Practical gender needs and strategic gender needs – Green Jobs for women and girls
Practical gender needs and Indian States promoting practical gender needs
Women’s and girls’ needs in general are typically related to responsibilities and tasks associated with their traditional gender roles. Responding to such practical gender needs does achieve stability in family structures but not gender equality in societies at large.
Practical gender needs relate to basic needs like shelter, water, work, etc and these needs if not met lead to inequalities. For example, women (unlike men) would have to travel long distances to get water for their families. The states in India promote traditional ‘work opportunities’ for women like tailoring, teaching and the like, as work and employment are one of practical gender needs of women. However, such state programmes and policies generally do not take address poor social status of women and girls in the society. They build on traditional gender roles ascribed for women and girls. For example, ‘the free silai machine yojana 2021’ promoted by the Central government claims that this scheme is to motivate women towards self-employment and self-reliance.
It is well known that a majority of women in rural India struggle with traditional patriarchal norms and values in the society and more-so within families. Such schemes do provide relief (in the short term to women and girls). But if the states want to work towards changing the status of women and girls and addressing their gender needs, the ‘strategic’ needs of women and girls have to be initiated into such schemes and employment opportunities.
Strategic gender needs
The strategic gender needs should be understood from the lens of women’s status in the society. The policies and programmes that promote inheritance to property and equality in political participation (in the highest forums) could be seen as a few examples. The ‘Women Reservation Bill’ which provides for 1/3 reservation of women legislators in Lok Sabha and the legislative assemblies is still pending!
Empowering entrepreneurship opportunities
It is a novel idea to engage women and girls in ‘non-traditional’ entrepreneurial activities, such as green jobs (jobs that contribute to or restore the environment, e.g., setting up solar farms). Bihar is one of the states which is now focusing on promoting green jobs, for example the Solar energy irrigation scheme in Bihar. But the state functionaries have to be careful in planning ways to include women and girls for these opportunities. One of the ways the state of Bihar can recognize women and girl’s integration in this stream is by issuing letters to districts and below and Training Institutions to include focus on enrollment of girls who have passed high school into such employment opportunities.
Green jobs tract of Turn the Bus
Turn the Bus in Bihar is strategizing the integration of information on green jobs (training curriculum) within its existing EdTech strategy. On a larger scale, if the State and donors start to understand the need for this crucial investment, small but strategic steps towards realization of women’s and girl’s strategic needs can be done with ease.