Women are the building blocks of the society. They are traditionally referred as Goddesses. However, in the Indian society, they continue to be exploited for the sake of the conventions of the society and face challenges which are as follows, the continued challenges for women in India against time and space is discussed below
Challenges faced by the women:
• Patriarchy: The women face the male dominance in the various institutions, structures of the country. This has hampered the overall development and rise of women in the societal roles.
• Political participation: The women are not able to express themselves politically. The reservation for women is still pending in the parliament.
• Economic participation: Women are not able to reach the top most positions in the corporations, private or public except a few. Also women are imparted roles which are regarded as specifically for women like Pink Jobs, Health sector etc.
• Education: they are still considered as burden in the villages of many states, though the situation has improved in many.
• Discrimination: The women are discriminated in the various spheres affecting their overall participation and development of their personalities. They are still discriminated in the villages, families.
• Alienation: The women are socially and psychologically alienated which results in the non participation of the women in the various spheres of life.
• Exclusion: The women are excluded from the decision making roles in the society which eventually affect the health of the society and the nation.
• Crimes and atrocities: NCRB data shows that the women are faced with crimes such as rapes, abuse, sexual harassment at workplaces and thus face deviant behavior.
• Domestic violence and Non participation in the decisions of families in the villages. The Khap panchayats and patriarchal attitude exacerbate the position of women.
Continued challenges faced by women with Time:
▪ Status of women in India Indian society deteriorated early in Indian ancient period especially in Indo Aryan speaking region
▪ Low participation in democracy. Even today we see the phenomenon of pati panchayats and voting decisions being taken by men on their behalf.
▪ E.g.: Women allowed to participate in proceedings of Sabha and not a samiti in later Vedic period. Women were also equated with 5th varna
▪ Marriage -both polyandry and polygamy tradition among some population in India ▪ For instance, Fraternal polyandry in some areas of Himachal Pradesh prevalent even today.
▪ Child marriage-despite the Sharda act 1950 female child marriage was rampant particularly in northern India.
Post Independence times:
▪ Even at present, about 50% of all women in India alive today were married as a child according to official sources.
▪ Despite dowry prohibition Act 1961, conviction rate is very low in India. Hence, Dowry continues to be a serious issue
▪ The attitude that birth of a Girl child is inauspicious was normalized in Indian culture which is a failure of PCPNDT act.
▪ Recent news that in 132 villages in Uttarakhand not a single female child has been born in the last three months shows the continued severity of the problem.
▪ Time poverty (concept given by Jayanta Ghosh) due to care economics -no extracurricular because of time deficiency as a consequence of household chores.
▪ Double burden of women due to both work and family responsibilities
▪ Feminization of poverty as high value addition type of jobs ismonopolized largely by men due to their higher social status.
▪ Feminization of old age as women has higher life expectancy than men.
Continued challenges faced by women with Space:-
• Urban space – Women have unequal access to the city as in cities sex ratio is skewed towards men and consequently cannot get agglomeration benefits and the opportunities for employment that the city provides. E.g.: Huge number of migrant men travel to cities Rural scenario: Women have little choices, have to face crimes while going out for work, leads to mental health problems, affect reproductive health and affect critical decision making power.
Trafficking, bride buying etc are also faced by women.
and take up gig jobs, contract jobs to have better opportunities with existing skills, but women are not allowed to do the same.
• Rural space – Women in rural areas are relegated to agriculture and are prisoners of patriarchal attitudes and mindsets. E.g.: Khap panchayat orders that limit their freedom • Northern India – In the north there is more rigidity towards gender roles compared to the south. This may be due to repeated invasions and family honour being associated with the chastity of women. Nevertheless it has become a hinderance for women empowerment • Southern India – Women are more empowered than the north in general due to cultural factors like matriarchal families in particular castes and states, however, they are still behind the other progressive countries in the world with respect to empowerment of women. E.g.: Nairs of Kerala are matriarchal
• Tribal areas – central and North eastern India – In this area, Women’s rights are better recognized than the rest of India due to tribal societies being in general more egalitarian.
However, with time, there is Sanskritization of tribes and there is evidence to suggest even son preference is creeping in.
There is a need for systematic measures to remove the disadvantages women are facing since ancient times and across the vast geography of India. Some of these measures can be ▪ Reservation in public employment ex: Karnataka government model
▪ Reservation in parliament and state legislature
▪ Specific schemes for economic empowerment of women ex: Stand up India ▪ Promoting women self help groups and farmer producer organizations
▪ Support to social movements that address women’s issues ex: Ghardoghancheabhiyan, bell bajao campaign to stop domestic violence against women
At the same time, the tribes of North eastern India exercise matriarchy which leads to women empowerment through the traditional structures, thus raising the status and decision making power of women. The Government legal steps, like Sexual harassment prevention, women help lines, schemes aimed at welfare of women, targeting of schemes like LPG DBT transfer into women account etc would go a long way to provide a way for the empowerment and encouragement among the women.
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