There is progress, but gender parity is still far away – editorials
The achievements of women and girls in the 25 years since the historic Beijing conference on women’s rights are impressive. But equally worrisome are the enormous impediments they still face throughout the world. A new era for girls: taking stock of 25 years of progress, a report presented by UNICEF, Plan International and United Nations Women, shows that the promises made by governments to eliminate harmful practices against women at that time have only been partially fulfilled. More girls go to school than before, and while this should result in greater empowerment, many still face an unequal and violent environment. One in 20 girls in the 15-20 age group has suffered rapes, both inside and outside of marriage. Women are also disproportionately victims of trafficking.
In India, the dropout rate of girls in schools has dropped from 20% in 2008 to 13.5% in 2018, but this does not automatically translate into economic and social empowerment. Many are married when they finish school, perpetuate dependency syndrome and leave them vulnerable to the violence of their partners. Female participation in the workforce has declined from 36.9% in 2008 to 26.7% in 2019. While the focus of government schemes focuses primarily on girls and women, adolescent girls tend to fail. Early marriage, discriminatory practices within the family and lack of access to reproductive health have a profound effect on their well-being. The government must aggressively focus on policies for adolescents, especially when it comes to gender violence.