Parallels between India and China: A Comparative Study on Gender Gap
For long we have been indulged in the practice of pointing differences between India and China, in the wake of romanticizing of the notion if and when any of the two would emerge as the world superpower. Major parameters on which people and scholars all around have been basing their conclusions are infrastructure, balance of trade, technology and more frequently than everything else on defense preparedness in terms of missiles and their range, warships, tanks and what not. Let’s try to move beyond these conventional areas of comparative studies without which no country can ever dream to be a super-achiever. It’s about the gender roles that each of the societies has and how they have been shaped over the course of time. What does the Gender Gap Ranking(2012) by World Economic Forum say? China stands at rank 69 while India at 105 out of 135 countries. The brutal practice of ‘foot-binding’ of China has been known to the world as a highly oppressive act with complete disregard to the human rights of women although banned in 1949. The story doesn’t end here. The sex ratio remains quite skewed in favor of men and women form some 48.1 percent of the total population. They continue to face discrimination in fields of higher education and health care in terms of sex-selective abortions, fallout of one-child policy and malnutrition. Although women weren’t given the right to possess land especially in rural China, the condition has much improved with diversified role of women now.
Does this ring a bell? To an extent, I’m sure it does to many. A lot looks similar to the scheme of things here in India. Women have traditionally been seen clinged to honor and responsibility in both the societies rather than as ‘individuals’ or ‘humans’. The idea of ‘love’ in marriage didn’t really exist and looked down upon. Moreover, women lacked any goal or aim in their lives. As they reach their late 20s they are expected to move their focus from career to marriage which is nothing more than a mere social institution. One of the most popular figures in China, an activist for rule of law and human rights, Wu Qing says, ‘We need to identify ourselves firstly as ‘humans’ and then as women.’ What defines the tremendous gap between the ranks of the two nations with respect to Gender Inequality in discussion here is that conditions are fast changing in China now with increasing focus on their education witnessed through an impressive leap in enrollment in higher education and women making their mark in varied fields particularly business. India needs to pace up its efforts at economic, political and social grounds. We cannot talk about inclusive development unless there’s equal space for women to prosper. Much needs to be acted upon and be visible on ground. Even if we’re are much behind China in this particular aspect we need to think and act in a broader perspective and learn from each other’s successes as well as failures which would also throw up a better picture of Asia as far as gender equity is concerned.
Article by Reeti. Do visit her blog: WINGS TO FLY HIGH