A healthy participation of women is the key to the success of any society. Traditionally, however, the women of Haryana have been neglected when it comes to their contribution in the state's workforce. Deemed second-class citizens, the women of the state do not even have adequate access to healthcare and education. The sex ratio of the state is dismal in comparison to the rest of the country and all the lost potential reflects in the sad state of the economy. Even as women from other states and from other countries make significant strides in all walks of life, Haryanvi women are still restrained to the confines of their houses and suffer much neglect. The few bold women who work up the courage to come out of their domestic environments in pursuit of a robust career are faced with blatant gender discrimination the likes of which may be unimaginable in other nations.
Literacy among women in Haryana is as low as 56.9% vis-vis a male literacy rate of about 84.06%. This in itself, curbs the active participation of women in many forms of occupation. Statistics of women's employment in various sectors are hard to come by and where available are too old to form the basis of a targeted action plan. In 2012-13, the Ministry of Labour and Employment published a study on the rates of unemployment in the country. Haryana's unemployment rates stood at about 48 (per 1000). What was shocking about the statistics was the disparity of the genders. In the rural sectors of the state about 67 of every 1000 women are unemployed while in urban tracts this figure goes up to 149 in every 1000. Women in cities were more literate but less employed.
More women are employed in agriculture and labour intensive works but are often paid less than their male counterparts for the same quantity of work. In 2009-10, studies reveal that in rural areas the average wages of regular wage woman employees between the age of 15 and 59 years was INR 155.87 per day while men earned about INR 249.15 per day. In urban areas women earned INR 308.79 a day and men earned INR 377.16 per day. In the year 2009, there were only about 10% women Central Government employees in the state. According to statistics, the organised sector in Haryana employed only 20.4% women by the year 2010.
Gender discrimination in Hayana is not confined to lack of education and employment. Women in the state are subject to discrimination at many levels - from lack of opportunities to advance their careers, to insubordination and neglect. Sexual harassment at workplaces is another hornet's nest that the state administration does not wish to stir.
Entrepreneurship opportunities are very limited to women in Haryana. The lack of education and awareness, and discrimination play a major role in inhibiting women from setting up businesses and participating actively in home and small industries. Haryana requires a number of programs to promote women entrepreneurship by advancing loans to capable women irrespective of their social background. Women's leadership development is another area Haryana can make much development.
The state of Haryana has much potential to grow. Science, technology, education, medical sciences, arts, media, law, and administration are but a few of the fields where the country can grow exponentially. It is only with the participation of the women of the state that development in all these fields can fully be achieved. And such participation can only be anticipated in a society where gender discrimination is both dissuaded and punished. Our Naya Haryana must be free and gender neutral.