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UNESCAP for reducing gender discrimination in India to improve economic prospects
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UNESCAP for reducing gender discrimination in India to improve economic prospects

Gender discrimination in the Asia Pacific region translates into some 80 billion dollars worth of annual economic losses, according to a UN eport.

By Vaibhav

New Delhi, May 6 : Gender discrimination in the Asia Pacific region translates into some 80 billion dollars worth of annual economic losses, according to a UN eport.

India has focussed hard on equality and opportunities for women in education and the workforce. These figures underscore the need to push the drive further.

Ashima, a producer at a media company, travels three hours to work - one-way. At the office, she heads a group of both men and women that work to strict time deadlines. Efficiency tops here.

She stands for India's new-age urban woman, at liberty to make the most of potential, a coming of age and a banishing of gender discrimination. There's a mindset at work here that propels her into equality of opportunity.

"I got a very good education from the beginning of my life. I want that the education that I received should not go waste. I want to be self-dependent in my life. I want a standing of my own in my family and among my friends," Ashima says.

The annual report of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific released last week touches on just this potential, translating it into actual money figures, the economic loss due to shortfalls in participation of women in education and the workforce.

Policy corrections, says the report, are eminently doable.

Kim Hak Su, Executive Secretary, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), says, "In India, by 2020, this young labour force will reach a peak and start to decline.

The alternative labour forces are women. Women are not given enough education and the opportunity to work enough. So, we look at this spect. We do not think it require very much of financial resources, but with least cost, we can provide them an opportunity."

Using the status of women in the United States as the benchmark, India faces annual losses of 19 billion dollars due to the non-participation of women in the workforce. That's close to 1.1 percent of the gross domestic product GDP. Indonesia at 2.4 billion and China at 1.1 billion, are among other losers in Asia alone, where it all mounts to 47 billion US dollars.

The issue of women's empowerment has dominated social policymaking agendas in India for some time. Social workers in the rural areas have focussed on specialized education schemes for women, urging their families to utilize potential in a range of areas.

There is a realization that as the centre of the family unit, the role of the woman goes beyond herself, and plays a big role in the grooming of another generation.

Shamika N Sirimanne, Chief Socio-economic Analyst at UNESCAP, says, "In education we looked if there is no gender inequality what will it mean to country in growth and economic development. We also wanted to look at the health number great inequality in health area and it is very very difficult to capture the number and we also look at the social loss. The violence and the cost is not just to the women, but also to the next generation".

In the developing world, women make up half the population, but in many countries, they form only a small fraction of the workforce. Putting it down in figures awakens departments of finance beyond social welfare sectors.

Victories are only part of overcoming the shortfall. The challenge is large yet.

ANI

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