Archive for March, 2011
As per the ‘handbook on statistical indicators on Indian Women 2007’, brought out by the Ministry of Woman and Child Development, GoI :
Sex Ratio :
- The All-India sex ratio (number of women per 1000 men) has shown a decrease of 13 points (from 946 in 1951 to 933 in 2001) over the last 50 years
- Though the sex ratio in urban India increased by 40 points during the period, that for rural India decreased by 19 points, and 77% of India’s women reside in rural areas.
Education Status :
- As per the Indian census of 2001, the literacy rates of women aged 7+ have been steadily increasing and have improved from 29.8% in 1981 to 53.7% in 2001.
- However, this is still over 20 points below that of men which is at 75.3%.
- The gender gap in literacy rates increases when we look at adult literacy rates (population aged 15+ years), which are 47.8% for women and 73.4% for men
- The women reading this post are probably amongst the privileged 5.2% of women who are educated till the level of graduation and more!
- Of the women that are literate, only 28% are literate and educated beyond matric / secondary level, whereas the corresponding percentage for men is 34%
Participation in the workforce :
- As per NSSO surveys, at an All-India level, the share of women in wage employment in non-agricultural sector is 20.23% in 2004-2005 vs. 16% in 1999-2000 – well, at least the increase is heartening, if not the absolute numbers
- However, as per Census 2001, the work participation rate (proportion of workers to total population) for females is 25.7 % whereas that of males is 51.9%
- As per NSSO surveys, at an all – India level, while the wages paid to women labourers are increasing, the gender gap in wages is also increasing.
Participation in governance :
- In 2004, 47.95% of the total electors were females
- As on 9/1/2007, women members constitute only 9.07% of the National Parliament
- As per Census of Central Government Employees, in 2001, the female employment in Central Government is 2.92 lakhs which is only 7.53 % of the total employment in Central Government
Summary of the pace and magnitude of change : Inching ahead, not racing ahead.
Let’s not forget that ads like this one are still required and the message of girl children being as welcome as little boys has not sunk in yet.
As per UN statistics, current primary school enrolment rates are as high as 88% and the female literacy rate has risen by about 20% in the last two decades; though ‘enrolment’ is not quite equal to ‘attendance’, and neither does ‘literacy’ equal ‘learning’, this is still a significant change. There’s a shift occurring here, slowly but surely.
Two real-life episodes that illustrate the change in attitudes are described below:
First there’s R bai, a feisty lady that works as a maid in Mumbai. This lady’s daughter is getting married to a man she fell in love with. R bai says that she doesn’t really care which rituals are conducted during the marriage ceremony, she doesn’t even care whether the couple undergoes the saat pheras or not, what she is insisting on is that the marriage be registered in court. She feels that rituals do not put any pressure on the guy to actually take care of her precious daughter; and that the lack of a document that can stand up in court implies that they have no recourse to legal action if he ever deserts her or ill-treats her. Three cheers for R bai for thinking of legal action against an errant son-in-law and not echoing the ‘beti shaadi ke baad paraayaa dhan hai’ sentiment!
Another heartening story is one of a kabaadiwaala in Delhi, let’s call him K. For some time, when illiterate K goes house-to-house buying old newspapers and magazines for reselling, he has been requesting housewives on his paper-route to point out to him articles about travel and give those magazines to him free. Why? Because his daughter was attending classes for a travel – and – tourism related training and needed material for her assignments and project submissions. Apparently, K had decided years ago that he would educate both his children, not just the son as many of his friends did; he was determined to ensure that his daughter would be able to stand on her own two feet and never be forced to stay trapped in an unhappy or abusive marriage due to being financially dependent on her husband.
Earlier this year, K’s ambitions were fulfilled; his daughter completed her course and got a government job.
Zenobia D. Driver
(Note: The first post in this series can be read here)
Decades after Cyndi Lauper made it cool for girls to want to have fun, this Hero Honda ad gives girls the freedom for ‘masti’ and asks society a long-overdue question, “Why should boys have all the fun?”
The ad’s heroine embodies the Indian woman’s talent for acceptance and compromise, she resolves to navigate her own way through the mire of questions that various people throw at her with the attitude, “Sawaal tho rahengey hi, par masti bhi”
I especially liked the way the heroine nonchalantly flicks away all the question marks that society directs at her – it’s all about the feeling of independence and of being in control of your own life. The brand team and ad agency have zeroed in on a powerful insight – women’s yearning for independence and fun, the shackles that society places on them, and the freedom that comes with having one’s own set of wheels.
The same insight has also been expressed by Santosh Desai in a chapter in his book, ‘Mother Pious Lady’ :
‘Earlier, the navigation of the Outer World was primarily a male responsibility. Women were dropped to and from their destinations and needed to depend on men to do so. Mobility was a male prerogative which they conferred on their women. ….The world outside was inaccessible and daunting and needed to be entered one hesitant step at a time.
Personal mobility changes all that. Every place becomes accessible, every road navigable……One can explore all that the city has to offer almost without any extra effort. The fear of the unfamiliar place diminishes; the idea of the outside world as inherently hostile is revealed to be an exaggeration. …The sense of being in control, of being in charge of one’s own destiny, of being able to navigate in real time all that the world has to throw, is experienced directly.’
Zenobia D Driver