The social and economic aspects of a society can’t be divorced from each other. The social conditions have an impact on the economics and the economy affects the level of social advancement in return. Trade and Women’s Equality may sound not related but have a deeper synthesis.
Trade increases women’s wages and therefore increases the economic equality. It further decreases social inequality, and expand women’s access to social sector like health, education, vocational skills, etc. Women employed in the service sector in developing countries has jumped to 38% which is less than developed countries but is quite significant. Women have a positive impact on services sector as a whole.
Developing countries also seem to employ many women in the export sector. Women constitutes 33% of the export sector as compared to 24% in the non export sector. It has been traditionally seen that countries who do not encourage women employment are less competitive internationally. Nowadays countries are becoming more entrenched in the global value chain, this helps in increasing the wages of women and number of women employed. 48% of Indian population is women and the impact that this 48% can have on the GDP is not minuscule.
The power that the women workforce hold must not be neglected. Digital technologies and online platforms have created new avenues for women to manage their home shows and also have a profession. This gives them the flexibility that many MNCs can’t give. Countries that promote women employment have a higher gender equality.
This can be elaborated in easier terms such that if women are employed, they will bring money to the household which will further increase the standard of living. The increased quality of life due to more surplus income will help the children to get better education and nutrition. In the traditional Indian society a female spends more time with her children as compared to the father, better economic condition of a woman will help her become a role model to her children, both son and daughter. it will lead to creating better individuals in the society who respect a working woman and value her. This will in turn reduce the crime rates against women domestically and at workplace. Such behavioral changes may attract attitudinal changes in the long term.
WTO and WHO have given a report titled “women and trade : role of trade in promoting women’s equality”. This report helps us to quantify the impact of trade on women’s equality. It helps us to understand the gaps and loopholes that exist in restraining a woman’s equal participation. This gender perspective in the report will help us to understand how economic empowerment can make the world a better place for women.
There are various constraints that affect women’s role in trade. Wage gap is one of the constraints that affect women where women are paid less for the same work that they do as compared to men. The working conditions for women are also worse. For example, toilets for women are either unclean, hygienic or absent. Constraints make it difficult for women to choose trade as a profession.
We also see a biased trade policy towards women. Trade policies must be gender neutral. No country imposes specific taxes for women but if we look closely there are various products that women use that are highly taxed. Sanitary napkins are one of them. Cosmetic products are also taxed more and the hullabaloo is created around it and the advertisement is unfair. Such advertisements and taxes take unfair advantage of women’s vulnerability fuelled by the society’s stereotypes. Stereotypical attitudes are not consciously done but entrenched in our psyche.
Women are more vulnerable to economic shocks. Many women are employed in the apparel sector or self employed in the sector. Covid-19 pandemic has led many such industries to shut down. Getting back on their feet is more difficult for women as it’s not easy to find credit. Social, legal, financial barriers restrain a woman and her access to remedies.
International institutes must support gender neutral policies and do away with biases. Domestically, policies must be focused with respect to women in sectors that employ most of them. Services sector, msme sector, agriculture sector among others. Data provided by international and domestic reports must be used to create policies that helped women attain equality, as enshrined in the principles of our constitution.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.
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