The post-2015 global agenda offers a historic opportunity to pursue transformational measures to ensure equality for every woman and girl, everywhere. All women and girls have the right to live free of discrimination, violence and poverty. Grounded in the vision of equality enshrined in the UN Charter, work on gender equality calls for:
Improving the status of women and girls in society can accelerate and strengthen efforts towards energy and food security, better governance, health outcomes and sustainable development. It is impossible to think of a sustainable future wherein the rights, dignities, and capabilities of half of the world’s population are neglected. To this end, Sustainable Development Goal 5: Achieve Gender Equality and Empower All Women seeks to end all forms of violence and discrimination against women, eliminate all harmful practices, recognise and value unpaid care and domestic work, ensure women’s full and effective participation in decision-making, ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health, and ensure access to economic resources and technology.
Gender equity and empowering women and girls are critical goals for India, with women continuing to lag on key socioeconomic indicators. While the male literacy rate in the country is 82.1%, female literacy lags at 65.5%. The workforce participation rate of males and females in the country is skewed at 54.4% and 21.9%, respectively. If this rate were equal, India’s GDP could increase by 27%. Therefore, the economic cost of limited employment opportunities for educated young women is immense. Further, the lifetime opportunity costs of adolescent pregnancy range as high as 12% of annual GDP in India.
The incidence of domestic violence against women is also high, with women from specific minority groups being most exposed to violence by their partners. Indeed, domestic violence has been the most reported violent crime against women in the country for the past 10 years, with an incident of domestic violence reported every five minutes.
To tackle these challenges, the Government of India has stepped up efforts to introduce and integrate gender in policy programming. In January 2015, the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (Save Daughter, Educate Daughter) initiative to save and empower the girl child was introduced and is gathering momentum nationally. Skilling and employment programmes for women, along with microfinance services, are reaching underprivileged rural women in distant corners of the country. Legislation to address sexual harassment, domestic violence and unequal remuneration is also being strengthened.
The results group on gender equity (convened by UN Women) strengthens the impact of the UN’s work on gender equality by (i) broadening the knowledge base on gender issues; (ii) joint programming, advocacy, research and communications; and (iii) overseeing and supporting the UN’s joint support for gender equality through inter-governmental platforms such as the Post-2015 Agenda, Beijing +20, the Commission on the Status of Women and UN Security Council Resolution 1325.
The results group supported the implementation of the Gender Scorecard in India. The results group has also formulated a sub-group on gender-based sex selection, comprising UN Women, UNICEF, UNDP, the Regional Coordinator’s Office and UNFPA, to work on the issue of sex selection and the prevention of early marriage.
The results group undertakes powerful advocacy campaigns, such as HeForShe and 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence (held each year from 25 November to 10 December). In March 2016, a joint UN communication and advocacy campaign was launched for International Women’s Day by the UN System in India and NITI Aayog. Women Transform – an online campaign – called for submissions of inspiring stories of women across the country, and was followed by an awards ceremony in September 2016. The campaign received nearly 1,000 contest entries, of which 25 were polled through MyGov and reviewed by a high-level jury to select the top 12 stories. Winners included Paralympian Deepa Malik, 102-year-old Kuwabai Yadav, who made her village open defecation free, and Revathi Roy, who pioneered India’s first ever all-women taxi service FORSCHE. Nine-year-old Muskaan Ahirwar, who successfully runs a library in her slum area, was the youngest runner-up.
After a recent consultation organised in partnership with the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation and the Ministry of Women and Child Development, a framework on addressing data gaps in gender statistics was developed to analyse three areas – use of women’s time, asset ownership and prevalence of violence against women. These areas had been prioritised by the results group and the lack of a comprehensive survey on the status of women was highlighted.
 Census 2011.
 National Sample Survey Report (2011-12).
 International Monetary Fund (2015).
 Jad Chaaban and Wendy Cunningham. 2011. “Measuring the Economic Gain of Investing in Girls: The Girl Effect Dividend,” Policy Research Working Paper 5753, World Bank, Washington, DC, 2011.
 Koustuv Dalal and Kent Lindqvist, “A National Study of the Prevalence and Correlates of Domestic Violence among Women in India,” Asia-Pacific Journal of Public Health 24, no. 2 (2012): 265–77–35 percent of Muslim women and 41 percent of women from scheduled castes were exposed to physical violence; of those women, 15 percent and 18 percent, respectively, were exposed to emotional violence; and 11 percent of both groups were exposed to sexual violence
 National Crime Records Bureau (2013), under its legal definition of “cruelty by husband or his relatives”