Author: Dr. Anuradha Rai, with inputs from Rhea Leuna

About the Author: Dr. Anuradha Rai is a preeminent educationist, a TEA fellow, and has been the Founder Director of Ambience Public School, Gurgaon. In her current role, she is a consultant for Project ECHO at the University of New Mexico, USA on Gender Equality.

The UN Sustainable Development Goal #5 is to “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls by 2030”. Women and girls make up half the population of the world, which also means half of the world’s potential. As correctly stated by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, “It is impossible to realize our goals while discriminating against half the human race.”.

Gender Equality is a fundamental right as per the UN charter, and is also enshrined under articles 15 and 16 of the Indian Constitution. However, despite progress made in the last decade, we are very far from our target.

As per the “Progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG): The Gender Snapshot 2022”, it may take close to 300 years to achieve full gender equality, at the current rate of progress. [1]

Some Facts and Figures

  1. As per the Sustainable Development Goals Report 2022, as of January 2022, the global share of women in houses of national parliaments now stands at 26.2 percent, up from 22.4 percent in 2015. Though a promising sign, it will still take another 40 years for men and women to be represented equally in national parliaments. [2]

  2. In 2019, women only held 28 percent of managerial positions. [3] Globally, 26 percent of women aged 15 and older (641 million) have been subjected to physical and/or sexual violence by their partner at least once in their lifetime. [4]

  3. In a 2021 survey in 13 countries, 45 percent of women reported that they, or women they know, have experienced some form of violence since COVID-19. [5]

  4. Even though the global prevalence of child marriage has declined by about 10 percent in the past five years, in 2021, nearly one in five young women were married off before the age of 18. [6]

How Does Gender Inequality Impact Women and The World

Gender dominance, discrimination, and power conflicts have been a part of our civilization for centuries. Inequalities faced by girls begin right at birth and continue all their lives. Lack of access to health, education, resources, skills, opportunities, and voice creates huge disparities and not only deprives girls and women of realizing their full potential, but impacts the development of a nation.

The inclusion and empowerment of women are essential to fuel economic growth and promote social development. In fact, the optimal participation of women in the labor force would add substantial points to most national growth rates. Studies report that gender-based discrimination can be addressed through a balanced approach toward gender justice.

The Time-Use Survey by National Statistical Office (NSO) shows that on average, an Indian male spends 459 minutes a day on employment-related activities while a female spends 333 minutes a day on the same. [7] On the other hand, where time spent on unpaid domestic and caregiving services for household members is concerned, an Indian woman spends 433 minutes a day compared to a man’s 173! [8]

This indicates how socially constructed and culturally embedded gender roles continue to prevail and result in unequal power relations and unrealistic expectations.

Why Should It Matter to Us?

Gender equality is not a female-centric issue, it impacts people across cultures and nations and is critical to building a healthy and equitable society. It can guarantee mutual respect, and dignity, and determine the social construct of our future generations. If ever there was a time for us, the citizenry, to showcase our might, it is now. It’s a clarion call for each and every individual woman, man, and child to speak up and make a difference.

What Can We Do?

The solution lies in not just changing the behavior and belief system of individuals but that of society as a whole. An erratic and piecemeal effort cannot facilitate such a massive shift. The need of the hour is a deep-seated, well thought, and multi-pronged approach involving all stakeholders instead of leaving it to government institutions or a few non-government agencies.

Interventions have to be at multiple levels. While the government and the legislature are doing their bit by promoting policies to address these inequities, we need to create awareness in society as a whole in order to help create a more equitable world.

However, as we work towards bridging the gender gap, attitude and cultural shifts are imperative, and it is crucial not to overlook the challenges faced by men, as inclusivity is essential to equity. Moreover, figures and statistics must translate into change at the grassroots level, where education plays a key role; however, it should not be limited to knowledge and skills but values, belief systems, conditioning, and biases.

As individuals - We need to unlearn and relearn, challenge the norms, biases, and implicit associations that prevent us from accessing opportunities. We need to re-examine our own policies and practices and make them more inclusive. Silence amplifies the problem. Acknowledgment and remedial action are the first steps to creating a more inclusive and equitable world for our future generations.

ECHO for Gender Equity in Schools: Towards a Just and Inclusive Society

As a step in this direction, ECHO India, along with Project ECHO at the University of New Mexico, USA, is set to launch the ECHO for Gender Equity initiative in April 2023. The project aims to support educators in becoming agents of change for gender equality in their schools, families, and communities. A teacher’s beliefs, attitude, and expertise can impact students’ behavior, empowering them to create gender-inclusive classrooms and promote an equitable atmosphere.

The program will focus on six core areas, including awareness, critical dialogue, structural bias, gender in the media, the gender lens, and empowerment. So far, nominations have been received from 30 schools across 13 states, such as Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand, Haryana, and Maharashtra.

ECHO for Gender Equity is an initiative to attain sustainable gender equity across India. It supports educators as they implement gender sensitization in classrooms, creating Communities of Practice for years to come.

To learn more about our efforts, kindly visit: (