Countries worldwide have made significant progress in terms of growth rates and development, but one such area where they still lag is in attaining gender equality. One of the Sustainable Development Goals is mandating the gender gap alongside achieving zero poverty.
Gender discrimination and disparity have not just emerged over the years but are something that has always been there. Today, it is not just about women but other genders; now that they are recognized, it is about time that they get their fair share of inclusion in society. With access to correct information, bridging the gender gap has to start right from the roots. The focus of this article would be on the following main themes that are equal access to information regarding climate change irrespective of gender and, secondly, how gender budgeting is the need of the hour when it comes to achieving sustainable development.
The appropriate use of climate change forecasting information is one of the best adaptive risk management strategies for the fight against climate change. However, why are women always left behind when it comes to such practices? An economic impact study concluded that 79% of rural women are more engaged in agricultural activities than 63% of men in India. A rapid decline in men’s contribution to agricultural practices is accounted for the shift of the workforce into urban and semi-urban areas. This leads to the women of the house taking on the responsibility of the farms. This changing agricultural system has led to women dominating the earlier men-centric areas. However, this also means that they have restrictive access to productive agricultural assets and the knowledge for farming; this makes them less adaptive to the next big crisis, i.e., climate change.
Despite the establishment of various communication channels, the gap persists when it comes to information dissemination to women and other marginalized farmers. The roadblocks to this process are fundamental and link back to the goals that have not been achieved.
These challenges include the inability to read, which links back to the goal of achieving universal primary education, not having enough time for listening to the radio or watching television owing to the constraints put forth by the patriarchal society, and the low participation rates when it comes to attending village group meetings due to gender-biased socio-cultural norms. Climate information is communicated at two levels. The first is the basic climate information that farmers use to predict and make decisions. The second level is where experts add value to this forecast and then communicate it as agro advisors. Specific observations depicted that men and women had different notions about farming and its techniques. Natural calamities like floods and drought for a prolonged time were quite worrisome for men, whereas on the other hand, short-term problems like rain and certain weather conditions seemed to be more of a concern for women when it came to farming. Women were driven by the desire for self-sufficiency, which made them change their cropping patterns and opt for more labour opportunities. Here, the means and mode of communicating adequate information becomes a necessary task. The successful strategies adopted by climate information services that resulted in the equal dissemination of information were: women’s group discussions, spreading out the message through the beating of drums by the village head, the information conveyed through group activities and games, and the choosing of women representatives for inculcating active decision-making practices among women.
When we talk about budgeting, we think of effective utilization of our resources, but what do we mean by saying gender budgeting? Gender budgeting in its literal sense does not mean incorporating a new budget for the underrepresented gender. However, it is a continuous process where we try to incorporate a gendered perspective while framing the budget. This idea is based on the fact that development benefits are equally distributed between men and women. A developing country like India suffers from a gender gap in all four binding domains of growth and development: education, health, economic activity, and political empowerment. The two ways in which the government has ideated the bridging of the gender gap are through the allocation of funds into these areas, and the second is through the launching of women-specific programs. Over the years, the allocation of funds might have increased, but there has been a declining emphasis on women-centric schemes.
Women have suffered a disparity in the health sector even before they are born; it is evident from the declining sex ratios. Nevertheless, this picture has changed only recently, and it is hoped to improve soon. Certain governmental policies in the health domain under factors like nutritional security, health insurance, maternal health, and protection against diseases have failed to provide optimistic statistics about the discrepancy based on gender. Inequity can also be observed in education, where the enrolment rates might have been high for primary schooling but seem to be low for higher secondary education. The workforce participation of women in the economy comes with many constraints. Past women-centric policies by the government for generating female labour participation had stagnated and were unable to raise funds for their functioning. Even with women entering the workforce, many challenges are poised before them in terms of equal pay, a safe and hygienic work environment, or childcare facilities. Some persistent problems in the current schemes and policies of the government have been identified that are leading India away from the path of gender equality. Changes in the implementation, designing, planning, and monitoring of each policy are what is needed. Gender-sensitive holistic planning and approach toward systems could benefit women against their male counterparts. Customizing policies according to the set targeted goals of each domain where India lags in gender budgeting would lead to fruitful results and equalize it.
Gender discrimination cannot be closed all in a day; it is a slow and stable process that will take place over time. It exists all around us in the everyday spheres of our lives, but we cannot notice it. The same goes for all the under-represented genders that have lately been recognized, but the fact is that they have always been here; we were too late to realize it. The battle against discrimination is a long and difficult one, but one should never forget that women and men are equal; they are on the same pedestal, but they are not the same. Inclusivity through gender can be achieved and accomplished as well.