New Delhi: The University Grants Commission (UGC) will allow over 10,000 institutions, both colleges and universities, to offer women’s studies in India, a move the education regulator believes will bring women’s contribution to the society and the economy to the forefront.

Eligible colleges will get a grant of 25 lakh per annum and universities 35 lakh per annum from the UGC.

UGC will monitor and engage in both teaching and research activities on issues related to women and also promote entrepreneurship among them. These centres or departments will undertake field research in areas on women leadership, gender gap analysis, inclusion of women in economic and social development and existing policy and legislation related to women. Besides, it will also ask such centres to conduct research on women’s contribution to science and technology.

Women and their contribution to the economy has been a debate in India in general, particularly the participation of the women labour force. In India, the women labour force participation rate is 27% against 33% in Bangladesh, 61% in China, 51% in Myanmar, 57% in the UK, 55% in the US and 82% in Nepal, according to World Bank data. This despite India’s a robust economic growth, rising incomes and improvements in female literacy, has been perplexing.

Even gender pay gap is high since women workers earn 19% less wage than men on an average, according to a recent report by Monster India.

Such centres will help in pursuing a comprehensive, critical and balanced understanding of India’s socio economic realities, UGC said. The initiative will include “women’s contribution to society and social processes, and women’s perception of their own lives, the broader social reality and their struggles and aspirations."

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