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The Hindu Editorial

8-March-2024

1. A bold step towards a cervical cancer-free future

Topic: GS2 – Social Justice – Health Crucial for UPSC: India’s budget prioritizing HPV vaccination addresses public health, women’s well-being, and global eradication of cervical cancer.
Context
  • India’s interim Union Budget 2024-25 prioritizes women’s health by allocating funds for Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination of girls against cervical cancer.
  • The budget emphasizes global targets and highlights successful models, including the indigenous quadrivalent vaccine, Cervavac.
 Introduction:
  • India’s interim Union Budget 2024-25 is a beacon of hope for women’s health, emphasizing vaccination against cervical cancer for girls aged nine to 14.
Global Significance of HPV Vaccination:
  • Despite health care advances, cervical cancer is a major concern in India, with 1.27 lakh cases and 80,000 deaths annually.
  • The World Health Organization’s ’90-70-90′ targets set milestones for global cervical cancer eradication, highlighting the significance of India’s focus on HPV vaccination.
Global Success Stories:
  • Over 100 countries, including Australia and Rwanda, demonstrate the success of HPV vaccination in reducing cervical cancer incidence.
  • Six South East Asia Region countries, including Bhutan and Indonesia, have implemented nationwide HPV vaccination programs.
Sikkim’s Effective Model:
  • Sikkim’s successful HPV vaccination campaign achieved 97% coverage in 2018 through robust communication strategies.
Indigenous Quadrivalent Vaccine – Cervavac:
  • India’s development of Cervavac, a quadrivalent vaccine priced at ₹2,000 per dose, marks progress in accessibility and affordability.
Expanding Vaccination to Boys and Single-Dose Protection:
  • India has the opportunity to include adolescent boys in the HPV vaccination program for maximum impact.
  • Recent evidence supports the efficacy of a single dose of the HPV vaccine, simplifying the vaccination process.
Challenges and Solutions:
  • Challenges include vaccine hesitancy, equitable access, and awareness.
  • The rollout of U-WIN, similar to Co-WIN, aims to maintain an electronic registry of immunizations for real-time responsiveness.
  • Overcoming vaccine hesitancy requires community engagement, dispelling misinformation, and tailoring messages to diverse cultural norms.
Importance of HPV Vaccination:
  • Beyond individual health, HPV vaccination alleviates societal and economic burdens by preventing cervical cancer, impacting women’s prime years.
  • Premature deaths due to cervical cancer negatively affect families and communities, hindering health and education outcomes in children.
Addressing Challenges through Collaborations:
  • Collaborations between government agencies, healthcare providers, and civil society are crucial for building trust and ensuring the success of HPV vaccination.
  • Public-private partnerships are instrumental in advancing the collective goal of safeguarding women’s health against cervical cancer.
Conclusion:
  • India’s inclusion of HPV vaccination in the interim Union Budget 2024-25 signifies a transformative era in women’s health, addressing cervical cancer challenges through a comprehensive approach.
PYQ: In the context of vaccines manufactured to prevent COVID-19 pandemic, consider the following statements: (2022) 1.     The Serum Institute of India produced COVID-19 vaccine named Covishield using mRNA platform. 2.     Sputnik V vaccine is manufactured using vector based platform. 3.     COVAXIN is an inactivated pathogen based vaccine. Which of the statements given above are correct? (a) 1 and 2 only (b) 2 and 3 only (c) 1 and 3 only (d) 1, 2 and 3 Ans: (b)
Practice Question:  Discuss the significance of India’s emphasis on HPV vaccination in the interim Union Budget 2024-25 for public health and women’s well-being, aligning with global cervical cancer eradication goals. (150 Words /10 marks)

2. The determinant in ‘more women in the job market’

Topic: GS2 – Social Justice – Vulnerable sections GS3 – Indian economy – Issues related to development and employment Critical for UPSC as it addresses gender disparities in India’s labour market, emphasizing societal transformation and economic growth.
Context
  • The article highlights the persistently low women’s participation in the Indian labour market, attributing it to entrenched patriarchy.
  • It emphasizes the need to address unpaid domestic work, challenge gender norms, and ratify international labour standards to ensure genuine gender equality.
 Low Women’s Participation: Rooted in Patriarchy
  • Patriarchal System: The primary reason for low women’s participation in the Indian labor market lies in the deeply entrenched patriarchal social system, where males hold dominance over females. This dominance manifests in societal values, ownership structures, and institutional frameworks.
  • Breadwinner Expectations: Under patriarchy, men are traditionally seen as breadwinners, while women are expected to be homemakers. This ingrained gender role division results in women being responsible for unpaid and invisible household work, including childcare and care for the elderly.
  • Inferior Nature of Work: Despite being performed with love, women’s household work is considered inferior due to its unpaid, repetitive, and non-retirement nature. Locked in low-productivity roles, this work lacks upward mobility, contributing to a significant portion of the female labour force being engaged in unproductive and inferior tasks.
  • Unjust Working Conditions: Women’s domestic responsibilities often deter them from entering the labour market, creating an uneven playing field. Even when they do enter, domestic responsibilities persist, limiting mobility and influencing their job choices towards safe, part-time, or flexible work.
Education Alone Is Not the Solution
  • Limited Impact of Education: While increased education is touted as a solution to boost women’s participation, the reality is more nuanced. Despite higher education levels, women often enter the labor market backed by exploited domestic workers, perpetuating gender inequality.
  • Exploitation of Domestic Workers: The rise in labor market participation is often accompanied by the exploitation of domestic workers, creating a parallel issue. This exploitative practice hinders the potential gains in economic growth that could result from increased female labour force participation.
Strategies for Increased Participation and Equality
  • Reduction of Domestic Burden: To enhance women’s participation, the burden of unpaid domestic work must be addressed. This can be achieved through measures such as reducing the strain of work, improving productivity, providing infrastructural support, and shifting some unpaid work to the mainstream economy.
  • Redistribution of Domestic Work: Redistribution of domestic work within households, with a focus on equal opportunities for men and women, is crucial. Removing the subordination of women by sharing responsibilities is essential for achieving gender equality in the labor market.
  • International Labour Standards: On the issue of hired domestic workers, ratifying the International Labour Organization Convention can set minimum basic rights for these workers, ensuring weekly days off, limited work hours, overtime compensation, minimum wages, and social security.
Challenges and Considerations
  • Ongoing Patriarchal Influence: Despite economic growth and increased education, the influence of patriarchy persists in traditional Indian society, impacting women’s labour market choices.
  • Policy Gaps: India’s failure to ratify the International Labour Organization Convention on domestic workers leaves a significant gap in protecting the rights of this vulnerable workforce.
Conclusion:
  • While increasing women’s participation in the labour market is essential for economic growth, addressing patriarchy and redistributing domestic responsibilities are critical for achieving genuine gender equality.
  • Failure to ensure the well-being of domestic workers may result in the creation of a large, exploited workforce, undermining the anticipated gains in economic growth.
PYQ: Though women in post-Independent India have excelled in various fields, the social attitude towards women and feminist movement has been patriarchal.” Apart from women education and women empowerment schemes, what interventions can help change this milieu? (250 words/15m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-2 2021)
Practice Question:  Discuss the impact of patriarchal norms on women’s labour force participation in India and suggest policy measures for fostering gender equality. (250 Words /15 marks)

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