The Economic Survey of India went pink today. No, not for the pink papers aka business newspapers which are normally pink in India but to make a point about women. Economic Survey document tabled by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in parliament today was not only wrapped in a pink folder but also printed on a pink paper emphasising that India must correct the preference for a male child and also do more about violence against women.

The colour of this year’s survey cover was chosen as a symbol of support for the growing movement to end violence against women. “The importance given to women’s initiatives by the Government in this year’s Economic Survey is timely and much needed,” says entrepreneur Swati Bhargava of CashKaro. “If publishing it in pink  is a sign of these changes to come, we welcome it with utmost eagerness and excitement. The colour does not matter, the actions that follow will.”

Saloni Nangia of Technopak Consultants said to SheThePeople that while it is good that the government is acknowledging it, “it’s important to have more action on the ground on these indicators around women.”

“The importance of women in the work force in particular, and in the society in general, needs to be brought into focus as equal contributors to the Indian economy and society,” says business author Sonu Bhasin. “For too long all matters around women issues have been either brushed under the carpet or trivialised. The economic survey going pink is a step to bring these issues out into the spotlight and, to my mind, is a signal of times to come.”

The Survey noted that gender equality is an issue that pans many aspects of India’s society and social indicators.

Economic survey of India, is a document that reports on the performance of the various sections of the country and a document that reports on the state of the economy. This year in 2018 by going pink, the idea was to note the adverse sex ratio of females to males and that it has led to 63 million “missing” women.

The Survey noted that gender equality is an issue that pans many aspects of India’s society and social indicators. It has assessed and reported on specific dimensions of gender. The Economic Times noted three areas such as Agency (relates to women’s ability to make decisions on reproduction, spending on themselves, spending on their households and their own mobility and health), Attitudes (relate to attitudes about violence against women/wives, and the ideal number of daughters preferred relative to the ideal number of sons).

“It is very good that the government at that level is talking about it,” says Bishaka Bhattacharya, senior director, Nasscom. “And when they talk about attitudes towards women, violence and number of sons v/s number of daughters so they have actually picked up very sensitive issues. The fact that they are using agency, attitude and outcome as assessment parameters all centered around women and their independence to take decisions. These parameters are great because once you have these out in the open then gradually people will want to have aspirations that we need to break barriers.”

The Survey states that just as India has committed to moving up the ranks in Ease of Doing Business indicators, a similar commitment should be endeavoured on the gender front.

Survey noted that on several indicators, India has a long way to cover with respect to gender – women were far behind in access to employment, society continues to focus on preference of a male child. That India had progressed in GDP but not managed to fix these issues.

“We can only grow as a nation if we bring real changes that eliminate gender bias, bring equal pay and most importantly, build better infrastructure that improves safety of women and enables them to join and remain in the workforce.”

The Survey states that just as India has committed to moving up the ranks in Ease of Doing Business indicators, a similar commitment should be endeavoured on the gender front. Swati notes, “We can only grow as a nation if we bring real changes that eliminate gender bias, bring equal pay and most importantly, build better infrastructure that improves safety of women and enables them to join and remain in the workforce.”

Does the Economic Survey going pink adequately put the spotlight on women’s issues and adverse sex ratio? Join the discussion in the comments below.

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