Need to address gender inequality in workforce: Sayeeda Hameed

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    New Delhi, (IANS) Planning Commission member Sayeeda Hameed Friday said that lack of skills among women has created a huge gender inequality in India’s workforce and that gender sensitivity needs to be embedded in the country’s work culture.

    “I feel women in our country face huge impediments due to lack of skills. We have to focus on that. The issue of gender inequality has to be put up front and every single effort should be taken to address it,” Hameed said.

    She was speaking at the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII)-sponsored ‘India-Australia skills meet’ in the national capital.

    Stressing that the country’s record in terms of gender inequality is one of the worst in the world, Hameed said: “Gender sensitivity has to be embedded in all work we do. We need to bring more women to work, give them the (required) skills and make them part of the workforce, as it is the only way we can expect development in the real sense.”

    She said the government has initiated many programmes and schemes to empower young people, particularly from rural areas and weaker sections of society, through skill development and gainful employment.

    She added that the National Skill Development scheme, announced in February 2009, was a “sincere” attempt to address the challenge. “The skill development mission has brought about a paradigm shift in handling such programmes.”

    “The focus (of the Indian government) is to impart vocational skills along with revised educational curriculum to our young people, and learn from the Australian experience to reap demographic dividends,” Hameed said.

    She said the goal is to create 50 million non-farming employment opportunities and to provide skill certification to equal number of people.

    Howard Ronaldson, secretary, department of business and innovation of the Australian state of Victoria, said the system in place in his state to impart vocational training and skill development was struggling as it was much more costlier than the Indian system.

    Ronaldson said that Australia looks at India as a potential partner in the skill development sector.