Tech May Help Close Gender Gap In India, Says Christine Lagarde

The IMF chief, Christine Lagarde, has always vocalized her concern over gender gap being an obstacle in the economic growth of countries. This time too, while speaking at the World Economic Forum at Davos, she said that technology might be able to help close the gender gap and she talked about some ‘anecdotal’ examples from India where women have been able to come out of domestic violence or harassment by their mothers-in-law with the help of mobiles.

Lagarde was speaking with a few other men and women from various arenas, discussing disruption in the status quo of gender roles.

The Lagarde session also had award-winning Pakistani documentary filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy who agreed with Lagarde and added that even Pakistani women have benefited from the use of mobile phone in starting their own business or informing about their sexual harassment cases.

“We have been talking about closing gender gap for so many years, but things have not been moving forward fast enough. Since 2008, we have seen a slowdown in the process for the gap to be closed, as per the research we are doing on this issue. What has been done so far is not good enough to achieve the inclusive growth,” the IMF managing director said, as reported by Money Control.

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Obaid raised the concern that women are generally excluded from decision-making even when it involves women themselves. She gave the example of a village where women took the batten of decision-making upon themselves and it saw a decrease in sexual crimes right after that.

While PwC Global Chairman, Robert Moritz, is of the view that it is at the policy-destruction level that gender gap may see a drop, Costa Rican activist Cynthia Castro, Vice-President at Reinventing Business for All, cited that this bias in the work culture was constructed unconsciously by everyone.

Coming back to Lagarde, she said that she is no expert in technology, but she has heard of Indian women using mobile phones for reporting violence and also checking on their husbands whether they picked up their children from schools.

Obaid concluded that she has stopped answering questions that point directly to her being a female director and how she manages work-life balance. She says, “I’m a filmmaker. What is a female filmmaker? Similarly, have your ever heard a male CEO being asked how do you manage between your work and your family life?”