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Are women better off now?

Posted March 8th, 2019, 09:42 AM IST

Are women better off now?

A BofA-Merrill Lynch report said women comprise 49 percent of Asia's population, including in India, and 36 percent of GDP, but just 12 percent of board seats and 3 percent of CEO positions. However, the report reveals that Asia Pacific stocks with at least two female board members have a price-to-earnings premium, and higher net profit margin (over 3 percent) and dividend yields.

Much needs to be done to close the gender gap but progress is being made in tertiary education and laws to support equal pay and government-assisted childcare. Industry estimates value the potential uplift (arising from higher number of women in workforce) at USD 3.2-4.5 trillion in incremental GDP, it added.

On another International Women's Day, events will be centred on saluting the contribution of women. The national carrier Air India will be flying 12 international flights as well as 40-plus domestic flights with an all-women crew on International Women's Day, the airline said on Thursday. The international sectors that will have the all-women crew on its flights on March 8 are Delhi-Sydney, Mumbai-London, Delhi-Rome, Delhi-London, Mumbai-Delhi-Shanghai, Delhi-Paris, Mumbai-Newark, Mumbai-New York, Delhi-New York, Delhi-Washington, Delhi-Chicago and Delhi-San Francisco.

The greatest women's endurance feat in the year gone by may have been by the all-women crew of Indian Navy's sailing vessel Tarini who did not just charter a new course into history, but also conquered their own fears and learned to rise above petty issues to steer towards a common goal as a well-oiled team.

The six members of Navika Sagar Parikrama, during their 254-day expedition, covered 22,000 nautical miles, facing rough seas, scorching sun, biting cold and freezing winds with an unrelenting spirit. Lieutenant Commander Vartika Joshi, who led the first all-women Indian crew to successfully circumnavigate the globe, shared that the team, onboard the 55-foot sailing vessel, had its moments of joy and frustration, but “we learned to remain focussed on our goal.”

Meanwhile, Bhartmatrimony launched the “Secureconnect” feature that enables women to take control of their privacy and safety while searching for a life partner. The unique calling feature enables female members to receive calls from male members, who have a premium membership, without revealing their contact number to them.

With SecureConnect, female members can continue receiving calls directly from prospects without being worried about their number being revealed to them. BharatMatrimony is the only matrimony site to offer this first-of-its-kind security feature for women,” according to the matrimony site.

However, with unemployment rates hitting an all time high amidst falling economic growth in the country, a report has revealed that as many as 83 percent women and 87 percent of men are worried about their financial future. Moreover, 84 percent of women and 88 percent of men are “somewhat” worried about their financial future, and 35 percent of women are ‘extremely’ worried, the highest rate of any country, according to a report by S&P released ahead of the International Women’s’ Day Friday.

The report does not elaborate on the reasons for their worries, though. It can be noted that an official report by the NSSO, which is yet to be accepted by the government, the unemployment rate had touched a 46-year high in 2018. The S&P report also notes that this rising worries come as aggregate wealth among Indian women falls shy of the other countries surveyed, with women here controlling only between 20 and 30 percent of total wealth. This is reflected in policy priorities of both men and women, who rank ‘jobs and the economy’ as their most pressing issues of concern (25 percent), closely followed by education (24 percent) and healthcare (21 percent), says the report.

Progress towards gender parity at work has barely budged for the past quarter century, and will only speed up once men take on far more unpaid caregiving tasks, the UN said Thursday. The UN’s ILO said in a fresh report that the difference in employment rates for men and women has shrunk by less than two percent in the past 27 years.

In 2018, women still remained 26 percentage points less likely to be in employment than men, despite opinion polls indicating that far more women would prefer to have a job than to stay at home, the report showed. The ILO said there were a number of factors blocking equality in employment -- the biggest being the heavy caregiving burden borne by women.

“In the last 20 years, the amount of time women spent on unpaid care and domestic work has hardly fallen, and men’s has increased by just eight minutes a day,” said Manuela Tomei, head of ILO’s Conditions of Work and Equality Department.

At this pace, she said, “it will take more than 200 years to achieve equality in time spent in unpaid care work”.

According to the ILO report, nearly 22 percent of women of working age worldwide -- or 647 million -- perform unpaid care work on a full-time basis, with the level as high as 60 percent in Arab states. By comparison, only 41 million men -- 1.5 percent of them -- carry out such work on a full-time basis, the report found.

And women in the workplace also carry out far more of unpaid caregiving and chores at home. “The imbalanced division of work within the household between men and women is one of the most resilient features of gender inequality,” the report said.

Globally, women perform more than three quarters of the total time spent on unpaid care work, and dedicate on average four hours and 25 minutes each day to unremunerated caregiving, compared to one hour and 23 minutes for men, it found.

“Because of the disproportionate share of time spent in unpaid care work, women who work for pay are often said to work a ‘second shift’,” the report said, adding that this has negative consequences for women’s health and well-being, as well as advancement possibilities in the workplace.