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Gender inequality refers to unequal treatment or perceptions of individuals based on

their gender. It arises from differences in socially constructed gender roles as well as
biologically through chromosomes, brain structure, and hormonal differences. Gender
systems are often dichotomous and hierarchical; gender binary systems may reflect
the inequalities that manifest in numerous dimensions of daily life. Gender inequality
stems from distinctions, whether empirically grounded or socially constructed.

For centuries, the differences between men and women were socially defined and
distorted through a lens of sexism in which men assumed superiority over women and
maintained it through domination. Inarguably, there are natural differences between
the sexes based on biological and anatomic factors, most notably differing
reproductive roles. Biological differences include chromosomes, brain structure,
and hormonal differences. There is a natural difference also in the relative physical
strengths (on average) of the sexes.

1.1 Cause of Gender Inequality

As to pinpoint the causes of gender inequality, or to simply call it sexism, is

difficult. After many centuries, the definition of gender and how people see it has
changes, and there is a mix of many such factors included with are easy as well as
difficult to pinpoint. Some might say that the foremost cause of sexism is the fact
that many males (consciously or subconsciously) perceive women as mentally
and physically weaker.

It might or might not be true. Sexism today is rather institutional rather than
individual. Social institutions in society are, as being a member, things are taken
for granted as aspects of social order, of norms and behaviours, of sorts of social
relationships you form with other people.

Gender inequality can further be understood through the mechanisms

of sexism. Discrimination takes place in this manner as men and women are
subject to prejudicial treatment on the basis of gender alone. Sexism occurs when
men and women are framed within two dimensions of social cognition.
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Discrimination also plays out with networking and in preferential treatment

within the economic market. Men typically occupy positions of power within the
job economy. Due to taste or preference for other men because they share similar
characteristics, men in these positions of power are more likely to hire or promote
other men, thus discriminating against women.


Gender discrimination can occur in various forms in daily basis of life. There are
complex as well as simple, day-to-day activities where we get to see from minimal to
maximum display of sexism.

Direct discrimination

Some women are paid less than men for doing the same job. This factor only
explains a small part of the gender pay gap, due to the effectiveness of the
European Union and national legislation.

The undervaluing of womens work

More frequently women earn less than men for doing jobs of equal value. One
of the main causes is the way womens competences are valued compared to
mens. Jobs requiring similar skills, qualifications or experience tend to be
poorly paid and undervalued when they are dominated by women rather than
by men. For example, the (mainly female) cashiers in a supermarket usually
earn less than the (mainly male) employees involved in stacking shelves and
other more physical tasks.

In addition the evaluation of performance, and hence pay level and career
progression, may also be biased in favour of men. For example, where women
and men are equally well qualified, more value can be attached to
responsibility for capital than to responsibility for people.
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Segregation in the labour market

The gender pay gap is also reinforced by the segregation in the labour market.
Women and men still tend to work in different jobs. On the one hand, women
and men often predominate in different sectors. On the other hand, within the
same sector or company women predominate in lower valued and lower paid
occupations. Women often work in sectors (for example in health, education,
and public administration) where their work is lower valued and lower paid
than those dominated by men. When we look at the health sector alone, 80%
of those working in this sector are women.

Moreover, women are frequently employed as administrative assistants, shop

assistants, or low skilled or unskilled workers these occupations accounting
for an important proportion of the female workforce. Many women work in
low-paying occupations, for example, cleaning and care work. Women are
under-represented in managerial and senior positions. For example, women
represent only around 17% of board members in the biggest publicly listed
companies within the EU, around 4% of chairs of boards, and a third of
scientists and engineers across Europe.

Traditions and stereotypes

Segregation is frequently linked to traditions and stereotypes. Whilst in some

cases this my reflect personal choices, traditions and stereotypes may
influence, for example, the choice of educational paths and, consequently,
professional careers that girls and women make. While around 60% of new
university graduates are women, they are a minority in fields like
mathematics, computing and engineering.

Consequently, there are fewer women working in scientific and technical jobs.
In many cases this results in women working in lower valued and lower paid
sectors of the economy. Because of these traditions and stereotypes, women
are expected to reduce their working hours or exit the labour market to carry
out child or elderly care.
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Balancing work and private life

Women experience greater difficulties than men when it comes to balancing

work and private life. Family care and domestic responsibilities are still not
equally shared. The task of looking after dependent family members is largely
borne by women. Far more women than men choose to take parental leave.
This fact, together with the lack of facilities for childcare and elderly care,
means that women are often forced to exit the labour market: only 65.8% of
women with young children in the EU are working, compared to 89.1% of

Although part-time work may be a personal choice, women have greater

recourse to part-time work in order to combine work and family
responsibilities. There is evidence of a pay gap in hourly earnings of part-time
and full-time workers. Across Europe around 32% of women work part-time,
compared to only around 8% of men. Consequently, women have more career
interruptions or work shorter hours than men. This has a negative impact on
their career development and promotion prospects. It also means less
financially rewarding careers.


Certain forms of sex discrimination are illegal in some countries; in others,

discrimination may be legally sanctioned under a variety of circumstances.

3.1 Ancient world

According to Peter Stearns, women in pre-agricultural societies held equal

positions with men; it was only after the adoption of agriculture and sedentary
cultures that men began to institutionalize the concept that women were inferior to
men. Definitive examples of sexism in the ancient world included written laws
preventing women from participating in the political process; for example, Roman
women could not vote or hold political office.
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3.2 Witch hunts and trials

Throughout history, women accused of witchcraft have been targeted by religious
and state authorities, subjected to violence, prosecuted, and executed. The witch
trials in the early modern period were a period of witch hunts between the 15th and
18th centuries, when across early modern Europe and to some extent in the
European colonies in North America, there were widespread claims that
malevolent Satanic witches were operating as an organized threat to Christendom.
Several authors argue that the widespread misogynyof that period played a role in
the persecution of these women.

Today, practicing witchcraft remains illegal in several countries, including Saudi

Arabia, where it is punishable by death; and in 2011 a woman was beheaded in that
country for 'witchcraft and sorcery'.

3.3 Covertures and other marriage regulations

Until the 20th century U.S. and English law observed the system of coverture,
where "by marriage, the husband and wife are one person in law; that is the very
being or legal existence of the woman is suspended during the marriage". U.S.
women were not legally defined as "persons" until 1875 (Minor v. Happersett, 88
U.S. 162).

In France married women received the right to work without their husband's
permission in 1965, and in West Germany women obtained this right in 1977
(women in East Germany enjoyed more rights). In Spain during the Franco era a
married woman required her husband's consent (permiso marital) for nearly all
economic activities, including employment, ownership of property and traveling
away from home; the permiso marital was abolished in 1975.

In many countries, women still lose significant legal rights at marriage. For
example, Yemeni marriage regulations state that a wife must obey her husband and
must not leave home without his permission.
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In Iraq husbands have a legal right to "punish" their wives. The criminal code
states at Paragraph 41 that there is no crime if an act is committed while exercising
a legal right; examples of legal rights include: "The punishment of a wife by her
husband, the disciplining by parents and teachers of children under their authority
within certain limits prescribed by law or by custom".

In the Democratic Republic of Congo the Family Code states that the husband is
the head of the household; the wife owes her obedience to her husband; a wife has
to live with her husband wherever he chooses to live; and wives must have their
husbands' authorization to bring a case in court or to initiate other legal


Gender discrimination continues to be an enormous problem within Indian society.

Traditional patriarchal norms have relegated women to secondary status within the
household and workplace. This drastically affects women's health, financial status,
education, and political involvement. Women are commonly married young, quickly
become mothers, and are then burdened by stringent domestic and financial
responsibilities. They are frequently malnourished since women typically are the last
member of a household to eat and the last to receive medical attention. Additionally,
only 54 percent of Indian women are literate as compared to 76 percent of men.
Women receive little schooling, and suffer from unfair and biased inheritance and
divorce laws. These laws prevent women from accumulating substantial financial
assets, making it difficult for women to establish their own security and autonomy.

4.1 Reasons for gender inequality

Lorber states that gender inequality has been a historic worldwide phenomena, a
human invention and based on gender assumptions. It is linked to kinship rules rooted
in cultures and gender norms that organizes human social life, human relations, as
well as promotes subordination of women in a form of social strata. Amartya
Sen highlighted the need to consider the socio-cultural influences that promote gender
inequalities in India, cultural influences favour the preference for sons for reasons
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related to kinship, lineage, inheritance, identity, status, and economic security. This
preference cuts across class and caste lines, and it discriminates against girls. In
extreme cases, the discrimination takes the form of honour killings where families kill
daughters or daughter in laws who fail to conform to gender expectations about
marriage and sexuality. When a woman does not conform to expected gender
norms she is shamed and humiliated because it impacts both her and her familys
honor, and perhaps her ability to marry. The causes of gender inequalities are
complex, but a number of cultural factors in India can explain how son preference, a
key driver of daughter neglect, is so prevalent.

Patriarchal society

Patriarchy is a social system of privilege in which men are the primary authority
figures, occupying roles of political leadership, moral authority, control of property,
and authority over women and children. Most of India, with some exceptions, has
strong patriarchal and patrilineal customs, where men hold authority over female
family members and inherit family property and title. Examples of patriarchy in India
include prevailing customs where inheritance passes from father to son, women move
in with the husband and his family upon marriage, and marriages include a bride price
or dowry. This 'inter-generational contract' provides strong social and economic
incentives for raising sons and disincentives for raising daughters. The parents of the
woman essentially lose all they have invested in their daughter to her husband's
family, which is a disincentive for investing in their girls during youth. Furthermore,
sons are expected to support their parents in old age and women have very limited
ability to assist their own parents.

Son preference

A key factor driving gender inequality is the preference for sons, as they are deemed
more useful than girls. Boys are given the exclusive rights to inherit the family name
and properties and they are viewed as additional status for their family. In a survey-
based study of 1990s data, scholars found that son are believed to have a higher
economic utility as they can provide additional labour in agriculture. Another factor is
that of religious practices, which can only be performed by males for their parents'
afterlife. All these factors make sons more desirable. Moreover, the prospect of
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parents losing daughters to the husbands family and expensive dowry of daughters
further discourages parents from having daughters. Additionally, sons are often the
only person entitled to performing funeral rights for their parents. Thus, a
combination of factors has shaped the imbalanced view of sexes in India. A 2005
study in Madurai, India, found that old age security, economic motivation, and to a
lesser extent, religious obligations, continuation of the family name, and help in
business or farm, were key reasons for son preference. In turn, emotional support and
old age security were main reasons for daughter preference. The study underscored a
strong belief that a daughter is a liability.

Discrimination against girls

While women express a strong preference for having at least one son, the evidence of
discrimination against girls after they are born is mixed. A study of 1990s survey data
by scholars found less evidence of systematic discrimination in feeding practices
between young boys and girls, or gender based nutritional discrimination in India. In
impoverished families, these scholars found that daughters face discrimination in the
medical treatment of illnesses and in the administration of vaccinations against serious
childhood diseases. These practices were a cause of health and survival inequality for
girls. While gender discrimination is a universal phonomena in poor nations, a 2005
UN study found that social norms-based gender discrimination leads to gender
inequality in India.


In India, dowry is the payment in cash or some kind of gifts given to bridegroom's
family along with the bride. The practice is widespread across geographic region,
class and religions. The dowry system in India contributes to gender inequalities by
influencing the perception that girls are a burden on families. Such beliefs limit the
resources invested by parents in their girls and limits her bargaining power within the

The payment of a dowry has been prohibited under The 1961 Dowry Prohibition Act
in Indian civil law and subsequently by Sections 304B and 498a of the Indian Penal
Code (IPC). Several studies show that while attitudes of people are changing about
dowry, the institution has changed very little, and even continues to prevail.
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Marriage laws

Men and women have equal rights within marriage under Indian law, with the
exception of Muslim men who are allowed to unilaterally divorce their wife. The legal
minimum age for marriage is 18 for women and 21 for men, except for those Indians
whose religion is Islam for whom child marriage remains legal under India's
Mohammedan personal laws. Child marriage is one of the detriments to
empowerment of women.


Feminism is a collection of movements and ideologies that share a common goal: to

define, establish, and achieve equal political, economic, cultural, personal, and
social rights for women. This includes seeking to establish equal opportunities for
women in education and employment.

A feminist generally self-defines as advocating for or supporting the rights and

equality of women.

Feminist theory, which emerged from feminist movements, aims to understand the
nature of gender inequality by examining women's social roles and lived experience;
it has developed theories in a variety of disciplines in order to respond to issues such
as the social construction of sex and gender. Some forms of feminism have
been criticized for taking into account only white, middle-class, educated
perspectives. This led to the creation of ethnically specific or multiculturalist forms of

Feminist movements have and continue to campaign for many women's rights such
as the Equal Rights Amendment, the right to own property, equal health care coverage
for equal pay, sexual freedom and liberation, and voting while also promoting body
autonomy/integrity, and reproductive rights for women.

Feminist campaigns are generally considered to be main force behind major historical
societal changes, particularly in the West, where they are near-universally credited
with having achieved women's suffrage, gender neutrality in English, equal pay for
women, reproductive rights for women (including access
to contraceptives and abortion), and the right to enter into contracts and own property.
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Feminists have worked to protect women and girls from domestic violence, sexual
harassment, and sexual assault. Feminists have also advocated for workplace rights,
including receiving the right to paid work, paid maternity leave, and eradicating all
forms ofdiscrimination against women.

Feminist advocacy is mainly focused on women's rights, but author bell hooks, among
others, argue for the necessity for it to includemen's liberation, because men are also
harmed by traditional gender roles.


Though gender inequality is the most debated issue and is a major concern in the
society due to its complex variance and dynamical output. We, whole as an social
institution can change this fact by being aware of the problems and look through its
solutions. Some of them are:

1) Education system should be made such that the awareness about the gender
stereotypes should be studied. There should be an incentive system of scholarships
to promote gender equality.

2) Lack of public authority initiatives of systematic and long-lasting initiatives to

promote equality in the labour market.

3) Government should implement schemes concerning and addressing these issues

an important step towards a fightback to the wrongs of sexism.
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Gender inequality is amongst us all in any given society. Although gender is not as
simple as may seem. Gender comes into play along with a number of different aspects
such as sex, gender and gender roles. Each of these aspects play a significant part
when speaking of the different social problems encountered by men and women.
Thus, with the changing norms and recognition of women, there is a need for new
kinds of institutions, incorporating new norms and rules that support equal and just
relations between women and men. These days' women are organizing themselves to
meet the challenges that are hampering their progress.