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Overcoming gender bias: some suggestions

April 02, 2013

THIS is apropos of the article ‘Gender bias in rural non-farming activities’ (Economic and Business Review, March 25) by Sa’adia Reza.

It talks about the dynamics of rural non-farm activities, particularly with regard to gender participation and its eventual impact on poverty mitigation and empowerment, a recent study conducted by the Social Policy and Development Centre.

The study focuses on the lack of women participation in non-farm activities, which eventually yields a meagre economic growth in far-flung rural areas across all provinces.

It stresses the smallest portion of sampling of women involvement in non-farm activities seems more sustainable compared to men.

Home-based enterprises widely and some vocational skills rarely are the fields in which women’s involvement can be found in rural areas, which to a great extent are culturally accepted and adopted.

Talking about gender bias, skills enhancement or women empowerment will not translate into commendable progress if the men are not sensitised about attaining gender needs and ensuring equity-cum-equality at his very home first.

We keep reading such media reports frequently. Even educated families are accused of domestic violence, honour offences.

All approaches taken directly to women empowerment except education or awareness seem to have gone to waste.

Microfinance approaches by leading MFIs or non-governmental organisations have rendered long-term dependencies though they provide immediate relief. The loan granted for ‘income generation’ activities to women is spent on other expenses made by the male, which results in delayed or no loan payments or further loan rescheduling.

Vocational and skill enhancement have also failed to render any remarkable change against investment and overhead cost, since no follow-up, market linkages and change in commodities’ demand is ever anticipated.

In order to eradicate gender bias, education for girls and adult literacy for women and men’s sensitisation are crucial. The inclusion of gender sensitivity, equity and equality in schooling syllabus is far more important.