Many Faces of Gender Inequality: Prof. Amartya Sen
This article appeared in Frontline; Volume 18 – Issue 22, Oct. 27 – Nov. 09, 2001
“Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen work on gender inequality is of seminal importance. His work on the theory of the household represents the household not as an undifferentiated unit, but as a unit of cooperation as well as of inequality and internal discrimination. He has worked on problems of discrimination against women in the development process, on survivorship differentials between men and women under conditions of social discrimination against women, and on women’s agency in the process of social development. Along with his academic collaborator Jean Dreze, Professor Sen proposed and popularised the concept of – estimated to exceed 100 million round the world – which has given us a new way of understanding and mapping the problem.
In this Cover Story essay, which is based on the text of his inauguration lecture for the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University, Professor Sen takes a comprehensive and deeply concerned look at the “many faces of gender inequality.” Focussing on South Asia , he discovers in the data thrown up by the Census of 2001 an interesting phenomenon – a split India, “something of a social and cultural divide across India, splitting the country into two nearly contiguous halves, in the extent of anti-female bias in natality and post-natality mortality.” He concludes by identifying the principal issues, emphasising the need to “take a plural view of gender inequality,” and calling for a new agenda of action to combat and put an end to gender inequality.”