Current Affairs (17th April 2021)
- Gender Samvaad event, a joint attempt between DAY-NRLM and the Initiative for What Works to Advance Women and Girls in the Economy (IWWAGE) to create a common platform to share experiences emerging from this effort, was organised by the Ministry of Rural Development.
- The attempt is to generate greater awareness on gender related interventions under DAY-NRLM across the country and best practices, with a focus on hearing voices from the states and the field.
- Gender Samvaad provides states with opportunities to:
- Understand best practices/initiatives that other states have been undertaking to improve women’s agency (e.g. facilitating women’s access to land rights, their engagement in farmer producer organizations (FPOs), best practices around Food, Nutrition, Health and Water and Sanitation (FNHW), in establishing strong institutions for public service delivery, and in protecting and providing redress to vulnerable groups within women (e.g. to victims of witch hunting));
- Understand gender interventions globally;
- Engage with experts and other colleagues on suggestions regarding how to handle issues/implementation barriers;
- Contribute to creation of a ‘gender repository’ with resource materials on best practices for gender interventions across the country/other countries; and
- Build advocacy around the need to focus on gender issues across SRLMs and the NRLM.
- With over 60 million women mobilised to be part of one of India’s largest livelihoods programme, the Deendayal Antayodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM) holds great promise for advancing women’s socio-economic empowerment by organising them into self-help groups (SHGs) and federations of the rural poor.
- Not only are these platforms facilitating financial opportunities and livelihood support services for women, but they have also become an extended arm of governance to demand accountability from and build linkages with mainstream institutions.
- In 2016, DAY-NRLM laid out a gender operational strategy to mainstream gender issues within its federated architecture, with a focus on training and capacity building of staff, cadres and institutions on gender issues.
- This was coupled with the establishment of institutional platforms (e.g. social action committees and gender resource centres) at the field level, so women could approach them for their grievances and to claim their rights and entitlements.
Girls face more pressure during pandemic: study
- The study titled ‘COVID In Her Voice: A Girl-led and Centred Participatory Research Study’ was released. It was conducted by girls aged 13-24 from Ahmedabad, Alwar, Bareily, Delhi, Lucknow, Mumbai and Pune within their communities.
- It adopted a unique methodology where girls were trained as researchers to conduct interviews with a total of 153 girls from their respective communities.
- The study was supported by the U.K. government and conducted by EM power, a global philanthropy focused on at-risk youth in emerging markets.
- Twenty-five girls from seven cities set out to interview their peers to record the impact of COVID-19 on their lives and found that adolescent girls were grappling with an increased pressure to get married, spent longer hours on household chores, lacked tools to continue school education online, and reported an increase in gender-based violence.
- Among the biggest challenges girls faced was the inability to attend online school. This was a result of nearly 80% respondents reporting an increase in household chores, which meant that 64% of girls and young women felt they did not have the space or get the time to study online.
- Lack of access to resources and technology was also a challenge — nearly 28% of those surveyed didn’t have the tools such as mobile phones or Internet access to learn online.
- With households from marginalised communities facing financial stress due to the economic impact of COVID-19, girls believed that the pressure to get married had increased, with nearly 42% reporting this.
- Almost 90% of girls reported experiencing mental distress and despair without any access to information about coping mechanisms.
- Their mental distress was exacerbated because of barriers in communicating with friends and teachers.
- Up to 26% respondents believe there was an increase in gender-based violence and felt that fears and threats of violence intensified restrictions on their freedom.
- On concluding the field research, seven girl leaders finalised a list of priority recommendations which include establishing girl-friendly spaces within the community such as skills training centres and violence-free spaces.
India likely to receive normal monsoon: IMD
- India is likely to receive “normal” monsoon rainfall this year, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has said as part of its official April forecast.
- Except for parts of eastern and northeastern India, many parts of the country are expected to get “above normal” rainfall.
- “Normal” rainfall refers to a range — 96%-104% of the Long Period Average (LPA) of 88 cm.
- According to private weather forecasting company, Skymet Weather, India will get normal rainfall, but said this was likely to be 103% of the LPA, whereas the IMDhas estimated it to be 98% of the LPA.
- The April forecast, which is based on an analysis of select meteorological factors in March, is updated in May, along with estimates of how the monsoon will perform in different geographical regions.
- In 2019, the IMD forecast 96% LPA in April, but India ended up with record excessive rainfall of 110%. In 2020, it said 100% LPA, but India wound up with 109%. IMD said it was unlikely there would be such excessive rain this year.
- In 2019, the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) — defined as a swing in temperatures in the western and eastern sections of the Indian Ocean, where a positive phase usually corresponds to good rains over India — contributed to the excess rains.
- Last year it was La Nina — the converse of an El Nino and associated with a cooling of the equatorial central Pacific — again a feature correlated with heavy India rains.
- This year, the models show a weak IOD and neutral conditions in the central Pacific. It’s unlikely there will be over 105% LPA this year.
- Though the IMD now issues short-term and extended range forecasts — that is, an estimate of rainfall in time frames of three days to 15 days — for the first time this year, it will begin giving monthly forecasts for all months.
- It has so far refrained from giving a forecast for June and September, months that are known to be erratic as those are the months when the monsoon enters and exits the country, respectively, posing a challenge to meteorologists.
- The IMD also said it was developing a separate forecast for the Monsoon Core Zone (MCZ), which represents most of the rain-fed agriculture region in the country.
- A separate forecast for the MCZ will be more useful for agricultural planning and crop yield estimation, etc. In the second stage forecast in May, IMD will issue a separate probabilistic forecast for the MCZ, based on MME [Multi Model Ensemble] system and a new statistical model.
- The reduction in rainfall in eastern India has been consistently decreasing. For an adequate monsoon, it is important for a temperature gradient to be present between the ocean and the land.
- In recent years, however, the India Ocean has been warming faster than the land surface, reducing this temperature differential and affecting the monsoonal flow.
State of World Population Report 2021
- The United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA) flagship State of World Population Report 2021 titled ‘My Body is My Own’ was recently launched.
- Nearly half the women from 57 developing countries do not have the right to make decisions regarding their bodies, including using contraception, seeking healthcare or even on their sexuality.
- In countries where data is available, only 55% of women are fully empowered to make choices over healthcare, contraception, and the ability to say yes or no to sex.
- It also highlights that only 75% of countries legally ensure full and equal access to contraception.
- 12% of currently married women (15-49 years of age) independently make decisions about their own healthcare.
- 63% decide in consultation with their spouse.
- For 23% it is the spouse that mainly takes decisions about healthcare.
- 8% of currently married women (15-49 years) take decisions on the use of contraception independently.
- 83% decide jointly with their spouse. Information provided to women about use of contraception is also limited.
- 47% of women using a contraceptive were informed about the side effects of the method.
- 54% women were provided information about other contraceptives.
- Report is UNFPA’s annual flagship publication.
- It has been published yearly since 1978.
- It highlights emerging issues in the field of sexual and reproductive health and rights, bringing them into the mainstream and exploring the challenges and opportunities they present for international development.
- This is the first time a UN report has focused on bodily autonomy, defined as the power and agency to make choices about your body without fear of violence or having someone else decide for you.
- The report measures both women’s power to make their own decisions about their bodies and the extent to which countries’ laws support or interfere with a woman’s right to make these decisions.
- The data show a strong link between decision-making power and higher levels of education.