18TH ANNUAL WINTER CONFERENCE

TOPIC - GENDER AND INEQUALITY

The editorial board of Ramjas Economic Review, in collaboration with The Ramjas Economics Society organised the 18th Annual Winter Conference with the theme ‘Gender and Inequality’. The theme was chosen to take a break from the numerous conferences and panel discussions focusing on the global and Indian economic slowdown and bring focus to an equally important but often overlooked topic in mainstream economics. The panelists for the panel discussion were Dr. Jayati Ghosh and Dr. Mary E. John. 

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The discussion began with Dr. Apoorva Gupta speaking about gender in the localised context of Indian society. She touched upon various areas such as preferring sons over daughters at the time of birth and a disparity in the way resources are endowed to them during their growing years. She also highlighted how gender is often used as a tool for discrimination even in the most urban, sophisticated and seemingly progressive organisations. The case for women has improved since the time of Indian independence but it is far from warranting celebration as there is a long way to go. She argued that political representation in and of itself is not enough to bring about changes because most of the real decision-making power still lies with their male counterparts. A large onus of uplifting women’s conditions lies on the media since it is known to downplay women’s achievements.

Dr. John spoke on gender and its relationship with violence and society. She began by highlighting that almost next to no research has been done on sexual violence which makes it very difficult to have accurate insights for formulating anti-rape laws. Countering the common belief that most acts of sexual violence against women are perpetrated by strangers, Dr. John brought light to the fact that crimes committed by people known to the victim go largely unregistered due to patriarchal notions and heavy moral policing. Most people consider urban areas to be relatively safe, but that belief is far from reality. In our cities and educational spaces, outstation women are not able to raise their voices against violence or injustice in fear of being called back to their hometowns by their parents. The idea of curfews in women’s hostels or PGs which are paraded for being for their own good is nothing but a farce as it limits their mobility and restricts their rights. Even as privatization of education rises, under the presence of government schemes and policies, education is becoming more accessible to women and girls. This is evident in the rising enrolment rates. Dr. John ended her discussion with remarks on women’s participation in the labour force and the paradox of the share of women in the labour force going down despite a rise in access to education.

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Dr. Ghosh focused her speech on female migration and its economics. She criticised the idea of excluding unpaid work, mostly done by women, in the calculation of the GDP. Our public works, which are considered to be the hallmarks of development are heavily dependent on the unpaid labour of women. In recent times, women who are traditionally homebound are observed to be migrating in search of livelihood, primarily in the CARE industry. She also argued that in times of recessions and slowdowns, female remittances are largely undisturbed because occupational roles come into play; women are generally employed in the service sectors while men in the manufacturing sector. In her concluding remarks, she argued how development crucially depends on this gender bias which promotes further discrimination.    

The talk was followed by a brief Q and A session with the audience. After the conference, the much-awaited Paper Presentation Competition took place which saw participation of brilliant minds from all across the country. Students showcased their critical thinking, originality, and research skills on a variety of topics ranging from ‘Institutional Growth’ to ‘Happiness in the Economy’.  The competition was judged by the faculty members of the Department of Economics, Ramjas College who were very impressed by the participants. After presenting their case, each team had to answer a string of questions put forth by both the judges and the audience. The competition was cutthroat and it was quite difficult to choose the winning team. The winner of the competition was Samiran Dutta and Varun Bansal’s team, both third year students of Ramjas College. Their paper was titled “Analysis of Innovation: A Game-Theoretic Model.”