An overwhelming majority of both adults and youth in India — about 76 per cent of those surveyed — feel that life in the country is way better for men and boys than it is for women and girls. Of the 15 countries surveyed as part of a global study, the perception about women and girls getting a raw deal is the highest in India.
In contrast, the global average of adults who believe that their country is better off for men/boys is 43 per cent while 44 per cent of the youth hold a similar opinion, according to Goalkeepers Global Youth Poll conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs. The report was released by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on the sidelines of United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) meet in New York last week as part of an exercise to track the progress made by countries on UNGA’s Sustainable Development Goals.
According to the survey, only Saudi Arabia fares second worst after India on this front, with 50 per cent of the adults and 60 per cent of youth surveyed there stating that men enjoy a better life than women in their country.
The survey takes into account the outlook of over 40,000 respondents, youth (aged 12-24 years) as well as adults across 15 countries on various important issues. These included higher-income countries such as Australia, France, Germany, Great Britain, Sweden, the United States, and Saudi Arabia and lower- and middle-income countries such as Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, and Russia.
In India, a large proportion of both men and women agree in equal measure with the statement that “life is better for men and boys than women and girls.” As against this, similar sex-disaggregated data globally shows that across the lower, middle, and higher-income countries, women are more likely than men to agree with the above statement.
Yamini Atmavilas, gender equality in-charge for the Gates Foundation in India, said that one of the possible reasons could be the increasing awareness and debates in the country with regards to women’s rights. “Women’s safety, especially, has come under greater scrutiny in recent years. People today have greater access to information, and this makes them more aware of what is happening not just in their immediate vicinity, but different corners of the country. We hope that this awareness can also be channelled into constructive changes towards women’s social and economic empowerment,” she said.
The survey also polled adults and youth on what they consider to be the most worrying issue in their country. Of the 15 issues raised, including healthcare, education, political instability, a majority of Indian picked unemployment rate to be the greatest concern, with no other country rating as high on this particular issue.
Almost half of those surveyed in India voiced their worry over growing unemployment as against the global average of a quarter of those surveyed, who said that unemployment is their most worrying concern. Another area where India is among the bottom of the pile is easy to access to birth control, with only 60 per cent adults and 30 per cent youth stating that they have easy access to contraceptives any kind.
The report, however, states that “India often called the largest democracy in the world, reports the highest level of politically aware” adults (at 62 per cent of those surveyed) and youth (55 per cent). Similarly, India and Saudi Arabia are the only exceptions of the 15 countries surveyed where the adults and youth surveyed believe that the political leaders care about people like them.
Globally, the poll findings show that young people are more optimistic about their own future, the future of their country, and that of the world than older people. This optimism among youth is most pronounced in lower and middle-income countries where they believe that their generation will have a more positive impact on the world than their parents’ generation.
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