Social Structures : Prof. Vibhuti Patel

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Social Structures and Institutions defining Gender relations:

1 Social Structures and Institutions defining Gender relations Dr. Vibhuti Patel, DIRECTOR, P.G.S. R. Professor and Head, Post Graduate Department of Economics, SNDT Women’s University, Smt. Nathibai Thakersey Road, Churchgate, Mumbai-400020 Tel  91) (22) 22052970 Mobile-9321040048 E mail:

Economic Basis and Functioning of Patriarchy and Matrilineal societies, structures and systems:

2 Economic Basis and Functioning of Patriarchy and Matrilineal societies, structures and systems Patriachy thrives on control of women’s sexuality, fertility and labour for male hegemony over economic resources. Analytical tools provided by Gender Economics (GE) are extremely useful to deal with the socio-economic and legal issues concerning marriage, divorce, custody of children, guardianship rights, alimony, maintenance, property rights of mother, sister, daughter, legally wedded wives and her child/ children, co-wives and their children, keeps and their children and the issues concerning adoption.

Control of women's sexuality:

3 Control of women's sexuality Dress code which, restricts mobility of women and girls, does not allow her to do those chores which require flexible body movements, reduces her efficiency and employability in non-conventional occupations. "Tool" as a phallic symbol, not being allowed to be used by menstruating women as it is supposed to have contaminating influence. Hostility towards women who ride bicycles, drive cars and scooters, operate machines and use ploughs for farming, wheels for pottery, saw for carpentry. Women being treated as repository of custom and tradition and cultural practices, dedicated as devdasis , jogtis and forced to undergo series of masochistic fasting, scarification and self infliction of pain which make them unemployable and perpetually dependant on the patriarchs. They enjoy only subversive power of a comfort woman that too, is mediated by men, as they don't have any legal rights. In the commercial context, the same happens to women beneficiary of Maitri-Karar (friendship contract) and Seva-karar (Service contract) . Need for male escorts, bodyguards for dainty, sickly and weak women who see their identity as anorexic women. Billion-dollar beauty business thrives by controlling young women so that they are incapable of using their body for manual chores. Here, women's insecurity about their looks is used by the cosmetic industry. Women eating last, the least and the left over. Nourishing and balanced diet as a male prerogative. Daughters and brides kept on starvation diet. Food secures middle-aged women as honorary men.

Control of women's fertility::

4 Control of women's fertility: Women being treated as male-child producing machine. Customary practices of female infanticide and neglect and abandonment of girl child, scientific techniques of sex determination tests used for female foeticide, pre-conception elimination of female embryo with the help of sex-preselection techniques. Population policies targeting women for unsafe contraceptives and harmful hormone based contraceptive researches, which violate bodily integrity and dignity of married and unmarried girls and women. Laws on prostitution penalising and persecuting women victims of sexploitation running a parallel economy of as much as 200 billion rupees. Social boycott of unwed mothers. Illegitimate children being stigmatised by society and deprived of economic, social and educational opportunities. They are further marginalised in the economy, which is undergoing massive structural adjustments and instability. Facilities like identity card, ration card and other legal documents which are a must for citizenship rights are not provided to them.

Control of women's labour: :

5 Control of women's labour: Use of women in the economy for the occupations which, are extensions of housework, i.e. 3 Cs (cooking, cleaning and caring). Only 6 % of women are in the organised sector which guarantees protection of labour legislation and ERA (Equal Remuneration Act). 94% of women are in the informal sector which does not guarantee job-security, regular income and personal safety. Demonisation of highly qualified, efficiency plus and career women. Witch hunting of intellectually independent and verbally articulate women workers, employees, technicians and decision-makers. Sexual harassment as an occupational hazard to crush the confidence of women and to keep them in the state of perpetual terrorisation, humiliation and intimidation

Gender Based Division of labour :

6 Gender Based Division of labour has existed in all societies for thousands of years. In India, it is based on the ideology of male dominance, caste and social norms of ‘purity and pollution’. It is also based upon the notion that women are physically weaker than men and are not suited for physically arduous tasks. Women’s biological tasks of monthly menstruation and pregnancy, confined them to subsistence economy such as lowly paid agricultural work, handicrafts and also household work.

Market, Mobility and Women:

7 Market, Mobility and Women Economic Profile of special needs population - Female headed households (Divorced, deserted, widowed, separated women), home based workers, women workers in the family enterprise, self-employed women, and women entrepreneurs. Analysis of nature of occupational diversification among women, industrial classification- Implications of office automation, computerisation, flexi-time, job-sharing, tele working, and part time work. Effects of structural adjustment on Market segmentation- segmented factor market affects self-employed women directly when they want to buy raw material and other services. Segmented labour-market has direct bearing on the daily grind of women workers in the informal sector. Segmented product market makes unorganised women workers and women's collectives without networking insecure and vulnerable as sellers. Economic basis of customary laws and the family laws : When the customary laws get codified, we must be vigilant about the fact that women's interests are not sacrificed. Women’s land rights and property rights need special mention at the time of codification of personal laws. Except for Andhra Pradesh and the North Eastern states, women have lost their customary land rights due to Land Reform Act. In mega development projects , which displace the native population, care must be taken to see to it that women get equal share in monetary compensation, land-rights and right to shelter. The same applies to the social and natural disaster management programmes. Political Economy of GET RICH QUICK formula in the name of dowry, sati (widow burning), Bhootali (witch hunting) for land grab, house-grab or to deprive women of their legitimate property rights should be examined with a consideration for avoiding violence against women.

Women's Empowerment by Men Decision Makers :

8 Women's Empowerment by Men Decision Makers In a situation where women's agency is virtually non-existent, the benevolent patriarch wedded to the cause of Women's empowerment become project coordinators. Guidelines for Utilisation of Constituency Development Funds of Members of Parliament and Members of Legislative Assembly and Area Development Fund of corporators for women's education, employment, training, capacity building are drawn by Gender economists.

Gender Bias in Theories of Value, Distribution and Population :

9 Gender Bias in Theories of Value, Distribution and Population Neoclassical analysis based on law of marginal utility in consumer analysis, marginal cost in the product pricing and marginal productivity have come under severe scrutiny. In the area of home economics, Nobel Laureate Gary Backer’s model of ‘competing interests’ in distribution of resources in the households and higher ‘opprtunity cost’ of men as ‘bread-earner’ and women as ‘home-maker’ is criticized by women’s studies scholars as sexist and statusquo-ist.

Gender Aware Perpsective:

10 Gender Aware Perpsective Amartya Kumar Sen and Martha Nassbaum have put forward a concept of ‘cooperative conflict’ in the theory of distribution. Feminist Reading of Economic Laws: Marginal Productivity Theory and Laws of Maximisation form basic tenets of Gender Economics. The feminists economists also believe in engendering micro and macro economics.

Changes from Top and Pressure from Below:

11 Changes from Top and Pressure from Below Top Down Approach- Mandate from top, Trustees, Doners, employers Bottom up- Women’s Vioces, Men animators, demands from communities Influence from Media, education system Global pressure Social movments

Thank You:

12 Thank You

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