Who is responsible for the Gender SDG?

SDG 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. Targets include:

· End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere.

· Eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation.

SDG 5 is a tall order. Any takers? According to the 2018 Global Education Monitoring Report, the Gender Parity Index for youth is .89 for sub-Saharan Africa and .94 for Southern Asia. For adults, they are .79 and .78 respectively for the two regions. The adult women remain marginalized as compared to men and as compared to their youth counterparts. Gender parity is illustrated with a value of 1 and being further away from 1 implies greater disparity. It is essentially a socioeconomic measure to show the relative access to schooling for females as compared to men.

The 2018 GEM Gender Report mentions that fewer women have ICT skills than men. Much of this data is not available for sub-Saharan Africa and for Southern Asia. There are fewer women than men in leadership positions. In India, there are cases where women are elected as the Sarpanch,or the leader of the local village council, while their husbands take all the executive decisions. There are also inspiring women who are leading the country in impactful ways. However, the platform is still very uneven for women in majority of the countries with underrepresentation and decision-making power.

Let us take the case of Amuda. She is in her mid 30s. Amuda has two daughters and is working hard to educate them. Education is something that she was deprived of in her childhood. She wants to see her girls as “big sahibs” (senior officers) in government offices. She comes to the Mahashakti workshed(non-profit based in Bhopal) and makes beautiful eco-friendly bags. She represents the “lost generation” of women in India who are past their early 30s, who didn’t get an opportunity to go to school. They are now considered too old to learn anything new. Their husbands repeatedly tell them that they are “good for nothing” and have lost all confidence that they are capable to learn anything new.

Most women past their early 30s in India cannot learn new skills, such as computers, because the courses are expensive and are not catered to their needs. Sitting in a cyber café is considered a social taboo. Poly-technique institutions require them to pay fees and the classes are at inconvenient times-- they are either busy taking care of their extended families or are in search of small jobs that will help them to get some income.

Historically, an overwhelming focus on basic and especially primary education led to the neglect of post-basic education and training, including Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET), and their non-inclusion in the UN Millennium Development Goals (Hartl, 2009). Bennell, 1999 (in Hartl, 2009) found that vocational education and training (VET) was largely absent in most government and donor poverty reduction strategies in developing countries. This marginalization of VET is due to a lack of donor investment and inaction by many governments. However, policies and approaches to TVET have undergone major readjustment in the 1970s and 1980s.

Venn (1964, as cited in Diwakar, 2015) explains the meaning of the term ‘vocational’ as a sort of ‘calling’. The author notes that Venn (1964) refers to the term vocational as education that enables a “stable job”. The term came about during the industrial revolution. Diwakar (2015) further explains that ‘Technical and Vocational Education is a study that involves the learning about technologies and related sciences which go beyond “general education”. Therefore it involves acquisition of practical skills, attitudes, understanding and knowledge relating to occupations in various sectors of economic and social life (UNESCO, 2001).

The National Skill Development Mission, headed by India’s Prime Minister Modi, was launched in 2008. Its mission is “ To rapidly scale up skill development efforts in India, by creating an end-to-end, outcome-focused implementation framework, which aligns demands of the employers for a well-trained skilled workforce with aspirations of Indian citizens for sustainable livelihoods”. As a part of TVET programs, the government mandated that the Women’s Vocational Training Programme be expanded with the institutional network providing training facilities exclusively for women. This was a means to expand the potential for women to obtain skills with highwage and increase the possibility of self-employment. Skill development for self-employment is a consideration and effort that will be especially important in rural areas. More specifically, post-training support, including mentoring for access to markets, credit and appropriate technologies, is an important part of skill development strategy for self-employment (Diwakar & Ahamad, 2015). It is also important to incorporate specific needs of target groups, e.g. literacy, the level of education and the local language in the training modules. The delivery of training needs to be flexible in terms of hours and duration to encourage participation, particularly among women (Diwakar & Ahamad, 2015).

There are several challenges in this mission. Agrawal (2013) highlights that the quality and financing of the system is a major challenge. Among other factors are an ineffective funding model, strong mismatch between demand and supply side factors, and misalignment between labor market needs and vocational courses. The report suggests that the major reforms in different areas are required before expanding the VET system and making the system more responsive to the needs of the labor market.

A Bhopal based non-profit, Mahashakti Seva Kendra, is using Government’s skill development funds to impart tailoring skills. When the 6-month training period is completed, interested candidates are asked to continue with the organization to make eco-friendly products. The non-profit sells these products in the market to provide a fair wage to its women partners. Such ventures are needed to match the vocation-demand link. Such apprenticeship-based programs related to traditional arts need expansion and market linkages for 1) promotion of traditional arts and crafts and 2) more job opportunities in the formal and informal sectors. Vocational training specific to a job may become outdated very quickly if the nature of the job changes or if training content becomes outdated. Employers should be constantly consulted regarding the design of vocational schooling curricula. This requires a systematic coordination with networks or associations of employers (Biavaschi. et al.,2012). Especially for women, education leading to economic empowerment is more than ensuring livelihood; it can lead to a life of dignity.


Agrawal, Tushar (2013). Vocational education and training programs (VET): An Asian perspective. Asia-Pacifci Journal of Cooperative Education. 14(1), 15-26.

Goal, Vijay (nd). Technical and vocational education and training (TVET) System in India for Sustainable Development. Ministry of Human Resources, department of Higher Education. Government of India.

Nitika Diwakar, Nitika., & Ahamad, Tauffiqu (2015). Skill development of women through vocational training. International Journal of Applied Research 1(6): 79-83.

Biavaschi. et al. (2012) Youth Unemployment and Vocational Training, IZA DP No. 6890. IZA. Discussion Paper Series. October 2012.

Mishra (nd)“Skill Development: A way to leverage the demographic dividend in India”. IK Gujral Punjab Technical University. Accessed March 15th 2017

Hartl, Maria (2009). Technical and vocational education and training (TVET) and skills development for poverty reduction – do rural women benefit? Policy Paper for PATHWAYS OUT OF POVERTY, Gender and Rural Employment.

Sudarshan, Ratna (2012) National skills development strategies and the urban informal sector: the case of India. Background paper prepared for the Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2012. Youth and skills: Putting education to work.

Das, Arup Kumar (2015). Skill development for SMEs: Mapping of key initiatives in India. Institutions and Economies. Vol 7. Issue2. July 2015. Pp 120-143.

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