The Gender Beat: South Asian Women Earn 80% Less Than Men; Kerala’s First Woman Boat Master

A round-up of what’s happening in the worlds of gender and sexuality

Women labourers wearing helmets take a break from laying underground electricity cables in Ahmedabad, India, March 7, 2016. Credit: Reuters/Amit Dave.

Women labourers wearing helmets take a break from laying underground electricity cables in Ahmedabad, India, March 7, 2016. Credit: Reuters/Amit Dave.

South Asian women earn 80% less than men

A new study published by the international organisation ActionAid titled The Price of Privilege: Extreme Wealth, Unaccountable Power and the Fight for Equality in the 21st century, reveals that women in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia earn 80% less than their male counterparts, says a report in Dhaka Tribune. The study also reveals that inequalities of all kinds – based on gender, race, class and other factors – are on the rise even as they are increasingly being challenged. Over half the world’s wealth is controlled by the wealthiest 1% of its population, and the poorer half of the world has less than 1% control of wealth.

The report found that women from 32 countries contributed as much as $3 trillion in labour value to global healthcare in 2010. Nearly half of this work was unpaid. The report recommends that women’s unpaid care burden should be reduced, and redistributed.

At the end of long journey, Dutee Chand’s 100-m record burst 

At the 20th Federation Cup National Athletics Championships in New Delhi, Indian sprinter Dutee Chand broke a 16-year-old national record in the 100-metre final. Her timing, 11.33 seconds, was just short of the qualifying standard for the Olympic Games, which is 11.32 seconds.

The win is especially significant because Chand’s future in the game was under question just two years ago after she was banned from competing under the International Association of Athletics Federation’s (IAAF) guidelines that debar athletes with hyperandrogenism. This is a naturally occurring condition due to which Chand’s body produces a larger amount of testosterone than the average woman. Chand challenged the IAAF’s decision at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which is the highest court in sport. In a landmark judgement, the CAS suspended the IAAF’s regulations and ruled that Chand could compete at the national and international levels for a period of two years.

Also read: Why Dutee Chand can change sports, by Rudraneil Sengupta and Dhamini Ratnam, a 2014 piece that takes a close look at how Dutee Chand’s eligibility came into question in the first place, how she came to fight the legal battle that she eventually won, and what her case means for other athletes who have to pass “gender tests.”

To tell meaningful stories about child marriage, feature the voices of girls – not just their faces

Bishakha Dutta, the executive director of nonprofit media organisation Point of View, writes in The Huffington Post about how the Indian news media depicts child marriage, a phenomenon that she and her team examined. She presents and elaborates on key findings, which include: recent news coverage tends to focus on very young brides, reports are often written in sensational language and stories, and most coverage talks about using the law to end child marriage. Dutta suggests that in order to deliver more effective and illuminating reports on the issue, reporters also focus on the experiences of adolescent brides, as the median age for marriage in India is 17. “These child bride images certainly grab our attention, but may lead people to misunderstand what the practice of early marriage typically looks like — and, in turn, how to best address it,” writes Dutta.

She also suggests that reporters use an empathetic lens to speak of the families that marry off underage daughters, and that instead of simply focus on the law as a solution, they look at the complex social contexts that cause such a high incidence of child marriage in the country. She writes, “…experts use innovative approaches in a diverse array of communities in India — and I, for one, would love to see more news stories about initiatives that seem to really work.” Read the full piece here.

A total of 32,077 rape cases reported in 2015 across India

Home Minister Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary said in the Rajya Sabha on April 27 that a total of 32,077 rape cases were reported across India last year, of which 1,706 were gang rapes. The minister said that this information was gleaned from data provided by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), which means that these are only the number of registered police complaints and actual numbers are believed to be far higher.

The central government has set up a compensation fund for victims with an initial corpus of Rs. 200 crore.

India’s first transgender-led polling booth in West Bengal

A transwoman named Riya Sarkar has been made the presiding officer at one of the Kolkata’s polling booths for the ongoing West Bengal state assembly elections. Smita Pandey, district election officer, told the Statesman that this is the first time a transgender person has been appointed to head a polling booth in the country.

However, there are hurdles to more transgender people doing similar work, as only people in government service can be appointed to this position.

Meet Sindhu, Kerala’s first woman boat master 

For the first time in history, a woman has been appointed as a boat master in Kerala. A report in Mathrubhumi says that the work of a boat master is similar to that of a bus conductor, except that the boat master is responsible for the well-being of all passengers on board. The woman appointed for the job, Sindhu, is from Alappuzha, and holds a boat master licence as well as a B.Ed. and a post graduate degree in Hindi.

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