How are gender relations evolving in India? Awareness of gender issues in India has increased due to the influence of the women’s movement, feminist debates and donor advocacy. However this awareness has yet to be translated into policy and practice that significantly improves gender equality in the family, government, social services, economic activities and political participation. Gender bias prevails in poverty, and women from minority religious groups, tribal minorities and lower castes are particularly vulnerable. This report argues that future policy should concentrate on expanding women’s economic opportunities, political representation and community-based social services, with special attention given to women of marginalised groups.
The Indian government has introduced many measures to give special attention to women’s issues, but co-ordination, resources and an overall policy framework is lacking. Recent changes have brought relatively fewer benefits to women, such as the New Economic Policy and the effects of globalisation on employment security. Gender issues are vital to address in this context, so as to avoid growing inequality between men and women and deepening gaps between women of different castes, religion, and race.