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Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 26 October 2023

CONTENTS:

  1. Right to work: A Far Cry for Women
  2. Global Biofuels Alliance: Securing a green future

Right to Work: A Far Cry for Women


Context:

In 2016, an opinion poll conducted by the ILO and Gallup across 142 countries and territories found that a majority of both women (70%) and men (66%) expressed a preference for women to engage in paid work, even including women who were not part of the workforce. This preference was widespread globally, including in traditionally low female labour force participation regions like the Arab world.

Relevance:

GS Paper- 2

  • Issues Related to Women
  • Gender
  • Employment
  • Issues Relating to Development

Mains Question:

The disruption of economic opportunities for women in terms of skilling, wealth accumulation, and overall well-being, as highlighted in the Global Gender Gap Report 2022 , underscores the need to address broader gender gaps in households, societies, and economies. Analyse. (15 marks, 250 words).

Women in Workforce: Data:

  • The global female labour force participation rate stands at just over 50%, compared to 80% for men. In India, this rate is only 37% according to PLFS-2022-23.
  • Furthermore, approximately 2.4 billion working-age women worldwide face barriers preventing their equal economic participation due to legal restrictions in 178 countries.
  • In 86 countries, women encounter job restrictions, and in 95 countries, equal pay for equal work is not guaranteed.
  • The global gender pay gap is staggering, with men earning $172 trillion more than women over their lifetimes, which is nearly twice the world’s annual GDP, as reported by the World Bank in 2022.
  • On average, women earn only 51 cents for every dollar earned by men globally, and this figure drops to 33 cents and 29 cents for women in low and lower-middle-income countries, respectively, according to the ILO in 2023.
  • The Senior Vice President and Chief Economist of the World Bank Group has emphasized that women cannot achieve workplace equality if they face unequal conditions at home.
  • Notably, across the globe, 118 economies provide 14 weeks of paid leave for mothers, and 114 offer paid leave for fathers, but the median duration is just one week.

Limitations faced by women:

Job Gaps:

Women also face various limitations in their job search, encounter different challenges than men, and often cannot secure employment on short notice, resulting in a significant “jobs gap.” This gap is more pronounced for women at 15% compared to men at 10.5%.

Insecurity of employment:

Even when women do secure employment, it is frequently in the informal sector, lacking legal protections, social security, and decent working conditions. For every five jobs created for women, four fall within the informal economy, whereas for men, the ratio is two out of every three jobs, according to the ILO.

Concentrated in a few areas:

A 2023 LinkedIn report based on data from 163 countries indicates that women continue to be overrepresented in certain industries, such as Healthcare and Care Services (64.7%), Education (54.0%), and Consumer Services (51.8%). In contrast, they are underrepresented in industries like Retail (48.7%), Entertainment Providers (48.4%), Administrative and Support Services (46.5%), Real Estate (44.7%), Accommodation and Food (43.3%), Financial Services (42.4%), Oil, Gas, and Mining (22.7%), and Infrastructure (22.3%).

Under-represented in STEM areas:

In well-remunerated STEM occupations  expected to grow in the future, women constitute only 29.2% of the workforce. In the emerging field of AI, women account for just 30% of talent as of 2022, potentially leading to the creation of biased algorithms that lack women’s perspectives. Additionally, in 2023, women hold only 32.2% of senior leadership positions across all industries, remaining outnumbered by men.

Initiatives in this regard:

  • Despite these disparities, the World Economic Forum’s 2023 Future of Jobs Survey reveals that over two-thirds of surveyed organizations have implemented Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) programs.
  • These initiatives include mentoring, sponsorship, leadership training, caregiving policies, and increased flexibility in working arrangements to address gender gaps in the workplace.
  • However, the World Bank’s 2022 report points out that indicators related to pay, parenthood, and workplace conditions have improved only modestly, indicating that there is more work to be done.

Conclusion:

The disruption of economic opportunities for women in terms of skilling, wealth accumulation, and overall well-being, as highlighted in the Global Gender Gap Report 2022, underscores the need to address broader gender gaps in households, societies, and economies. As labor markets evolve in the post-pandemic era, efforts should focus on leveraging frontier technologies, enhancing education and capacity-building for improved employability, productivity, and wages, as well as establishing new working arrangements that enable both men and women to balance caregiving responsibilities with work.


Global Biofuels Alliance: Securing a Green Future


Context:

The formation of the Global Biofuels Alliance (GBA), with founding members including the United States, Brazil, and India, represents a significant global effort to encourage the use of clean fuel. This alliance, centered around ethanol, has the potential to effectively combat climate change and mitigate its severe global consequences.

Relevance:

GS Paper- 3

  • Growth & Development
  • Conservation
  • Environmental Pollution & Degradation

Mains Question:

The formation of the Global Biofuels Alliance (GBA), with founding members including the United States, Brazil, and India, represents a significant global effort to encourage the use of clean fuel. Examine the above statement in the context of relevance of GBA for India. (15 marks, 250 words).

Significance of Global Biofuels Alliance:

  • It holds promise for the agricultural sector, potentially bringing newfound prosperity to millions of farmers in India and other agriculture-intensive countries.
  • By facilitating trade in biofuels derived from sources like plant and animal waste, the GBA aims to support global efforts to achieve net-zero emissions, representing a historic milestone in the energy sector.

India and the GBA:

Combating Climate Change:

India’s establishment of the GBA underscores its commitment to combat catastrophic climate change by uniting governments, international organizations, and industry players to promote the adoption of biofuels.

Biofuel Market:

This new organization brings together major consumers and producers of biofuels, with the goal of advancing biofuel development and deployment. The initiative seeks to position biofuels as a pivotal component of the energy transition, contributing to job creation and economic growth.

Enhances India’s position as the voice of global south:

As India chairs the G20 and champions the “Voice of the Global South,” the GBA aligns with India’s proactive agenda. The alliance’s objectives include supporting the global development and deployment of sustainable biofuels, enhancing capacity-building across the value chain, providing technical assistance to national programs, and sharing policy lessons.

Virtual Marketplace:

The GBA will establish a virtual marketplace connecting industries, countries, ecosystem players, and key stakeholders to map demand and supply, as well as link technology providers with end users. It will also play a role in developing, adopting, and implementing internationally recognized standards, codes, sustainability principles, and regulations to promote biofuel adoption and trade.

Cooperation among industries:

The GBA’s formation offers several advantages for India. It reinforces India’s global standing as a tangible outcome of its G20 Chairmanship.  Additionally, the alliance fosters cooperation, opening avenues for Indian industries to export technology and equipment.

Supports India’s biofuel programme:

It further accelerates India’s existing biofuel programs, such as PM-Jeevan Yojana, Saatand, and Gobardhan Yojana, thereby increasing farmers’ income, generating employment, and promoting overall development.

GBA’s role in ethanol production:

  • The global ethanol market is experiencing significant growth, with projections indicating that it will surpass $162.12 billion by 2032, driven by a CAGR of 5.1%.
  • The net-zero target, as per the IEA, could lead to 3.5-5 times biofuel growth potential by 2050, creating substantial opportunities for India.
  • Nineteen countries and twelve international organizations have already expressed their intent to join the GBA, with the support of seven G20 countries.
  • These countries, along with institutions like the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, are key participants in this alliance.
  • Notably, GBA members represent a significant share of biofuel production and consumption, with the United States, Brazil, and India alone accounting for about 85% of production and approximately 81% in ethanol production.

Conclusion:

Biofuels are undeniably pivotal in shaping a cleaner, greener, and more prosperous future. They offer economic prosperity, energy security, affordability, and sustainability while contributing to decarbonization. Furthermore, ongoing technological advancements provide a range of biofuel feedstock options, including sugarcane, maize, agricultural waste, bamboo, and more. Collaboration among G20 nations is poised to further develop the global biofuels market, unlocking its full potential.


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