Continued maltreatment of women was not acceptable in the 21st century world. India needed to focus on urgent upliftment of women, forgetting her political battles. A strong political will and some serious and durable systemic reforms were urgently needed in this direction, Zed added.
Zed argued that although India was on track to become a global power, but her new power and prosperity had remained evasive for many, especially women. Despite economic miracle, women in India continued to face inequalities in opportunities which blocked them from fully participating in the growth process.
Zed stressed: India needed to empower her women; provide them better treatment under the law, better access to health-education-politics, and more opportunities for workplace participation; and open up more economic potentials for them.
India needed to take urgent steps to make women equal partners in the society and eliminate gender inequality. Lesser gender gaps would also bring prosperity and economic competitiveness to the country besides fairness. Men and women were equal in the eyes of God, Zed noted.
Zed indicated that a global poll of experts released by Trust Law, a Thomson Reuters Foundation service, sometime back showed India was the worst place to be a woman among the world’s biggest economies and ranked even lower than Saudi Arabia. “Infanticide, child marriage and slavery make India the worst,” the poll concluded. “In India, women and girls continue to be sold as chattels, married off as young as 10, burned alive as a result of dowry-related disputes and young girls exploited and abused as domestic slave labour,” one of those polled was quoted as saying.
Zed further said that the Gender Inequality Index had also reportedly ranked India among the worst places for women. India ranked at 141 among 165 countries analyzed by Newsweek magazine in the treatment of women, which was published last year. Even Bangladesh, Equatorial Guinea, Togo, Guatemala, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Nepal, Libya, Eritrea, Syria; besides many other countries; ranked higher than India.
India was ranked at 112 out of total 134 listed countries in the Global Gender Gap Report issued by World Economic Forum in 2010, Zed said.
He stressed the need of promoting female literacy in India. According to 2011 Census, while male literacy rate in India was over 82%, the female literacy rate was less than 66%.