A New Era for Girls: Taking Stock on 25 Years of Progress

Paper: II

For Prelims: Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.

For Mains: Welfare Schemes for Vulnerable Sections of the population by the Centre and States and the Performance of these Schemes; Mechanisms, Laws, Institutions and Bodies constituted for the Protection and Betterment of these Vulnerable Sections.

Context of News:

  • Report titled “A New Era for Girls: Taking stock on 25 years of progress” is published by United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in collaboration with UN Women and Plan International.
  • The report has been launched in line with the Generation Equality campaign, and to mark the 25thanniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.

Details of Report:

  • The report reveals that though the rate of drop-outs for girls in schools has decreased from 20% to 13.5% from 2008 to 2018, a greater empowerment has not taken place.
  • It also states that many girls still face an unequal violent environment and one in every 20 girls in the age group of 15-20 has experienced rape, both within and outside marriage.
  • According to the report Gender disparities in the number of out-of-school children have narrowed substantially over the past two decades.
  • At the secondary level, they have shifted to the disadvantage of boys. Still, despite the remarkable gains made for girls in the past two decades, girls are still more disadvantaged at the primary level, with 5.5 million more girls than boys of this age out of school worldwide.
  • The report mentions a term called “learning crisis”; this means, even when girls are in school, many do not receive a quality education.

Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action:

  • The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, adopted at the UN’s Fourth World Conference on Women (Beijing, China, 1995), at which Ireland participated, is an agenda for women’s empowerment.
  • Objective:
  • It aims at removing all the obstacles to women’s active participation in all spheres of public and private life through ensuring women a full and equal share in economic, social, cultural and political decision-making. This means that the principle of shared power and responsibility should be established between women and men at home, in the workplace, and in the wider national and international communities.
  • The Declaration and Platform for Action affirm that equality between women and men is a matter of human rights and a condition for social justice.
  • It is also a necessary and fundamental prerequisite for equality, development and peace. To this end, governments, the international community and civil society, including non-governmental organizations and the private sector, are called upon to take strategic action.

Challenges for Women Empowerment:

  • There are several constraints that check the process of women empowerment in India. Social norms and family structure in developing countries like India, manifests and perpetuate the subordinate status of women.
  • Education:
  • While the country has grown from leaps and bounds since independence where education is concerned. The gap between women and men is severe. While 82.14% of adult men are educated, only 65.46% of adult women are known to be literate in India.
  • Poverty:
  • Poverty is considered the greatest threat to peace in the world, and eradication of poverty should be a national goal as important as the eradication of illiteracy. Due to this, women are exploited as domestic helps.
  • Health and Safety:
  • The health and safety concerns of women are paramount for the wellbeing of a country and are an important factor in gauging the empowerment of women in a country. However there are alarming concerns where maternal healthcare is concerned.
  • Missing link from Government:
  • Absence of significantly large budgetary allocations for women-targeted programmes, derail the state government plans towards women. An important focus could be smarter policy and gender-intentional implementation. A key example comes from MGNREGA, a programme whose official policy has long been to pay individual workers in their own bank accounts ,found in recent studies.

Way Forward:

  • The global community needs to listen and develop solutions with girls at the centre so all girls, including those most marginalised, can move from dreaming to achieving.
  • Women are rights holders and equal partners in the fight for gender equality. They represent a tremendous engine for transformational change towards gender equality.
  • Women deserve the full support of the global community to be empowered to successfully transition to adulthood with their rights intact, able to make their own choices and with the social and personal assets acquired to live fulfilled lives.
  • Finally, development resources devoted specifically to gender equality currently stand at less than 5 percent, therefore commitments to gender equality requires a greater share of development funding from governments, the development community and the private actor.

 


Social media platforms to be made accountable

Paper: III

For Mains: Challenges to Internal Security through Communication Networks, Role of Media and Social Networking Sites in Internal Security Challenges, Basics of Cyber Security.

Context of News:

  • The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology is in the process of amending the Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules, 2011, to make the social media platforms more responsive and accountable.
  • The government is finalising the ‘intermediaries’ guidelines’ to make the social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter, more responsive and accountable.

Background of the Draft Proposed by Meity:

  • The government had first released the draft for proposed amendments to the IT Act in December 2018, inviting public comments. It proposed to make it mandatory for platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter to trace the “originator” of “unlawful” information and remove such content within 24 hours of notice.
  • The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (the “MEITY”) released the draft Information Technology Intermediaries Guidelines (Amendment) Rules, 2018 (the “Draft Rules”) on December 24, 2018. The Draft Rules intend to supersede the present Information Technology Intermediaries Guidelines Rules, 2011 (the “Current Rules”), which are currently in force.
  • Draft Rules have been framed with the intention of curbing the misuse of online intermediaries, protecting the interest of online users and making intermediaries more accountable.

Existing Policies/Steps of Government for Regulating Social Media:

  • India has the regulating framework for Print Media, licensing process for electronic media but there is no formal system for digital media.
  • When it comes to digital content, there has to be some kind of recognition and that recognition comes through registration.
  • As of now, there is no direct binding law for the digital news and other kinds of news sharing are concerned. There is no responsibility and credibility involved for the publishers regarding the digital news content.

Challenges Possessed by Social Media for Internal Security:

  • Cyber Terrorism:
  • The biggest challenge for internal security of nation through social networking site is cyber terrorism.
  • Non state actors select Social Media as a practical alternative to disturb the function of nations and other business activities because this technique has potential to cause huge damage. It poses enormous threat in international system and attracts the mass media, the security community, and the information technology corporation.
  • At the same time, due to the convenience, affordability and broad reach of social media platforms like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, terrorist groups have increasingly used social media to further their goals and spread their message.
  • Social Media became a platform for coordination of plans of attack, communication with cells, or propaganda and information and spread of hate campaign or messages that can hurt the sentiments of people.
  • Youths are especially targeted for propaganda, incitement and recruitment purposes by terrorist groups.
  • Criminal Activity and Money laundering:
  • Internet Media is a major resource for developing serious crime. As Internet is growing explosively, online criminals try to present fraudulent plans in many ways. Social networking sites also pose major challenge in financial and organized crime which destabilizes the system. It creates threat to a company’s security because of what employees might disclose and they are on prime target for cyber criminals.
  • Communal Violence and Fake News: 
  • Importantly, social media also seems to be playing a significant role in polarising different communities in India and compounding India’s Security challenges. The viral videos and false updates of communal clashes, riots and terrorists attack have created a massive impact in the life of public.
  • The power of media and the process of public opinion formation in a free society had undergone radical change due to Internet and faster means of communications like SMS, whats app, viber and simplified mobile internet.

Way Forward:

  • Self- Censorship can work:
  • A cautionary approach warrants avoiding overarching regulation in the form of anti-fake news legislation, irrespective of the benignity of its motivations.
  • Entrusting a judge, the state or companies like Facebook with the task of making an evaluation of veracity will facilitate judicial, government or private censorship. This can breed a chilling effect and self-censorship.
  • Implementation of the above three prongs will not only be a sustainable response to the fake news but will also strike the necessary balance with free speech considerations.
  • Ensure critical media literacy, with critical digital literacy as a component:
  • This would focus on encouraging individuals to learn the skills required to navigate the internet and question the content they are exposed to.
  • Users should understand the limitations of digital media.
  • Nurture and general culture of scepticism among citizens towards information:
  • Practices, such as verifying the source of the news and corroboration with related news, ought to be advanced in schools and through public education campaigns.
  • The role of the district administration and local community leaders is key in this regard.
  • Limited Legal Interventions can be explored:
  • In a limited set of situations, such as when there is threat to life or national security, targeted and proportionate legal interventions can be explored.
  • They should account for existing speech offences to avoid overlap. Despite their own flaws, existing provisions on hate speech, sedition and defamation already deal with certain kinds of harm that may be substantially similar to those posed by fake news.