She eventually won bronze at the Olympics. Malik decided to be a wrestler because she wanted to be just like grandfather, who also wrestled professionally. Following her Olympic performance, she impacted India's sports world. Her actions allowed sports officers to welcome women into stadiums with pride. In addition, Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Malik on his Twitter, which gave attention to the fact that a woman took home the olympic medal. She has become role model for the people of India; especially for women and girls, to show that they are strong and can fend for themselves.


Women In Politics

Just 12.2 percent of parliamentary seats in the world's largest democracy are held by women. This is extremely low, even lower than Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. The governor of Rajasthan (a state in India) has created an executive order, which says that people with less than 8 years of formal education, can not run for village council head. Even though this was created to have more effective and less corrupt administrations, the real effect will be to disempower woman. This prevents more than 3/4 of the female population to be able to run for office. This will also be a problem since 40% of a village council heads in this state are female and with this executive order, it might not allow many of these women to run for re-election. This creates a vicious cycle preventing women from holding political power. According to some women politicians, if a women manages to win an election, they have to work harder to prove themselves, compared to men. This makes them feel like they have a bigger responsibility to fulfill.

Political Leaders Trying to Fight For Women

Amit Shah (President of the BJP political party in India) says that he will raise the issue of abolishing triple talaq, a way/practice to dissolve a Muslim marriage, obstruction of woman's rights. He argues that his party should try to change the personal laws that discriminate against woman. Lastly, he says that his party should try to change some traditional practices, that have gender biases. All in all, some leaders are trying to fight for women and rights that should be given.

Government: Acts and Programs

The Women's Reservation Bill, which would give 33% of Parliament's seats to women, is promising; however, the bill still hasn't been passed by the higher house, despite it being cleared by the lower house in 2010, because of the two opposing idea's between the political parties. Also, the Equal Remuneration Act was passed in 1976, but there hasn't been real enforcement or following of this act. There needs to be stricter policy and legislative, in order for there to be a real effect in India. Another way the Indian Government has been trying to fight this issue of gender inequality is that that they announced a 33% reservation for women in the police force of union territories (like Delhi), the government did this to make the police more gender-inclusive, and give women more opportunities.

Marriage and Divorce


Many women have arranged marriages in India. Many common responsibilities for women (especially in rural, traditional areas) are to carry out all household chores and to obey their in-laws. Many are also prohibited from taking paid work. Women rarely control the family's money, they almost have to act like slaves. In addition, in some rural areas, women are not allowed to wear western clothing, meet friends after dark, and leave the house without permission. Lastly, one of the many things that most women have no say in, no matter how bad, is marriage.


Women often have to wait a long time, sometimes years, for a divorce case to process, because of the slow process of divorcing in India. They get little legal support during the case, but after all that time they usually do not end up with that much money after a divorce. Since there is no such thing as shared property or equal division of assets in India, that makes divorcing challenging. Also, this process leaves woman in vulnerable positions, they get very little financial provisions afterwards, and do not have much; so, most woman have to choose to stay with their husband, which could be dangerous if they are abusive.

The Preference For Boys

When raising children, boys are preferred over girls. In India, there are legal sex-selective abortions when they have a girl. The traditional idea is that boys are expected to take care of their parents and families in the future. Men generally live with their parents, versus females, who have to leave their families once they are married. Another traditional idea is that girls are more expensive to raise than boys. For example, weddings cost more for girls than boys (the girls parents have to pay for all the expensive jewelry, dowery, etc.). Rajasthan has a terrible record on women’s education and female empowerment; according to the 2011 census, there were 883 girls for every 1,000 boys under age 6 there, compared to the countries average 914 girls to 1,000 boys ratio.

The Economy

Archana Desai's Story

Archana Desai is a 35 year-old Indian woman. The company which she worked at had to downsize, so she had to give up her job. With an MBA degree, she is currently employed as a part-time tutor at a coaching institute, she is earning a fraction of what her previous job paid. She said "Though I'm technically qualified to hold a manager's position, I'm stuck with something I do not have any passion for. Why can the government not provide jobs for women like us?".

What Her Story Relates To

Many Indian woman are facing the similar problems with any level of education; there are not enough good jobs for women (with various qualifications), or the jobs do not pay well. In the labor force you are only able to find small work, with low wages and little or no job security. Well-qualified young urban women say they have limited job options. Unemployment for woman with graduate degrees or better qualifications continues to be a 15.7% (high) some states the report. Educated urban women are unable to find opportunities that fit their profiles, almost 46% of urban women with regular wages have no social security or employment benefits. Also, around 58% of urban women do not have written contracts for their jobs. The effects of gender equality on the economy can be great; an estimated 2.9 trillion dollars can be added to India's GDP by 2025, if gender equality improves in the workplace.

Legacy Of Hinduism

The legacy of Hinduism is presented today through how society molds women into how they life their life, this connects to the concept of Dharma. Dharma is like a duty or responsibility that should be completed throughout your life time in order to have a good after life. For example, in The Laws Of Manu, it states "She must always be cheerful, clever in the management of her household affairs, careful in cleaning her utensils, and economical in expenditure". This is shown in modern day India, because women are still responsible for being the housekeepers of their house. Another example is from The Laws Of Manu. The law states "By a girl, by a young woman, or even by an aged one, nothing must be done independently, even in her own house". This shows in modern-day India, because in some areas of India, woman and girls are required to ask for permission before leaving the house.

New Questions I have, After Researching

  1. Has the GII (Gender Inequality Index) always been this low (India was rated 130th out of 155 countries in 2015)?
  2. Why aren't laws, which help the fight for gender equality, not enforced very much.
  3. Are the current laws not strict enough to begin with?

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