INTRODUCTION

It is our culture that has built many stereotype images of men and women, and over a period of time and most people accepts it as the right image.

As women are just for staying at home and take care of children and man must focus on career and take all the responsibility of the house. This stereotype has been indented into the minds of our population and needs to be dismantled.  This stereotype is not only amongst men, even most women internalize their position in society as a fair description of their status through the ages.

Women can thus be described as a social category; low access to productive resources, medical facilities, educational and employment opportunities and various other social and economic discriminations faced by them.

Women play various roles from a mother to that of a breadwinner but are almost always subordinated to male authority; largely excluded from high status  occupation and decision making both at work and at home.

Indian society is such where women goddesses are worshipped, but women are denied an independent socio economic-identity and status. A paradoxical situation faced in India.

In this section we will comprehensively cover various dimensions concering women , their role in society , role of women organizations etc.

 

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GENDER AND SEX, WHAT ARE GENDER ROLES ?

  • Sex is a biological term referring to a specific human species . Terms males and females are biological terms referring to biological differences
  • Gender is a sociological term referring to different values attached to sections of society . The terms masculine or feminine term represents gender . These values generate traditional role expectations leading to what are known as gender roles i.e what men and women are preferred / expected to do in a society .
    • Gender roles involve idea of preference i.e. men should do ‘X’ job , women ‘Y’ job etc .
    • Geneder roles helps to know nature of society eg masculine or feminine
    • Division of labour on basis of sex is not a problem . But problem in society occurs when society starts curtailing freedom of either gender or we call either of gender’s role as inferior or superior.
    • Gender roles are seldom treated as equal rather the values of superiority or inferiority are attached leading to gender discrimination . Gender discrimination must be understood in terms of various disabilities or restrictive practices imposed upon women .
    • Gender discrimination leads to gender disparities referring to differential achievement of male and female in society . The overall situation is one of overall gender inquality in terms of roles , discriminatory practices etc .

 

 

 

UNDERSTANDING THE ROLE OF WOMEN

With establishment of welfare state and growing influence of participatory political system , it was considered essential that the welfare of all sections of population is a prerequisite for a modern state . In this context understanding the role of women becomes important as women constitutes almost 50% of total population.

  • ROLE OF WOMEN IN TRADITIONAL SOCIETY
    • Traditionally role of women in society was influenced by various cultural prescriptions governing the status of women in society. Primarily these cultural prescriptions originated from religion which acted as grand ethical system aiming at controlling the behaviour of people .
  • ROLE OF WOMEN WITHIN FAMILY
    • Traditionally role of women is a housewife . She is expected to bear and rear children and take care of household affairs like food , clothing etc .
    • Her role in decision making was considered to be limited . She also played significant role in supporting families . eg Taking care of animals and agriculture
  • ROLE OF WOMEN IN SOCIETY
    • In wider society role of women was considered to be limited . It was not customary for women to go out and work . However millions of women continued to work on farms , collect fuel , fodder and water etc along with their men .
    • Her role in political system was negligent apart from instances of some political rule by women Kings
    • Even in context of education role of women was almost neglected
    • In traditional society role of women was considered important . For eg Household work was considered very important for society but traditional patriarchal system imposed some restrictions , discrimination and disabilities among women.

 

ROLE OF WOMEN IN MODERN SOCIETY

In modern society role of women had underwent a drastic transformation . This cannot be understood in absolute terms but must be understood in terms of change and continuity . India being a transitional society , traditional and modern element influence role of women in society.

  • ROLE IN FAMILY
    • There is increasing incidence of working wives. Both husband and wives have their own professional lives
    • Women role in decision making is very significant now a days and both husband and wife share responsibilities for taking care of household
  • ROLE OF WOMEN IN SOCIETY
    • Enhanced participation in all spheres of social life redefines her role in society . Women is more actively participating in economic system in terms of jobs in public and private sector
    • There are growing instances of women entrepreneurs
    • Women’s presence in political system is low but process of increasing role is visible
  • LIMITATIONS / CONTINUTIES IN TRADITIONAL ROLES
    • Within family inspite of working women , she is expected to perform traditional role of houselhold management single handedly leading to double burden
    • In case of scarce resources the education and economic roles of women are often restricted
    • In wider society still women’s participation in employment is more in those spheres which are extension of their traditional role or suit the needs of traditional role expectation from family eg. nurses, nursery teachers are quite often women
    • Political role of women are considered restrictive which is reflected in her low participation in parliament and state legislative assemblies. Even in case of Panchayati Raj institutions there are instances in which women sarpanch are merely performing nominal roles like rubber stamps

Finally, restrictive role of women in society shows its presence occasionally. Following factors adversely influence the increasing role of women in society:-

  1. Practices of female infanticide or foeticide.
  2. Instances of violence against women in form of sexual harassment, rape, molestation etc.
  3. Lower role of women in decision making in terms of her own preferences for education and employment in family
  4. Lack of physical infra which restraints the movement of women. For eg Our city’s infrastructure is gendered biased (working hours are according to male workers convenience, no toilets for women , poor street lightening , poor transport etc )
  5. Continuing cultural notions about inferiority of women.

 

WOMEN PROFILE IN INDIA

  • Sex Ratio &Mortality Rate–Sex ratio is used to describe the number of females per 1000 of males. As per census 2011 sex ratio for India is 940 females per 1000 of males
  • Health –It has been found that males get more medical care compared to girls. 51% of the female population is 12% of the female population of the country suffers from repeated pregnancy (80% of their productive life is spent in pregnancy) & lack of nutrition. Maternal Mortality Rate in India has dropped from 167 to130
  • Literacy – The female literacy levels according to the Literacy Rate 2011 census are 65.46%
  • Employment – Of the total female population 21.9% are a part of Indian Majority of women are employed in the rural areas and in agriculture. Amongst rural  women workers 87% are employed in agriculture

 

SOCIAL STRUCTURE AND WOMEN : WHATS BEHIND THEIR SECONDARY STATUS?

1.Women and Indian caste structure?

  • The subordination of women was crucial to the development of caste The higher the caste the greater were the constraints on women. It is observed that the development of gender division, based on the control of female sexuality, was integral to the formation of the social structure.
  • The control on women comes from two major aspects-
    • Women’s disinheritance from immovable property, removing them from the public sphere and limiting them to the domestic sphere in the form of seclusion.
    • Far greater control is exercised by men over women’s sexuality through arranged marriage, child marriage, the prohibition of divorce, and strict monogamy for women, leading to sati and a ban on widow remarriage, including infant or child widows.
  • These strictures were enforced most strictly by the upper castes to maintain ritual purity, biological purity, caste supremacy and economic power. Lower caste groups attempting to achieve upward status mobility with improvement in economic power, also imbibe upper caste norms of constraining women’s freedom.
  • One could hardly see men and women of different castes marrying together in traditional times due to stringent caste system

2.FAMILY INSTITUTION: PATERILINEAL AND MATERILINEAL

  • Family performs the function of continuity of generations and the transmission of private The role of the family in procreation  is closely intertwined with the pattern of descent and religious prescriptions/priorities. Descents are of two types: patrilineal and matrilineal.
  • In the patrilineal descent system the property of the family is transmitted through the male offspring for example, father to son. In the matrilineal system the property is transmitted through the women, for example, mother to daughter.
  • The Nairs of Kerala, the Khasis of the north-east, the Garos of the North-eastern India, and certain tribes in the Lakshdweep, practice matrilineal descent The worship of mother goddesses is prevalent in all parts of India.
  • Women were kept separate from immovable property, since such property would pass to their husband’s family on marriage. Instead women were given a portion of movable property (like jewelry) to take with them, known as dowry.
  • This provides material reason for anxiety over the birth of daughters.
  • The religious scriptures, especially the Hindu religion place a high preference for According to the code of Manu, a man could achieve merit only by protecting the purity of his wife and through her, of his sons. A son is necessary for lighting the funeral pyre of the father, propitiating the souls of agnatic ascendants through ‘shradha’ and thereby enabling the father and agnatic ascendants to attain moksha (to be relieved from rebirth).  The role of the women is to beget sons, perpetuate the male descent and facilitate the performance of rituals.
  • This hierarchy of male and female roles create differential evaluation of children with a strong son preference on the one hand and daughter neglect on the other, in terms of access to food, health care, education, freedom, rights and justice.

3.Socialization

  • Socialization performs the function of transmitting culture, tradition, social values and norms. Apart from parental socialization in the family, various agencies like the schools, peer groups, literature and films play a role in early socialization and adult socialization.
  • Girls and boys receive differential socialization, which further perpetuate asymmetric roles and Boys are equipped with higher education and skills in order to  perform  the ‘breadwinner’s’ role and the girls are initiated into domestic chores at an early age,  given lesser education, trained to work hard and to develop low self-esteem.
  • Boys receive a status of permanence as against girls who are seen as temporary members of the Very few families enable their daughters to develop an independent identity and dignity. The family ideology which determines ‘suitability’ and ‘unsuitability’ of certain jobs for women is also reflected in job stereotyping in labour market.
  • It has been observed that school books perpetuate images of mother as the ‘housewife’, father as the ‘breadwinner’; boys playing with guns and trucks and girls playing with toys and dolls. Though several schools encourage involvement in sports for boys and girls, there are stereotyped patterns of Boys play football, basketball and cricket and girls skip and involve in restricted games. Media messages about women and girls perpetuate stereotyped sexist images which enable the media industry to maintain its market.

4.CLASS STRUCTURE

  • Class is defined primarily by the ownership of property or capital or economic resources. In simple terms, in a capitalist structure hierarchy is determined by wage, relation viz., people who work for a wage and people who hire workers for wages in rural areas, where the social, economic and political power coincide with caste structure.
  • The constraints on women that vary from upper to the lower castes are reinforced by the class structure as well. Women of upper castes/classes are secluded, and participate in activities in the domestic sphere.
  • Women from middle castes with medium and small holdings are more likely to work on their own fields and in certain cases work for Women from artisan castes/classes contribute to the home-based production. They belong to the bottom of the hierarchy where seclusion and restriction on social mobility are not practiced.
  • The family within the class structure also derives status from women’s education and Women perform status – maintaining and enhancing activities to the family – as educated housewives, mothers and earners. Advertisements in matrimonial columns are ample evidence of this trend.

 

 

 

PATTERN OF WORK WOMEN IS DOING IN SOCIETY. IS THERE EQUALITY AND RECOGNITION IN IT?

Women do various types of work. Their work remains invisible, unrecognized, unpaid and not accounted for in the data for workforce participation.

Women were the major producer of food, textiles and handicrafts throughout human history and continue to provide a major labour input where production is still in the small scale subsistence sector.

Components of women’s work include housework, paid and unpaid work related to home- based craft activities, family enterprise or business and paid work outside home. The kind of work women do is determined by their position in the society and family’s status in the social hierarchy.

WORK IN HOME BASED PRODUCTION: UNPAID

  • Economists distinguish between production for self-consumption and production for the market. Only the latter is counted as ‘work’. The parameters of work used in official data reflect this bias.
  • Much of the work that women do in household industries and processing of agricultural products, if unpaid, is not recognized as ‘work’.
  • Women engage in various activities such as cooking, processing of food for household consumption, dairying, small animal husbandry (poultry, piggery, goatery ) fisheries, handloom weaving, handicrafts, pottery etc. are family activities storing grains, childcare, fetching fuel wood, fodder and water, collection of forest produce, preparation of cow dung cakes,  care of livestock and cattle and house repair and maintenance.
  • As this work is unpaid and is not accounted for as productive work as it is meant for self-consumption. The conventional definition of ‘work’ does not include activities, which are of ‘use-value ‘and do not have exchange value
  • Non-valuation of women’s unpaid work within the home results in non-recognition of women’s crucial economic contribution.

LOW PARTICIPATION OF WOMEN IN ORGANIZED WORKFORCE

It is astonishing to know that only 20.5% women employed in organized sector as of 2011.

  • REASONS
    • Increased income of men: as men start to earn more, women tend to cut back their work to concentrate more on household activities.
    • Caste factor: in some upper castes, there is a stigma attached to women working outside the home.
    • Safety issues and sexual harassment at work place.
    • Increasing numbers of women of working age are enrolling in secondary schools.
    • Nature of economic growth which has not been able to create large number of jobs in sectors that could readily absorb women, especially those in rural areas.
  • STEPS REQUIRED
    • Creating employment opportunities in male dominated sectors.
    • Ensuring skill training for women in key sectors
    • Increasing reach of financial sector in order to service the women entrepreneurs better
    • Strengthening legal provisions for women and the enforcement of these laws (like harassment at workplace)
    • Reshaping societal attitudes and beliefs about women participation in the labour force

FEMALE CHILD LABOUR

  • Girls continue to provide free labour in home-based production system.
  • More girls are being inducted into work while more boys are sent to school thus widening the gap. Girls are employed in large numbers in carpet industry of Kashmir, in lock making in Aligarh, in gem polishing in Jaipur, in match industry in Sivakasi and in bidi rolling. In fact, in the match industry of Sivakasi, ninety per cent child workers are girls under the age of fourteen, working under hazardous conditions.
  • Female children working in home based industries are beyond the purview of child labour working prevents them off from schooling, literacy, learning technical skills and improving their job prospects.
  • Girls also work for wages in fields, forests, mines, factories, offices, small-scale and household industries

AGRICULTURE AND INDUSTRIAL SECTOR

  • In the latter half of the twentieth century there was very little structural change in women’s The proportion of female agricultural workers which was less than one-third of the total workforce in 1951 rose to more than fifty per cent, which means greater dependence on agriculture sector.
  • In 1993-94, as many as 86.2 percent female workers were engaged in the primary sector, which includes agriculture and allied sector such as forestry, livestock , in the rural areas. Within agriculture they mostly work as agricultural labourers or cultivators.
  • The wave of Industrialization has created more work opportunities for a small section of educated women but at the same time reduced work opportunities for unskilled women workers working in textiles, jute industries As a result, women workers got concentrated in plantations, food products, tobacco and textiles,  cane and bamboo  work, silk worm, rearing coir products, domestic services, education and health services.
  • While the males migrate to urban centers during agricultural off seasons. The high concentration of women in household industries rather than factory-based production affects their status as workers with no control on their labor and earnings.

IN SERVICE SECTOR AND PROFESSIONS

  • As far as women in services and professions are concerned there is no wage discrimination but they are concentrated in certain types of soft skill jobs like teachers, nurses, typists and stenographers and very few occupy higher positions in administration, business and technical jobs
  • Despite impressive increase in the number of educated women in urban areas the gap between men and women in the services and professions is large. It can be attributed to the following factors-
    1. Girls are generally socialized for their domestic roles.
    2. Less investment in the vocational and technical training of women
    3. Male stereotypes determine attitude to work and differential expectations from girls education, which is rarely seen as an investment for future
    4. Higher concentration of girls is found in humanities and social sciences rather than vocational and technical courses.
    5. There is less physical mobility among women after marriage.
  • However many big corporate today are headed by women, example Pepsi by Indra Nooyi, Axis Bank by Shikha Sharma, ICICI Bank by Chanda Kocchar

 

WOMEN’S POLITICAL REPRESENATION / ROLES

Despite the prominent and high visibility of few women at all levels of political leadership women remain under-represented . There number has never gone > 20% in Lok sabha or state assemblies . One of the weakness in political strategies of women organization has been the inability to mobilize ordinary women and issues which concerned them . Lack of efforts to reach masses and expand base of women movement limited its effectiveness and agenda for action.

 

 Political Status of Women

  • The number of women in the Parliament has never crossed the 20% mark till 50% of the population is represented by less than 20% participation is a clear indication of the poor political status of women.
  • The government had proposed a reservation for women in the Parliament, but the bill has still now been passed.
  • In the Panchayats, 33% of the seats are reserved for This has led to development of many women leaders, but in many places the concept of sarpanch pati has emerged where the women is just the nominal sarpanch, whereas her husband is the real decision making authority.
  • Such practices needs to be discouraged, and women should be provided with more political empowerment.
  • Political empowerment to women can have the following impacts:
    • More focus on women related issues
    • More sensitive handling of women related issues at the top level can have an immense impact on the status of women
    • It would help in inspiring other women to take up such roles, and thus it can help create multiple women leaders

 

 

WOMEN AND PANCHAYTI RAJ: 1 million women entered panchayats after 73rd constitutional amendment act . 40 % represented marginalized sections and most of them had no previous political experience . So there were apprehensions regarding women being manipulated by men . Despite these apprehensions large number of women in panchayats had indeed a deep impact on gender equity.

  • Status
    • The constitution prescribes only a minimum reservation of 33% seats for women in panchayat . But states have leeway to mandate more than that level . eg In Bihar , Chattisgarh , Madhya Pradesh etc has 50 % reservation at Panchayati raj level
    • Reservation has inspired and prompted women to take up 1st elections and its withdrawal (Reservations are rotated after 5years is a big problem) , an important reason for not contesting the elections again.
    • Now majority (> 50 % ) of women representatives are no more proxy of their male patrons and taking decisions independently . This is a big achievement.
    • Though attendance of women in Gram sabhas is increasing but issues related to planning for rural development , identification of BPLs is mainly done by male patrons.
    • Many women belonging to Self Help groups have stepped Into Panchayats . These women are bringing their experiences in governance of state . Thus making state sensitive to the issues of poverty , inequality and gender injustices.
  • Issues
    • It is easier to legislate representation but rather a complex and difficult task to create conditions for participation . Proper representation does not automatically lead to proper participation. Elected women representative ( EWRs) have to be in position to take decisions and implement schemes for economic and social development.
    • Surrogate participation of women : Where cultural and social system is highly patriarchal , proxy participation continues.
    • Lack of availability of forums and proper grievance redressal mechanism for gender related issues implies that EWRs are playing only minor roles in decision making.
    • Reservations in favor of women do not make much sense in a situation where emphasis on consensus on decision making as in decision making usually only the strongest voices are heard.
  • Suggestions
    • There should be a separate quorum for attendance of women at Gram Sabhas metting. Provisions may be made that meetings of gram sabhas be preceded by Mohalla sabhas so that gender concerns and preferences get fully reflected in proceedings of gram sabhas.
    • Intervals between rotation of reservation for women need to be extended . If reservation is rotated after every 5 years term , it leaves very little incentive for a member elected on reserved seat to perform ( as she knows , next time less or no chance to win).

 

Constitutional Rights to Women

The rights and safeguards enshrined in the constitution for women in India are listed below:

  • The state shall not discriminate against any citizen of India on the ground of sex [Article 15(1)].
  • The state is empowered to make any special provision for women. In other words, this provision enables the state to make affirmative discrimination in favor of women [Article 15(3)].
  • No citizen shall be discriminated against or be ineligible for any employment or office under the state on the ground of sex [Article 16(2)].
  • Traffic in human beings and forced labour are prohibited [Article 23(1)].
  • The state to secure for men and women equally the right to an adequate means of livelihood [Article 39(a)].
  • The state to secure equal pay for equal work for both Indian men and women [Article 39(d)].
  • The state is required to ensure that the health and strength of women workers are not abused and that they are not forced by economic necessity to enter avocations unsuited to their strength [Article 39(e)].
  • The state shall make provision for securing just and humane conditions of work and maternity relief [Article 42].
  • It shall be the duty of every citizen of India to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women [Article 51-A(e)].
  • One-third of the total number of seats to be filled by direct election in every Panchayat shall be reserved for women [Article 243-D(3)].
  • One-third of the total number of offices of chairpersons in the Panchayats at each level shall be reserved for women [Article 243-D(4)].
  • One-third of the total number of seats to be filled by direct election in every Municipality shall be reserved for women [Article 243-T(3)].
  • The offices of chairpersons in the Municipalities shall be reserved for women in such manner as the State Legislature may provide [Article 243-T(4)].

 

 

SOCIAL PROBLEMS AND WOMEN

WOMEN SAFETY IN INDIA

  • Violence against women is kind of force whether overt or covert used to wrest from woman something that she does not want to give of her own free will and which causes her either physical or emotional trauma or both.
  • It includes criminal violence ( rape , abduction , murder , molestation ) , domestic violence ( dowry deaths , torture , maltreatment of widows etc ) and social violence ( female feticide , sati , forcing young widow to commit suicide etc).
  • According to a global poll conducted, India is the “fourth most dangerous country” in the world for women, and the worst country for women among the G20 countries
  1. Factors Affecting and Aggravating Woman Safety
  • Socio-cultural-economic Factors
    • Backward ideas about gender and sexuality overpower
    • Patriarchy allows men to commit violence against women. “It occurs when a man sees a woman as inferior. It is male chauvinism, with the man forcing the woman into submission.”
    • Many activists blame the rising incidents of sexual harassment against women on the influence of “Western culture“.
    • Economic dependence of women over men has led to male domination over females.
  • Institutional Failures
    • Less conviction rate in crimes against women and delay in delivery of justice.
    • Poor enforcement of laws related to women safety.
    • Poor gender sensitization of law enforcing agencies like police, judiciary etc
  1. SAFETY IN PUBLIC PLACE
    • In India even in the 21st century, women cannot step out of their house at any given time, assured of her physical and sexual safety.
    • The fear of violence and teasing restricts a woman’s anatomy, curtails her mobility and her ability to work and participate in social activities.
    • Even today in India, women can’t move at night in secluded places and even at daytime at crowded places like public transport etc.
    • Rape is the fastest growing crime in the country today and as many as 18 women are assaulted in some form or the other every hour across India.
    • The crime against tourists is against our culture of ‘atithi devo bhava’.

HOW TO CHECK CRIMES AT PUBLIC PLACES

  1. Strict enforcement of laws and quick disposal of cases through fast track Lok Adalat (People’s Courts) for providing speedy justice to women are must.
  2. Strict patrolling and vigilance, particularly during night.
  3. Gender sensitization of the law enforcement agencies, especially the police and the judiciary through periodic training.
  4. Community policing initiatives such as Mahila Suraksha Samiti and Women State Committee could help in checking crimes.
  5. All-women police stations should be set up in as many states to facilitate the reporting of crime against women.
  6. Development of a community-based strategy  of  neighborhood  committees  to  create  zero violence zones.  Eg constituting Mohalla Committees (neighborhood groups) to tackle domestic violence.
  7. Training women for self-defense.
  8. Setting up of helplines for women in Mobile apps that can raise alarm just by pressing a button in mobile in hour of need could be developed and used.
  9. Regulation of public transport vehicles through strict licensing, GPS tracking, route advisory etc.
  10. Moral overhauling of the mindset of masses through awareness and education.

 

 

  1. SAFETY AT WORKPLACE
  • Issues Concerning Harassment at Workplace
    1. Many working women point out that, even if there is an enquiry committee, does anyone really bother to find out what happens to the victim when the enquiry is going on? She is an object of curiosity, sympathy, disdainful glances or simply isolated by her colleagues.
    2. The work environment where sexual harassment occurs has hierarchy, norms, and constraints that profoundly affect the way people behave in that setting
    3. The situation at home is Instead of sympathizing with her plight or standing by her, the attitude is one of distrust and suspicion or often humiliation and shame.
    4. Certain individuals use their positions of relative power to engage in sexual This type of behavior clearly constitutes sex discrimination.
    5. Male ego problems, sexual perversion, sexual obsession, widow-hood etc is said to be some of the reasons for their harassement.
    6. Further committees formed to investigate cases of harassment do not have adequate capacity in forensic investigation , evidence collection etc

Certain initiatives with regard to safety at workplace

  1. The National Commission for Women prepared a Code of Conduct for the work place and circulated the same to all ministries, educational institutions, public and private sector undertakings and various NGOs for information and implementation.
  2. The University Grants  Commission has formulated a  code of  conduct for students and staff   of Universities.
  3. The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has taken action to ensure that all affiliated schools and educational institutions abide by these guidelines.
  4. All Ministries have set up Complaints Committees to look into such matters.
  5. The GoI passed Sexual Harassment At Workplace Act 2013 in It is a welcome move, even though it comes 15 years after the landmark Vishaka Judgement in which the Supreme Court categorically said that harassment at workplace is a violation of right of gender equality and right to life and liberty, thus violating Article14,15,21.

 

 

  1. DOWRY
  • Issues Concerning Dowry related Crimes
    1. Section406 of IPC hardly  demarcates boundary  between  dowry  and This has been misused in demanding dowry.
    2. Law commission in 2012 as well as Justice Malimath Committee2003 has suggested to amend Sec498A since its non-compoundable nature kills chance of reformative justice.
    3. In India we have no provision for protection of a complainant, not even under the Prevention of Dowry Act. A woman who has complained of harassment goes back to the very people against whom she has complained. What security can she possibly feel in such a situation, and how can she continue to act on her complaint?
    4. There are rarely any eye witness who are prepared to give evidence against the murderers as the crime is committed within the four walls of a home
    5. Due to an increasing trend towards consumerism, people see dowry as an avenue to fulfil their otherwise impossible dreams.
    6. Another feeling among the mothers-in-law is that when she herself brought dowry from her house at the time of her marriage, why shouldn’t she take dowry for her son.

           Way Forward To Counter The Menace of Dowry

  1. Amend Section 406 and 498A of IPC as suggested by Malimath Committee.
  2. Strict enforcement of laws and sensitization of enforcement agencies.
  3. Attitudinal Change in society that treats women as a commodity.
  4. Each one of us can set examples through “Adarsh Marriage”, e., noble marriage by denying dowry grant in any form- cash or kind.
  5. Development of a community-based strategy of neighborhood committees to create pressure on those in society who demand dowry.

 

  1. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
  • Issues Concerning Domestic Violence
    1. Illiterate women face more violence than literate women.
    2. Some of the reasons given by the women were financial matters, behavior with in-laws, back- biting, talking to any male without the liking of the husband, asking for money, preventing him from drinking and husbands personality traits.
    3. One of the main cause why is the lack of alternatives among the victims. Women and children may be economically dependent on abusers. Elderly people and children may feel too powerless to escape. Language or cultural barriers may isolate victims from seeking help.
    4. Victims generally feel, it is better to suffer in silence than to be separated from loved ones. They keep hoping for improvement, but it is normally observed that, without help, violence gets worse.
    5. Family members may be unaware of the help that is available from the local They may also be unaware of their legal rights.

Way Forward To Counter The Menace of Domestic Violence

  1. Strict enforcement of laws and quick disposal of cases.
  2. Strengthening of Alternate Dispute Disolution mechanism like Lok Adalat etc.
  3. Gender sensitization of enforcement agencies.
  4. Development of a community-based strategy of neighbourhood committees (Mohalla Committees) to tackle domestic violence.
  5. Economic empowerment of women.

 

DECLINING SEX RATIO IN INDIA

As per the Census, 2011 the child sex ratio (0-6 years) has shown a decline from 927 females per thousand males in 2001 to 919 females per thousand males in 2011.

  • Reasons for declining sex ratio in india
    • Some of the reasons for neglect of girl child and low child sex ratio are son preference and the belief that it is only the son who can perform the last rites, that lineage and inheritance runs through the male line, sons will look after parents in old age, men are the bread winners etc.
    • Exorbitant dowry demand is another reason for female feticide/infanticide.
    • Small family norm coupled with easy availability of sex determination tests may be a catalyst in the declining child sex ratio, further facilitated by easy availability of Pre- conception sex selection Abortion has become a huge industry in India with most of the abortions taking place because of female child.
    • A high under 5 mortality and child mortality rate of girl child because of differential treatments of girls as compared to boys – fetching water and firewood, helping mother in kitchen in smoke, etc
    • Early marriages of girls with 46% of girls in india being married before they attain the age of 20 yrs. With repeated child births and malnutrition cycle leads to a high Maternal mortality rate. India have been able to improve MMR from 400/lac live births to 260/lac live birth.
    • In india it is mostly the educated middle class society that is involved in female foeticide and sex selective abortion as they have access to pre natal diagnostic techniques. where as tribal population has.
  • The consequences of declining child sex ratio:
    • It has led to a sharp increase in violence against women.
    • Increased violence against women has led to more son preference, as parents feel it is difficult to keep women safe.
    • In a study conducted by the Centre for Social Research, Haryana, fear of violence against women is a major cause of female foeticide.
    • Apart from this, there have been increasing cases of polygamy due to shortage of women.eg Haryana. There are cases of forcible marriage of widows.
    • There has been commoditization of women as well, with practices of purchasing of brides from poor areas of north east India and Nepal. Such practice is prevalent in Haryana and Punjab region and is known as BRIDE PRICE
    • Economic consequences are that there is a huge proportion of productive population which is missing. Lack of women impairs the ability of men to work, and has led to increased work pressure on the men.

The government has tried to counter the declining sex ratio through initiatives  like  Beti  Bachao, Beti Padhai; Sukanya Samriddhi Yojanaetc.

  • SEX ratios trends of different states and classes of people
    • In tribal society living in forests or practicing agriculture have better sex ratio when compared to urban educated societies. Various Reasons attributed for the same are Urban educated population have access to diagnostic techniques and health care facilities for abortion, they also have more preference towards a male child to pass on their wealth, land and continue their paternal lineage in society. Whereas tribals have no access to such techniques or private health centers (for sex selective abortion) nor do they have any upper limit of family size and their TFR is generally higher with both sexes of children.
    • Sex ratios in union territories/ urban centers is less because of high migration of male working population in search of better employment opportunities from other rural/underdeveloped areas.
    • Sex ratio In north and northwest states are lowest in India (Haryana-887 , Punjab-893 UP- 908) . There is a low preference for girl child in such states as the land has been regarded as the vital asset in the regions of commercialization of agriculture (GREEN revolution started in this region). The girl child is considered as a threat to family asset, as they may take away a share after marriage.

 

 

 

STEPS TAKEN BY GOVERNMENT

GOVERNMENT RESPONSE

  1. Draft National Plan of Action for Women- GoI has drawn up a national plan based on CSWI report. The plan accords priority to the need of concrete action in the areas of education, health, welfare and employment with special reference to weaker section of society especially women.
  2. It was only in 1980s that women were recognized as a separate group and a separate chapter viz “Women and Development” was included in the 6th Plan Document (1980- 1985) for the first time.
  3. National Commission for women 1991- The National Commission for Women was set up as statutory body in January 1992 under the National Commission for Women Act, 1990 to:
    • Protect and promote the interest and safeguard the right of women.
    • Study all matters related to constitutional and legal safeguards provided for women, to review existing legislation & suggest amendments if necessary.
    • Look into the complaints and take notice of the cases involving deprivation of women & provide support legal or otherwise to helpless and needy women.
    • It recommended the Govt. to play an active role by incorporating a component of organizing in all govt. schemes, project etc for the poor, to promote organization of women at a broader level.

SCHEMES TO EMPOWER WOMEN BY GOI

  1. Gender Budgeting-This concept was first introduced in Australia in mid 1980s & India incorporated this in its budget since2005-06. It is not an accounting exercise but an ongoing process of keeping a gender perspective in policy/ program formulation, its implementation and review. GB involves dissection of the Government budgets to establish its gender differential impacts and to ensure that gender commitments are translated in to budgetary commitments.
    1. Nirbhaya fund– In a tribute to the recent Delhi gang-rape victim of Dec 2012, government in the union budget 2013-14, announced setting up of a ‘Nirbhaya Fund’ of Rs 1,000 crore for safety and empowerment of women.
    2. An all-women bank was also proposed to be set up by October, 2013 with an initial capital of Rs 1,000 crore for the purpose to facilitate women empowerment.
  2. Working Women Hostel– The objective of the scheme is to promote availability of safe and conveniently located accommodation for working women, with day care facility for their children, in urban, semi urban, or even rural areas where employment opportunity for women exist.
  3. Support to training cum employment for women (STEP)– Ministry of Women and child development launched this program in the year 1986, for training and employment for women below poverty line in traditional sectors like agriculture, small animal husbandry, dairying, fisheries etc. where women are employed on a large scale. Its basic aim is to upgrade skills of women for self and wage employment.
  4. Swayamsidha– It is an integrated program, seeks to empower women through awareness generation, achievement of economic independence through micro-level income- generating activities and by establishing convergence of various services such as literacy, health, rural development It also aims at organizing women into Self-Help Groups, developing access to microcredit.
  5. Swa Shakti – This project aims at establishment of more than 16000 self reliant women SHGs(Self Help Groups) having 15-20 members each &thereby enhance women’s access to and control over resources for betterment of their Also to sensitize and strengthen the institutional capacity of support agencies to pro-actively address women’s need.
  6. Rashtriya Mahila Kosh – It is a national level mechanism to meet the micro credit needs of the poor and asset-less women in the Informal From inception in 1993 till February 2001, total credit worth Rs. 100 crore was sanctioned to benefit more than 400,000 women through 827 NGOs spread over the country. RMK has a very good recovery rate of 90 to 95 percent.
  7. Swadhar- This scheme aims to provide basic necessities to marginalized women and girls who are living in difficult circumstances without any economic or social Under this scheme women are provided with emotional support and counselling. The target group is mainly women who are victim of violence or survivors of natural disaster, trafficked women, and women without no families.

 

IS HARSH LAW A DETERRENT AGAINST VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN?

  • Criminology research has established that it is the certainty of punishment, and not its severity, that deters people from committing The effectiveness of laws does not lie in how harsh they are but in how successfully they are enforced. Thus a harsher anti-rape law is no answer, certainty of punishment is.
  • While crime rates are increasing, the conviction rate is In 1971, the conviction rate of IPC crimes was 62%, but by 2010, it had declined to 40.7%. In the case of rape, it was as low as 26%. Add to this the number of cases pending in court and the fact that it takes years to settle them. This scenario has to change if the law is to be made effective
  • Another reason why such crimes continue to occur is our mindset. The cultural norms and traditions that flourish in our patriarchal society undermine the dignity of women. What really needs to be done is the moral overhauling of the minds of the masses by means of education and The actual need of the hour is a revolutionary change in the mindsets and conscience of Indian men so that they stop seeing women as objects of sexual pleasure.
  • Since societal attitudes will take time to change, the police as well as parents and teachers need to draw on the “broken windows” theory of criminology. According to this theory, small acts of deviance, if ignored, can escalate into more serious and major Do not ignore incidents of eve-teasing or stalking on the grounds that youngsters are entitled to some indulgence or of domestic violence because it is a family matter.

 

ROLE OF WOMEN ORGANIZATIONS

Historically women have been subjected to discriminatory and restrictive practices which deny her equal and rightful place in society . Various social evils like dowry , prostitution , sati , parochial notions of impurity of women etc plague the society .

These problems have been recognized since ancient times and there have been efforts in this respect to tackle these problems . Role of women organization in this regard continues to be important since ancient times.

PRE INDEPENDENCE ERA

  • TYPES OF ORGANIZATIONS
    In pre independence era various organizations have been quite significant in inducing socio-religious reforms which aimed at the upliftment of women in society. Various organizations which emerged were as follows :
  1. Brahmo Samaj:
    • It was founded by Raja Ram Mohan Roy in 1825 &attempted to abolish restrictions and prejudices against women, which included child marriage, polygamy, limited rights to inherit Education was seen as the major factor to improve the position of women.
    • Civil Marriage Act, 1872 was passed, which permitted inter-caste marriage, legalized divorce and fixed 14 and 18 as the minimum age of marriage for girls and boys respectively.
    • Raja Ram Mohan Roy played an important role in getting Sati abolished.
  2. Prarthana Samaj:It was founded by MG Ranade & RG Bhandarker in 1867. Its objectives were more or less similar to that of Brahmo samaj but remained confined to western Justice Ranade criticized child marriage, polygamy, restriction on remarriage of widows and non-access to education.
  3. Arya Samaj: It was founded by Dayanand Saraswati in 1875. Unlike the above two it was a religious revivalist movement, revitalizing the ancient Hindu traditions. It advocated reform in the caste system, compulsory education for men and women, prohibition of child marriage by law, remarriage of child It was opposed to divorce & widow remarriage in general.
  4. Social reformers mentioned above eulogized the position of women in ancient India. However radicals like Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar, Jyotibha Phule and Lokhitwadi Gopal Hari Deshmukh accused the caste system responsible for the subjugation of women in society.
  5. Similar movements began in Islamic community as well. Begum of Bhopal, Syed  Ahmad Khan & Sheikh Abdullah in Aligarh and Karmat Hussain in Lucknow spearheaded a movement to improve women’s education.
    The male-inspired and male-guided organizations for women ( as above ) did valuable work in educating women and giving them their first experience with public work. While the men wanted the women to be educated and take part in public activities, but at the same time they regarded  the home as the primary focus for women. Gender equality was never an agenda for any of the movements mentioned above. They had a very limited perspective of changing the position of women within the family through education, as education would improve women’s efficiency as housewives and mothers
  6. By the end of the nineteenth century, a few women emerged from within the reformed families who formed organizations of their own. One of the first to do so was Swarna Kumari Devi, daughter of Devendra Nath Tagore, a Brahmo leader, and sister of the poet Rabindranath Tagore, who formed the Ladies Society in Calcutta in 1882 for educating and imparting skills to widows and other poor women to make them economically self-reliant. She edited a women journal, Bharati, thus earning herself the distinction of being the first Indian woman editor.
  7. Ramabai Saraswati formed the Arya Mahila Samaj in Pune and a few years later started the Sharda Sadan in The National Conference was formed at the third session of the Indian National Congress in 1887 to provide a forum for the discussion of social issues. The Bharat Mahila Parishad was the women’s wing of this and was inaugurated in 1905.  It focused on child marriage, condition of widows, dowry and other “evil” customs. The Parsis, the Muslims and the Sikhs all formed their own women’s organizations.
  8. National women Organization : The early women’s organizations were been confined to a particular locality or city. In 1910, Sarala Devi Chaudhurani, daughter of Swarnakumari Devi formed the Bharat Stree Mandal (Great Circle of India Women) with the object of bringing together “women of all castes, creeds, classes and parties… on the basis of their common interest  in the moral and material progress  of the women of India.” It planned to open branches all over India to promote women’s education.
  9. All India Women Association 1927 primarily demanded right to vote for women.
  • LIMITATIONS
  1. They were elitist in character . Reforms intended for privileged upper caste women and did not take up cause of vast masses of poor women
  2. Most male guided organizations saw household as women’s 1st priority and did not make efforts to enhance women participation in society
  3. No fight for women’s franchise , inheritance rights etc .

POST INDEPENDENCE

The growing economic hardships of rural poor and urban women (fifty percent of the households were below poverty level at the end of the Sixth Five Year Plan) and failure to take up women’s issues by the general agrarian and industrial workers’ movements resulted in women labourers organising separately.

  • NEW ORGANISATIONS AND APPROACHES
  1. Women’s organisations such as Self-Employment Women’s Association (Gujarat), Working Women’s Forum (Tamil Nadu), Sramik Mahila Sangathna (Maharashtra) concerned themselves with the plight of women workers in the unorganized Organizing women labour and taking up the issues of their wages, working conditions, exploitation and health hazards became an important task for these women’s organisations. Research on women in the unorganized sector helped in developing new strategies for dealing with the problems of poor rural and urban workers. Anti-price rise movement in 1973-74 was a united front of women’s organisations belonging to several parties.
  2. Deforestation and Ecological Movement: Economic hardships faced by women in the Himalayan region due to cutting down of forests resulted in spontaneous mobilization of women. They hugged the trees to prevent the contractors from felling This is popularly known as Chipko movement. The disappearance of forests means acute hardships to women who are primarily responsible  for the collection of fuel, fodder, fruits, herbs for medicine and other forest produce which give them income and employment. This is why we find that women are even now in the forefront of these ecological agitations.
  3. Anti-dowry Movements: Dowry murders have witnessed a sustained campaign by several  women’s  organizations and civil rights Journalists wrote extensively about the dowry problem. In the 1980s several women’s and other progressive organizations formed a joint front in Delhi called “Dahej Virodhi Chetna Manch”. Organizations in other major cities also campaigned through protest, demonstrations, discussions, street theatre, posters etc.  against the  ghastly murders of young brides for dowry. After much deliberation, the Dowry Prohibition (Amendment) Act, 1984 was passed. The Act sets a limit to the amount given in dowry but does not ban dowry. While cruelty by the husband and his relatives leading to suicide or death has become an offence, punishable with imprisonment, still dowry deaths continue.
  4. Anti-sati Movement: In 1829 the practice of Sati was abolished through a legislation which marked the culmination of a debate initiated by the The burning of a young widow Roop Kanwar in 1988 on the funeral pyre of her husband in Deorala, Rajasthan, sparked off strong protests by women’s organizations. The delayed response of the government came in the wake of mounting agitation in the shape of Commission of Sati (Prevention) Bill, which was hurriedly passed in the Parliament. The Act assumes that it is a practice sanctioned by the custom. It does not seek to punish those who profit by raising money by selling photographs and raising donations in the name of so called ‘sati’. There is nothing on preventive action. It is strange that the barbaric practice, against which social reformers raised their voices, still persists in a country, which reveres mother goddesses.
  5. Anti-rape Movement : An anti-rape movement was launched in the last decade demanding review of the Supreme Court judgment in a rape case, which acquitted the culprit. Several women’s organizations and legal activists held discussions with the Law Commission to amend the law and in 1983 Criminal Law (Amendment) Act was passed.
  6. Other Organizations in Voluntary Sector :
    1. NFIW: The National Federation of Indian Women in India (NFIW) is amongst the largest women’s organization in India It was founded in 1954 as the women’s wing of the Communist party of India (CPI), with Aruna Asaf Ali among its prominent leaders.
    2. AIDWA: The All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) (1981) takes upon  itself the task organizing the masses of women in town and villages of India and of building a powerful broad based women’s movement for the uplift and betterment of the lot of the women as a whole, to remove all discrimination between man and woman, to fight for democracy, equal rights and emancipation of women, in a society free  from    It is the women’s wing of the Communist Party of India (Marxist).
  • LIMITATIONS
  1. Women have not been able to mobilize themselves enough to exert political pressure
  2. Despite long history of women’s struggle , Indian women are one of the most backward in terms of literacy , maternal mortality , women work participation , sex ratio etc
  3. Women are still not much active in politics. Less than 15 % women in parliament
  4. Women with disability suffer on both accounts for being a women and also being disabled. Women’s movement not specially looked into matters concerning women with disability

 

 

SHGs and Women

  • SHGs have been successful in not just eradicating poverty but also empowering women.
  • The impact of SHGs on women are as follows:
    • It has led to their social and economical empowerment.
    • It has helped women gain more control over decision making in households
    • It has provided  women with financial autonomy, as they participate in community driven programs, it also increases self employment autonomy
    • It has helped instill a saving spirit among the members.
  • Though SHGs have had an immense impact on the status of women, but they can be made more effective in the following ways:
    • Through proper capacity building, training and skill up gradation of women.
    • Motivating SHG women to participate in government sponsored community driven programs.
    • Proper rating and categorization of SHGs.
    • Providing technical help to the SHGs so that they can also utilize the ongoing ICT revolution.

 

VIDEOS/DEBATES TO WATCH FOR

Focus on Women Empowerment

 

 

Bridging Gender Gap

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