Subject:Adult Education Paper: Women Studies
Action agenda of the women’s rights movement in India has been evolved with an understanding that:
• Men outnumber women in India, unlike in most other countries.
• Majority of women go through life in a state of nutritional stress-they are anaemic and malnourished. Girls and women face nutritional discrimination within the family, eating last and least.
• The average Indian woman has little control over her own fertility and reproductive health.
• Literacy rate is lower in women as compared to men and far fewer girls than boys go to school in India. Even when girls are enrolled, many of them drop out of school.
• Women’s work is undervalued and unrecognised. They work longer hours than men and do the major share of household and community work, which is unpaid and invisible.
• Once ‘women’s work’ is professionalised, there is practically a monopoly on it by men. For example, professional chefs are still largely men. The sexual division of labour ensures that women always end up as having to prioritise unpaid domestic work over paid work. There is no ‘natural’ biological difference that lies behind the sexual division of labour, but certain ideological assumptions
• Women generally earn far lower wages than men doing the same work, despite the Equal Remuneration Act of 1976. In no state do women and men earn equal wages in agriculture. Majority of women workers are in the unorganised sector and they barely manage to get subsistence wages.
• Women are under-represented in governance and decision-making positions: in Parliament, the Cabinet, in High Courts and the Supreme Court Women are legally discriminated against in land and property rights. Most do not own property in their own names and do not get a share of parental property.
• Women face violence inside and outside the family throughout their lives. Casteism, communalism and ethnic chauvinism institutionalise violence against Dalit, religious minority and tribal women.
• Women who don’t adhere to heterosexual and endogamous marriage get punished severely by family, community and the criminal legal system.