The country lacks the political will to spend enough money to improve women’s security, economist Jayati Ghosh has said.

She was addressing a meeting of women professionals organised by the Centre of Science and Technology for Rural Development (Costford) here on Saturday.

“To improve physical security for women, streets should be lit well, policing and public transport should be bettered, and there should be sufficient women in the police force. Administrators always bring up the excuse: where is the money for all these? Of course, we have the money. But not the political will to use it effectively. Only 1.5 per cent of the GDP is necessary to improve things. At the same time, the government had waived tax to the tune of 4.2 per cent of the GDP for corporates,” she said.

Ms. Ghosh said the country should spend money to ensure minimum protection for women.

“The economic security, physical security, and dignity of women are critical issues. There is a large gender gap for skilled urban workers in India. In Southeast Asia and China, the gender gap reduces. Why does the gender gap widen in India? The reason is the strategy of growth that India has chosen. It is because we make a large section of our women do unpaid or underpaid labour. There is also a wrong notion that only the private sector can trigger growth. Hence, the government heaps all kinds of incentives on the private sector,” she said.

She said that shrinking of the public sector would increase the insecurity faced by women.

Pension scheme

She called for a universal pension scheme for social protection.

“It must be part of a broader strategy of economic expansion that is different from the present neoliberal order. Many developing countries have implemented universal pension schemes. The critical features of such schemes are that they are universal (applicable to everyone above a defined age) and non-contributory (not dependent upon payments made during the course of a working life),” Ms. Ghosh said.

P.S. Geethakutty, Head of Kerala Agricultural University’s Centre for Gender Studies, presided.