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Gender Disparity and the ways in which it underpins major social and economic inequalities in South Asia.

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Introduction

Gender Disparity and the ways in which it underpins major social and economic inequalities in South Asia The aim of this paper is to show the linkage between gender disparity and social and economic inequalities that result because of gender disparity in the South Asian context. This is an important area of study because gender disparity is closely interlinked with and supports explanations of social and economic inequality. This is also of particular interest in the South Asian context because compared to the rest of the world South Asia has one of the greatest degrees of gender disparity in the world. Furthermore gender equality can be used to measure the progressiveness and development of a given society as a whole by acting as an indicator to social equality. In other words the smaller the gap in gender disparity, the more developed and progressive a given country or society can be regarded. This paper will deal with the common perception of women in the South Asian context, social exclusion and the limited legal rights of women, Their rights to land and property, access to education and healthcare, female foeticide and infanticide, the political and economic exclusion of women and the downward spiraling effect that the above factors will have particularly on the economy and South Asian society as a whole. The paper will draw from various parts of South Asia to illustrate vividly examples of gender disparity at work. ...read more.

Middle

Throughout the region different religious and cultural communities are governed by separate personal laws- those civil laws which deal with marriage, dowry and divorce; custody, guardianship and adoption of children and inheritance".7 The lack of a uniform civil code in South Asian states to protect the rights of women has sadly allowed loopholes in the law to be exploited which aids in the economic and social oppression of women. It is a sad truth that in many parts of South Asia there is still a strong degree of gender-bias in the law of the state, which puts women at an unfair disadvantage as compared to men. "The lack of a uniform civil code in which fundamental human rights take precedence over gender discriminatory religious customs remains a main obstacle to the achievements of women's equal rights."8 In order to illustrate the significant impact the law can have on promoting inequality the laws pertaining to women's rights in South Asia will be looked at. Property and inheritance laws are in themselves highly gender discriminatory across South Asia. This will be tied in with the earlier example of land rights for women and the role of the law as a mediating device. Take for example the case of the "Jaffna Tamils in Sri Lanka, a married woman needs her husband's consent to alienate land which she legally owns."9 Legal ownership does not always carry with it the right of control in all senses. ...read more.

Conclusion

This is tantamount to murder but goes unchecked in many parts of South Asia. Sometimes however, one wonders whether it is crueler to commit female infanticide rather than subject the female child to a life of hardship, misery and oppression. Girls are treated differently from boys since birth. They are not given enough food compared to boys and they suffer from nutritional deficits. Girls are far more prone to malnutrition in South Asia than boys are. They also tend to suffer from a host of other ailments and still preferential medical treatment is given to boys. "Educational indicators of South Asian women although recording improvement in recent years, are some of the worst in the world, especially at technical and higher levels. Women constitute only 17 percent of technical students, and South Asian governments spend approximately 4.4 percent of their educational budgets on technical and scientific education"14 It is of little wonder that women are subject to economic inequality judging from the statistics above. In conclusion in can be said that gender disparity greatly underpins major social and economic inequalities in South Asia. This is evident in the Legal systems, educational systems and medical systems and social systems of South Asia. It can be seen that the root of a lot of economic and social evils in South Asia are due to gender disparity between men and women. If South Asia is to progress as a society as a whole, gender disparity must be eradicated or if not, at least curbed. ...read more.

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