Women in India

Category: Education

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Women empowerment


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WOMEN EMPOWERMENT How free? How equal?

Challenges to Women Empowerment :

Challenges to Women Empowerment Patriarchal Mind set of Indian Society Female Foetoecide 1000-863 Discrimination in Male and Female Child 1000-923 Literacy 77%-63% Financial independence 23% Representation in Government 9% Crime Against Women (16.8%) Rape 22172-1.9%, Kidnep 29795-2.5%, Dowry Death 8391-.7%, Molestation 40613-3.4%, Sexual harassment 9961 .8%, Cruelty by husband 94041-7.9%, Importation of girls 36 Pseudo Leadership 19% individual Child Marriage Representation in Decision Making 18% Delayed justice (3.8 Crore cases r pending) Female Commodification Dowry

Patriarchal Mind set of Indian Society :

Patriarchal Mind set of Indian Society Male dominance Social customs & Rituals: Cremation, Marriage, An obsession of inferior, week, asset Wealth, Education, Power,

Concerns of Relief :

Concerns of Relief Strong legislation in favor of Female Safety 1000 crore provision, women safety commission National women commission Separate Police stations for women Following, Calling , Teasing etc. Millennium Development Goals of United Nations Chauvinism to Ethical's Strong will of Society to bring Women forward Great feminist states persons NIRBHAYA

Women’s freedom and equality:

Women’s freedom and equality At some time or the other, we have all heard the comment, ‘ Gender is a Western concept . We don’t need it in India’. A number of arguments are used to justify this stand. we are told that India is the original home of the Mother Goddess. In our ancient history, we have many instances of women scholars and women rulers. Stories from mythology and folklore are recounted to prove that women in India have always been honoured and respected . We are proud of the fact that India was one of the first countries in the world to give women the right to vote. The Indian Constitution is one of the most progressive in the world, and guarantees equal rights for men and women. All this is cited as evidence to support the contention that Indian women are free and equal members of society.

The Constitutional Pledge:

The Constitutional Pledge The Constitution of India pledges ‘to secure to all the people ... justice, social, economic and political; equality of status, opportunity and before the law; freedom of thought, expression, belief, faith, worship, vocation, association and action, subject to law and public morality ’. The Constitution is firmly grounded in the principles of liberty, fraternity, equality and justice It emphasises the importance of greater freedom for all and contains a number of provisions for the empowerment of women Women’s right to equality and non-discrimination are defined as justiciable fundamental rights

The Constitutional Guarantees: :

The Constitutional Guarantees: Article 14: Equality before the law. Article 15(1): No discrimination by the state on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth. Article 15(3): Special provisions to be made by the state in favour of women and children. Article 16: Equality of opportunity for all citizens in matters relating to employment or appointment to any office under the state Article 39(a): State policy to be directed to securing for men and women equally, the right to an adequate means of livelihood. Article 39(d): Equal pay for equal work both men and women. Article 42: Provisions to be made by the state for securing just and humane conditions of work and for maternity relief. Article 51(A) (e): To promote harmony and to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women.

Some questions::

Some questions: What do freedom and equality mean to women in India? Can they exercise their right to live with dignity? Do they have the freedom to develop their potential and choose what they should do or be? Can they acquire knowledge, be creative and productive and live long and healthy lives? Are they protected form the major sources of unfreedom – from violence, discrimination, want, fear and injustice? Do they enjoy the same chances and choices as men, equally and on the same terms? In essence, how free are Indian women? How equal are they to men? Unfortunately these questions do not have simple and straightforward answers

Critical aspects of women’s freedom and equality:

Critical aspects of women’s freedom and equality Freedom to lead a long life Right to health Right to education Freedom to work without exploitation Freedom to participate in decision making Freedom from fear

How long does an Indian woman live? :

How long does an Indian woman live? In 1951 an Indian woman could expect to live no longer than 32 years The figure has nearly doubled in 50 years – the average female life expectancy is a little over 63 years But this average hides the fact that progress has been uneven. The life expectancy of an Indian woman depends on the state where she is born If she is lucky enough to be born in Kerala, she can live until the age of 75 – as long as women in China, Malaysia, Thailand and Phillipines If she is born in Bihar or Madhya Pradesh, she can live until 57 years – 18 years less than a woman born in Kerala. In Karnataka a woman can expect to live upto 65 years, marginally longer than the national average.

Life expectancy – the international scorecard:

Life expectancy – the international scorecard Maximum life expectancy: Japan 84 years Minimum life expectancy: Sierra Leone 39.6 years Countries with HIGHER life expectancies than India USA - 79.7 China - 72.5 Sri lanka - 75.0 Viet nam - 70.2 Countries with LOWER life expectancies than India Bangla Desh - 59.0 Nepal - 57.8 Senegal - 54.8 Nigeria - 51.7 Ethiopia - 44.9 Rwanda - 40.6

Infant mortality rates:

Infant mortality rates IMR – number of infants that die within one year for every 1000 babies born – is a critical measure of a country’s level of human development Prevalence of poverty, nutritional status of mothers and children, availability of clean water and sanitation and access to proper health care are all determinants of child survival. In India, out of 27 million children born every year 2 million do not live to celebrate their first birthday Out of every 1000 children 70 die within a year In Orissa 96 out of 1000 infant girls die within the first year In Kerala 13 out 1000 infant girls die in the first year Karnataka’s female IMR is 57/1000, somewhat lower than the national average of 71/1000.

Why do baby girls die?:

Why do baby girls die? Improvement in medical technology has made it possible to determine the sex of the unborn child and there is a visible proliferation of ultrasound clinics even in rural areas. Far worse is the prevalence of female infanticide: lacing their feed with pesticides forcing down a few grains of poppy seed or rice husk to slit their gullets stuffing their mouths with black salt or urea feeding them with the juice or paste of oleander berries suffocating them with a wet towel or bag of sand starving them to death rubbing poison on the mother’s breast, so that the baby girl is poisoned as she suckles. Other forms of discrimination include: fewer months of breast feeding, less nurturing and play, less care or medical treatment, less ‘special’ food, less parental attention Female foeticide and infanticide signal the grossest form of discrimination against women

Right to health - Anaemia:

Right to health - Anaemia Anaemia, a debilitating disease, which increases a woman’s vulnerability and limits her capacity to function as full human beings. Its symptoms – constant tiredness and lack of energy, loss of appetite and breathlessness – are usually dismissed as ‘laziness’ or ‘imagination’. NHFW survey shows that 50% of all married women in India suffer from anaemia. Lack of care, inadequate nutrition during times of special need like illness and pregnancy, untreated gynaecological conditions, early and frequent child birth – all these contribute to high prevalence of anaemia.

Right to health – maternal mortality:

Right to health – maternal mortality 1,00,000 to 1,20,000 women die every year due to pregnancy related causes. Close to 300 women die every day of pregnancy related causes: i.e. there is one death in every five minutes. Countries with MMR LOWER than India China - 55 Sri lanka - 60 Vietnam - 160 India - 407 Countries with MMR HIGHER than India Chad - 830 Eritrea - 1,000 Mozambique - 1,100 Central African Republic 1,100 Causes of maternal deaths: Puerperium; anaemia of pregnancy; mal-position of child; puerperal sepsis; abortion.

Right to health – institutional deliveries:

Right to health – institutional deliveries 2/3rds of all deliveries in India take place at home – 35% in urban areas to 75% in rural areas. Most women deliver with help from women in the family who often lack skills and resources to save the mother’s life if she is in danger. Even a small investment in upgrading the levels of knowledge of these women can have huge returns. Even when deliveries take place in a public health facility and a supervised by a doctor or a nurse, childbirth is not a risk free process. A recent study shows that an average PHC is not equipped to handle even minor emergencies and does not meet the minimum standards of cleanliness and sanitation. Most PHCs lack toilet facilities with adequate water supply, operation rooms with clean rubber sheets, washbasins, adequate source of light, anitbiotics, analgesics, sedatives, anti-haemorrhage medicines.

Motherhood – is their a choice?:

Motherhood – is their a choice? Very few women in India have the opportunity to choose whether or when to have a child. Women do not have access to safe and self-controlled methods of contraception. The public health system emphasises permanent methods like sterilisation, or long term methods like IUD that do not need follow up. Sterilisation accounts for more than 75% of all contraception, with female sterilisation accounting for more than 95% of all sterilisations. Less than half the couples (48%) in the reproductive age group use contraception: in Bihar the Contraception Prevalence Rate is as low as 25%. In Himachal it is 68%. Karnataka’s CPR is 58%. Reasons for not using contraception: embarrasment associated with consulting a male doctor; lack of privacy in PHCs; reluctance of men to use condoms. consequently, abortion is often seen as a contraceptive method of choice.

Right to health – pulse polio, people centred campaign:

Right to health – pulse polio, people centred campaign Mass mobilisation of people around elimination of polio, which was presented as a matter of national pride. Political support at the highest level, including personal endorsements and involvement of political leaders of all parties Well-coordinated and sustained media and advocacy campaigns for awareness building Intensive planning to ensure involvement of all section of society including declaring public holiday to enable working parents take their children to imunisation centre Interdepartmental coordination to mobilise grassroot workers of all government agenceis and schemes Pooling in of financial, medical and other resources from government, corporate sector and NGOs. Effective logistic support and coordination by the district administration Careful monitoring and performance assessment.

How educated are Indian women?:

How educated are Indian women? At the time of the 1991 census, only 39% of Indian women could read and write. According to census 2001 female literacy rate is 54%: highest in Kerala with 88%; lowest i Bihar with 34%. In Karnataka female literacy is 57%). Despite this progress – close to 190 million indian women lack the basic capability to read and write. Countries with HIGH female literacy: Thailand - 94 Vietnam - 91 Srilanka - 87 Malaysia - 83 China - 76 Countries with LOW female literacy Niger - 7.9 Burkina Faso - 13.3 Guinea Bisau - 18.3 Nepal - 22.8

Gender gap in literacy:

Gender gap in literacy State 1991 2002 State 1991 2001 A.Pradesh 22 20 Orissa 28 25 Bihar 29 27 Punjab 15 12 Gujarat 24 22 Rajasthan 35 32 Haryana 29 23 T.Nadu 22 18 H.Pradesh 23 18 U.Pradesh 30 27 Karnataka 23 19 W.Bengal 21 17 Kerala 7 6 J&K 25 24 M.Pradesh 29 27 All India 25 22 Maharash tra 24 18

How many girls go to school?:

How many girls go to school? Bihar 54 Karnataka 78 Rajasthan 63 Haryana 86 Uttar Pradesh 69 Maharashtra 87 Andhra Pradesh 71 Tamil Nadu 89 Madhya Pradesh 71 Punjab 90 Gujarat 73 Himachal Pradesh 97 Orissa 75 Kerala 97 W. Bengal 77 All India 74 J&K 78

Workforce participation rates of children:

Workforce participation rates of children State Total Workers (million) % of girls in 5-14 age group recorded as workers A. Pradesh 5.53 10.54 Bihar 3.35 2.93 Karnataka 5.61 8.71 M. Pradesh 4.79 8.56 Rajasthan 4.57 7.88 Uttar Pradesh 3.14 2.46 W. Bengal 3.23 2.68

How many girls go to school? :

How many girls go to school? The workforce participation rates do not tell the whole story: In 1991, 52 million girls were recorded as neither going to school, nor participating in paid workforce. These are the ‘nowhere’ children, working within the home or in the unorganised sector. Child labour laws do not cover children doing domestic work or children working in agriculture, whether for their own families or for wage. Girls cannot therefore be freed from domestic drudgery and tyranny of family responsibilities or avail of their right to education without a huge change in the attitudes and values of parents.

The state of schools in India:

The state of schools in India PROBE report: 44% schools do not have a playground 54% schools do not have drinking water 55% schools do not have teaching kits 72% schools do not have a library 84% schools do not have a toilet With the 93 rd constitutional amendment free and compulsory education for children in the 6-14 age group has been made a fundamental right. This means that there must be greater resource allocation to the education sector – at least 6% of the GDP.

Freedom to work without exploitation:

Freedom to work without exploitation Irrespective of caste, class or age, most indian women are expected to be responsible and accountable for the invisible and unpaid work within the home Women’s right to work outside the home, however, cannot always be taken for granted. A vast majority of indian women work throughout their lives: the irony is that this fact is not officially recognised. When asked ‘Does your wife work?’, the automatic response of the ‘head’ of the household is ‘No – she’s just a housewife’. Thus, the work that women do – water, fuel, fodder collection, cooking, cleaning, care of children and elderly, unpaid work on family land or enterprises – is made invisible and not accounted for in national estimates.

Women’s invisible work:

Women’s invisible work A time-use survey conducted by Central Statistical Organisation reveals: Women sleep on the average two hours less than men Women spend ten times more time on househild work than men. This is true even in families where women work full time Men have two hours a day for leisure. Women have only five minutes Men spend less than one hour a week on cooking, while women spend 15 hours per week.

How safe is the workplace for women?:

How safe is the workplace for women? The National Women’s commission for Self employed women did a detailed study on occupational health hazards in 1988 Many of the occupations in which women are concentrated are hazardous in themselves: Block printing, screen printing, dyeing, biri rolling, waste disposal, rag picking, headloading – all involve exposure to toxic chemicals and pathogens. Women who cook on wood fires are exposed to more pollutants than industrial workers NCW survey in 1998 found that nearly 50% had experienced gender discrimination or physical and mental harassment at work In 1997, the Supreme Court took a strong stand against sexual harrasment of women in the workplace: Sexual harassment was defined as ‘unwelcome sexually determined behaviour, including physical contact or advances, demands or requests for sexual favours,, sexually coloured remarks, showing of pornography, and any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of a sexual nature’. Very little follow up on SC decision.

Do indian women particpate in private decisions:

Do indian women particpate in private decisions Indian women are marginalised in decision making and leadership by a variety of processes that begin at infancy Girls are encouraged to play passive roles and given little opportunity to make decisions or develop leadership skills outside the family Instead they are taught to accept the decisions that others – parents, teachers, brothers, uncles – make on their behalf. Thus, women lack confidence and skills needed to function effectively in the public place.

Women’s autonomy: private decisions:

Women’s autonomy: private decisions take no deci-sions cooking health care jewel. purchase staying with parents going to the market visiting friends, relatives UP 16 78 45 41 36 17 12 Bihar 14 82 48 43 44 22 21 Rajn. 13 82 41 43 39 19 17 MP 13 82 37 44 38 21 20 J&K 12 80 56 58 49 12 8 K’taka 8 88 49 47 45 43 34 WB 8 87 45 48 47 18 14 AP 7 86 56 61 58 20 15

Women’s autonomy – private decisions:

Women’s autonomy – private decisions Kerala 7 81 73 63 60 48 38 Delhi 5 83 69 59 47 52 34 Assam 5 88 65 54 45 13 14 Gujrat 4 90 71 74 65 55 51 TNadu 2 92 61 67 62 79 56 P’jab 1 97 79 75 68 50 28 HP 1 95 81 93 91 33 31 India 9 85 52 53 48 32 24 take no deci-sions cooking health care jewel. purchase staying with parents going to the market visiting friends, relatives

Freedom from fear:

Freedom from fear The Indian Constitution guarantees to all Indians the right to bodily integrity, personal safety and security. Yet violence against women continues to be on the rise Between 1980 and 1990, there was an increase of nearly 74% in crimes against women, with rape, molestation and torture by husbands and in-laws showing the highest growth rate. Domestic violence takes the following forms: Refusal to talk to wife (9%) Get angry with children (12%) Not give money (18%) Reprimand wife (19%) Threat to throw out of the house (51%) Physically assault wife (63%) Use abusive language (80%) Violence against women within the families is justified as being necessary to establish men’s authority over women, to ‘discipline’ them and to punish them for dereliction of duty.

Does the law protect women from violence:

Does the law protect women from violence In a study conducted in 1996, 109 judges were interviewed to assess their attitudes to violence against women: 48% believed that there were certain occasions when it was justifiable for a husband to slap his wife. 74% believed that preservation of the family should be the woman’s primary concern, even when she faces violence. 50% believed that child sexual abuse is not common. 68% believed that ‘provocative’ clothes are an invitation to sexual assault. 34% believed that dowry has an inherent cultural value. 55% believed that the moral character of a woman is relevant in cases of sexual assault. 9% believed that those who say ‘No’ to sexual intercourse often mean ‘yes’.

In conclusion:

In conclusion Women are not a homogenous group – women belonging to privileged and dominant classes and castes enjoy many freedoms and opportunities that are denied to men from subordinate and disprivileged groups. Gender inequality is not the only inequality in India – women are unfree and unequal, but so are dalits, members of subordinate castes and communities, landless people, displaced people, migrants, the homeless, disabled people and many other groups. Yet, women are at the bottom of the pile in every one of these groups – the ‘last man’ in Gandhiji’s talisman, the poorest and most powerless individual, is actually a woman. Equality of freedoms and opportunities for this ‘last woman’can come about only through transformation in all structures and systems that generate and perpetuate inequalities – a transformation that would benefit every other subordinate group in society.

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