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Gender Equality Charter Soon to be Launched in India

ECU and Indian National Science Academy collaborate to reduce the gender gap

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Gender Equality. Pixabay.

New Delhi, July 24, 2017: Women in STEMM India workshop which was held last year in November, was organized by the UK, Australian and Indian government highlighted the importance of promoting women in the field of science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) academic and professional endeavors.

It was observed in the workshop’s Summary Report that there is a very limited data available on the number of women working in STEMM in India. They also cited many reasons as to why there are so few of them working in these areas; a lack of role model in the family often acts as a demoralizing factor. When they do take part in the education programs in these fields, they are predominantly softer subjects or more suitable for women. While the so-called ‘hard’ science like- physics, observes a lack of participation from women.

Often the intensive coaching programs, which helps invigilate student’s preparations for qualifying admissions in these courses see a lack of participation from women, or are often made unavailable to them. If somehow they manage to enter employment in STEMM field their opportunities decline as they climb up the professional ladder, limiting their roles and responsibilities.

It was also observed in a keynote speech, that not only to women fall behind in numbers in STEMM but they’re equally invisible in other fields – be it for the lack of support system or be it the cultural boundaries. Many women after marriage end up being stay-at-home wives while the man of the house is ‘manned’ up for these jobs.

The report’s first recommendation was to create a proposal to extend the Athena SWAN charter framework in India to the Indian National Science Academy. Athena SWAN Charter was laid out by ECU which is headed in the UK.

The UK based Equality Challenge Unit laid out a proposal co-authored by Indian National Science Academy to bring their Athena SWAN charter in India; the charter was established in 2005 to promote women in higher education, research, and employment in STEMM. It was later extended to arts, humanities, social science, business and law (AHSSBL), and in professional and support roles, and for trans staff and students. Universities are promoted to encourage a progress on equality and diversity, and the Athena SWAN charter recognizes their commitment to bringing this change by awarding them upon monitoring their progress and contribution.

Women in STEMM workshop was attended by ECU’s Athena SWAN manager, Dr Ruth Gillian, who said: ‘At the heart of ECU’s Athena SWAN charter is the advancement of gender equality for all, therefore I am pleased to see a commitment to promote and increase the participation and progression of women in STEMM careers by proposing the introduction of an Athena SWAN framework in India.’

‘ECU looks forward to partnering with the Indian Science Academies’ inter-academy panel to develop this proposal’, she added.

The report was concluded on the note that uniform data sources in STEMM and gender equality be identified in India, Australia, and the UK so that the issue can be reported systematically.

-Prepared by Nivedita Motwani of NewsGram. Twitter @Mind_Makeup


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HPV Vaccination May Bring An End To Cervical Cancer In India by 2070

Combining high uptake of the HPV vaccine and cervical screening could eliminate cervical cancer as a public health hazard in 149 out of 181 countries by 2100 and up to 13 million cases of cervical cancer by 2050.

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Cervical cancer is the fourth-most common cancer among women, with an estimated 570,000 new cases diagnosed worldwide in 2018, of which around 85 per cent occur in less developed nations. Pixabay

Human papillomavirus (HPV) screening and vaccination must be taken up on a war footing in countries like India to prevent 15 million cervical cancer deaths among women by 2050, a Lancet research said.

Causing the second-highest number of deaths among Indian women among cancer variants, cervical cancer, in a majority of cases, is caused by HPV, a group of more than 150 viruses.

The efforts might even result in cervical cancer being eliminated as a public health hazard in India by 2070-79, according to the study, published in The Lancet Oncology journal.

Combining high uptake of the HPV vaccine and cervical screening could eliminate cervical cancer as a public health hazard in 149 out of 181 countries by 2100 and up to 13 million cases of cervical cancer by 2050.

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“Awareness about cervical cancer is extremely poor among common people; that makes containing the disease a challenge,” Anjila Aneja, Director at Fortis La Femme, New Delhi, told IANS. Pixabay

If the high coverage of HPV vaccination and cervical screening cannot be achieved globally, over 44 million women could be diagnosed with cervical cancer in the next 50 years with two-thirds of these cases and an additional estimated 15 million deaths, would occur in countries with low and medium levels of development.

“More than two thirds of cases prevented would be in countries with low and medium levels of human development like India, Nigeria, and Malawi, where there has so far been limited access to HPV vaccination or cervical screening,” said lead author Professor Karen Canfell from the Cancer Council New South Wales in Australia.

However, large disparities exist in cervical screening and HPV vaccination coverage among countries.

“Awareness about cervical cancer is extremely poor among common people; that makes containing the disease a challenge,” Anjila Aneja, Director at Fortis La Femme, New Delhi, told IANS.

“While societal barriers prevent women from seeking medical help in advance, women are forced to come out at a later stage when the disease has reached an advanced stage,” she said.

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Screening and broad-spectrum HPV vaccines could potentially prevent up to 84-90 per cent of cervical cancers, the study said. Pixabay

However, Canfell says that despite the enormity of the problem, their findings suggest that “global elimination is within reach with tools that are already available, provided that both high coverage of HPV vaccination and cervical screening can be achieved.

Cervical cancer is the fourth-most common cancer among women, with an estimated 570,000 new cases diagnosed worldwide in 2018, of which around 85 per cent occur in less developed nations.

Screening and broad-spectrum HPV vaccines could potentially prevent up to 84-90 per cent of cervical cancers, the study said.

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“Diagnostic tests such as the pap smear are effective in identifying cancerous tendencies.

“However, these tests are available with a limited number of providers and largely within the cities. This makes screening sporadic and leaves out women who live in rural areas,” Aneja added. (IANS)