CHAPTER-1 Gender disparity profile CHAPTER-2 Gender discrimination at early childhood CHAPTER -3 Gender and policy framework CHAPTER- 4 Gender and economy CHAPTER -5 Gender and poverty CHAPTER -6 Gender and governance CHAPTER -7 Gender and education CHAPTER -8 Gender and health CHAPTER -9 Gender based violence CHAPTER -10 Gender –other sectoral issues 1-25 26-41 42-57 58-71 72-88 89-106 107-119 120-136 137-154 155-171



Preface Equal participation of women and men in all aspects of society is crucial for lasting growth and democracy. This ambitious goal, however, is far from being a reality despite substantial progress over the last five decades. The root cause of the problem lies in the social structures, institutions, values and beliefs which create and perpetuate the imbalance between women and men. The issue is not how to “add” women to various processes but to reshape these processes to create the space for women’s and men’s involvement. Gender mainstreaming was established as a global strategy for the promotion of gender equality in the Platform for Action adopted at the Fourth World Conference on Women. Gender Mainstreaming focuses on gender roles and relationships rather than on women only; it is designed to ensure that women and men have access to project resources and services, in relation to their actual responsibilities. Mainstreaming can reveal a need for changes in goals, strategies and actions to ensure that both women and men can influence, participate in and benefit from development processes. Gender mainstreaming is the integration of the gender perspective into every step of policy processes - design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation -with a view to promoting equality between women and men. Gender mainstreaming is an important aspect of good governance. It seeks to ensure that institutions, policies and programs respond to the needs and interests of women as well as men, and distribute benefits equitably between women and men. It contributes to social, economic and cultural progress. It leads to greater fairness, equity and justice for women and men, thus enhancing the accountability of governments to achieve results for all citizens. While mainstreaming is clearly essential for securing human rights and social justice for women as well as men, it also increasingly recognized that incorporating gender perspectives in different areas of development ensures the effective achievement of other social and economic goals. Mainstreaming can reveal a need for changes in goals, strategies and actions to ensure that both women and men can influence, participate in and benefit from development processes. Although government agencies such as a national women’s machinery may provide the initial impetus for gender mainstreaming activities, these strategies will not be effective or sustainable if individuals and groups within a society do not understand the importance of the change being sought. Civil society has an important role to play in to fulfill its commitment to gender mainstreaming.

Keeping the above in view Syndicate for Gender Mainstreaming has under taken a study to critically examine the efforts of government as well as efforts of Civil Society institution for gender mainstreaming in development process. This is the first report of


newly established set up Syndicate for Gender Mainstreaming a non profit organisation established for expressed purpose of gender equality. This report critically examine the efforts of government of India along with other para-statal and civil society institutions to mainstream gender in development process. The report is divided into ten chapters. The first chapter give an account of gender-disparity in society and economy and the second chapter examine the gender discrimination at early childhood and how gender discrimination affect survival and development of girl child. The third chapter deals with gender policy framework and efforts of government of India to empower women. The Fourth chapter deals with women’s economic role and mainstreaming policy of government. Fifth chapter examine the relationship between gender and poverty. The sixth chapter take a stock of situation of women in governance obstacles and strategy to enhance women’s role in goverance and decision making. Seventh chapter gender dimension in school education are discussed, factors affecting envolvement and how to make gender sensitivity in school. The Eighth chapter on Gender and Health evaluate the government policy and programme that affect women more specically the reproductive health. Chapter nine deals with gender-based violence in country its causes, consequences and strategy to combat it. The last chapter critically review the government efforts to mainstream gender in various other sectors i.e. environment, land rights, agriculture, drinking water, housing and shelter. It is hoped that the present report will be useful to all those who are interested in gender issues and empowerment of women. B R SIWAL


While the impact of various developmental policies, plans and programmes implemented over the last few decades have brought forth a perceptible improvement in the socio-economic status of women, problems like illiteracy, ignorance, discrimination and violence continue to persist even today. The following paragraphs give an account of achievements in the selected areas of demography and vital statistics; health and family welfare; literacy and education; work and employment; decision-making; political participation; etc. Demography and Vital Statistics There has been a slight increase in the total female population of the country, from 407.1 million (48.1 per cent of total population) in 1991 to 495.7 million (48.3 per cent) in 2001. While the percentage increase of 0.2 is very marginal, increase in terms of absolute numbers was 88.6 million as against 77.1 million between 1981 and 1991. The growth rate of female population for the 1991-2001 decade was 21.79 per cent, which was 0.86 percentage points higher than that of males and 0.45 percentage points more than that of the total population. Yet, the demographic imbalances between women and men continue to exist till date. The sex ratio, which represents the survival scene of women, registered a very marginal improvement, from 927 in 1991 to 933 in 2001. While the sex ratio in respect of all ages has increased, it has declined in the most crucial 0-6 age-group, from 945 in 1991 to 927 in 2001. Also, the same declining trend was reflected in most states, including the more economically advanced ones like Punjab and Haryana. This clearly points to the fact that economic growth may not necessarily bring about an improvement in the status of women. This, in turn, can be attributed to the discrimination that the girl child faces and the consequential problems of poor health and nutritional status. Added to these are the problems of female foeticide and female infanticide, the incidence of which is on an increase. Health and Family Welfare While the Birth Rate has declined by 7.8 points from 33.9 in 1981 to 26.1 in 1999, the Death Rate has also declined by 3.8 points from 12.5 in 1981 to 8.7 in 1999. Similarly, the effective mean age at marriage for females has also increased from18.3 years in 1981 to 19.5 years in 1997. The Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1976, which raised the age of marriage for girls from 15 to 18 years has, no doubt, helped reduce child/early marriages and the consequent early pregnancies and birth of premature babies. At the same time, education and employment of women/girls has also played a very important role in raising the age of marriage. Declining Sex Ratio


Nothing reflects the adverse position of Indian women than the declining sex ratio. Women have an evident biological advantage of survival over males, and this is reflected in the higher ratio of female over male in almost every country of the world. But in India this ratio is declining consistently over the years. When the first Census of the country was conducted in 1901 there were 972 females per 1000 males in the country; this number has declined to 933 in 2001. In absolute terms this implies that in a country of over a billion populations, nearly 50 million women are ‘missing’. Either their birth has been averted by female foeticide or they have been killed by the practices of female infanticide or they have not been allowed to survive through a discriminatory feeding practices against the girl child. High rate of maternal mortality has also contributed to this imbalance in the sex ratio. Table.1 Sex Ratio in the Population Sex ratio (females per 1,000 males) 972 964 955 950 945 946 941 930 934 927 933

Census Year 1901 1911 1921 1931 1941 1951 1961 1971 1981 1991 2001

Source: Census of India 2001, "Provisional Population Totals".

The Census of 2001 has confirmed the trend of an alarming decrease in the juvenile sex ratio (age group 0 to 6) in the recent years.


Table. 2 Juvenile Sex Ratio Census Year 1981 1991 2001 Sex Ratio (0 to 6 years) 962 945 927

Source: Census of India 2001, "Provisional Population Totals".

This trend is widely associated with the technological advancement in the pre natal sex diagnosis and abortion of the female foeticide and reflects a deepseated societal prejudice against the girl child. Analysis of cross country data indicates that except in small pockets of south west (Kerala and Lakshadeep) and north east (Sikkim, Tripura and Mizoram) juvenile sex ratio is declining in all the provinces and among all the communities, irrespective of the level of education and economic prosperity. Shockingly, it is the more prosperous States of Punjab, Haryana, Maharastra and Gujrat that have taken the lead in this practice. Government had enacted the Pre Natal Diagnostic Technique (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act in 1994 for compulsory registration of all clinics employing equipments for such tests and for prosecution and punishment of medical practitioners and their accomplices but evidently the legislation could not make any difference to the situation which has created a sense of alarm among the right thinking men and women in the country Table – 3 Life Expectancy at Birth (1981-2001) (in years) Females Year (1) 198185 198993* 19962001 (2) 55.7 59.7 65.3

Males (3) 55.4 59.0 62.3

Note : * Based on the Sample Registration System Estimates. Source : Census of India, 1991; and Census of India, 2001 : Provisional Population Totals, Registrar-General & Census Commissioner, GOI, New Delhi.


Table – 4 Mean Age at Marriage (1981-1997) (in years) Year (1) 1981 1991 1997

Females (2) 18.3 19.5 19.5

Males (3) 23.3 23.9 N.A.

Source : Sample Registration System Bulletins for respective years, RegistrarGeneral and Census Commissioner, GOI, New Delhi Table : 5 Birth Rate (1981-1999) Year (1) 1981 1991 1999 Source : Birth Rate (2) 33.9 29.5 26.1

Sample Registration System Bulletins for respective years, Registrar General and Census Commissioner, GOI, New Delhi

Table :6 Death Rate (1981-1999) (per thousand) Year (1) 1981 1991 1999 Females (2) 12.7 9.7 8.3 Males (3) 12.4 10.0 9.0 Total (4) 12.5 9.8 8.7

Source : Sample Registration System Bulletins for respective years, RegistrarGeneral and Census Commissioner, GOI, New Delhi However, while the female Death Rate has come down by 4.4 points from 12.7 in 1981 to 8.3 in 1999, the male Death Rate has come down by 3.4 points, i.e. from 12.4 in 1981 to 9.0 in 1991 per cent), which could have been prevented easily through better reproductive health care and nutrition. Despite the special sanction of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act in 1971, illegal abortions continue to be performed by unauthorized persons like local quacks and untrained persons under unhygienic and


unsafe conditions. In fact, abortions accounted for 8.9 per cent of the maternal deaths, which is quite high. Other causes of high morbidity amongst women are Reproductive Tract Infections (RTIs) and Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs), besides their higher vulnerability to cancer, malaria and tuberculosis and other diseases due to their lower access to health care facilities. The highest number of maternal deaths in 1998 was due to hemorrhage (29.7 per cent), followed by anemia (19 per cent) and Sepsis

Adverse Health Conditions of Women The health of Indian women is intricately related to the socio-economic status of the households to which they belong and their age, kinship and marital status within the households. Given the predominantly patriarchal set-up, women and girls get a lesser share in the intra-household distribution of health goods and services, compared to men and boys. However in the intra-household distribution of labour, women get the major share of economic, procreative and family responsibilities. As a result of the competing demands on their time and energy, as well as their socialization, women tend to neglect their health. The lesser access to food within the household invariably leads to poor nutritional status and a state of ill health for women, with serious inter-generational implications of low birth weight babies etc. Although women have an evident biological advantage of survival over male, until 1981 the life expectancy at birth for women in India was lower than that for men. In 1991, it barely surpassed that of men, but by 1994 it has surpassed that of males. But the life expectancy at birth barely conceals the actual health status of women in the country. The Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) in India, which has been estimated as 408 per 1,00,000 births is one of the highest in the world. This translates to one maternal death in every 200 pregnancies or 273 deaths everyday. Maternal deaths constitute 1.1% of the total reported deaths of all women in all age groups and 15% of deaths among women in the reproductive age group (15-44 years). Severe anaemia and bleeding are the two major causes of maternal death followed by abortion and toxaemia. Table. 7 Health Profile by Gender Life Expectancy at Birth Male Female Total Infant Mortality Rate1 1971 1981 1994

46.4 50.9 44.7 50.0 45.6 50.4 1978 1988

59.7 60.9 60.3 1997


Male Female Total Child Mortality Rate2 Male Female Maternal Mortality Rate3

123 96 131 93 127 94 1970 1985

70.3 72.2 71.2 1997

51.7 36.6 55.1 40.4 1980 1993

23.2 25.3 1997

468 437


1. 1. per 1,000 live births. 2. 2. per 1,000 under five years of age 3. 3. per 100,000 live births Source: Sample Registration System (SRS) estimates, Office of Registrar General and Census Commissioner, New Delhi in Ninth Five Year Plan, Planning Commission, GOI and Economic Survey, 1999-2000, GOI. In addition to the NNMB’s data given above, the National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-II of 1998-99 shows that while 1.9 per cent of the adolescent married girls suffer from severe anemia, 45.9 per cent from moderate anemia. If left undetected and untreated, this will lead not only to increased morbidity amongst mothers, but also to higher risk of low birth rate and higher pre-natal mortality. Poor child-rearing practices of these adolescent mothers will add to the otherwise high mortality, morbidity and under/malnutrition amongst the infants and thus perpetuate the problems in the intergenerational cycle. The survey also shows that 51.8 per cent of women (15-49 years) suffer from nutritional anemia, which can easily be prevented by providing better nutrition during their adolescent period and, more specifically, during pregnancy and lactation. Studies conducted by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), New Various studies have indicated that there are profound gender biases in the feeding practices that result in chronic under nutrition and micronutrient deficiencies in girl child. National Family Health Survey of India noted that there is significant gender difference in the percentage of undernourished and severely undernourished children in the country. Even the median duration of breast-feeding is two months shorter for girls than for boys.


Table – 8 Maternal Mortality Rate (1980-1998) (per one lakh live births) Year Maternal Mortality Rate (2) 468 437 407

(1) 1980 1993 1998

Source : Sample Registration System Bulletins for respective years, RegistrarGeneral and Census Commissioner, GOI, New Delhi Although MMR has been declining from 468 in 1980 to 407 in 1998, it is still very high and, therefore, a matter of great concern. The major causes responsible for this high rate have been detailed as follows.The prevalence of anemia is highest amongst pregnant women, ranging between 50 and 90 per cent. However, the NFHS II estimates the prevalence to be 49.7 per cent, which is substantially lower than earlier reports. What is more important is that the prevalence of moderate and severe forms of anemia (< 8 gms per cent and < 5gms per cent) associated with adverse obstetric outcomes continues to remain high..

Literacy and Education The past gains in women’s education as reflected in the female literacy rate shows an increase from 29.76 per cent in 1981 to 54.16 per cent in 2001. Also, it is encouraging to note that as revealed by the 2001 Census for the first time, the absolute number of female illiterates has come down from 200.07 million in 1991 to 189.6 million in 2001. Similarly, the gap between female and male illiterates and drop-outs has also started narrowing down. Some states, however, continue to have very large inter-regional variations in education and there are still 299 districts with lower female literacy levels than the national average. While Kerala recorded the highest female literacy rate of 87.86 per cent, Bihar recorded the lowest at 33.57 per cent in 2001.

Discrimination in Education Education is essential for improving women's living standards and enabling them to exercise greater ‘voice’ in decision-making in the family, community, place of work and the public arena. While both men and women's literacy rates have improved considerably in the last quarter century, only half the women are literate compared to 73 per cent of men. Female illiteracy continues to be particularly pronounced in rural areas.


Inadequacy of the education system to reach out to girls and women can be seen from four different aspects viz. supply, access, demand and participation. On the supply side, not having a school within easy reach of home is often a barrier to girl's enrolment and retention. Closely related to this physical proximity is the question of quality of school education. Similarly, the availability of girl's schools as opposed to co-educational schools is also an important factor. Too often girls do not go to school particularly at the secondary level unless the school has separate lavatories and a degree of privacy for girls, particularly as they move to upper primary levels. Sometimes having lady teachers can make a difference. Poor road and transport infrastructure and limited teacher training institutions in rural areas impede rural women from receiving teacher training. Conversely these factors hinder urban women from taking up teaching jobs in rural areas. This is a vicious cycle. On the demand side, costs of education are a major factor, but even when education is free, there are both direct and opportunity costs which are very real. Cost of books, uniform, mid-day meals, etc. are major costs for poor families. Loss of girl children's availability for household chores and wage earnings are very often the major opportunity costs for poor families for sending their daughters to schools. Cultural norms increase the costs of girl's schooling both in terms of direct and opportunity costs. While the costs of schooling appear to be real and immediate, the benefits are often too remote to perceive. While, the gender division of labour tends to mask the benefits of girl's education in the short run, the usual social norm of a woman settling down in the husband's home, often in a different village, further undermines the perceived economic benefits of sending daughters to schools. The concept of the daughter as a ‘someone else’s wealth’ which can at best benefit another household, reduces the incentives of sending daughters to school. On the other hand, the labour market also discriminates against women in terms of wages and availability of jobs, which further reinforces the perceived futility of girl's education and the vicious cycle goes on. The practice of dowry further aggravates the situation. The more educated a girl is, the higher needs be the education level of the groom, and therefore higher expectation of dowry price, although there may be good exceptions. However despite these constraints, there has been a rapid increase in girls' share in total enrolment in the last 30 years, although female enrolment is still less than a half the total enrolment at every stage of education and it decreases with the every next higher stage of education. The Gross Enrolment Ratio, defined as percentage of enrolment to the estimated child population in a specific age group also discriminates heavily against the girl child.

India's performance in educational enrolment for women is poor in comparison to its peers in the developing world. Female enrolment at both the primary and secondary levels are lower in India relative to the average for all medium human development countries (of which India is a member) as well as for all developing countries


Similarly, the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) for girls both at primary and middle levels have also increased from 64.1 in 1980-81 to 85.2 in 1999-2000 in respect of primary level and from 28.6 to 49.7 in respect of middle level during the same period. Between 1990-91 and 1999-2000, the GER of girls at the middle level has also increased from 47.8 to 49.7 The number of women in higher education which includes colleges, universities, professional colleges of engineering, medicine, technology, etc. has also increased from 1.32 million (33.0 per cent) in 1990-91 to 3 million (39.8 per cent) in 1999-2000. The number of women enrolled has shown an increase in both absolute and relative terms. The drop-out rates, which have a direct bearing on the school retention rates, have also shown a definite declining trend from 1980-81 to 1999-2000, both in the case of boys and girls at all levels of school education. Although, the drop-out rates for girls at primary and middle levels reduced from 62.5 and 79.4 respectively in 1980-81 to 42.3 and 58.0 in 1999-2000, the rates are still higher than those for boys . The age-specific work participation rates reveal that women tend to enter the labour market later than men. In the age group 15-29, participation of male is considerably higher than females, both in rural and urban India. Female participation improves with age until 60 years, but the gender gap continues to be very pronounced. In 30-59 age group, female WPR is 24.1 per cent in urban and a little more than a half in rural areas. In the overall 15-59 age group the participation rates for males are 88 per cent in rural and 80 percent in urban areas. The corresponding rates for females are a little more than a half in the rural areas and a little less than a fifth of the corresponding male rates in urban areas, respectively. Contrarily, the work participation of male and female child do not vary very substantially. If the girl child participation in domestic chores, which are not reflected in the official statistics, is considered more number of girls child would be found to be engaged in work than the boys. A significantly larger proportion of female workers are in the unorganised sector whose activities are not regulated under any legal provisions (such as the Factories Act 1948) and/or protected by maternity benefits, leave, pension, gratuity etc. As much as 95.8 per cent of the total of 89.77 million women workers in the country are employed in the unorganised sector. The average female wage in India is almost 80 per cent of the male average in urban areas and 60 per cent in urban areas. The gender difference in wage rate is the highest in the rural manufacturing sector, where the female wage rate is less than a half of the male rate. A significant part of the contribution of women towards the economy remains unrecognised in quantitative terms, or at best undervalued, because of the restricted definition of economic activity in national income accounting. Only market-oriented activities are considered ‘economic’. Thus, for the purposes of economic valuation, much of the household and community work that is not marketed and hence has no


market value remains outside the national income. A pilot Time Use Survey (TUS) using stratified sampling technique was conducted by the Central Statistical Organisation in about 18,600 households spread over the six states of Gujarat, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya, Orissa, and Tamil Nadu during July 1998 to June 1999. This showed that payment was not made for about 38 per cent of the time spent on activities, which actually qualify for national income accounting. A gender disaggregation of unpaid work further shows that such unpaid activities was much higher at 51 per cent for females compared to only 33 per cent for males.

Table –9 Work Participation Rates by Sex (1981 to 2001) (in per cent) Census T/R/U Female (1) (2) (3) 1981 Total 19.7 Rural 23.1 Urban 8.3 1991 Total 22.3 Rural 26.8 Urban 9.2 2001 Total 25.7 Rural 31.0 Urban 11.6 Source :
Totals, Registrar General & Census Commissioner, GOI, New Delhi.

Male (4) 52.6 53.8 49.1 51.6 52.6 48.9 51.9 52.4 50.9

Census of India, 1991, Series I and Census of India, 2001 : Provisional Population

Women’s share in the organised work-force has also shown an increasing trend, from 2.8 million (12.2 per cent) in 1981 to 4.8 million (17.2 per cent) in 1999. Between 1991 and 1999, rise in the percentage points of women was 3.1. In contrast, the share of men has been declining. However, women’s participation in the organized sector is still very low, as compared to men. Similarly, women’s employment in the public sector has also recorded an increase from 1.5 million (9.7 per cent) in 1981 to 2.8 million (14.5 per cent) in 1999. However, it is still much lower than that of men.


Decision-making Administrative The representation of women in the decision-making levels through the Premier Services viz., the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and Indian Police Service (IPS), which stood at only 5.4 per cent in 1987, increased marginally to 7.6 per cent in 2000. However, the figure is still very low, requiring not only affirmative action but also special interventions to help raise the number of women at various decision-making levels. Political The 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments in 1993 have brought forth a definite impact on the participation of women, in terms of absolute numbers, in grassroot democratic institutions viz. Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) and Local Bodies (Table 2.11.17). In fact, these amendments have helped women not only in their effective participation but also in decision-making in the grassroot democracy. Of the 475 Zilla Parishads in the country, 158 are being chaired by women. At the Block Level, out of 51,000 members of Block Samitis, 17,000 are women. In addition, nearly one-third of the Mayors of the Municipalities are women. In the elections to PRIs held between 1993 and 1997, women have achieved participation even beyond the mandatory requirement of 33 1 / 3 per cent of the total seats in states like Karnataka (43.45 per cent), Kerala (36.4 per cent) and West Bengal (35.4 per cent). However, the all India figures for women show that their representation in 2001 is still low. Although the number of women in Parliament has increased from 59 in 1998 to 70 in 2001, their share continues to be very low representing only 8.5 per cent (Table 2.11.18) of the total Members in Parliament in 2001. The number of women in the Central Council of Ministers continues to remain extremely low, but with a marginal increase of 0.8 per cent between 1985 and 2001. Of these, 2 are of Cabinet rank and 6 are of the rank of Minister of State, and of these, 2 are holding Independent Charge. These trends point out very clearly to theneed for affirmative action besides addressing these issues in a systematic and expeditious way so that women’s concerns gain political prominence and a fairly representative number of women are in position not only at grassroot level, but also at the state and national levels. Table- 10 Selected Gender Development Indicators

Sl. No. 1 2








Demography and Vital Statistics Population (in million 1991 & 407.1 2001) (Census) Decennial Growth (1981 & 2001) 24.93 (Census)

439.2 24.41

846.3 24.58

495.7 21.79

531.3 23.93

1027.0 21.34


3 4 5 6

7 8 9 10


12 13


15 16



Sex Ratio (1991 & 2001) (Census) Juvenile Sex Ratio (1991 & 2001) (Census) Life Expectancy at Birth (in years in 1991 & 2001) (Census) Mean Age at Marriage 1981 & 1991 (Census) Health and Family Welfare Birth Rate (per 1000 in 1981 & 2002) (SRS) Death rate (per 1000 in 1981 & 2002) (SRS) Infant Mortality Rate (per 1000 live births in 1990 & 2002) (SRS) Child Mortality Rate (per 1000 live births under 5 yrs of age in 1985 & 2001) (SRS) Maternal Mortality Rate (per 100000 live births in 1997 & 1998) (SRS) Literacy and Education Literacy Rate (1991 & 2001) in percentage (Census) Gross Enrolment Ratio (1990–91 & 2002–03) Classes I-V {Ministry of HRD} Classes VI-VIII {Ministry of HRD} Dropout rate (1990–91 & 2002– 03) in % Classes I-V {Ministry of HRD} Classes I-VIII {Ministry of HRD} Work and Employment Work Participation Rate (1991 & 2001) in percentage Organised Sector (number in millions in 1981 & 1999) (DGE&T) Public Sector (number in millions in 1981 & 1999) (Employment Review) Government (number in millions in 1981 & 1997) Women’s Representation in

927 945 58.1 17.9 57.1 23.3

933 927 65.3 19.3 62.3 24.0

35.6 12.7 81 40.4 12.4 78 36.6 12.5 80 38.4 7.7 65 71.6 8.4 62 70.5

25.0 8.1 64 71.1









85.5 47.0

114.0 76.6

100.1 62.1

93.1 56.2

97.5 65.3

95.3 61.0

46.0 65.1 22.3 2.80 (12.2%) 1.5 (8.7%) 1.2 (11%)

40.1 59.1 51.6 20.50

42.6 60.9 37.4 22.85

33.7 52.3 25.6 4.83 (17.2%) 2.8 (14.5%)

35.8 53.4 57.9 23.20

34.9 52.8 39.2 28.11







1.6 9.1 (14.6%)



19 20 21 22

Decision Making Administration (no. in IAS & IPS in 1997 & 2000) PRIs (no. in figures in 1985 & 2001) Parliament (no. in 1991 & 2004)

579 (7.6%) 318 (33.5) 77 (9.7%)

7347 630 712

8036 948 789 40

Central Council of Minister (no. in 36 4 (10%) 1985 & 2001)

645 (7.6%) 725 (22.6%) 72 (9.2%) 8 (10.8%)

7860 1997 712 66

8460 2722 784 74

Source: Office of the Registrar General of India.
* figures in per cent; ** females per 1,000 males; *** Refers to 1995 in respect of some states, namely, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tripura and West Bengal Note : i) Figures in parentheses indicate the percentage to the total and year of the data in respective columns. Although, efforts were made to keep a common ‘base’ and common ‘comparable year’, but the same could not be kept up because of the limitations in the availability of data and other practical problems; ii) The years given in the parentheses refers to the year of the data in columns 3,4 &5 and 6,7 & 8 respectively. Source : 1. Census of India, 1991; Census of India, 2001: Provisional Population Totals; and SRS Bulletins for respective years, Registrar General & Census Commissioner, GOI, New Delhi; 2. Selected Educational Statistics for respective years, Dept of Education, Ministry of HRD, New Delhi; 3. Annual Report, 1999-2000, Depts of Elementary & Literacy and Secondary & Higher Education, Ministry of HRD, New Delhi; 4. Employment Exchange Statistics, DGE&T, Ministry of Labour, New Delhi; 5. Dept of Personnel & Training, New Delhi; 6. Ministry of Rural Development, New Delhi; 7. Election Commission of India, New Delhi; 8. National Informatics Centre, Parliament House, New Delhi.

A quick review of the progress made by women has not only focused light on the gains but also brought forth to surface certain critical areas of concern relating to women requiring attention of the Government during the Tenth Plan. Caste, communalism and gender Caste and communal issues have not featured prominently either in analyses of gender relations in India, nor, more generally, in considerations informing the design of aid programmes and projects. This is partly, perhaps, because of the dominance of upper caste and/ or middle-class groups in national level political life generally, including within the women’s movement. The ‘invisibility’ of caste in the post-Independence secular politics of India, at least from an upper caste perspective, has, until recently, meant that the complex ways in which caste and gender interact have been largely ignored. Also, perhaps, much in the way that external actors (particularly men) are often reluctant to tackle gender inequalities, since these are often consigned to the domain of ‘culture’ or ‘tradition’, caste is perhaps seen in a similar light, as a peculiarly Indian tradition which should be left well alone. The communalization of Indian political life over recent years also has specific gender dimensions: as with caste issues, women are often singled out for attention or attack as bearers of the respective communal identities.


On the other hand, some women have a stake in advancing communal projects, or in maintaining caste divisions. Relations of gender inequality in India, as well as, importantly, differences between women in India, cannot be understood without analysing how they interact with caste relations. Moreover, in terms of development policy and practice, there are particular implications arising from an incorporation of caste and communal issues into a gender analysis. In general: Given the paucity of data, particularly gender-disaggregated data, on caste (and communal) issues, interventions should be preceded by both qualitative and quantitative analysis of the target or participating populations, to ensure that resources are not being concentrated among already privileged groups. This is particularly important where there is regional and spatial separation of different caste (or communal) groups. Where participatory approaches to development are being promoted, it is important to understand the dynamics of inter-caste and inter-communal relations in a given context, particularly where there is a local history of conflict. It must not, conversely, be assumed that such a history of conflict is always present, nor that different communal or caste groups are unable to work together. Certain social and religious groups may dominate local political structures and the voices of lower caste, non-Hindu, Dalit and tribal groups, and particularly women within these groups, are likely, in many instances, to be under-represented. Specific mechanisms may therefore be needed to elicit the opinions of under-represented groups.

Caste and gender The connection between caste and gender is most evident in the differential control men exercise over women’s identity, labour and sexuality. Whilst upper caste women have gained access to privileged employment and other resources through their caste status, lower caste women are generally confined to work in the non-formal sector. In as much as reservations have promoted lower caste employment, this had tended to favour men. On the other hand, the sexuality of upper caste women is highly controlled through marriage, as the means of ensuring their caste status. When marriage is being considered for upper caste women (and men), caste considerations - which may otherwise feature little in daily life - becomes prominent. Whilst upper caste practices (such as dowry) have spread to some extent among lower caste and tribal groups, their sexuality may be less controlled and women from these groups may have greater autonomy though in conditions of greater poverty. Lower caste women are nevertheless highly vulnerable to sexual harassment and attack, particularly from upper caste men. Dalit women have arguably suffered most from physical and sexual violence against women in India, with little protest or protection offered either by the state or other sections of society.


In a situation of increasingly public inter-caste tension and conflict, women are being singled out for attack as the ‘bearers’ of their respective caste identities. Lower caste women, and Dalit women, in particular, are attacked and abused with impunity. Upper caste women may also be the objects of threats, intimidation and attack, but mere suspicion of attack on upper caste women by lower caste men can lead to brutal reprisals (see Box 2). Interventions to address violence against women, including sexual violence and harassment, need to be informed by this wider canvass of inter-caste and intercommunal tensions. Tribals and gender Tribals make up 7.7 percent of India’s population, of whom 60 percent are concentrated in Central and Northern states (Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Bihar, West Bengal, Maharashtra) and are overwhelming concentrated in rural areas (94 percent). There is a general lack of information on gender issues in the tribal context beyond the anthropological literature which focuses on kinship and marriage systems. Stereotypes of tribal women as powerful members of egalitarian societies, as loose women or witches, or as the most oppressed among women in Indian society, vie with each other in existing literature, but none are very illuminating about the nature of gender relations among tribal communities, nor about how these relations are being shaped by wider processes of social change. Processes of hierarchization are evident among some ‘tribal’ communities where societies are taking on some features of the caste system. This may imply less autonomy for women among those groups taking up caste practices such as dowry. However, little is known about intra-household relations in tribal communities, particularly about household decision-making patterns. Further research relating changing marriage patterns, household formation, decision making and related practices in tribal communities and their impact on gender relations would be informative in this context. Whilst often characterised as isolated, egalitarian communities, tribal communities are increasingly incorporated into the monetary economy, though migration, indebtedness, bonded labour etc. Women as well as men are caught in these relationships and often suffer further discrimination, e.g. in agricultural wage rates. Tribals are increasingly fragmented and thus collective identity or homogeneity among tribal communities cannot be assumed. Given this, and the trends noted above, in planning interventions in tribal contexts, it is important to take into account local categories and identities rather than externally imposed ones. The access of tribal communities (and particularly women) to the natural resource base is increasingly threatened with erosion of land rights, large scale development projects and, even, environmental initiatives. The identification of tribal women’s interests with environmental concerns is often romanticised and misplaced. The priorities of tribal women in relation to the natural resource base must be considered in the planning of environmental interventions.


The categorisation of tribals along with Scheduled Castes (Dalits) in official statistics and as a target group for interventions has led to distinct issues in relation to tribal communities being overlooked. There has been a tendency for non-tribals to capture benefits of programmes aimed at both Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. Tribals, at least in some states, appear to suffer even greater poverty than Dalit groups. In as much as reservations have benefited these groups, men appear to have benefited more. Tribals, and tribal women particularly, may require separate anti-poverty interventions rather than programmes targeted at Scheduled Castes/ Scheduled Tribes together. Access of tribal women to education and their retention within the system is particularly poor (. Specific measures are required (e.g. campaigns, incentives to compensate for loss of household labour) to increase attendance of tribal girls in educational institutions; but it would also be important in this context to assess the perceived relevance of formal education to tribal communities and particularly young tribal women.

Women and poverty An estimated 260–300 million people remain below the poverty line, more than half of them being women and girls. The implementation and monitoring of gender equality and rights based policies and programmes with a view to reducing the feminisation of poverty, needs to be a priority. Eradicating poverty requires improvement on many fronts – not just improving access to income generating opportunities.The challenge is to combat hunger and malnutrition, provide avenues for employment, ensure adequate wages for work, reduce drudgery and provide sustained access to drinking water and sanitation. The impact of macro economic policy on the incidence of poverty needs to be carefully assessed. Education and training of women To enable girls and women to achieve not just equal access to schools but also throughout schooling, sustained effort is needed to address stereotypical socialisation patterns. Increased investment in interventions like bridge courses and residential camps for girls should be supported to allow girls to enter, or to re-enter, regular schools. The quality and relevance of the school system needs strengthening, especially in light of the growing gap between the government and the private educational systems. Increased opportunities for adolescent girls for further study or vocational training need to be created. Women and health Serious gender gaps remain in health outcomessuchasmortalityandmorbidity rates. High fertility rates and low mean age at marriage has a debilitating impact on health of girls and women. Diseases like anaemia, stemming from nutritional deficiency persist. Health outcomes depend on many factors, including sanitation, clean drinking water, food security, etc. Convergent action is, therefore, urgently needed. 20

Of the total estimated HIV/AIDS cases in the country, 25 per cent are reported to be women. Efforts to address the gender dimensions of HIV/AIDS using a multi-sectoral approach and building capacity of individuals, institutions and networks need to be intensified Mental health continues to be a neglected area, and health care delivery system remains ill equipped to tackle these problems, specifically in the rural areas. Another area that has received insufficient attention is occupational health. Increased attention needs to be paid to these areas. Violence against women Support services for victims of gender-based violence need to be strengthened. Though laws and legislations are in place there is a need to strengthen enforcement and create better awareness to address issues of gender-based violence. Women and economy Increased efforts are needed to ensure sensitivity of the macro policy framework to micro impacts,calling both for employment generation and also for putting in place systems for re-training and enabling mobility of workers, within a sector as well as between sectors. Processes that will engender global trade agreements and treaties need to be supported, as they can greatly influence the impact of globalisation and trade liberalisation on women. Special attention needs to be given to women in agriculture. Continued support needs to be given to efforts to promote policies and institutions that provide women, especially rural women, employment, ownership and access to economic resources, and social security. The fact that the majority of women are in informal employment, and likely to remain so, has to be considered while formulating policies.


Women in power and decision making India has primarily relied upon the method of reservation to ensure women’s presence in decision-making bodies. This has increased de jure, but not necessarily de facto, participation. There is need to encourage women’s participation in other kinds of groups and associations which contribute to an atmosphere of leadership by women, as well as supporting training and networking for elected women. The factors that limit women’s effective participation, apart from their own inexperience need to be identified and addressed. Mahila Sabhas (or equivalent women’s groups) should be encouraged to articulate and facilitate the raising of women’s concerns and priorities in meetings of Gram Sabhas and Ward Sabhas. The provision of Women’s Component Plan may be provided in the budgets of local self-governance institutions like PRIs and urban local bodies and more subjects be transferred to them. Institutional mechanisms for the advancement of women There is a need to strengthen the capacity of line ministries/ departments/ committees and shift their focus from project implementation towards formulation of gender sensitive policy, advocacy and monitoring with emphasis on the more disadvantaged women Gender mainstreaming and gender budgeting have been introduced with great success at the national level in various ministries and departments. With the devolution of power to the Panchayati Raj institutions, the need for gender budgeting at the grassroots level needs to be recognised. The Government has taken up important steps to engender data collection. There is a need to strengthen and institutionalise systems of gender statistics and to use this data in planning and advocacy for gender justice. Human rights of women With women entering the workforce in increasing numbers, there is a need to put in place mechanisms for effectively combating the incidence of sexual harassment at the workplace. Women and media Create mechanisms to increase women’s access to media and communication technology, and support the training of media personnel to eliminate gender bias in reporting. Support processes to engender ICT in all initiatives of PFA and CEDAW implementation. Engender the depiction of women in media.Gender to be included in curricula of art, drama and journalism schools. Regulatory mechanisms for the media to be put in place and implemented Women and environment


The urban environment and its gender-differentiated impact on well-being is a neglected area in planning and programmes. The urban dimension has to be strengthened. The close link between development policies and environmental impact needs to be factored into macro policy decision making, and an ecological perspective ensured in planning for development in environmentally sensitive areas. More resources need to be directed into women-sensitive environmental programmes The girl child Measures that will help in changing social norms and perceptions that affect the well being of the girl child need to be strengthened. In the area of education, early childhood care and education needs to be integrated with the schooling system, so that the needs of children between 3–6 years are addressed. The well being of young girls is closely dependent on the availability of childcare so that older daughters can be released from the burdens of sibling care. Measures to ensure fuel, drinking water and sanitation will likewise impact on both time available to young girls for study and recreation, and their general well being.

Emerging Areas of Concern

Globalisation and livelihood With the onset of trade liberalisation, women in India today are linked to the global economy to a very significant extent, as producers, entrepreneurs, service providers, consumers and citizens.There is a need to identify capacity constraints and entry barriers that prevent women from securing gains from trade. Government is seized of the fact that trade related awareness and capacity building of the women stakeholders need to be prioritised. This will include training women on specific market and trade information, that will improve their responsiveness vis-à-vis their sectors and help them to pursue their livelihood options in an increasingly globalised environment. The industry also needs to be sensitised—certain gender sensitive industries may seek to secure wider market access by means of gender labelling. Liberalised access of ‘gender sensitive products’(GSP) to developed country markets can lead to growth in exports and consequently increase women’s employment. Moreover, there is a need to look into incentives and schemes for promotion of FDI, growth of GSP industries and liberalisation of import tariffs on products that are of consumptive importance to women. Policy responses need to be framed to overcome the restrictions and challenges that both women in services sector and women service providers face, while at the same time enabling them to explore trade gains that may accrue in hitherto unexplored sectors. The adjustment costs of trade reform represent the adverse and visible aspects of globalisation, especially on women. Domestic policy responses have to be firmed up, drawing up from the success stories and best practices. The functioning of the credit markets also needs to be improved to ensure that the displaced workforce gets financial support to endure periods of low or zero income.


Gender database and indicators The Government’s emphasis is on bringing gender concerns centre-stage in all aspects of public expenditure and policy through the instrument of gender budgeting. This implies the need to continue efforts to build up the available databases and also to supplement it with qualitative analysis. Recent statistical work that has contributed in a very critical way to deepening our understanding of gender relations include the findings concerning the declining sex ratio and the need to focus attention on how to counter the regressive tendencies that this data indicates. Similarly in relation to work, the information now available on the numbers and proportion of women in home based work helps to draw attention to this category of workers and the manner in which the production system has developed in India. At the same time, numbers alone can be misleading, and this is particularly true in the case of representation of women in Panchayats, where numbers would overstate the actual autonomy and influence that these women are able to exercise. Women's status also depends on intangible resources, including self-confidence and selfworth, as well as information, knowledge, and specific skills. A just society ensures that all individuals can acquire basic levels of these resources, eliminating discrimination that causes lack of confidence and guaranteeing every individual an equal opportunity to access information, knowledge and skills. Thus for women's status to improve, development interventions must be designed to serve the goals of gender equality. Women's access to knowledge, information and skills have to be made central not just to promote their 'participation in development', but so that they become tools to challenge subordination Positive Actions: Positive action can reduce biological and cultural differences between the two gender by compensating women for the disadvantages they experiences. It can also be mean of correcting the power imbalance between the females and males by ensuring that more women participate in political decision-making. Positive action can achieve these ends in a variety of ways. . • Introduction of reservation/quota system: It can require that in a particular profession or sector of society where women are underrepresented quotas are set and met. . • Setting of targets: Setting of targets encourages the organization or employer to examine their practices in order to identify and remove barriers, which prevent that target from achieving. . • Adopting a policy: if women are underrepresented in a particular sector, they are offered special training or facilities in order to obtain the relevant qualifications or experience, which will allow them access to achieve reservation / quota or target. . • Awarding special rights and protection: In the case of biological differences between the sexes, positive action may take the form of awarding women special rights or protection, for instance in relation to pregnancy or maternity. For example, India has give reservation to socially backward people in the constitution. However, attempts to use positive action initiatives to tackle social differences based on 24

caste, colour is far more problematic. They are problematic because of an inherent belief that, in their extreme forms, such as the setting of employment quotas, they are morally unacceptable. Thus, we can achieve Gender Equality by changing attitudes, by identifying areas of strategic importance and by positive actions.


CHAPTER-2 GENDER DISCRIMINATION AT EARLY CHILDHOOD STATUS OF GIRL CHILD Early childhood is a time of opportunity and learning, in which even a small positive change can generate long term social benefits. The appropriate care children receive while they are young or the manner in which their needs are met, has a remarkable positive impact as their intelligence, personality and social interaction well into adulthood. It is well accepted that children whose developmental needs are met do better in life than children who are neglected in this domain. The development of young children entails needs related to their physical, cognitive and psycho-social growth, and they are in constant need of protection, health and nutrition care, affection, interaction, stimulation and learning. During this period, a child learns to handle more complex levels of moving, thinking and interacting with people and objects in the environment. This 'arc in a life time' process comprises the unfolding of behaviour patterns from immature to mature and from simple to complex, which enables the child to emerge from dependency and become an independent adult. Early childhood care and development refer to approach to policies and programmes for children from birth to tight years of age. It is purpose is to protect the child rights to develop her or his full cognitive, emotional and physical potential. Children need health care, sound nutrition, a safe and hygienic environment and loving interaction. The expanding body of knowledge shows how the early year of life are absolutely vital, lagging the ground for the child's survival, growth, health and later accomplishments. During this time, the neural network in the brain develops, depending largely on the stimulation, health, nutrition and care the child receivers. Before a healthy child reaches the age of two and half, millions of neural link have been forged, connections upon which physical, mental and cognitive development largely depend. To be a give born into poverty is to endure discrimination many times over in pervasive and insidious, their rights are in peril. Although discrimination against girls is found on every continent of the world but it is more damaging in India. Although the principle of gender equality and gender equity is basic to Indian thinking girls in our country are still deprived of equal opportunities for survival and development and unfortunately, this begins early in life or rather before birth. In terms of Gender Development Index, Indian ranks 99 among the 130 countries included in the index (UNDP 1995). Girl child in India, is subjected to "inequality", "disparity" and "neglect". Gender based inequalities permeate the very fabric of the social and cultural environment and the value system. She has lesser entitlement to health care, nutrition, education and even parental attention. The care and focus given to a child as a girl and as an adolescent with focus on her health and nutrition, education and economic potential determines her empowerment as a woman. A healthy, literate and empowered adolescent girl will be able to contribute positively to the society. The Constitution of India has laid special emphasis on the well26

being and protection of the children. It not only grants equality and prohibits any kind of discrimination but also protects children against exploitation and abuse. It also empowers the State to adopt measures of positive discrimination in favour of children. Born into indifference and reared on neglect, the girl child is caught in a web of cultural practices and prejudices that hamper her development, both physically and mentally. In India, for a girl child the period from infancy to adolescence is a perilous path. In this socially inhospitable environment of patriarchal and male dominated society a girl is considered to be someone, who will never contribute to the family income and who at marriage will take a large portion of family assets as dowry. Gender discrimination replicate themselves from generation to generation violate the rights of the girl child and choke her further development. Low weight at birth, insufficient feeding, inadequate care and nutrition depletions caused by repeated bouts of illness culminate overtime in a girl child. Deprivation in feeding and care that impair growth in the critical first years may also reduce cognitive development and learning abilities and failure in early growth. Gender discrimination comprises with poverty, crush girls sense of autonomy and self as well as their potential. Persisting gender inequalities, existing cultural beliefs and practices permeates into almost every aspect of the growing girl's, social and cultural environment and our value system. Inspite of all the efforts made, an in sight into girl child, profile indicates negative sex ratio, higher female child mortality rate, lesser access to food, health and care. Female foeticide, though prevalent in many parts of the country remain largely invisible. Sex pre-selection is prevalent in states like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Rajasthan and Punjab. A girl child is also runs the risk of female infanticide by deliberate killing or neglect at the time of birth and during the vulnerable period of infancy. Why are boys more valued than girls? In the patriarchal family structure a young women's prestige or recognition in her husband's home is based on her fertility in general and the birth of a son in particular. Several studies have found that almost all societies have valued sons more than daughters and have shown a marked preference for male children. Son preference is both a cause and a consequence of the low status of women. It is a consequence because it arises as a result of women being considered fit to play only unimportant roles and thus being valued less. It is a cause because this under-valuation, in turn, has led to lower investment in females as a result of which they are only able to play a peripheral role in society, causing a further lowering of their status.

Traditional cultural practices reflect deeply rooted values and beliefs. Son preference is exhibited in many cultures and is not unique to developing countries or rural areas, although it is stronger in countries where patriarchy and patriliny are prevalent. Societies that expect women to live and express themselves within narrowly defined gender roles also often exhibit cultural practices that benefit men and harm women and girl children.


Lineage: Family lineage and the family name are carried on by male children in many societies, leading parents concerned about their family’s future generations to hope for a son and possibly murder or abort girl children in order to get an heir. The preference for sons, however, is not the only reason for the practice of female infanticide and selective abortion. There are actual disincentives and costs associated with raising girl children that influence choices made in communities where this abuse is practiced. The same social practices reflect a community’s low estimation of women in general.

Care for the Elderly: In many countries, parents rely upon their children to care for and support them in old age. The People’s Republic of China, for example, has very limited pension plans and publicly-funded assistance for the elderly, and it is commonly believed that parents without a son will have no one to care for them after a daughter marries. Traditionally, a Chinese daughter becomes her husband’s “property” and moves away from her home when she marries. Her parents are left without any income or home labor she may have provided, and the groom’s family receives a worker that they did not have to support through childhood. Economics: In general, girls still have lower economic earning potential than boys. A poor family may not want the added expense of another child unless that child will someday bring economic wealth back to the family. “Compared with men, women have fewer opportunities for paid employment and less access to skill training that would make such employment possible,” according to a re 12 port by the UNHCHR. In China, even if a daughter is educated, employed and able to send money to her parents, the amount is less than what a son would provide, because a woman has less earning potential and must first offer her income to her husband, to 13 whom she is subordinate. Social Custom: Some societies practice rigid social customs that make girls much more expensive to raise than boys. In parts of India, for example, families are expected to hold religious or social ceremonies for a girl that would not be held for a boy. These ceremonies can be very expensive—often requiring a family to provide a feast or gifts for everyone in their village. “Proper” ceremonies for even one girl can ruin an already poor family, and inadequate ceremonies are grave social disgraces. A family may choose to kill a girl child rather than take on the expense, indicating the belief that a family’s social status outweighs the value of a girl child’s life. Throughout India, many families participate in the dowry sys-tem, where the bride’s family must pay a large sum of money to the groom’s family so he will marry her. The practice is illegal but nonetheless widespread. Paying a dowry for even one girl can bankrupt a poor family, whereas a son will bring wealth to his family when he marries. Furthermore, in order to disguise the illegal outright payment of dowry, the bride’s family often is expected to give their daughter several large gifts to help her establish her new household. Demands may continue to be made by the son-in-law or his family for a long period of time. India supports a plural or heterogeneous society consisting of numerous stratifications based on religion, caste and class. Dual structures of law exist side by side, the religious sanctions condoned against constitutional ones. Yet one finds that preference for sons 28

runs high amongst all religious groups and social classes. This preference is due to shared civilization patterns on the Indian subcontinent and the underlying principle of a patrilocal, patrilineal and patriarchal society. Women in such societies always occupy a low status and are neglected. As women are considered a burden, female infant mortality exceeds that of males, notwithstanding the fact that a female child is biologically stronger at birth. A girl faces deprivation throughout her life. Preference for sons is obvious from the brutal traditions that are prevalent in India.

Gender and Education
Primary Education: When 104.91 % boys enrolled in the first standard only 85.2 % girls are enrolled (Economic Survey 2003-2004). Though the gap between male and female enrollment has been reduced from 36% in 1950 to 20% after 50 years in 2001,still there is a long way to go to bring gender equality in formal education. Further the drop-out rate is much higher in girls than boys. Several problems persist: issues of ‘social’ distance-arising out of caste, class and gender differences-deny girl children equal opportunities. Child labour in economically weak communities coupled with a resistance to sending girls to school remain real concerns. The reason is the lack of education facilities beyond this level, in the same vicinity. Mothers are usually unwilling to send their daughters to schools situated at a greater distance because of safety reasons where the schools are far away fear of sex abuse on the lonely and long- distance roads. Reasons why girl-children drop out of schools: . • Taking care of younger siblings or earning a living. . • Lack of adequate schooling facilities suitable for a girl child • Lack of value and awareness of the need for formal education and its manifold benefits to the parents.
India’s urban-rural, male-female literacy gap closing: India’s sustained literacy drive is

seeing some interesting results, with greater growth rates in rural areas compared to urban areas. And the male-female literacy gap is closing. It’s encouraging that the gap between male and female literacy rates decreased from 24.84% in 1991 to 21.70% in 2001. During the past decade, the female literacy rate has witnessed much higher growth (14.87 percentage), as against 11.72 for males. Socialisation The boys are treated as strong, autonomous beings right from birth. In some cultures, mothers fuss with the baby girl’s hair, dress her in a feminine fashion and tell her how pretty she is and must always strive to be. These physical, experiences of early childhood are very important in shaping the self-perception of girls and boys. 29

Typically enough, girls are given dolls or pots and pans to play with, and boys are encouraged to play with guns, cars and aircrafts. In working class homes in India, girls do not play with pots and pans, they are made to start cleaning real pots and pans, and real homes, looking after real babies while they are still very young; whereas boys are sent to school or made to work outside the home. Through this kind of differential treatment the interests of girls and boys are channelled towards gender-specific behaviour due to which they develop different capabilities, attitudes, aspirations and dreams. Impact of Religion on Socio-cultural Status on Girls: Dowry among Hindus, originally a girl inheritance as her share of the property (streedhan), became her husband’s property in the modern world. It became a direct transaction between patriarchal households in the patriarchal system. Girl subsequently became dependent, silent possessions of men- to be traded at will for reasons far removed from notions of their benevolence and well being. In Muslims, a woman is entitled to claim from her husband a sum of money known as the ‘dower’, which is returnable once the marriage contract is dissolved i.e. divorce. Though the Muslim law, as in all patriarchal communities favours the stronger sex, the marriage contract, can be if well drawn out, as advantageous to the wife. A woman is as much as a heir, under the Muslim law, however all her rights were denied because of the rigidity of the ‘purdah’ system which made them unaware, ignorant and uneducated.

Gender and Caste/Social Class In India, Caste distinctions among the Hindus, often chart out the course of the daily life of a girl, since birth. Sometimes, religious and social differences take on unfortunate connotations In all such cases, girls and children of both the warring factions are the worst affected, especially as sexual violence against women and girls which becomes a tool for further subjugation of the marginalized disadvantaged preschool girl child. Many a times Dalit girls and boys are asked to sit in the back rows in the Pre-schools and schools. They are not allowed to eat along with other children during the mid-day meal programmes or supplementary feeding programmes. Though this discrimination is similar for both girls and boys, within that system the girls are made to sit behind the Dalit boys and are often served food after the boys. So the gender discrimination exists both at household and school levels where gender discrimination along with class and caste are added to the severity. Muslims, which are a minority community in India, often feel insecure among a majority of Hindus, and to propagate their community, many do not avail of planning methods. Patriarchy, emphasized by leaders in this community, imposes restricted mobility and freedom of expression to girls in terms of their clothing, interaction with the opposite sex and other personal choices. Girl children in this community are required to cover their heads and faces when stepping out of the house on limited sanctioned occasions. Female genital mutilation at a young age, to ‘curb’ women’s sexuality, is still practiced, although with the passage of time, this practice is being gradually eliminated. Contrarily, young boys are made to undergo removal of the foreskin of the penis, as this is supposed to


enhance their masculinity and sexual pleasure. The Declaration and Plan of Action in the World Conference against Racism, Racial discrimination, Xenophobia and related Intolerance: United Nations 2002 recognises the intersection of discrimination on grounds of race and gender, a regard women and girls particularly vulnerable to sexual and gender-based violence, economic depravity, etc. However in India, the tribal girl child is treated almost as an equal to a male child. The arrival of a female child is welcomed, as it gives an opportunity to increase the numbers in the tribe as every female child is conceived. Conversely, to the practice of dowry, the institution of the bride-price, to loss of the productive powers of the daughter, is a recognition of the economic significance of the girl child in tribal households.

Gender and Access to Health & Nutrition

Discriminatory practices against daughters such as differential feeding and health care are common especially in the quality of food. e.g. Both boys and girls may get the basic food rice and roti (Indian bread) as required, but when it comes to the expensive foods such as fruits, milk, eggs the boys are given preference. This is the situation of rural poor families. Studies show that a girl is breast-fed less often and for a shorter period of time than a boy (five months less). For example, according to National Family Health Survey, the median duration of breastfeeding for girls was slightly lower (24.6 months) than the median duration of breastfeeding for boys (24.4 months). Many women, eager to try again for the birth of a son, will sacrifice their own health and the nutrition of the daughter to try to become pregnant again. A girl is often weaned earlier than recommended and does not receive the necessary nutrients for early development. The mother also puts the baby at a greater risk of infection because of malnutrition and the impurity of water and foods used in place of breast milk. Data from the National Family Health Survey-2 (NFHS-2) indicates that such discriminatory practices against the female child may be widespread in India. A larger proportion of female children than male children were severely underweight (19.1% of girls and 16.9% of boys). When they fell ill with diarrhoea, a smaller proportion of girls (69.9%) were taken to a health facility or provider as compared to boys (64.8%). Female child mortality rate (1-4 year) during the ten-year period preceding 1998-99 was much higher (36.7 per 1000) than male child mortality (24.9 per 1000). Previous studies have concluded that when there is much a substantial gender differential in child mortality rates it may be reasonable to assume the presence of discriminatory and/or care. In the past decade, there have been noticeable improvements in the Infant Mortality rates (IMR) from more than 120 to 67 and in Under-five Mortality rates, from around 200 to 93 (2002) (Human Development Report, 2004). However according to NFHS Report 2003, 51.8% of women in the age-group of 15-49 years are anaemic which is a condition


that they have been subjected to since birth, due to inadequate nutrition. Only about 51.6% of women in the same age group are involved in their own health care decisions. In India, health and well being of a girl child is at risk from time of conception. Although overall infant mortality rate has declined and gender differential in infant mortality rate has been narrow down, still there are differential in health care due to cultural belief and practices. According to an estimate, every year 12 million girls are born but despite being biological stronger than boys, 3 million girls do not survive to see their 15th birth day. About 1/3rd of these deaths are in the first year of life. It is estimated that every seventh death is due to gender discrimination. Female foeticide and infanticide are the most hideous outcome of sex discrimination. Son preference rooted social value- combined with poverty, illiteracy and low status of girl are among the few factors associated with female mortality before and at birth. Studies indicates that girls do not receive timely and adequate health care. They are treated by traditional healers and taken to hospital only on last stages. Growth and physical development of infants and children are widely used as indicators of the overall health and nutrition status of community. Though malnutrition affects all segments of population but children appears to be more at risk than others, also the consequences of malnutrition appear to be more serious. In addition the belief that culturally determined social behaviour place the female child at a nutritional disadvantaged. This belief has gain wide acceptance without its having been subjected to adequate scientific scrutinizing. Some recent studies which have specifically looked into this aspect seem to question the validity of the belief. While socio-economic factors are well known to be important determinations of nutritional levels and differences between males and females have been widely documented, the synergistic effects of socio-economic levels and gender on nutritional status have been demonstrated less frequently. Sexual exploitation may take the form of: . • Child labourers and young domestic workers sexually exploited by employers and other adults . • Sexual abuse within the family by older members . • Rampant child sex tourism where children are victims of a globally organised sex trade. In developing and under-developed countries, this is used for bringing in a much-needed foreign exchange. . • Children in situations of disadvantage – border conflicts, displaced populations, juvenile homes, cultural contexts like child-marriage, etc. Sexual Exploitation of Girl children . • The demographic breakdown of the sex working population, combined with the testimonies of social workers, reveal that most of these girls from the rural areas were brought in by traffickers, often over long distances to render her helpless in sprawling metropolises. . • The study found that almost two-third of these girls belonged to


impoverished families, 36 per cent were from scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, while 24 per cent were from backward classes. Economic stress combined with gender discrimination incited their families to push the girl-child into this profession. According to Indian Health Organisation, 8 per cent of these girls, had been victims of incest within their own families. . • Such conditions made the girl child vulnerable to traffickers, especially in impoverished communities. Of a sample of 1000 sex workers, 33 percent were found to be forced by the family into this profession. In most cases, the girls from rural areas are kept ignorant before they are brought to the city.

CHILD MARRIAGE The causes of child marriage are complex, varied and often interlinked. Socioeconomic factors such as poverty, family circumstances, a community’s marriage customs and practices, and girls’ lack of access to empowering options like education all play a role in whether girls marry too young. . • Poverty: In some families, girls may be viewed as an economic burden. In these cases, marriage can be perceived as the best tool to alleviate the burden of having one more mouth to feed. . • Transfer of Wealth: Dowry and bridewealth—which involve the exchange of money, livestock or other wealth from the bride’s family to the groom’s, or vice versa— often are determined by the age of the bride. Lower dowry costs or higher bridewealth gains for girls’ families serve as a common incentive for marrying girls early. . • Custom: Community customs regarding the appropriate age for marriage can exert a great deal of social pressure on parents to marry their daughters at young ages. In places where the custom is to marry daughters at age 9 or 10, a girl reaching her 15th or 16th birthday may be considered past the marriageable age. Parents often worry that if they don’t marry their daughters according to social expectations, they will not be able to marry them at all. . • Protection: For many parents, marriage is seen as a way to protect their daughters. Parents fear their daughters may become victims of violence or rape; at times girls must walk alone— sometimes long distances—to school or to collect firewood and water. And in some communities where virginity is prized and associated with family honor, parents want to protect their daughters from engaging in premarital sex. • Ties that Bind: Marriage in many communities serves as a means for strengthening economic, social and political ties between different families and communities. The early marriage of a daughter may help reinforce such a tie or establish a new bond that improves the standing of the family or community. It is not uncommon for young girls to be offered in marriage to a family that is known to own more land or livestock. . • Little Education and Few Options: If no schooling or work is available, a young girl may get married based on her family’s economic need or to secure her economic future. In some communities, young girls are withdrawn from school so they can marry.


Consequences of child marriage Child marriage makes it harder for families, communities and countries to escape poverty. It erodes the health and well-being of girls and the overall welfare of communities. It also undercuts international efforts to fight poverty and HIV/AIDS, improve child health and survival, and support other international development initiatives, making billions of development assistance dollars less effective. Girls who marry young are more likely to be poor and remain poor. Child marriage is most common among the poor and in rural communities. In sub-Saharan Africa, the practice is twice as common among the poorest families (lower 40th percentile) as compared to the richest families (top 20th percentile). In certain countries, this income gap is even wider. A poorer woman in Senegal, for example, is more than four times as likely to be a child bride as her richer peers. Moreover, girls who marry young have less education and fewer economic opportunities, which greatly increases the chance that they—and their children—will remain poor. Under-nutrition and Malnutrition: Early marriage is often followed by early pregnancy. Girls who are pregnant or lactating require more calories and nutrients compared to those who are not, and when this extra nutrition is not available, their nutritional status is compromised. Married girls who are thin and undernourished before becoming pregnant are particularly vulnerable to becoming malnourished during pregnancy. Young mothers also are less able to adequately care for their children, and this often compromises their children’s nutritional status. . • Maternal Mortality: Girls between the ages of 10 and 14 are five times more likely to die in pregnancy and childbirth than women ages 20 to 24; girls ages 15 to 19 are twice as likely to die. . • Infant Mortality: The underdeveloped bodies of young girls can lead to complication in childbirth that can result in the death of the child (see related chart, page . • Obstetric Fistula: Obstetric fistula results when a young mother’s vagina, bladder and/or rectum tear during childbirth, a condition that causes urine and feces leakage. . Female infanticide

The most alarming finding of the 2001 Census is the sharp decline in the sex ratio among the children in the 0-6 years age group. The sex ratio of the child population has declined by 18 points from 945 in 1991 to 927 in 2001. The sharpest decline in the child sex ratio after independence was observed during 1991-2001. Masked by the national ratio, far grimmer ratios prevail in selected parts of India in relatively prosperous states such as Punjab and Haryana. In Haryana the child sex ratio has gone down to 820. Several authors have expressed this continuing disparity between males and females in terms of total missing females. Behind this, lies a story of sex selective discrimination by active elimination through abortion of the female fetus and passive elimination through neglect ultimately leading to the death of the female child. Very little is known about the reason and circumstances under which a woman discriminate her own child. It may be possible 34

that there may be a life course impact on the women’s behaviour regarding her sex preference, family size preference and sex selective discrimination. There is dearth of studies which explored the relationship between women’s autonomy and sex preference or her marital instability and sex preference or any influence of her own childhood experience with her reproductive behaviour and its linkages with the ultimate process of active and passive elimination of females. Again, any policy measures must not focus primarily on restricting technology used to female’s detriment, but also the root causes of devaluation of women. While the improvement in the overall sex ratio between 1991 and 2001 is noticed in a majority of states and union territories; among the major states Kerala, Uttaranchal and Uttar Pradesh have registered a more than 20 point increase and Bihar, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal between 10 to 20 points increase. In contrast, there has been a decline in sex ratio in Gujarat and Maharashtra on the one hand, and in Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Chandigarh and Delhi on the other. A very substantial decline of 260 points in Daman and Diu and 141 points in Dadra and Nagar Haveli require special explanation Concentrating on the states where the overall sex ratio improved substantially – Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh and Kerala – one finds that the child sex ratio declined by 42 points in Uttaranchal, and by 11 points in Uttar Pradesh while it improved by 5 points in Kerala. Among the other states where the improvement in overall sex ratio has been of more than 10 points, Bihar had a shortfall in child sex ratio of 15 points, Jharkhand of 13 points, and Tamil Nadu of 9 points. It is obvious that the improvement in sex ratio in the above named states has come in population aged seven and above. One needs to probe in detail as to what has been happening to children in these states, especially in Uttaranchal. The states where there has been a decline in overall sex ratio, especially Gujarat and Maharashtra on the one hand and Punjab, Female infanticide is the murder of a young girl child. Selective abortion—also called gender-selective abortion, sex-selective abortion, or female feticide—is the abortion of a fetus because it is female. These practices are among the forms of gender discrimination against women and girl children where sexual roles outweigh the value of human life. Female infanticide and selective abortion are most often practiced in societies where it is believed that having a girl child is culturally and economically less advantageous than having a boy child. Parents who strongly prefer sons but who can support only a small family may choose to murder or abort a girl and attempt to have a boy instead.

Female infanticide may be committed deliberately or through neglect. In some cultures, female infanticide is so widely known as a traditional practice that the methods are part of community lore. In parts of India, for example, traditional methods include choking a girl infant with rice grains that swell in her mouth and throat or feeding her poisonous oleander berries. Neglect that results in female infanticide is more widespread and insidious. There often is a correlation between a strong son preference and a health disadvantage for females, a disadvantage exacerbated when resources are scarce. The World Health Organization


(WHO) reports that men and boys often receive preference within households, including higher expenditures on medicines and health care. Among humans, females are biologically stronger than males, yet data on mortality and nutrition for girls suggest that in many settings their social disadvantages outweigh their biological advantages.

Sex Selective Abortion Medical technology makes it easier for parents to discover the sex of a fetus at earlier and earlier stages of pregnancy. Such techniques have been developed to check a fetus for genetic or birth disorders, but in societies where son preference is strong, parents are eager to discover the sex of a fetus as soon as possible. As this technology spreads around the world, many women from communities with a preference for boys practice selective abortion, and abort fetuses solely because they are female. Acting on son preference at an even earlier stage, clinics that offer pre-pregnancy sex-selective technology are doing a booming business despite laws against sex-discriminatory techniques. In countries where female fetuses are aborted in favor of male fetuses, there has been a steady decline in the number of female births over the past decade. Coupled with a higher mortality rate for girl children due to neglect or murder, the ratio of women to men has noticeably fallen in comparison to countries where female infanticide and selective abortion are not practiced. As observed, it is not poverty alone that makes families kills their children. The community, too acts in strange ways to perpetuate the crime by ridiculing couples who do not have a mal child illiteracy, ignorance of the welfare scheme available for the girl child and poverty alleviation and the legal implication of indulging in female infanticide, and the dowry system are some of the reasons for failure of the schemes and interventions undertaken by the government and NGOs to eradicate female infanticide. The long-term strategies should include education and empowerment of women. Empowerment of rural marginalized women and education to improve their lot will heighten their status in the society. As the women sangams and the federation gain in importance and play a greater role in the development of the area, it is hopes that their presence and the politico-economic strength they enable will help curb the practice. Media-both print and electronic-plays a very significant role in removing gender bias and developing a positive image of the girl child in the society, but in a county like ours where there are problems in reaching the backward rural and tribal areas, a mix of mass media with various traditional forms of communication may provide a more effective alternative to influence the illiterate and the poor.

Government Response The Indian government has opposed the practices of female infanticide and sex selective abortion, but has been slow and ineffectual in bringing about reform. The Dowry Prohibition Act was passed in 1961 approximately a decade before sex determination


technology was introduced in India. Despite revisions in 1983 and 1985, this law has been poorly enforced and is thus completely ignored. Many feel that the giving of dowries has actually become more prevalent in the past twenty years (Bumiller, 1990). Under pressure from feminist groups, the Indian government prohibited prenatal sex determination testing in government hospitals. This measure had little or no effect other than encouraging the proliferation of private sex test clinics. As previously mentioned, the competition between these clinics actually served to make the services more affordable for lower middle class Indians. In 1988, the Maharashtra government enacted the Maharashtra Regulation of Prenatal Diagnostic Techniques Act. The salient features of the Act are as follows 1. Prenatal diagnostic can only be conducted to detect genetic abnormalities (including sex linked genetic diseases). 2. The test may only be undertaken by a high risk pregnant women who meet at least one of the following criteria: a. Age over 35 years. b. History of 2 or more abortions/miscarriages. c. History of exposure to hazardous substances. d. Family history of genetic disorder. e. “Any other condition as specified by the authorities.” 3. Use of prenatal diagnostic techniques for indicating the sex of the fetus are banned. Offenses are punishable by both imprisonment and a fine. 4 Three committees to operationalize the policy will be established: State Appropriate Authority, State Vigilance Committee, and Local Vigilance Committees. Two loopholes in this Act immediately leap to mind. Firstly, a woman can easily manufacture a high risk history of inherited disorders or exposure to teratogens. Moreover, the history of two or more abortions criterion does not specify whether these abortions had to be spontaneous. A woman who had had two or more therapeutic abortions in the past would technically become eligible under the Act. Secondly, the determination of sex-linked genetic disorders could theoretically result in the physician revealing the sex of the fetus. Needless to say, with the above loopholes and the increased availability of illegal services and services in neighboring states, the practice continued unabated. Also in 1988, the Indian government established a committee to study sex selective abortions and make recommendations on how best to deal with them. In response to this task, the committee introduced the Prenatal Diagnostic Techniques Regulations and Prevention of Misuse Bill in 1991. The Bill essentially mirrors the Maharashtra Act with two small changes. The high risk criteria were changed to “history of spontaneous abortions” and “exposure to teratogenic substances (omitting history of . . .).” Clinics, hospitals, and laboratories offering prenatal testing are all covered by the law. This bill finally passed three years later in the Indian Parliament in August, 1994 (Burns, 1994).

The Central Government Bill has some of the same limitations as the Maharashtra Act. The high risk criteria are susceptible to fabrication by the pregnant woman. In addition, 37

over the past decade, enforcement of a ban on sex determination techniques has become a Herculean task. In Delhi alone, there were over 2000 sex test clinics in 1994 (Imam, 1994). Furthermore, “no provision is made [in the bill] for the registration of the thousands of ultrasound machines installed by entrepreneurs in vans that travel from village to village charging rural women exorbitant fees for the procedure”.

Suggestive Measures The culmination of the growing concern for the Girl Child being subjected to inequality, disparity and neglect manifested in the decision to observe 1990 as the SAARC year of the Girl Child. The enthusiastic response to issues concerning the Girl Child promoted the heads of SAARC countries during the conference at Male in 1990 to declare 19912000 as the SAARC Decade of the Girl Child. India formulated National Plan of Action for the SAARC Decade of the Girl Child in 1991-92. The main strategic principle in implementing the SAARC Action Plan is to strengthen the awareness and capacity of the family and the community to a level, so that the goals for the Girl Child are owed, pursued and achieved by them. The four guiding principles of the SAARC Action Plan are formulation of gender-specific goals and strategies; ensuring equality of status; use of integrated approach in programme planning; and change in social attitudes and behavioural practices. Implementation of SAARC Action Plan gave a separate identity to the Girl Child. India also formulated the National Plan of Action for children (NPA) in 1992. NPA goals and objectives are centered around a range of activities for the development of the Girl Child and adolescent Girls. Goals and objectives of NPA are in consonance with the goals and objectives of SAARC Action Plan. In 1992, India ratified UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Article 2 of the Convention stresses on gender equality by stating that rights set forth in the Convention are for all children irrespective of their sex. CRC accords Girl Child her rights to survival, protection, participation and development. The Convention revalidates thee rights guaranteed to children by the Constitution of India and is a powerful weapon to combat forces that deny these rights. India is signatory to Jomtien Declaration on Education for all (1990), which calls for universal quality education and educational opportunities to all to meet the basic learning needs. In the expanded vision of education that emerges from Jomtien Declaration, thee most important key element is making girl's education a major priority. India is also a member of E-9 Education Summit (1993) and has adopted UN Standard Rules on the Equalization of opportunities for persons with disabilities (1993). Implementation of SAARC Action Plan and NPA, and ratification of CRC led to strengthening of administrative machinery and launching of need-based programmes and interventions in development sectors to improve status of the Girl Child. During the last five decades, formulation of national policies, strengthening of legislative support and commitment at the national and international levels led to levels led to minimisation of gender inequality in all the sectors. As a result, Girl Child in India has the advantage of having fully developed organizational set-up, which is geared towards promoting gender equality. At the national level, the Department of Women and Child Development (DWCD) is the nodal Department to guide, coordinate and review the 38

efforts of both governmental and non-governmental organisations for development of the Girl Child. The Department of Family Welfare and Department of Education are also giving special emphasis on gender-specific interventions and programmes. The Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment are implementing progammes to meet the needs and rights of the Girl Child among working children, street children, disabled children, destitutes and juvenile delinquents. The major national programmes being implemented for the development of thee Girl Child are Integrated Child Development Services, Balika Samriddhi Yojana, Adolescent Girl Scheme, District Primary Education Programme and Reproductive and Child Health Programme. In the Ninth Five Year Plan, children are at the top of the national agenda with a focus on gender equality. The major strategy in the Ninth Plan is to arrest the declining sex ratio, and eliminate problems of female foeticide and infanticide through two pronged strategy of both direct and indirect measures. The focus is on improving quality of health services and early detection of health and nutrition problems among children, especially the Girl Child. Also, importance is being accorded to health and nutritional adequacy, nutritional status of mother and children, dietary intake and prevention of deficiency diseases. The National Charter is under preparation. The aim is to ensure that no child remains illiterate, hungry or lacks medical care. Strict policy measures are being adopted to eliminate child abuse and exploitation. The special expert committee headed by justice V.R. Krishan Iyer formulated. The Children's Code Bill-2000 in which measures to prevent all forms of discrimination against girl child and special measures for gender equality at early childhood have been suggested- these includes (a) Elimination of all forms of discrimination against girl child (b) elimination of negative cultural, attitudes and practices against girl child (c) elimination of discrimination against girls in education, skill, development and training (d) elimination of discrimination against girls in health and nutrition (e) elimination of girl child labour (f) elimination of violence against girl child (g) promoting the girl child awareness of and participation in social, economic and political life (h) strengthening the role of the family in improving the status of the girl child. It is not easy to change overnight the attitude of even women towards females infanticide. Even if the women are prepared to understand and accept the need to change, the social situation and the family environment prevent them from doing so. Therefore, young married couples and pregnant women were given counseling so that they could cope with the situation, because they are surrounded by in laws and neighbors who are pro-female infanticide. The practice of using amniocentesis for sex determination shall be banned through law and practitioners indulging in or abetting such acts shall be punished severely. Amniocentesis, where necessary, will be performed only in government or approved medical institutions to prevent the practice of using amniocentesis for purpose of sex determination Public education on the illegality of fetal sex determination and sex selection abortion will be accompanied by positive messages on the value of daughters


Advertising of sex determination techniques shall be banned forthwith and stringent measures will be taken against the offenders. Media will be effectively use to bring about attitudinal changes towards the girl child.There should be a trust on elimination of gender disparities in infant and under-5 child mortality, though gender sensitive monitoring in mortality starting from the field level.Priority will be given for educating parents on the importance of provding adequate food for the girl child. Extensive use of media for the sensitive promotion of a positive image of women and girls. Development of school based strategies for inculcating of positive self-image amongst girls. Concerted efforts to break the gender stereotypes particularly at the +2 level. Conscious inputs into curriculum, textbooks, teacher education institutional planning supported by career guidance, counseling. Special awareness generation programmes and campaigns to sensitize the public. The strategy includes keeping a close watch on the pregnant women for six months (three months before delivery and three months after it) to this end, panchayat-level vigilance committees are to be formed, comprising two leaders from each sangam to undertaken vigilance work in their respective villages. A special committee is to be formed within the federation, where main job would be to keep a watch on pregnant women. Activate advisory, planning supervisory committees to work closely with the district administration and block-level officers of various departments like health, nutrition, police, BDO, village administrative officer and teachers. RECOMMENDATIONS 1. Generate awareness of the disadvantaged situation of girls among policy makers, planners, administrators and implementors at all levels, as well as within households and communities; 2. Make the girl child, particularly the girl child in difficult circumstances, aware of her own potential, educate her about the rights guaranteed to her under all international human rights instruments, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child, legislation enacted for her and the various measures undertaken by both governmental and non-governmental organizations working to improve her status; 3. Educate women, men, girls and boys to promote girls' status and encourage them to work towards mutual respect and equal partnership between girls and boys; 4. Facilitate the equal provision of appropriate services and devices to girls with disabilities and provide their families with related support services, as appropriate. 5. Take steps to integrate functional literacy and numeracy programmes, particularly for out-of-school girls in development programmes; 6. Increase enrolment and improve retention rates of girls by allocating appropriate 40

budgetary resources and by enlisting the support of the community and parents through campaigns and flexible school schedules, incentives, scholarships, access programmes for out-of-school girls and other measures; 7. Develop training programmes and materials for teachers and educators, raising awareness about their own role in the educational process, with a view to providing them with effective strategies for gender-sensitive teaching; Provide education and skills training to increase girls' opportunities for employment and access to decision-making processes;

8. Ensuring that all the girl child receives proper care, survival development, protection and advancement from birth and after. 9. Removing the injustice and obstacles to inheritance faced by girl child so that she can enjoy equal rights without any discrimination. 10. Taking steps to stop tradition and customary practices and their expressions which promote discrimination against girl child. 11. Elimination of all forms of discrimination against the girl child which result in harmful and unethical practices, such as pre-natal sex selection, female foeticide and infanticide. 12. Creating awareness on removal of discrimination practices against girl child in nutrition and access to health services. 13. Taking appropriate measures to protect the girl child in the household and in society, from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect of negligent treatment or exploitation, sexual abuse and incest. 14. Undertaking gender sensitization training programmes of officials working for development/welfare of children. 15. Formulating policies and programmes to help the family in supporting, education and nurturing roles with particular emphasis on the elimination of intra-family discrimination against the girl child. 16. Provide an environment conducive to the strengthening of the family with a view to provide supportive and preventive measures, which protect, respect and promote the attention of the girl child.


CHAPTER -3 GENDER MAINSTREAMING AND POLICY FRAMEWORK Gender mainstreaming Consideration of gender issues is now common currency in government, NGOs, the private sector and mainstream politics in India, at least at the rhetorical level. This awareness has come about as a result of the efforts of the women’s movement and the influence of international development and feminist debates, as well as aid initiatives with a focus on gender. However, this increased awareness does not imply that gender issues are being dealt with on their own terms. The range of actors with a stake in promoting ‘women’s’ issues each have their own underlying agendas which influence the way in which gender questions are addressed. Moreover, analysis of gender issues cannot be separated from broader political and economic developments. Gender relations are being continuously reshaped by contemporary developments so that it is necessary to look at the complex ways in which gender relations are being recast today.

Response to Beijing Action Plan The National Policy for the Empowerment of Women 2001 is the response to Beijing Platform. It is an action plan initiated after the Beijing Conference. The Beijing Platform urges Governments, the international community and civil society, including nongovernmental organizations and the private sector, to take action on critical areas of concern, and call for redistribution of wealth or incomes both within countries and between rich and poor nations. Supporting a strong role for women enhances the quality of their own lives and contributes to economic growth. The goal of this Policy is to bring about the advancement, development and empowerment of women. The Policy will be widely disseminated to encourage active participation of all stakeholders for achieving its goals. Specifically, the objectives of this Policy include . • Creating an environment through positive economic and social policies for full development of women to enable them to realize their full potential. . • The de-jure and de-facto enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedom by women on equal basis with men in all spheres – political, economic, social, cultural and civil. . • Equal access to participation and decision making of women in social, political and economic life of the nation. . • Equal access to women to health care, quality education at all levels, career and vocational guidance, employment, equal remuneration, occupational health and safety, social security and public office etc. . • Strengthening legal systems aimed at elimination of all forms of discrimination against women. . • Changing societal attitudes and community practices by active 42

participation and involvement of both men and women. . • Mainstreaming a gender perspective in the development process. . • Elimination of discrimination and all forms of violence against women and the girl child. . • Building and strengthening partnerships with civil society, particularly women’s organizations. To this end, Governments, the international community and civil society, including non-governmental organizations and the private sector, are called upon to take strategic action in the following critical areas of concern: . The persistent and increasing burden of poverty on women . Inequalities and inadequacies in and unequal access to education and training . Inequalities and inadequacies in and unequal access to health care and related services . Violence against women . The effects of armed or other kinds of conflict on women, including those living under foreign occupation . Inequality in economic structures and policies, in all forms of productive activities and in access to resources . Inequality between men and women in the sharing of power and decisionmaking at all levels . Insufficient mechanisms at all levels to promote the advancement of women . Lack of respect for and inadequate promotion and protection of the human rights of women . Stereotyping of women and inequality in women's access to and participation in all communication systems, especially in the media . Gender inequalities in the management of natural resources and in the safeguarding of the environment . Persistent discrimination against and violation of the rights of the girl child The Platform for Action recognizes that women face barriers to full equality and advancement because of such factors as their race, age, language, ethnicity, culture, religion or disability, because they are indigenous women or because of other status. Many women encounter specific obstacles related to their family status, particularly as single parents; and to their socioeconomic status, including their living conditions in rural, isolated or impoverished areas. Additional barriers also exist for refugee women, other displaced women, including internally displaced women as well as for immigrant women and migrant women, including women migrant workers. Many women are also particularly affected by environmental disasters, serious and infectious diseases and various forms of violence against women.


Gender and the MDGs Goal 3 – “Promote gender equality and empowerment of women” - is the culmination of years of determined advocacy and action by the international women’s movement. The high priority accorded to Goal 3 represents a global affirmation of women’s rights and gender equality as core values of development. This hard-won recognition that “development, if not engendered, is endangered” was also an outcome of debates and discussions at the UN Conferences of the 1990s, including the World Conference on Human Rights (Vienna 1993), the International Conference on Population and Development (Cairo 1994), the World Summit on Social Development (Copenhagen 1995) and the Fourth World Conference on Women (Beijing, 1995). Growing recognition of the gender dimensions of development paradigms and policies during the 1990s created the momentum for a consensus on gender mainstreaming – the incorporation of gender perspectives into all aspects of development theory and practice as a key strategy to achieve gender equality. There is a clear correspondence between the MDGs and other global instruments related to gender equality, such as the Beijing Platform for Action and CEDAW. However, unlike the other goals, Goal 3 is not specific to any particular sector or issue, since gender equality and women’s rights underpin all the other goals. It has been pointed out that attempting to achieve the MDGs without promoting gender equality will both raise the 1 costs and decrease the likelihood of achieving the other goals. The reverse is equally true – achievement of Goal 3 depends on progress made on each of the other goals. The implication is clear - while accurate reporting against Goal 3 is critical, tracking gender gaps and inequalities against each of the other MDG targets and indicators is no less important. At the national level, MDGRs and the process of MDG reporting represent a new opportunity for gender advocates to enlarge the space for dialogue and build a broad national commitment to women’s rights and gender equality. Apart from their role in monitoring and tracking key indicators of women’s empowerment, national MDGRs are also aimed at facilitating systematic policy dialogue on critical development challenges and building a supportive environment for translating commitments into actual results on the ground. Ideally, MDGRs are expected to reach out to a range of national actors including communities, civil society groups and the media, initiating wider debate and dialogue around key development choices and enabling citizens to demand accountability from their governments. In several countries, the MDGR process has been “localised” and extended to the subnational level through the preparation of regional reports. Effective gender mainstreaming would therefore expand the possibilities of building links between actions for gender mainstreaming at macro and micro levels, and encompassing a wider constituency of support for these actions. National MDGRs are also relevant to the wider donor community, particularly in 44

targeting and optimising their support to national development efforts. Goal 8 (“Developing a global partnership for development”) is focused on making visible the linkages between national and international commitments to achieving the MDGs, with clear resource implications for action on gender equality. In addition, reporting against each of the MDGs is expected to identify priorities for action and also provides a basis for resource mobilization. Effective mainstreaming of gender issues into MDGRs can thus be expected to have significant long-term impacts in terms of enhanced resources and focused support for action on gender issues within the country. Despite scepticism about the feasibility of achieving any of the MDGs within the projected time-frame, it is generally agreed that they represent a “strategic talking-point for assessing what the barriers to the achievement of goals are, and provide a tool with which to hold both donor agencies and governments accountable. Given the above, it is important for women’s organisations and gender equality advocates to use the opportunity created by the MDGRs and the MDG reporting process to ensure greater public visibility and awareness of gender inequality, and demand a stronger policy commitment for gender equality. Ten years after Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing

Ten years ago, at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, the development community agreed on a Platform for Action to advance the lives of women and girls. Today, disparities between men and women remain pervasive around the world—in resources and economic opportunities, in basic human rights, and in political voice— despite significant gains in some areas and countries. These disparities are strongly linked to poverty. Ignoring them comes at great cost to people’s well-being and to countries’ abilities to grow sustainably and govern effectively. In the last 10 years, the lives of women and girls around the world have, on average, improved due in part to concerted action by the international community and national governments and in part through the actions of women and girls themselves. Today, there is greater awareness that gender equality is important for economic development and poverty reduction, and there is a greater commitment to promoting gender equality almost everywhere. But declaring victory would be premature. Gender inequalities still prevail in many countries, as evidenced by such indicators as high and unchanged maternal mortality, disparities in access to secondary education and basic health services, and women’s under-representation at all government levels. At the same time, the challenges to achieving gender equality have evolved as a result of such forces as increased globalization and the spread of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Global trends in improving girls’ and women’s lives are outlined below, and remaining areas in need of action are highlighted.


Six Strategic Priorities Strategic Priority 1: Strengthen Opportunities for Secondary Education for Girls and Eliminate Gender Gaps at That Level In order to achieve Goal 3, evidence suggests that among all levels of education, secondary education has the greatest pay-off for women’s empowerment. This implies that investments in primary education must be made in order to create the pipeline for secondary education. The actions that need to be taken to achieve gender equality in primary education are discussed in Task Force 3’s report on universal primary education. These include: making schooling more affordable by reducing costs and offering targeted scholarships, building secondary schools close to girls’ homes, making schools girl-friendly, and improving the content, quality, and relevance of education. Strategic Priority 2: Guarantee Sexual and Reproductive Rights and Health Goal 3 cannot be achieved without the guarantee of sexual and reproductive health and rights for girls and women. Priorities for action are reducing persistently high rates of maternal mortality, strengthening women’s and girls’ ability to protect them from HIV infection, and providing adolescent girls with full access to sexual and reproductive health information and services. Interventions must occur both within and outside the health system. At a minimum, national public health systems must provide quality family planning, safe abortion, and emergency obstetric services. Other essential services include the prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, and interventions to reduce malnutrition and anemia. Outside the health system, comprehensive sexuality education programs are essential for laying the foundation for improved sexual and reproductive health outcomes. Ultimately, these interventions must be supported by an enabling policy and political environment that guarantees women’s and girls sexual and girls reproductive rights. Current threats to those rights must be opposed if Goal 3 is to be achieved. Strategic Priority 3: Invest in Gender-Responsive Infrastructure to Reduce Women’s and Girls’ Poverty Gender-responsive infrastructure investments are needed to reallocate women’s time and energy away from routine maintenance tasks to more productive and fulfilling activities. As long as poor rural women and girls are burdened with having to expend large amounts of time and energy on collecting water and fuel, they will find little time to attend school or work on adopting the new practices suggested by development programs. Investments in the appropriate infrastructure to relieve women’s time poverty are essential to maximize the impact of all the strategic priorities discussed in this report. Strategic Priority 4: Guarantee Women’s Property and Inheritance Rights and Reduce Discrimination in Labor Markets


It is now widely recognized that ownership and control over assets such as land and housing provides economic security, incentives for taking economic risks which lead to growth, and important economic returns including income. Yet, women in many countries around the globe lack this right. Ensuring female property and inheritance rights empowers women and rectifies a fundamental injustice. Immediate action to be taken, including legal reform, legal literacy, and recording women’s share of land or property. In the short term, institutional arrangements that allow women collective or individual lease and use rights are important first steps.

Strategic Priority 5: Increase Women’s Representation in Political Bodies Without equality of opportunity for participating in decision-making in all political arenas, Goal 3 cannot be met. There has been noticeable progress made in women’s representation in political bodies in several countries since 1991. The experience of these countries has shown that gender quotas and reservations are the most effective policy tools to increase women’s representation in national and local legislatures. Strategic Priority 6: End Violence Against Women Violence against women exists in epidemic proportions in many countries around the world. Because it has serious health and development impacts and is a gross violation of women’s rights, it must be eliminated if Goal #3 is to be met. There is no single intervention for ending violence; rather, it requires a combination of infrastructural, legal, judicial, enforcement, educational, health, and other service-related actions aimed at prevention, protection, and punishment. Most importantly, ending this epidemic requires normative change in the acceptability of violence against women that can only be brought about through a global campaign, combined with a scaling-up of effective communitybased interventions and analyses that documents the costs of violence against women.

Ultimately whether gender equality and women’s empowerment are achieved is mostly in the hands of policymakers in the developing countries. The nature and composition of governance, public policy, spending decisions, and political will in those countries will determine whether and how the six strategic priorities are implemented. At the same time, the Task Force believes that even the best effort and policy change at the country level will not be enough. For the poorest countries in particular, that are most at risk of falling short on this and the other goals, the input, leverage and sustained commitment of the donor community is critical. National Level Actions At the national level, an enabling national environment for gender equality consists of four components. 1. An effective national women’s machinery. Lessons learned from the implementation of national machinery over the past two decades shows that an effective national machinery 47

must have a strong mandate that is supported by legislation, goals and priorities, and coherent lines of responsibility and accountability; a policy oversight and advocacy role; an appropriate location within the government that allows for cross-sectoral influence; an adequate budget that is commensurate with the mandate for monitoring and accountability; a technically qualified staff that has a wide range of sectoral skills and experience; links to national networks of civil society organizations to maintain legitimacy, credibility, and accountability; and finally, institutional autonomy that protects it from political interference and manipulation. 2. A strong presence of women in legislative bodies. The representation of women in legislative bodies serves as an indicator of society’s commitment to gender equality and women’s empowerment and has the potential to trigger more fundamental changes in gender relations and beliefs about appropriate gender roles. 3. Mechanisms for assessing progress and holding stakeholders accountable. The three most important mechanisms to hold stakeholders accountable for gender equality at the national level are: sex-disaggregated and statistics to assess progress made toward the gender equality targets discussed above, a legal framework such as offered by the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), and strengthening the participation of women’s organizations in national-level budgetary processes. 4. Knowledge of the costs of gender inequality and expenditures to promote equality and women’s empowerment. No study has attempted to estimate the costs of gender inequality across all domains because it is difficult to do so without addressing the underlying data requirements that are necessary for such analysis. Many methodological issues also need to be addressed; experimentation and innovation will be required to move this effort forward. Because gender inequality is multi-dimensional and multi-sectoral, assessing the financial costs of efforts to reduce it are difficult to calculate. The Millennium Project is developing a model for estimating comprehensive costs for countries with different levels of gender inequality which will be reported in the final report of the Task Force.

However, there is no consistent overall policy framework on gender issues to which government departments can be held accountable. The national machinery dealing with women and development lacks co-ordination, resources and power. The system needs reform. The range of existing policy documents on women do not provide a coherent strategy or approach. The language of empowerment and the demands of many women.s organizations have been incorporated in places but instrumental approaches are also apparent; in others, a welfare approach appears to persist, or there is little mention of women at all. Welfarist approaches persist particularly in relation to Scheduled Caste of Scheduled Tribe women, or those from educationally backward or minority districts. Elsewhere, poor women are referred to as an undifferentiated group, with no reference to other axes of discrimination,along caste or communal lines. Nor do the various government policy documents collectively provide an overall policy framework. They tend to serve as plans of action rather than policies disseminated through the various


ministries and to which the government can be held accountable. An exception to this, at state level, is the recent Maharashtra State Policy on Women. This is ground breaking because it attempts to link interventions in different sectors and commits the government to specific resource allocations. Also, for the first time in a government document, there is recognition of the need to address cultural or traditional factors which keep women in subordinate positions, identified particularly as family issues. Another important facet of this policy document is that there was widespread consultation with women.s groups and minority bodies in its preparation. The National Machinery on women comprises a variety of cells, Departments, corporations and boards, as well as specialised units within government departments. In 1993, the National Human Rights Commission was set up with a mandate to investigate violations of women.s rights. Besides the lack of overall policy framework highlighted above, there are a number of other reasons for the collective failure of these bodies to influence government policy making processes. Firstly, there is no regular system for incorporating findings of reports in different sectors, nor for consultation and discussion between different Departments to integrate their efforts. This means that the Department of Women and Child Development, which should play a key role in advocacy within the government, in practice does all the WID work and as well as implementing its own programmes with limited resources and staff. There is also little networking or collaboration between the various components of the National Machinery and both the National Machinery and state-level bodies lack resources and institutional powers. There is a need for greater attention to transforming existing departments from within by working with key personnel over a period of time: this is the challenge of mainstreaming.

Government policy on women and the national machinery Government policy towards women in the immediate post-Independence era was basically welfarist in orientation. Mahila Mandals or women‘s centres set up in the context of Community Development Programmes featured child nutrition programmes and income generating activities, but drew in mainly relatively well-to-do women. As noted above, the 1970s was a decade of intense political opposition to the government, including feminist activity. In 1974, the Committee on the Status of Women, comprising leading feminists as well as technical experts, drafted the report Towards Equality under the aegis of government, as part of its obligation to report on its progress towards women‘s equality for the 1975 UN Women‘s Conference. This report is a founding text of the Indian feminist movement. It concluded that, barring the gains made by a minority of middle-class women who had found employment in the expanding public services sector, the situation of women had worsened in many respects, in spite of two or three decades of planned development.


Government policy underwent a shift to a typically ”WID‘ approach with the Sixth Five Year Plan (1980-85), which recognised women‘s central role in the economy and incorporated a number of the demands of women‘s organisations, for example, the need to give joint titles to husband and wife where transfers of assets occurred. The Sixth Plan also contained contradictions, however, presenting the family as the basic unit of development whilst supporting the need for women to increase their economic independence. The Seventh Five Year Plan (1986-91) went further, presenting individual women as potential beneficiaries of development schemes and emphasising the need to raise awareness about women‘s oppression and to build women‘s self confidence. It also envisaged an integrated and multi-pronged approach to women‘s development, incorporating employment, childcare, education, nutrition, health etc. The National Perspective Plan on Women, 1988-2000 - the government‘s second major policy document on women - was also published in this period, combining a review of existing approaches and programmes with recommendations for future action, including a strong emphasis on training as a strategy, the separation of welfare and development activities between the Social Welfare Boards and Women‘s Development Corporations, respectively, as well as an increased role for the voluntary sector. With the Eighth Plan (1992-1997), a decisive shift in overall development strategy has occurred away from centralised planning at a national level. There is now strong emphasis on promoting community participation and people‘s initiative, and a range of institutional options for the delivery of services, particularly through the increased role of the voluntary sector. However, there is no special emphasis in the Eighth Plan on the participation of women, nor other marginalised groups. The range of existing policy documents on women do not provide a coherent strategy or approach. The language of empowerment and the demands of many women‘s organisations have been incorporated in places but instrumental approaches are also apparent; in others, a welfare approach appears to persist, or there is little mention of women at all. Welfarist approaches persist particularly in relation to Scheduled Caste of Scheduled Tribe women, or those from educationally backward or minority districts. Elsewhere, ”poor women‘ are referred to as an undifferentiated group, with no reference to other axes of discrimination, along caste or communal lines. Nor do the various government policy documents collectively provide an overall policy framework. They tend to serve as plans of action rather than policies disseminated through the various ministries and to which the government can be held accountable. An exception to this, at state level, is the recent Maharashtra State Policy on Women. This is ground breaking because it attempts to link interventions in different sectors and commits the government to specific resource allocations. Also, for the first time in a government document, there is recognition of the need to address cultural or traditional factors which keep women in subordinate positions, identified particularly as family issues. Another important facet of this policy document is that there was widespread consultation with women‘s groups and minority bodies in its preparation.


The National Machinery on women comprises a variety of cells, Departments, corporations and boards, as well as specialised units within government departments. In 1993, the National Human Rights Commission was set up with a mandate to investigate violations of women‘s rights. Besides the lack of overall policy framework highlighted above, there are a number of other reasons for the collective failure of these bodies to influence government policy making processes. Firstly, there is no regular system for incorporating findings of reports in different sectors, nor for consultation and discussion between different Departments to integrate their efforts. This means that the Department of Women and Child Development, which should play a key role in advocacy within the government, in practice does all the WID work and as well as implementing its own programmes with limited resources and staff. There is also little networking or collaboration between the various components of the National Machinery and both the National Machinery and state-level bodies lack resources and institutional powers. There is a need for greater attention to transforming existing departments from within by working with key personnel over a period of time: this is the challenge of mainstreaming. The ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) provides a further tool to make state policy accountable and to hold specific departments responsible for their functions in relation to women and development.

Women in development schemes One manifestation of the increasing government focus on women is the increase in the number of development schemes aimed specifically at women, currently numbering over 200, although most are concentrated in a limited range of departments and some are externally funded. Most are narrowly woman-focused with little emphasis on gender relations. The record of government in the implementation of development programmes is weak; this is now being addressed mainly through greater involvement of NGOs. Mechanisms are in place to allocate a proportion of funding to voluntary sector activity in every social sector ministry. Further, the government plans to set up an all-India monitoring agency to oversee the implementation of rural development schemes, consisting of senior ministry officials and the heads of ten NGOs. It is not clear whether this agency embodies any gender expertise nor whether gender-sensitive criteria for monitoring and evaluation will be employed. There are both overall and gender-specific problems with these schemes. In selfemployment schemes, provision of credit in itself is insufficient to stimulate long-term sustainable self-employment without other supports, market demand and market access. Targets for women‘s participation in mixed schemes may not be met or may be subverted. Women‘s participation can be hampered by head of household approaches,


particularly where male defaulters are barred from schemes, sometimes leaving women with little support ineligible for access to credit. Experience from elsewhere has shown that even where women are targeted with loans, they may not control their use or the returns from investment. In women-specific programmes, there are often considerable pressures on women field workers, who may be expected to work collectively at grassroots level, in the context of vertically organised programmes and who are expected to perform a wide range of tasks, with insufficient support and training. For those poor women who do participate in self-employment schemes, there are high expectations, to act as entrepreneurs, understand the market and take risks, with limited support. Areas of activity which are encouraged may be in markets with other larger players. It may be necessary to consider more interventionist measures which would offer a niche in the market, or minimal guarantee of market access to those who seek self-employment in such areas. Wage employment schemes also have drawbacks. They tend only to provide temporary or seasonal employment at very low wage rates and thus whilst they may perform a limited safety net function, they are unable to pull beneficiaries out of hard-core poverty. More attention is needed to asset creation at village level in wage employment programmes.

To date, poverty alleviation programmes have been concentrated in rural areas, since poverty has been assumed to be a largely rural phenomenon. Since 1989, NRY has offered support for micro-enterprises and wage employment in urban areas, but coverage is limited and the proportion of women benefiting is not known. However, recent data suggest that urban poverty may be more widespread than previously thought and structural adjustment may intensify urban poverty, with gender-specific impacts. In this context, existing anti-poverty programmes in urban areas need to be extended and improved upon, with particular attention to their gender impact. Small towns particularly may be being by-passed by current anti-poverty efforts. Alternative development programmes for women have also been sponsored by the Indian government: in particular the Women‘s Development Programme in Rajasthan (WDP) (begun in 1984 in Rajasthan) and the more recent Mahila Samakhya programme in Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Rather than a focus on service provision or poverty alleviation per se, these programmes have adopted an awareness raising and ”empowerment‘ approach. They have a number of particular features: interaction and cooperation between government and NGOs; key role of women field level workers; collective participation of women; emphasis on women themselves providing direction to the programme; and relatively low levels of funding. In WDP, tensions arose between the NGO and government sides of the programme and a number of problems emerged regarding the role of sathins (village level animators). Sathins were under pressure to take up a number of functions related to government programmes. Some of them aspired to become regularised workers, with commensurate rewards, rather than acting in a largely voluntary capacity as grassroots animators. 52

Although programmes such as WDP and Mahila Samakhya are seen by some as models, more systematic evaluation of their benefits is needed before such approaches are widely adopted in other programmes. There is evidence of qualitative benefits, but there is also a need to assess, over large samples, to what extent changes in service delivery and women‘s access to resources have occurred and what has happened to livelihoods and poverty alleviation as a result of these programmes. This raises the broader question of whether it is possible to measure the impact of empowerment on more tangible economic and social goals.

Gender budgeting Gender responsive budgeting or gender analysis of budgets is a very useful tool being used in India to promote gender mainstreaming. Gender budgeting refers to presentation of budgetary data in a manner such that the gender sensitivities of budgetary allocations are clearly highlighted. Gender budgeting includes carrying out an impact analysis of government programmes and its budgetary allocations on the overall socio-economic status of women in the country. The Tenth Plan states that ‘The Tenth Plan will continue the process of dissecting the Government budget to establish its gender differentiated impact and to translate gender commitments into budgetary commitments…’The Tenth Plan will initiate immediate action in tying up these two effective concepts of Women’s Component Plan and Gender Budgeting to play a complementary role to each other, and thus ensure both preventive and post facto action in enabling women to receive their rightful share..’ At a national level, a task force was set up in 2000-01 to examine this issue. On its recommendation, a sub-group was set up to suggest a framework for introduction of gender budgeting in the Government. The sub-group has recommended that Gender Budgeting Units be set up in identified Departments, as well as an Interdepartmental Steering Committee to identify issues for gender budgeting that cut across departments, budgetary allocations related to domestic violence, micro-finance, homelessness, etc. While initial gender budgeting efforts were limited to education, health, nutrition, access to resources and public services, etc, the Department of Women and Child has recently (2004) prepared checklists to assist all departments in gender budget exercises and in using these to develop a gender perspective in planning. These check lists are not only for the conventional social sector Ministries and Departments but also seek to involve so called gender neutral Departments like Transport, power, Home, etc. Through a consensus approach the Department has also advocated broad framework within the ambit of which the gender budgeting initiatives could be undertaken by all stake-holders including Government Departments (Centre and States),voluntaryorganizations,researchers, international bodies like UNIFEM,UNDP,etc. The intention is to synergise the activities taking place in realm of gender budgeting and help collage the information base on the subject. A dedicated website is also being developed on gender budgeting.


In order to seek convergence of important sectors looking after social development, consultation has been held with Ministries of Rural Development, Agriculture, Agro and Rural Industries and Food and Public Distribution. The effort will be to synergise the activities and interventions of these Departments towards more meaningful developmental initiatives. Widened Scope of Gender Audit Plan and non-plan expenditure of the central government for social services such as education, health, family welfare, water supply, housing, social welfare, nutrition and rural development has more than doubled from Rs.1163 million in 1995-96 to Rs.3548 million in 2003-04. The total plan expenditure for social sector rose from 26.5% in 200001 to 30.2 % in 2003-04. As a ratio of total expenditure, the combined plan and non-plan expenditure of the centre in the social sector rose from 10.2 % in 1995–96 to 11 % in 2003-04. (RE). Expressed as a ratio of GDP at current market prices, expenditure on social services increased from 1.5 % in 1995-96 to 1.9 % in 2003-04. The total expenditure of both centre and states on the social sector was 19.8 % of total expenditure. DWCD took the lead in partnership with UNIFEM to initiative gender mainstreaming in macro fiscal policy frameworks by initiating a two-year process of gender budgeting within the Government of India. In partnership with the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP), Ministry of Finance, the Department supported a study on “Gender Budgeting in India”. The study analysed the existing degree of gender inequality in economic policy issues and identified policy alternatives to build in a gender sensitive national and state level budgeting processes. For the first time, gender as a category, was included in the National Economic Survey in 2001-02 and 2002-03. DWCD has commissioned gender budgeting studies in several State Governments, in association with NIPCCD (National Institute of Public Co-operation and Child Development).Since a major part of social sector expenditures is through the State Governments,assessments at the State level are crucial. With the devolution of powers to Panchayat Raj institutions, capacity for gender budgeting at this level also needs to be built up. In the area of Gender Statistics, important steps have been taken to improve the data base on women, to institutionalise systems of data collection, and to use this data in planning and advocacy for gender justice. These are as follows: The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation has started a regular publication,‘Women and Men in India’ since 1995. A National Plan of Action identifying data gaps has been formulated. For some indicators requiring detailed probing the Plan of Action recommends that NGOs take the lead. A National Data Dissemination Policy has been formulated. A pilot Time Use Survey was conducted in six states, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Orissa and Meghalaya, in 1998-99. The report was brought out in 2000 and results have been widely disseminated. Gender sensitisation of enumerators and respondents was undertaken for the population census in 1991 and in 2001, in partnership with UNIFEM. In order to


capture women’s work better, a few probing questions were added in the Individual Slip administered as part of the Census process to elicit better information on women’s work, paid or unpaid. This has increased the reporting of women’s work, with overall work participation rate of women being 19.7 in 1981, 22.3 in 1991 and 25.7 in 2001. Special effort was made to obtain information on women in unorganised sector activities in the Economic Census conducted in 1998. The National Sample Survey (NSS) Employment – Unemployment round of 19992000 included a module on the Informal Sector, which has yielded important and new data on the size and characteristics of home based workers. Out of a total of 29.2 million home based non-agricultural workers (20.9% of the non-agricultural workforce), 12.6 million were women.This represents 45% of the women nonagricultural workforce. National Family Health Surveys (1992-93 and 1998-99) have further strengthened the database for implementation of the RCH approach as adopted after the ICPD. All programme statistics are expected to provide gender based data/information. To enable preparation of a Gender Development Index, 18 indicators have been identified, after extensive consultations, for collection of data at district level. At a policy level the Government has initiated gender mainstreaming measures at the Union and State levels to ensure that gender concerns are brought centre stage in all aspects of public expenditure and policy. The Tenth Plan has initiated action in tying up the concept of Women's Component Plan and gender budgeting exercises to develop a gender perspective in planning. The Government through its Common Minimum Programme has endeavoured to ensure, elimination of gender discrimination, economic empowerment of women through equal rights of ownership of assets such as land, shelter, etc. One of the thrust areas identified by the Prime Minister for development of women is legal equality for women in all enactments. Some important initiatives include: Women’s participation has been built into the Joint Forest Management (JFM) Committees which are grassroot level institutions for conservation, protection and management of degraded forests. At least 50% of the members of the JFM general body are required to be women, and at least 33% of the membership in the JFM Executive Committee/ Management Committee is to be filled by women. In order to improve general cleanliness and also protect the dignity of women of poorer sections, construction of toilet complexes is being emphasised under the National River Conservation plan. Construction of more than 3600 toilets in the states has been taken up. Gender issues relating to forestry are given special focus in the training of Indian Forest Service officers. Women’s participation is encouraged in community resource management and watershed programmes. Rural women living below the poverty line are provided with financial assistance to


raise nurseries in forest lands The Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Sources is implementing several programmes to benefit women by reducing drudgery and providing better and convenient systems for cooking and lighting. Environmental education programmes supported by the Department of Education play an important role in creating awareness and seeking local specific solutions to environmental problems. New initiatives to improve urban environment, especially water and sanitation, emphasise partnerships between private, community and government agencies. Creating Gender-Sensitive Monitoring and Evaluation Monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of the sector wide approaches studied for this guide are, on the whole, still weak. A variety of instruments are in use, often poorly linked to each other, and many are inadequate for understanding gender impacts. Especially among donors, the link to the Millennium Development Goals in existing M&E also tends to be weak. Creating gender-sensitive M&E is technically not a particular chal-lenge—good models can be found for projects and adapted to sector wide approaches, for example. The organisational challenges referred to earlier, however, tend to result in weak M&E of the gender dimension of sector wide approaches, a challenge that needs to be dealt with explicitly in the development of M&E systems, both by government and donors. Criteria to Promote Gender mainstreaming In order to promote Gender mainstreaming the following issues are the key development challenges that many countries face in the immediate future: •Work under Gender Analysis Approach •Expand economic opportunities for women •Strengthen the role of women in governance •Address the much-neglected area of violence against women and children •Giving safe and violence free cities and work environment •Effect changes in mindsets that perpetuate anti-female biases •Expand access to quality reproductive health services for women and especially adolescent girls •Demand better gender-disaggregated data for monitoring progress, and concentrate particularly on expanding opportunities for the girl child in the most disadvantaged communities •Involve more women in decision making activities •More political participation •Promoting Gender Justice and Gender Equity • Involve women in peace keeping missions •Gender-sensitive Development leads to Human Development

Very often, especially in a democratic political environment, the easiest thing for 56

governments to do is to change laws or pass new laws to support the poor. These may include a range of important actions that will depend on the specific context, such as antidiscrimination legislation, changing civil and inheritance codes, protecting the common resource areas used by indigenous peoples, or easing the credit-worthiness criteria used by public sector banks for example. None of these examples constitutes a welfare handout; instead they remove barriers and free up the capacity of poor communities to empower themselves. But laws in themselves are often insufficient. This could be because they are poorly implemented, or because more active steps need to be taken. Two key policy directions can be identified, in addition to the removal of barriers to the empowerment of poor people. The first is to foster group processes in antipoverty programmes as a conscious step towards transforming rigid and top-heavy programmes into more creative, flexible and responsive ones. It is not enough, however, for women's groups, for example, to be formed at the bottom tier of a government programme. Indian experience tells us that such groups often do not take off or can be stunted in their capabilities, unless the entire programme structure is re-thought so as to give them greater voice in making the decisions that affect project plans, monitoring and evaluation. It is here that government programmes have the most to learn from non-governmental experiences. Bureaucrats must be willing to do this learning, and to alter their approaches and mind-sets. The second policy direction is to remove barriers to the access poor people have to information. Information is often one of the most tightly guarded and controlled resources in development programmes.




Women and Economy

India embarked upon a restructuring of the economic policy framework in 1991. There has been a commitment to reforms that would encourage stronger participation in world markets and a greater role of foreign investment. This process has resulted in numerous benefits, but has also meant greater burdens for some sections of the economy. Positive impacts include innovation, higher productivity and reduction in prices of commodities; impacts have also included business closures or restructuring. The impact of globalisation on women has been a consequence both of the manner of their participation in the economy, as well as of pre-existing social norms and networks that have influenced the manner in which production is organised. Statistics show that 93% of all workers in India are in informal employment; the percentage is even higher for women, at 96%. Nearly 99% of agricultural workers are in informal employment. In the non-agricultural sector, 86% of women and 83% of men are in informal employment. Informality of employment is thus a key characteristic of the workforce in India. Several studies suggest that there has been an increase in subcontracting, casualisation and outsourcing—trends that have increased the incidence of informality in work and the corresponding precariousness of the terms of employment. The emergence of global value chains linking units in different countries has been associated, in some sectors, with increased outsourcing to home based women workers, a trend that is explained partly by pre-existing social norms and networks, and partly by economic factors. While women remain largely concentrated in agriculture, there has been some increase in the employment in export oriented manufacturing units. According to Census data the work participation rate of women has been increasing. According to 2001 Census, it is 25.6% as compared to 22.3% for the year 1991. The work participation rate of women was 15.9% in 1991, and 14.68 % in 2001 (for main workers). The corresponding figures for marginal workers were 6.3% and 10.9 %. This is in contrast to that for males, as data suggests that most men are in relatively stable employment (with 45 % recorded as main workers and 6% as marginal in the 2001 Census). While the increased incidence of casual work has affected both male and female workers, it is far more striking for females. Another important feature of women’s work is that 45% of the non-agricultural female workforce is home based. By contrast, 94.4 percent of women are in informal sector occupations, including homebased workers, piece rate workers, casual labourers and petty traders. The informal sector is the dominant form of employment in most sectors, but particularly in agriculture


(99 percent) and manufacturing (78 percent) and especially for women; in manufacturing, 88 percent of women are in informal sector jobs. In other areas such as transport and community services, the formal sector has a much greater presence. In general, there is a high level of insecurity in informal sector employment. Pay and employment conditions in the informal sector are poor relative to the formal sector and pay differentials by gender are greater. Moreover, women in this sector are also vulnerable to discrimination, harassment, sexual exploitation and violence; they also lack access to productive resources for self-employment.

It is well accepted that there is considerable under enumeration of women’s work, whatever be the source. This is both because of the self perception of women that they are non-workers, even where their contribution to home based and household economic activity is very substantial, and the biases in the minds of enumerators who fail to probe adequately in posing the question on whether women are working.

Many have argued that the labour participation of women is one of the most important indicators of women’s empowerment, access to resources, and decision-making ability and thus must be made a central focus of policy. Wage differentials have been extensively documented in all sectors of the Indian economy. Within the workforce, two kinds of wage differentials have been found to exist. In the informal sector—where most women are employed—there is evidence of women directly being paid lower wages than men, especially in the agricultural labour sector and the urban informal labour sectors where little effective legislation exists as a disincentive for this practice. In the organised sector, where equal renumeration laws are more directly enforceable, pure wage discrimination (differential pay for the same job) has not been found to exist. However, differential levels of education and differential returns to that education implies that women are usually less skilled than men and thus can attain only lower level jobs even within the organised sector, leading to a high wage differential. After independence, the Indian economy passed through many economic crises and concerted efforts were made every time to resolve those crises with a varying degree of success in the past. The economic reforms initiated in 1991 had a specific objective to emphasise upon the role of market forces, international competitiveness and withdrawal of interference by the government in economic activity. India is not the only country to have initiated economic reforms to get integrated into the global economy. Different countries have adopted different strategies of economic reforms making the effects of liberalisation country specific. So much so that different sectors of economy have different experiences about the impact of those reforms. In a country like India, productive employment is central to poverty reduction strategy and to bring about economic equality in the society. The policies for globalisation adopted in India would definitely have significant implications for employment and the labour market in addition to their impact on overall economic growth of the country. But the results of unfettered operation of market forces are not always equitable, especially in India, where some groups are likely to be subjected to disadvantage as a result of globalisation. Women 59

constitute one such vulnerable group and globalisation has both positive and negative effects on their status. In the Indian labour market, women have been assigned a different kind of role. Unlike in the industrialised societies, women in India are primarily associated with menial personal services, such as, a housemaid, a housekeeper, a housewife or a housemaker. They are restricted to household management, shopping, cooking, maintaining and running household activities as chief lady menial of household. Thus, as mentioned earlier, women are in unpaid work, which is invisible or is poorly paid and marginalised. It is very important for the female employees with regard to their status that they be assigned equal responsibility and share in work to enable them to develop confidence in themselves which can go a long way in helping them. It was observed during the field survey that most of the women employees were kept and adjusted in a chain of work and they did not share responsibility other than their own routine work. Conditions of working women in India have improved considerably in the recent years. Ironically, despite the improvement in their status, they still find themselves dependent on men. It is because of the fact that man in patriarchal society has always wielded economic independence and power to take decision. Since the working woman earns an independent income in the same patriarchal set-up, where the basic infrastructure of society has hardly changed, though her own role within the same structure is passing through a transitional phase, it is but natural that she would remain vulnerable to exploitation even in her economically independent state. She continues to remain marginalised as she is generally employed in a chain of work and seldom allowed independent charge of her job. Sharing of responsibility at work place or taking independent decisions is still a remote possibility for her. The common belief that working women are economically independent was also put to test to verify whether they had the real freedom with regard to the use of their earnings or were still subject to some control in relation thereto. Working women do use and spend their income at their own sweet will but sometimes permission of the husband becomes necessary for the purpose. Interestingly, when it comes to making investments, they often leave it to their husband or other male member of the family to invest on their behalf. Many of them do not take decision even in case of important investments, like, life insurance, national saving schemes or other tax saving investments. Working women do feel concerned about the economic needs of the family but when not consulted in such matters, they regret being ignored especially when they contribute monetarily towards economic well being of the family.

The marginalisation of female labour
Already discussed in previous sections of this report, the marginalisation of female workers refers to an increasing trend to displace female workers into the informal sector due to a lack of labour mobility, adequate education and job skills, and the shift away from traditionally female sectors of employment. An increasing number of women are also entering the informal sector due to increasing poverty that makes subsistence living less viable. In addition to the increasing numbers of casual workers due to rising poverty levels and the commercialisation of agriculture, a similar trend has been identified in the manufacturing sector. Women employed as low-skilled workers in the manufacturing


sector, which employs large numbers of female urban casual labour, tend to get easily displaced by new technologies and are either pushed out or pushed down when new skills are thought to be required. Employers cite the lack of education and inability to adapt to new skills among women as the reasons for such retrenchment. These women are increasingly being pushed into the informal sector where they are forced to work for low wages in adverse conditions.

Economic contribution of women
. The burden of working hours in addition to domestic management could have direct effects on a woman’s health, her efficiency, and her status within the family. In addition, such interventions continue in an established trend of devaluing women’s domestic work and seeing it as inimical to their development, rather than trying to engage women’s domestic productivity into their development process. It must be understood that simply increasing income and waged employment will not automatically eradicate gender inequality and might even have other adverse effects on women. Attempts must be made to engage the value of women’s domestic labour into their development process. The relationship between economic empowerment, often discussed in relation to employment and income, and gender equality is not straightforward. Increased access to employment and income for women does not readily translate into an improved status or bargaining power for women. Although involvement in economic activity is a necessary condition for the attainment of gender equality in the economic sphere, it is in itself not sufficient, partly because not all economic activity is empowering, and partly because additional measures are required to promote gender equality in other spheres (legal, political etc.). The pursuit of gender equality is bound to be a complex process since inequality is multi-causal phenomenon, linked to the intra-household decision-making processes and influenced by both market signals and institutional norms. Whilst access to economic activity is important in this pursuit, the key concern which drives this review is to identify what forms of economic activity most enhance women's position and under what terms and conditions.

Why Economic Activity is Important for Gender Equality
Gender equality is a multi-faceted concept which implies equality of opportunities in the legal, political, social and economic dimensions as well as equality in personal relationships between men and women. Economic equality can be defined as the ability of men and women to support the same standard of living for themselves over their lifetime. Men and women can only have equal chances for achieving the same standard of living if they have the same distribution of opportunity and outcomes throughout their life. More precisely, economic equality will exist only when employment opportunities and outcomes, earnings and returns to labour are equal by gender, whether in the formal or informal sector and all across types of economic activity. Gender equality in an economic sense requires equal access to resources (credit, market opportunities, education etc.) and equal engagement in all aspects of the economic activity. It is only


when the conditions and terms of the economic activity are the same for both men and women that the returns generated are equal. Moreover, whatever differences exist in market and transaction costs as between the genders must not bias net returns. The economic dimension is central to achieving gender equality overall. Without economic equality women will always have an incentive to buy into the 'patriarchal bargain'. As long as women are relatively disadvantaged in economic terms they will continue to be drawn into partnerships with men who earn more and have more resources in exchange for the provision of services within the household. As a result, women are often perceived as secondary members of the household with consequences for women's bargaining power in wider political and legal contexts. Patriarchal partnerships also limit women's opportunities to secure employment and a livelihood in the short and long term, creating a vicious circle. There are repercussions in terms of the investments made for boys and girls which carry through into social ranking and political participation in later life and determine the life chances of individuals, particularly in terms of earning capacities and access to resources. For instance, families often prefer to invest in education for boys because the perceived returns from their market activity are higher than those for girls.

Economic Empowerment and Gender Equality
Economic empowerment based on economic activity is a step towards gender equality, but it is not synonymous with it. Nevertheless, the underlying assumption of many interventions targeting women is that engagement in economic activity will translate into economic empowerment. Such assumptions rest on the belief that women secure the benefits of their involvement in an economic activity. However, research has shown that outcomes vary according to both the type of activity and women's household circumstances. Women's relative lack of education and training contributes to their lower earnings. Lower returns to female labour force participation also act as a disincentive to future investment in female education, perpetuating a vicious circle. In addition, employers use lack of education and experience as a screening device to exclude women (and other disadvantaged groups) from employment. Relatively low educational levels also limit women's access to information sources about employment and reduce training opportunities. The modern global economy is now a reality. Yet everywhere in the world, there are people working in conditions that should no longer exist in this 21st century, for income that is barely enough for survival. Home-based workers put in long hours each day, yet are paid for only a fraction of their time. Rural women spend backbreaking hours on family plots, often for no payment at all. Those in urban areas work in unregulated factories, earning pennies for products that are shipped via sub-contractors to markets far away, or they find jobs as waste-pickers, scavenging garbage heaps for items to sell. The working poor are both men and women. However, the further down the chain of quality


and security, the more women you find. Yet it is their work — including their unpaid work in the household as well as their poorly paid work in insecure jobs or small enterprises — that holds families and communities together. Informal workers are everywhere, in every country and region. Globalization has brought new opportunities for many workers, especially those who are well educated, with the skills demanded in the high-tech global economy. But it has deepened insecurity and poverty for many others, including women, who have neither the skills needed to compete nor the means to acquire them. The lives of these working poor people are the message of this report: too many of them, women and men, are in unregulated and insecure jobs, in conditions that are frequently unhealthy and often unsafe. Increasingly, rather than informal work becoming formalized as economies grow, work is moving from formal to informal, from regulated to unregulated, and workers lose job security as well as medical and other benefits. What we are seeing is that growth does not automatically ‘trickle down’ to the poor. It can in fact widen the gap between rich and poor. As globalization intensifies, the likelihood of obtaining formal employment is decreasing in many places, with “footloose” companies shifting production from one unregulated zone to an even less regulated one elsewhere, employing workers in informal contract or casual work with low earnings and little or no benefits. Women workers are not only concentrated in the informal economy, they are in the more precarious forms of informal employment, where earnings are the most unreliable and the most meagre. While in some instances, their income can be important in helping families move out of poverty, this is only true if there is more than one earner. This is a sobering fact to consider as we redouble our efforts to implement the Millennium Development Goals, including the elimination of poverty and the achievement of gender equality. Not achieving these goals is unthinkable. Widening gaps between rich and poor, and women and men can only contribute to greater instability and insecurity in the world. First, organizing women informal workers to obtain legal and social protection. Unless women are empowered to demand services, protection and their rights, the basic structures that govern their lives will not change. Women acting alone can only bring about limited change. This therefore means supporting women’s organizing, along with unions and member-based workers’ organizations, to ensure that more workers receive the labour rights to which they are entitled. Second, for the self-employed, greater effort must be made to deliver services to these workers, to improve access to credit and financial markets and to mobilize demands for their products and services. Women’s skills and assets must be upgraded so they can compete more effectively in these markets. Third, there must be appropriate policies in support of informal workers. This requires that informal workers are visible and that the totality of their work — especially in the


case of women — is valued. The starting point for meaningful policy decisions is to make women’s informal work visible through gender-sensitive, disaggregated statistics on national labour forces. Finally, there is a need to strengthen strategies that can transform basic structures that perpetuate gender inequality. What kind of global rules are required to regulate markets, and guide the priorities of international economic institutions towards globalization that improves lives and working conditions? Closing the gender income gaps, ensuring safe and healthy working conditions for all, must be central to policy and rule-setting. Socially responsible corporations can lead the way in this. At the same time, all corporations can be held accountable through standard-setting and the independent monitoring and verification that are a necessary part of implementation. Today’s global world is one of widening income inequality and for many, increasing economic insecurity. Informal employment, far from disappearing, is persistent and widespread. In many places, economic growth has depended on capital-intensive production in a few sectors rather than on increasing employment opportunities, pushing more and more people into the informal economy. In others, many of the jobs generated by economic growth are not covered by legal or social protection, as labour markets are de-regulated, labour standards are relaxed and employers cut costs. As a result, a growing share of the workforce in both developed and developing countries is not covered by employment-based social and legal protection. Moreover, in the process of economic growth and trade liberalization, some informal workers get left behind altogether. This includes wage workers who lose their jobs when companies mechanize, retrench or shift locations. It also includes the smallest-scale producers and traders who have little if any access to government subsidies, tax rebates or promotional measures to help them compete in export markets or against imported goods. These ‘losers’ in the global economy have to find ways to survive in the local economy, many resorting to such occupations as waste picking or low-end street trading. Progress of the World’s Women 2005 makes the case that strengthening women’s economic security is critical to efforts to reduce poverty and promote gender equality, and that decent work is basic to economic security. It provides data to show that: . -the proportion of women workers engaged in informal employment is generally greater than the proportion of men workers; . women are concentrated in the more precarious types of informal employment; and . the average earnings from these types of informal employment are too low, in the absence of other sources of income, to raise households out of poverty. Unless efforts are made to create decent work for the informal workforce, the country will not be able to eliminate poverty or achieve gender equality.


Targeted interventions To increase the assets, access and competitiveness of the working poor, both selfemployed and wage employed, in the informal economy. For the working poor to be able to take advantage of the opportunities offered by a more favourable policy environment, they need greater market access as well as the relevant resources and skills with which to better compete in markets. Over the past three decades, there has been a proliferation of projects designed to provide microfinance and/or business development services to microenterprises. While the vast majority of the clients of microfinance are working poor women, business development services are not typically targeted at the smallest enterprises, particularly those run by women. Future microfinance and business development services need to target working poor women more explicitly, and with context-specific and user-friendly services. To compete effectively in the markets, in addition to having the requisite resources and skills, the working poor need to be able to negotiate favourable terms of trade. This involves changing government policies, government-set prices or institutional arrangements as well as the balance of power within markets or value chains. This requires that the working poor, especially women, have bargaining power and are able to participate in the negotiations that determine the terms of trade in the sectors within which they work. Often what is effective in this regard is joint action by organizations of the working poor and like-minded allies who can leverage access to government policy makers and to rule-setting institutions. To secure appropriate legal frameworks for the working poor, both self-employed and wage employed, in the informal economy workers in the informal economy, especially the poor, need legal recognition as workers and the legal entitlements that come with that recognition, including the right to work, rights at work and rights to property. Strategies to secure the rights of women informal wage workers include international labour standards and conventions; national labour legislation; corporate codes of conduct; and collective bargaining agreements and grievance mechanisms. To address risk and uncertainty faced by poor workers, especially women, in informal employment all workers, and informal workers in particular, need protection against the risks and uncertainties associated with their work as well as the common contingencies of illness, property loss, maternity and child care, disability and death. Providing needed protections requires a variety of interventions, including different safety nets (relief payments, cash transfers, public works); insurance coverage of various kinds (health, property, disability, life); and pensions or long-term savings schemes. Governments, the private sector, trade unions, non-governmental organizations and other membershipbased organizations can all play active roles in providing social protection to informal workers.


Support for organizing by women informal workers To hold other players accountable to these strategic priorities, the working poor need to be able to organize and have representative voice in policy-making processes and institutions. Informal workers, especially women, cannot count on other actors to represent their interests in policy-making or programme planning processes, including national Millennium Development Goals reports and the Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs). Securing this seat at the decision-making table requires supporting and strengthening organizations of informal workers, with a special focus on women’s organizations and women’s leadership. First, poverty and inequality cannot be reduced by expecting economic policies to generate employment and social policies to compensate those for whom there are no jobs, or only bad jobs. Economic growth often fails to generate sufficient employment or employment that pays enough to live free of poverty, while compensation through social policies is typically inadequate or neglected altogether. Second, poverty reduction requires a major reorientation in economic priorities to focus on employment, not just growth and inflation. To be effective, strategies to reduce poverty and promote equality should be employment-oriented and worker-centred. In recent years, many observers have called for people-centred or gender-responsive approaches to poverty reduction. What is called for here is an approach that focuses on the needs and constraints of the working poor, especially women, as workers, not only as citizens, as members of a vulnerable group or as members of poor households. A worker focus will provide coherence and relevance to poverty reduction strategies because most poor people work, because earnings represent the main source of income in poor households, and because working conditions affect all dimensions of poverty (i.e., income, human development, human rights and social inclusion). Strategies and Forms of Organizing Whether informal women workers organize, and what types of collective organization best fit their needs, depends on a range of factors, including the broader social, political and economic environment in which they work and live. Geographical location and restrictions on women’s physical mobility can influence the ability to organize. In small scale, family or home-based enterprises, workers are not as visible as part-time, temporary or contract workers in larger enterprises and hence more difficult to contact and mobilize. In addition, many informal workers may hesitate to join organizations due to family-based alliances, loyalty to kinship networks or fear of job loss. Organizing must reflect the nature and conditions of work in the informal economy, including the different types of work informal workers perform, their uncertain hours and their dispersed workplaces. Women must also confront issues of power and discrimination based on gender. Thus, in 66

addition to specific work-related protections, women workers need guarantees of equal pay for equal or comparable work; adequate, safe and affordable childcare; income protection when giving birth; physical security while travelling; and freedom from sexual harassment and sexual exploitation in the workplace. Because informal workers often cannot easily identify an ‘employer’ with whom to negotiate better conditions, or risk losing their jobs if they do make demands, they have utilized various forms of organizations and diverse strategies to attain their goals. Where there is no identifiable employer, for example, street vendors have negotiated with municipalities to protect their right to earn a living on the street. Worker cooperatives Worker cooperatives are generally the easiest to set up, especially for small numbers of people. Cooperatives provide a structure through which workers pool financial resources, equipment, skills and experience (to minimize transaction costs), enabling them to increase their earning power and/or to obtain goods and services by sharing the gains from these combined resources. Cooperatives typically focus on income generation through business development and pursue both economic and social objectives, a factor that has contributed to their success in empowering women and increasing their awareness of the benefits of organizing. They also provide a structure through which women can develop bargaining, managerial and other skills and gain the know-how to eliminate exploitative contractors and intermediaries.

Interventions These broad strategies require targeted interventions. First, policy reforms are needed to correct for biases in existing policies against the working poor, especially women, in the informal economy and to develop policies to support specific groups of informal workers. Second, relevant institutions need to become more inclusive of the informal workforce; and organizations representing informal workers need to be strengthened to have effective voice. Third, a range of services are needed, including microfinance, business development, infrastructure, social services, occupational health and safety and social protection (insurance, safety nets, disability and pensions). To successfully pursue these broad strategies and implement the interventions requires concerted action by a range of players—including governments, international trade and financial institutions, intergovernmental agencies, the donor community, the private sector, consumers and the public, unions and other worker organizations and NGOs.

Addressing biases Women’s rights advocates have pointed out that women’s location in the economy means that general economic policies cannot be assumed to be gender neutral simply because they are gender blind. To make policies more gender-sensitive, they have developed a set of analytical tools: gender assessments, gender impact assessments and genderresponsive budgeting. Gender assessments involve the analysis of national data and


research findings to assess the situation of women and men/girls and boys in order to develop gender-sensitive national policies. Gender impact assessments are designed to assess the impact of specific policies, such as trade or investment, on women and men/girls and boys. Gender-responsive budgeting integrates a gender perspective into the budget process and tracks how government revenues and expenditures affect women and men/girls and boys. A gender budget is not a separate budget for women but an attempt to disaggregate expenditure and revenue according to their different impacts on women and men (UNIFEM 2000). As with gender, economic policies that are ‘blind’ to how labour markets are actually structured and function cannot be assumed to be ‘neutral’ towards labour. Economic planners should take into account the size, composition and contribution of both the formal and informal labour markets in different countries, and recognize that their policies are likely to have differential impacts on informal and formal enterprises, on informal and formal workers, and on women and men within these categories. To assess and address how economic policies affect the working poor, especially women, it is important to analyse how class, gender and other biases intersect in labour markets, including biases that favour capital over labour, formal over informal enterprises, formal over informal workers, and men over women within each of these categories. A newer tool, informal economy budget analysis, views budget allocations (or the lack thereof) as an expression of policy approaches. Informal economy budgets are designed to do three things. First, they examine the extent to which the state budget shows an awareness of the existence and situation of informal workers and their enterprises. Second, they identify measures of direct and indirect state support, and thus have the potential to raise the visibility of informal workers and their enterprises and encourage advocacy for greater support. Third, they can be used to assess the gap between policies, budget allocations, and policy implementation. Support to the self-employed Many of the working poor who are self-employed, both women and men, are unable to take advantage of new opportunities opened up by trade liberalization or economic growth because they lack access to credit, business skills or technologies, productive assets, or market information. And self-employed women face additional problems not faced by self-employed men, including less access to property due to unequal inheritance laws; less access to formal sources of credit due to lack of collateral; and fewer opportunities for apprenticeship and skills training. Microfinance – Beginning in the early 1970s, there has been what has been called a ‘microfinance revolution’. Microfinance has shown that poor people are bankable – they can save regularly and borrow and repay loans at interest rates at or above commercial rates of interest. At the heart of the microfinance movement the world over are working poor women, who make up around 80 per cent of all clients of microfinance institutions. They have proved to be credit worthy and good savers and, in general, they have better repayment rates than men. Microfinance has led to fundamental changes in the lives of many (though certainly not all) women, who now have increased access to resources, improved material well-being and enhanced identity and power.


Despite the importance of microfinance in recognizing and supporting women’s economic roles, however, it should not be seen as a magic bullet for women’s economic security. To date it reaches less than 13 per cent of the estimated 550 million working poor worldwide. As different types of financial institutions become involved in microfinance – and formal banks go into ‘untapped’ markets – it is important to keep a focus on women’s participation as well as products and services that address the needs of working poor women. Equally important, the formal financial sector needs to develop financial policies and systems that work for the poor majority Business development services – Business development services (BDS) are aimed at increasing the business skills and market access of microenterprises. Those offered by government generally do not reach the smallest enterprises, especially those run by women, and while BDS provided by NGOs have been more successful at targeting the most disadvantaged producers and traders, they have limited outreach. More critically for 2 our purposes, few if any of these focus on working poor women. This is an area in which governments can play a role in facilitating service provision through private firms or through public-private partnerships of various kinds. A key issue is whether to provide generic BDS (such as preparing a business plan) or more specific services (such as marketing specific products). Both are needed, but sectorspecific services are more likely to be effective for self-employed women, who tend to be concentrated in certain sectors and face a variety of sector-specific disadvantages. Core Priorities What is needed is a critical mass of institutions and individuals at all levels to work together on a core minimum set of interventions and to move forward in a collaborative and incremental way towards the broader strategies and goals outlined below: Core Priority 1 - To promote decent employment for both men and women as a key pathway to combating poverty and gender inequality. A concerted effort is needed to ensure that decent employment opportunities are viewed as a target rather than an outcome of economic policies, including national MDG strategies and Poverty Reduction Strategies. Core Priority 2 - To increase visibility of informal women workers in national labour force statistics and in national gender and poverty assessments, using the employment by type and earnings indicators proposed for Millennium Development Goal 3. Core Priority 3 - To promote a more favourable policy environment for the working poor, especially women, in the informal economy through improved analysis, broad awareness building and participatory policy dialogues. Core Priority 4 - To support organizations representing women informal workers and help them gain effective voice in relevant policy-making processes and institutions.


So long as the majority of women workers are informally employed, gender equality will also remain an elusive goal. Progress on both of these goals therefore demands that all those committed to achieving the MDGs, including the UN system, governments and the international trade and finance institutions, make decent employment a priority – and that corporations be made more socially responsible. Informal workers, both women and men, organized in unions, cooperatives or grassroots organizations, are ready to partner with them in this vital endeavor. Policy and programme interventions Positive measures for workers in informal employment, which are expected to especially help women workers, include: The recently introduced ‘Unorganised Sector Workers Social Security Scheme’ being implemented by the Employees Provident Fund Organisation, with the active support of Workers’ Facilitation Centres, Employees State Insurance Corporation, other insurance companies, PRIs, SHGs and other civil society organisations. Initially this scheme is being implemented for 2.5 million workers in 50 districts of the country for two years on a pilot basis. Universal Health Insurance Scheme launched by Government in July 2003 for people of low income groups provides for reimbursement of hospital expenses upto Rs. 30,000/- per family/individual. The scheme also provides for the loss of livelihood at the rate of Rs. 50 per day upto a maximum of 15 days in case the earning member falls sick. Government also provides a subsidy of Rs. 100 for families below the poverty line. The National Social Assistance Programme (1995) aims at ensuring a minimum national standard of social assistance over and above the assistance provided by States from their own resources. National Agriculture Policy 2000 has specific provisions for structural, functional and institutional measures to empower women,build their capabilities and increase their access to inputs. Department of Agriculture has constituted an Expert Committee of Women in Agriculture to analyse policies and strategies and suggest ways to make agriculture policy gender friendly. Institutional mechanisms to assist women workers to get their due include the Minimum Wages Act and the Equal Remuneration Act, monitored by a special cell of the Ministry of Labour. Coordination and monitoring of vocational training institutes of women is done by the women’s cell within the Directorate of Employment and Training. The Way Forward Such an approach requires a major reorientation of economic thinking, economic planning, and economic policies. The global community needs to recognize that that there are no short-cuts to reducing poverty and gender inequality; and that economic growth alone – even if supplemented by social policies to compensate the losers – cannot eliminate poverty and inequality. The global community needs to set more and better employment – especially for working poor women and men are core priority and target of 70

all economic policies. It should also recognize that economic policies that are narrowly focused on inflation-targeting, such as those promoted by the IMF and the World Bank, can create an economic environment that is hostile to an expansion of more and better employment opportunities. Successful implementation of the policy framework proposed here would require adjustment in the focus and targets of the economic policies promoted by these institutions and, therefore, adopted by many national governments. As part of this reorientation, the greater focus on employment proposed here should be incorporated into national poverty reduction and development strategies, including the national MDG reports and PRSPs. The fact that employment creation is neither one of the Millennium Development Goals, nor an indicator under the goal of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger is reflected in the relative neglect of employment in most of the national MDG reports as well as the PRSPs. Even in those PRSPs that include a focus on employment, the role of informal employment and women’s employment in poverty reduction receive scant attention. In sum, promoting decent work for the working poor, both women and men, is a key pathway to reducing both poverty and gender inequality. This requires re-inserting employment on the poverty reduction and development agenda. Specifically, it requires: . creating more and better employment opportunities . creating incentives for informal enterprises to register and for employers to extend benefits to workers . increasing the returns to labour of those who work in the informal economy However, reorienting policies, planning, and practices towards creating more and better employment will not be possible unless two preconditions are met. First, the visibility of workers – especially working poor women and men – in labour force statistics and other data used in formulating policies needs to be increased. Second, the representative voice of workers – especially informal workers, both women and men – in the processes and institutions that determine economic policies and formulate the ‘rules of the (economic) game’ needs to be increased. This requires pursuing an inclusive development policy process that promotes the participation of the poor, both men and women, as workers: that is, a worker-centred policy process.


Poverty is tied to a lack of access to productive resources, physical goods and income which results in individual and/or group deprivation, vulnerability and powerlessness. It has various manifestations including hunger and malnutrition, ill-health, and limited or no access to education, health care, and safe housing and (paid) work environments. It also includes experiences of economic, political and social discrimination. Within this context, poverty must be viewed both in its absolute and relative dimensions. Although very useful, government-defined poverty lines refer only to absolute poverty. Relative poverty refers to the individual's or group's position in the social scale, that is, to a low position in the hierarchies of class and other inequalities, a dimension not captured by absolute poverty lines. For example, within the same household, women and female children may be relatively poorer than other household members or they may be deprived of basic needs even if the household itself does not fall within the defined absolute poverty line. In this sense, the presence of poverty is inseparably linked to inequality in the distribution of resources and income. Structural and Transient Poverty Distinctions between structural or chronic and transient poverty are particularly useful for understanding the lived experiences of poor women. Structural poverty is rooted in socio-economic and political institutions, is experienced over the long term, and is often transferred intergenerationally. Rural populations with little or no access to land and other productive resources, with living standards below the poverty line, and/or with chronic under-employment or unemployment exemplify this type of poverty. Gendered dimensions of structural poverty are based, in many instances, on the institutional specifically legal and cultural - denial of land and other productive resources, including vocational and educational training, to women. In contrast, transient poverty is due to cyclical or temporary factors and is experienced over shorter periods of time, such as with cyclical unemployment, inflation, macro-economic policy shifts, and/or natural disasters. Within the current global economy, technological changes often lead to transient poverty among women with low education and skill levels. It is important to note that the presence of one form of poverty in a region or country does not preclude the presence of another. Women and girls often carry the heaviest burden of economic adjustment because of their reproductive roles and/or household divisions of labour. Adjustment packages have intensified their workload by increasing their participation in formal and informal labour markets. Women often assume the responsibility for "making ends meet" when real incomes fall. This is accomplished through what has been called "packaging", a term referring to the performance of several jobs in either or both the formal and informal economic sectors, typically resulting in an intensification of women’s workloads.


Thus, structural adjustment has illustrated how macroeconomic policies that work through and within gendered structures and relations shape the choices and material conditions of women and men differently. Although there is a lack of systematic country data on the gender dimensions of adjustment, numerous case studies and accumulated evidence from different countries during the past decade reveal that an unequal burden of adjustment has disproportionately fallen on women. Given the longer than expected length of adjustment and the devastating social costs experienced in many countries, the need to rethink adjustment policies is urgent. Within this context, it is critical that macropolicies be gender-sensitive so as to prevent gender bias in the process of re-adjustment. This work has already begun and it must be viewed as highly relevant for policies and projects dealing with poverty eradication. Thus poverty is linked to the inability of the economic system to generate a sufficient number of jobs to absorb the unemployed and the underemployed. Again, these processes have specific gender dimensions, including higher levels of female vis-ý-vis male unemployment, informalisation of work often performed by women, and increased participation of women in the precarious informal sector. Entitlements and Capabilities Gendered dimensions of poverty can be understood by using the notions of entitlement and capabilities to discuss poverty and gender biases as well as policies to address them . Amartya Sen has defined entitlements as the "bundle of goods over which [people] can establish ownership through production and trade, using their own means". Capabilities, on the other hand, have been defined as the alternative combination of "functionings" - or "doings and beings" a person achieves - from which a person can choose. These benchmarks are useful for the evaluation of factors related to the gendered dimensions of poverty. For example, poor women's relatively low entitlements are at the source of their dependency, vulnerability, and low degree of autonomy. Similarly, their limited capabilities, such as in cases of illiteracy or low educational levels, tend to lock them in the vicious circle of poverty and deprivation. This, together with market discrimination, is at the root of their concentration in low-paying work. An analysis of entitlements and capabilities provides an essential starting point for gender-sensitive poverty eradication strategies. Such an analysis highlights the importance of focusing on women's entitlements, through increasing their access to land ownership and use, credit, and other productive resources that have the potential to facilitate income generation. Likewise, such an analysis emphasises the gendered (that is, socially determined) nature not only of women's and men's differential capabilities but, significantly, their ability to develop and deploy these capabilities in order to move out of poverty. Thus, while there is a strong correlation between greater access to education and increased opportunities for economic advancement, it is also true that women may achieve a level of education similar to that of men, yet they may not use it to the same extent as their male counterparts due to a variety of social and cultural constraints.


Preferences and Rights By contrast, an emphasis on rights highlights these limits and obstacles by focusing on external constraints facing women who live in poverty, such as legislation that limits women’s access to land and productive resources and/or restricts their rights to employment, income, and safety. While emphasis has been placed on women's rights during the past two decades, much remains to be done in terms of dismantling gender bias and ensuring the successful implementation of laws regarding women's rights, including economic rights. Additionally, a focus on rights, as Elson has pointed out, has to be supplemented by an emphasis on the socially conferred and constrained nature of women's capabilities, understood as what women are able to do. Gender discrimination in the labour market and the social stigma sometimes attached to women's participation in paid production, coupled with expectations that their reproductive role calls for a primary concentration on household work, are examples of constraints that define women's capabilities. These concepts can be used not only to best understand the complexity of factors that result in gendered dimensions of poverty, but as a framework for policy in and of itself. Given that the eradication of poverty is a component of human development, defined as "a process of enlarging people's choices" (UNDP 1990) the concepts described above can help shape policy directions to address gender specific dimensions of poverty. This implies a focus on: • entitlements, such as land and credit policies that increase access to resources for poor women and men; • increasing capabilities, as with training programmes and access to marketing networks; and • integrating gender as a category of analysis in international and national debates on poverty and in the formulation of appropriate economic, political, and social policies and programmes/projects to eradicate poverty. These actions have the potential to increase the possibilities of meeting individual preferences and rights. Gender Bias in Development Policy Mainstream development theories, policies, and strategies have analysed poverty through what has been described as a gender-blind or gender-neutral lens. However, most approaches are in fact not neutral because they assume the male actor as the standard and representative of the human actor. Consequently, gender-neutral policies address women's lived experiences, needs, interests, and constraints only to the extent to which they conform to or overlap with the norms set by the male actor. Within the context of poverty analyses, this leads to misdiagnoses of poverty processes through the erasure of its gendered dimensions.


Additionally, policies and strategies developed to assist "the poor" have often focused on men's roles or on institutions such as the household or the family, with the assumption that women would benefit as equally as men. One such example is that of social investment funds that have been implemented in many low-income countries to assist "the poor" during the process of structural adjustment. Although some of the projects have been designed to assist women, the most common presupposition has been that women will benefit alongside men from project implementation. The operationalisation of social investment funds has ignored women and proved unable to address the specific needs of women living in poverty. This is principally because the lived experiences of poor women are rarely conceptualised. When their material realities are theorised, women are primarily perceived in the roles of dependent wives and mothers and they are as a result incorporated into policies only in terms of these family roles. Thus, when projects are implemented specifically for women, they are most often formulated from limited, stereotypical, and essentialist notions of femininity. They consequently reinforce women's subordinate positions within their households and communities, as with microenterprise projects that promote low-paid craft production for women without training them in marketing or other better-paid skills. Traditional poverty eradication measures also prioritise the provision of "basic" goods and services (such as food, housing, health care, and education) to poor women and men without questioning the role(s) of economic, political, and social institutions and ideologies that are implicated in the production and perpetuation of poverty processes. It is also critical to incorporate in this analysis an understanding of gender relations, understood as relations of power between women and men that partially determine the terms on which they interact. Gender relations are revealed in a range of practices, including the division of labour and resources, and through ideologies and representations, such as the ascribing to women and men different abilities, attitudes, desires, personality traits, and behavioral patterns. Policies that are informed by the analyses above will address gender-specific needs of both poor women and men. Engendering Poverty Eradication Measures Gender-transformative policy can hope to provide women with the enabling resources which will allow them to take greater control of their own lives, to determine what kinds of gender relations they want to live within, and to devise the strategies and alliances to help them get there. Gender-sensitive policies must reflect an understanding that gender-specific needs and interests between women and men who belong to the same country, race, and/or social class may conflict, despite their intersecting needs and interests and similar life experiences. Poverty eradication policies and strategies are also dependent on critical analyses of the political economy of class, markets, and work processes. For example, the incorporation of women in the labour market is often insufficient to generate an income that allows


them to escape poverty. Such is often the case with participation in the informal sector and lower levels of formal labour hierarchies. A variety of studies provide illustrations of this phenomenon across countries. The Household and Gender Analysis An important factor in policy design is the unit of analysis through which to view and implement policy decisions. Debate begins at the theoretical level but it has clear practical implications. The abundant literature on women and gender and development that has appeared since the 1970's has made considerable use of the household as a unit of analysis. This has proved to be a useful and strategic starting point for understanding the significance of gender relations and unequal distributions of resources and power. We will briefly point out distinctions between three different views of the household and explore their implications for the analyses of poverty and the formulation of poverty eradication policies. First, the orthodox neo-classical approach tends to view the household as a harmonious unit within which decisions regarding consumption, the division of labour, and labour market participation are made without apparent tensions among household members. In its most extreme version, an altruist household head (assumed to be male) essentially guarantees not only maximisation of household utility but also "helps families ensure their members against disasters and other consequences of uncertainty" Second, the household has been viewed as the locus of tension and struggle where unequal power relations between women and men are manifested. This approach questions the notion of the family as an harmonious unit, suggesting that it must be understood "as a location of production and redistribution". Without denying that families "also encompass strong emotional ties", it emphasises "the nature of work people do in the family and their control over the products of their labour" (Ibid.). Thus, using this approach, poverty eradication measures must take into consideration the division of labour within the household and the gender-related resource distribution which affect gender relations. For example, because women tend to use a higher proportion of their earnings on children and household expenses, poverty eradication measures that increase women's income are more likely to have a positive effect on family well-being than if they are addressed to men. Finally, an intermediate approach conceptualises the household as the locus of both tension and cooperation. It interprets the family as a contradictory institution through which power, affective relations, and resource distribution are played out at the micro level. Amartya Sen's household bargaining model, which emphasises the "cooperative conflicts" that characterise household relations, typifies this approach. In this framework, the process of bargaining depends upon a series of characteristics that define the relative strengths and/or weaknesses of different household members. Within this approach, actions can be taken to improve women's bargaining position. Hence, it is useful in terms of providing guidelines for gender-sensitive poverty eradication measures, such as those


geared to increasing women's self-esteem and autonomy, improving their health, decreasing their work load, and ensuring their greater access and control over resources. Female-headed households An increasing burden of poverty is thought to affect women more than men. Women suffer from biases in intra-household nutrition and resource allocation and thus have to bear the brunt of the reduced availability of resources. In addition, women are often not in positions to influence how earned income is spent. It has already been argued that several factors — stagnation in the agricultural sector and the shift to non-farm employment, rising rural poverty, marginalisation of female workers in manufacturing sector etc. — are leading to an increasing burden of poverty that is pushing many women and children into informal sectors of the economy and possibly increasing levels of female child labour. Women’s experience of poverty can be further exacerbated in the case of female-headed households (FHHs). Studies estimate that between 30-35% of households are exclusively female-headed. The relationship between the number of FHHs and female poverty is hard to ascertain — one cannot say which has a causal effect on the other. Indeed a correlation cannot be assumed, and when and where there is a correlation depends on such factors as why the household is female-headed. What one can argue, however, is that in the case of economic hardship, women in FHHs have few options of support without an economically supportive family. The lack of fair property and inheritance laws, micro-credit facilities, alimony payments for divorcees, or pension payments for widows makes the situation of these women even more precarious. More data on FHHs, their prevalence amongst different income, religious, and caste groups, and explanations of their regional disparity is needed in order to understand the relationship between FHHs and poverty.

Employment status and wages by gender Overall employment rates are much higher for men than for women and for women in rural than urban areas, when domestic work is not considered. When domestic work is included, the female employment rate overtakes that of males. Women also have much higher rates of subsidiary employment than men.Caste and communal differences interact with gender differences in terms of employment status. Dalit males and females are more concentrated in casual forms of employment than non-Scheduled Caste groups with approximately double the participation rates in casual labour of other groups in both rural and urban areas. Dalit females are less likely than other women to be exclusively engaged in domestic work. Overall, Muslim women have lower labour force participation rates than both other women and Muslim men. Muslims in general also have low rates of regular waged employment and high rates of self-employment in comparison to other groups. Economic support to Dalit groups - particularly women would need to be tailored to their heavy involvement in casual wage labour; similarly, for Muslim groups (including women), their high level of involvement in selfemployment should be recognised in interventions aimed at including this group among beneficiaries. Greater detail of the gender-differentiated conditions of wage labour and


self-employment among Dalits and Muslims respectively would be of value in this regard. Conventional unemployment data are of limited value in the context of India, because the majority of the population cannot afford not to work. Also, under some circumstances, women are less likely than men to report unemployed even where they cannot find work. Nevertheless, unemployment rates tend to be higher for women than for men and higher in urban than rural areas. Those with high school and college education also tend to have higher unemployment rates than less educated groups (who cannot afford to be ‘unemployed’). Among educated women, unemployment is higher in rural than urban areas. Underemployment is also a growing problem for both men and women. Investigation of the specific barriers to employment of female high school and college graduates would seem to be justified given the gender differential in unemployment rates and the questions it raises about the value of investing in female education. Gender discrimination in wages and differentials in earnings are widespread in India and particularly in the informal sector where equal pay legislation is not applied. Moreover, a large proportion of women and children working in the informal sector are doing so as unpaid family labour. In agriculture, wage rates vary widely across regions and by season; but rates for women, children and bonded labourers are particularly low. Female wages as a proportion of male wages range from around half to over three quarters depending on the state. There is no consistent trend in and little recent data on gender differentials in agricultural wages. In most industrial categories, women’s earnings in the informal sector were around half those of men. Even in the formal sector, however, inequalities in earnings are marked because women are concentrated at lower occupational levels. . Women as Agents of Change The task of engendering poverty eradication measures must not be limited to locating the household as the centre of analysis. It must focus on the different levels at which poverty producing processes are at work. In each case, however, our conceptual approach to understanding gender relations are key to the design of appropriate policy and action. Additionally, in all cases it is critical to emphasise the role of women's agency in these processes. The 1980s and 1990s have provided numerous illustrations of the key roles played by women in daily survival during periods of crises and deteriorating living standards. Given the current emphasis on democratisation and investment in civil societies, it is important to focus on the factors that can contribute to this process. Most countries face one of the most potentially explosive contradictions of our times, namely, increasing economic and social polarisation, partially as a result of the dynamics of the market within an increasingly global economy. This is happening at a time when emphasis on human rights, equality, higher levels of education, and expanding information systems are the cornerstones of "the new civil society" and of democratic institutions. A


significant proportion of the literature focusing on growing inequalities indicates that gender, class, racial, and other types of inequalities must be addressed. We must therefore insist that true democracies promote both political and economic equality to ensure sustainable human development. An Agenda for Change An agenda for eradicating poverty, and its gendered dimensions in particular, requires the dismantling of the institutions and ideologies that maintain women's subordination and that justify inequality in terms of political, social, and economic resources. To this end, international development organisations can work with governmental, non-governmental, and private sector organisations to: • insist on the importance of eliminating illiteracy among poor women as an urgent first step towards the improvement of women's entitlements, expansion of their choices, implementation of their rights, and enhancement of their socially acquired capabilities; • encourage the removal of legal obstacles and cultural constraints to women's access to and control over productive resources such as land and credit; • promote the use of both quantitative and qualitative research methods to analyse the gendered dimensions of relative and absolute poverty, to emphasise the links between economic production and social reproduction and to render unremunerated labour visible in order that it may be accounted for in economic planning and poverty eradication strategies; • ensure that poverty eradication policies and programmes are based on gendered analyses of the nature and extent of women's and men's differential entitlements, choices, rights and capabilities; • invest in strengthening the capacity of local, national, and regional organisations to understand and respond to the gendered dimensions of poverty; • encourage international financial institutions to implement foreign debt cancellation, reduction and/or rescheduling programmes on condition that resources are directed towards eradicating poverty in general and its gendered dimensions in particular; and • ensure that national poverty eradication strategies, which signatories to the World Summit on Social Development's Declaration and Programme of Action agreed to develop, are fully engendered.

India contains one of the largest concentrations of poor people in the world and thus poverty has been an areas of extensive debate, measurement and policy intervention.


There remains considerable controversy over what measures of poverty and/ or methods of poverty assessment are most appropriate and this is reflected in differing data and assessments. In spite of all the attention to poverty, differential experiences of poverty according to other caste and community, and the interactions of these with gender, are relatively under-analyzed. Whilst women’s relationship to poverty is shaped by the wider context, there are also gender specific processes of impoverishment. Here, intrahousehold processes and the incidence of female headship are particularly considered.

Workers in the informal economy, especially women, have lower average earnings and a higher poverty risk than workers in the formal economy. The meagre benefits and high costs of informal employment mean that most informal workers are not able to work their way out of poverty. In the short term, they are often forced to ‘over-work’ to cover these costs and still somehow make ends meet. In the long term, the cumulative toll of being over-worked, under-compensated and under-protected on informal workers, their families, and their societies undermines human capital and depletes physical capital. In conclusion, the working poor in the informal economy are relegated to low paid, insecure forms of employment that make it impossible to earn sufficient income to move out of poverty. So long as the majority of women workers are informally employed, gender equality will also remain an elusive goal. Progress on both of these goals therefore demands that all those committed to achieving the MDGs, including the UN system, governments and the international trade and finance institutions, make decent employment a priority – and that corporations be made more socially responsible. Informal workers, both women and men, organized in unions, cooperatives or grassroots organizations, are ready to partner with them in this vital endeavour. Today, there are several broad approaches to understanding and measuring poverty and well-being, including: . income and basic needs: focusing on the income, expenditures, and basic needs of poor households; . human development: focusing on health, education, longevity and other human capabilities and on the choices or freedom of poor people; . human rights: focusing on the civic, political, economic and social rights of the poor; and . social inclusion: focusing on the access of poor people to what they are entitled to as citizens and on giving them representative ‘voice’ in the institutions and processes that affect their lives and work. The lives of the working poor in the informal economy come up short along each of these dimensions of poverty and well-being. Gender: Implications for Poverty Reduction Furthermore, women’s access to property is typically less than that of men and often 80

mediated through their relationship to men; and women face greater social constraints than men on their physical mobility. Perhaps not surprisingly, unpaid work in the family enterprise is also consistently done by women more than by men.

However, understanding the links between women’s employment and their poverty status requires integrating an analysis of gender with that of other relationships. Class, religion, race/ethnic-ity and space intersect with gender to position many women in precarious forms of work. Wealth is frequently distributed along ethnic and racial lines.. In India, on the other hand, religion, caste and ethnic identity all play a role in what work people do. Among Hindus, many individuals and families– particularly those from artisan and service castes - continue in hereditary caste occupations even today. If and when individuals leave the hereditary occupation, their caste also determines what kind of alternative work they can take up. Gender norms impose limits on women’s physical mobility and what work they can do. Both high-caste Hindus, particularly in North India, and Muslims practice purdah (the veiling and/or seclusion of women) which imposes restrictions on women’s physical and work mobility. If and when these women work for pay, they are likely to do so from their homes—with the result that a large share of all women workers in India is home-based.

Gender matters The evidence highlights the reality that working women are concentrated not only in informal employment but also in the more precarious forms of informal employment: . - women are more likely than men to be own account operators, industrial outworkers and unpaid contributing family members; . -men are more likely than women to be informal entrepreneurs who hire others, employees of informal firms and heads of family businesses; . -women are more likely than men to be concentrated in export-oriented light manufacturing, at least in the early stages of trade liberalization when a premium is placed on low-skilled and low-paid workers; . --women are more likely than men to be in street trade, except in societies that place constraints on women’s physical mobility, and they are also more likely to sell from the street (rather than from push carts, bicycles or as hawkers) and to sell perishable goods (rather than non-perishables). As a result, women workers in the informal economy face a significant gender gap in earnings, arguably greater than that faced by women workers in the formal economy. This is largely due to the fact that women are concentrated in lower-paid work arrangements even within given occupations. But even when women and men do similar kinds of informal work, they often earn differ.


Market Failures and Market Interventions Mainstream economists argue that markets fail to achieve socially desirable outcomes when there are external costs or benefits, when contracts cannot be enforced without costs, when information is not shared or when monopolistic power exists. Such market failures are endemic in informal labour markets. A strong case can be made for direct government intervention in informal labour markets to achieve social objectives. But mainstream economists also argue that the costs of enduring market failures are less than the costs of intervening to correct market failures, especially in labour markets. In assessing whether to accept market failure or intervene in informal labour markets, labour should not be seen as simply an input that produces output but rather as a process through which people experience benefits, costs or risks; through which people’s wellbeing and capacities can be enhanced or depleted; and through which people can be empowered or disempowered. Decent work generates social benefits such as social inclusion and cooperation, as well as personal benefits that extend beyond production and the income generated. However, informal work is often not decent work. Intersection of gender and other sources of disadvantage In every country in the world, under every economic system, women face constraints in the realm of paid work simply because they are women: their access to property is typically less than that of men and often mediated through their relationship to men; they face greater social demands on their time than men do (notably to carry out unpaid care work); and they face greater social constraints on their physical mobility than men. But to fully understand the relationships between women’s employment and their poverty status, we need to integrate an analysis of gender with an analysis of other relationships and other sources of disadvantage. After all, most working poor women are poor and disadvantaged not just because of gender roles and relationships. Class, religion, race/ethnicity and geography all intersect with gender to position many (though not all) women in precarious forms of work. In most regions of the world, certain communities – differentiated largely by religion, race, ethnicity or geography as well as by class – are over-represented among the poor: notably, rural communities and religious, racial, or ethnic minorities. In these communities, women are further disadvantaged by reason of their gender, but the fact that they are poor and disadvantaged stems in the first instance from their wider social identity and/or from where they live. As women comprise nearly 70 per cent of the population living below the poverty line, and are very often in situations of extreme/abject poverty, the on-going poverty alleviation programmes are expected to address specifically the needs and problems of such women as poverty affects women more than men. Though, 40 per cent of benefits under SGSY have been earmarked for women, but in practice, benefits are not reaching women in the same proportion, as some of the studies have revealed. Therefore, the Tenth Plan will address the need for better targeting of benefits to women under various


poverty alleviation programmes. Further, as the women-specific scheme of Development of Women and Children in Rural Areas (DWCRA) has been subsumed/merged under the SGSY, it is necessary to exercise a greater vigil to ensure that the allocations earmarked for women are not diverted to other components of SGSY. Also, as the earlier programmes have proved that the ‘Group Approach’ is more successful than the individual beneficiary approach, steps will be taken for mobilisation of poor women into SHGs and through convergence of services, offering them a wide range of economic and social options, along with necessary support services to enhance their joint capabilities. To this effect, the available programmes for women will be converged into block level action plans of the newly launched Swayamsidha programme, meant for empowering women. Several micro-studies have indicated that adverse consequences of SAP are disproportionately borne by women. Increased mechanization leading to displacement of female unskilled workers, increased movement of male workers into traditionally women dominated areas, increase in female headed households due to migration of males are some of the trends established, indicating a growing incidence of the feminization of poverty. Even within households which may otherwise fall above the Below Poverty Line (BPL) the situation of the women is known to be at levels below poverty. Female headed households are among the most impoverished. The incidence of landlessness and consequent impoverishment is highest among women headed households and is reported to be rising. The incidence of poverty is also known to be maximum in the states of Bihar, Orissa and Uttar Pradesh, which contribute more than a third of the country’s poor and are known to be areas of male out-migration. These are also the states where the Public Distribution System (PDS) system is the weakest. There is currently increased attention to the perceptions of the poor of their own poverty and increasing use of participatory methods of poverty assessment. One study of poor villagers in India found that reduced dependence on landlords, greater mobility, changes in consumption patterns and the opportunity to purchase consumer durables were valued by villagers themselves but these priorities may differ by gender and by residence, caste and community. It is important to understand more about what different groups of women themselves would consider to be an improvement in their lives, to inform the design of poverty alleviation programmes. Overall, poverty has been declining in India since the late 1970s but, according to one recent survey, more rapidly in rural than in urban areas. Whilst the absolute numbers of the rural poor are the largest, they are declining; by contrast, the absolute number of the urban poor has increased in recent years. Whereas in the early 1970s the urban poor constituted around one sixth of the total poor, by the late 1980s they constituted more than one quarter of the total. However, the relative importance of rural and urban poverty varies considerably according to the state. Intra-state variations in poverty levels are also considerable. Poverty estimates based on expenditure class data show that in rural areas, tribals then Dalits are the poorest social group; in urban areas, Muslims are the poorest followed by Dalits then tribals.


Access to land and credit Department of Agriculture and Cooperation is making pilot efforts to improve women’s access to land by providing community wasteland, fallow land, surplus land for ‘collective action’ to women SHGs on long term lease basis and to promote joint pattas (titles) in Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa. DWCD has drawn attention of other State Governments to initiate similar schemes that ensure self-sustenance and empowerment of women. The Government has adopted land reforms and ceiling laws on agricultural lands. The surplus lands that is vested with the Government has been redistributed to the landless. While granting land to the landless, the Government has been issuing joint pattas (titles) in the name of both husband and wife, thereby making women joint-owners of the land. Some States like Tamil Nadu are implementing schemes such as the Comprehensive Wasteland Programme, where wastelands are leased to selfhelp groups with priority being given to women SHGs. The scheme is linked with the Agriculture Department. To advocate effectively for policies and programmes that address poverty and increase gender equality, the working poor, especially poor women must organize to strengthen representative voice beyond the local level to all levels of planning and policy-making. Recent international initiatives to combat poverty such as MDGs have opened up political space for informal workers involvement in the development process. Taking advantage of this space, however, is difficult for informal workers with limited resources and capacity for advocacy beyond a local agenda. It requires creative and sustained linkages between women’s and social justice organizations and trade unions, along with governments and NGOs Women and girl children suffer from gender discrimination in the allocation of resources within the household, in spite of their considerable labour and often cash contributions. This discrimination is particularly marked in the allocation of food and health care resources, resulting in imbalances in the sex ratio for most states, discussed further in the health section. The relationship between household wealth and income and gender discrimination is not straightforward; there is some evidence that in the Indian context, gender discrimination within the household may be less in poor than well-off households. In situations of upward mobility, women often see less of the benefits than men and gender discrimination certainly does not disappear in better-off households; in fact it may intensify. In general, where women’s productive work is not visible, or where gender differentials in earnings are high, women may be particularly prone to discrimination in the household. There may also be socio-cultural factors involved, since Muslim women’s apparently lower participation rates do not seem to play out in terms of significantly lower sex ratios in aggregate, for example. In most households, women’s relationship to and uses of income are quite different from those of men. Although women frequently manage household budgets and consumption, they may have little direct control over income and often do not even know what husbands earn. When women do earn cash their income is often entirely absorbed in family expenditure; men, on the other hand, will tend to retain personal income for spending on luxuries (tea, alcohol, bidis), irrespective of poverty, consumption of which


helps them maintain some sense of manhood in the face of inability to support their families; to be ‘good’ husbands and fathers. In this respect, poor men are increasingly seen as irresponsible and shiftless, particularly from a middle class perspective. The relationship between female headship and poverty is not clear and there is considerable debate over the definition of female headship. In India, female headedhouseholds tend to be concentrated in the lowest expenditure classes and among cultivating households, they own smaller than average plots of land. They are also overrepresented among casual labourers. At the same time the average size of female-headed households is smaller than households overall, in most cases due to the absence of a male spouse. Official estimates put the incidence of female headship at around ten percent, but the actual incidence may be considerable higher, possibly as high as 30 percent, especially in rural areas, where rural-urban migration of males may be a significant contributing factor. Variation across states in the incidence of female headship is considerable. In some accounts, the higher incidence of female headship in particular states (e.g. Kerala) relates to traditions of a more elevated status of such women, where matriliny has been prevalent. Other explanations link the phenomenon to high rates of male outmigration, including to work overseas, which may indicate that such female-headed households are comparatively well off, at least in material terms. The proportion of female-headed households increases in older age groups and the majority are widowed, divorced or separated. The process through which female headship arises is important in terms of what forms of social support are available; this probably differs considerably across social groups or communities. It would be of interest, for example, to know whether female headship through widowhood remains a predominantly Hindu phenomenon (where Hindu widows are not expected to remarry) and how the social support and living arrangements for such women varies by caste group. In general, a more nuanced picture of the processes through which female headship arises and the implications of these for the extent of available social support, may assist in identifying particular sub-groups of female headed households who face extreme hardship.

Female headship of households and well-documented gender biases in intra-household resource allocation in India suggest that women are specially vulnerable to poverty, but there are complications. Gender biases within the household may be less severe in lower income groups and not all female-headed households are poor. It is not helpful to either poverty alleviation efforts, or interventions to promote gender equity, to see women and the poor as synonymous. Poverty alleviation schemes have provided employment opportunities for the rural and, more recently, urban poor with limited success, especially in asset creation. Special schemes for women have focused on empowerment rather than poverty alleviation per se; their impact on livelihoods is uncertain.


Wage differentials, however, are only indicative of differences in income, and though the measurement of poverty as a paucity of sufficient income has traditionally dominated academic thinking, discourses on the gendered experience of poverty seek to widen this perspective. Though hard to empirically define and analyse, there exist specific processes and indicators—intra-household processes and incidences of female headship in households, in particular—that indicate that men and women experience poverty differently, and use different methods to cope with that experience. Overall trends in poverty depend on the method of analysis being used. Though most studies indicate that the percentage of people living below the poverty line has reduced, others argue that absolute numbers tell a different story. The most recent governmentbacked study by Das Gupta et al. (1995) indicates that poverty levels actually rose from 35% to 39% between 1990-94, though they have since fallen. A new trend seeks to define poverty in terms of the perceptions of the poor themselves, arguing that it is important to consider what different groups of people believe their true hardship consists of, and what they would consider a real improvement in their standard of living. This report uses the estimates in the study undertaken by Das Gupta (1995), and argues that theoretical evidence supports a rising level of poverty, especially in rural areas and among women. The Way Forward Combating poverty and achieving gender equality require a major reorientation of economic and development planning. Governments and their international development partners need to recognize that that there are no short-cuts in this effort: economic growth, even if supplemented by social policies, too often fails to stimulate the kind of secure, protected employment needed to enable the working poor to earn an income sufficient to pull themselves out of poverty. Women’s entry into the paid labour force on the terms and under the conditions identified in this report has not resulted in the economic security needed to improve gender equality The creation of new and better employment opportunities – especially for the working poor – must be an urgent priority for all economic policies. The experience of the last two decades, especially in developing countries, has shown that policies targeted narrowly towards containing inflation and ensuring price stability, such as those frequently promoted by the IMF and the World Bank, often create an economic environment that is hostile to an expansion of more and better employment opportunities. Successful efforts to combat poverty require a radical change in the economic policies promoted by these institutions and adopted by many governments. In the short term, however, there are things that can be done short of the complete overhaul of development thinking and planning called for. What is needed is a critical mass of institutions and individuals at all levels to work together on a set of core priorities. These include: Core Priority 1 - To promote decent employment for both women and men as a key pathway to reducing poverty and gender inequality. A concerted effort is needed to ensure that decent employment opportunities are viewed as a target rather than an 86

outcome of economic policies, including national MDG strategies and Poverty Reduction Strategies. Core Priority 2 - To increase visibility of informal women workers in national labour force statistics and in national gender and poverty assessments, using the employment by type and earnings indicators recommended for Millennium Development Goal 3. Core Priority 3 - To promote a more favourable policy environment for the working poor, especially women, in the informal economy through improved analysis, broad awareness building and participatory policy dialogues. Core Priority 4 - To support and strengthen organizations representing women informal workers and help them gain effective voice in relevant policy-making processes and institutions. Economic policies that are explicitly employ-ment-oriented and address the costs of informal employment can achieve better social outcomes in terms of reducing both poverty and gender inequality – than policies that narrowly target growth. The evidence presented in that most of the world’s poor – especially in developing countries – are working but they are not able to work their way out of poverty. A key pathway to reducing poverty and gender inequality is to create more and better employment opportunities and to increase the benefits and reduce the costs of working informally. – Goals (MDGs) and Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) all need to include the voices and concerns of informal workers, who are the majority of workers in most developing countries and the vast majority of the working poor. Ensuring a voice for informal workers at the highest level requires supporting the growth of their organizations, and building capacity for leadership in this endeavour. It is not an easy road to travel, but it is a vital one. Tackling the gender dimensions of poverty _ - It is important to understand what different groups of women themselves would consider to be an improvement in their lives, to inform the design of poverty alleviation programmes. - A better understanding of the processes through which female headship arises is needed to identify particular sub-groups of female headed households who face extreme hardship. - The participation of women in poverty alleviation schemes needs to be improved both quantitatively and qualitatively and urban coverage extended. Factors which –


would facilitate women’s participation need to be identified by drawing on the lessons from the most successful schemes. - Project and programme level monitoring of the impact of structural adjustment on the livelihoods of the urban poor could assist in informing the design of poverty alleviation programmes. Improved targeting of the public distribution system is needed to ensure maximum benefits to both the rural and urban poor and specifically to women in these groups.



Democratization and Gender Issues Political participation is one of the major ways to ensure women’s empowerment, to increase decision-making power and greater ability and to influence matters that affect their lives in the community and the larger society. In the broader sense, participation in politics goes far beyond electoral politics, such as voting and election to public office. Women’s empowerment begins with their consciousness - perceptions about herself and her rights, her capabilities and her potentials, awareness of her gender and socio-cultural, economic and political forces that affect her. Women’s political empowerment and equal representation in all decision-making institutions are critical inputs in their struggle for freedom from patriarchal subjugation. Local government bodies have a vital role in the developmental processes. Therefore, importance of local level government to women and men is twofold. First, decisions made at the local levels have implications for the distribution of resources and opportunities between women and men. Second, the lower tiers of government are also arenas in which individuals gain experience and knowledge and a political base for seeking office at higher levels. Within local bodies, women are generally, expected to represent women’s interests. That is, women’s development is seen as women’s business rather than the responsibility of both men and women members. Allied to this is the perception that women serving at the local level should focus on women and children’s issues rather than the full range of issues at the grassroots level.

Gender empowerment is determined by the degree to which women and men participate actively in economic, professional and political activity and take part in decision-making. Women's political participation was hindered by a system of social relations in the male-dominated society, reflecting the orthodox male-centric mentality like religious fundamentalism. Only men were consistently educated and trained for leadership, while very few rural women had the opportunity to pursue their education because of tradition. Women themselves had been strongly influenced by male-dominated village communities and had little faith in their own capacities to take on leadership roles. In India, among the women who became Sarpanches, elected Panchayat members, intermediaries in Panchayati Samitis and chairpersons at Zilla Parishads, nearly 83 per cent of these women were first timers in politics and 74 per cent of the women stood independently. About 23 per cent stood as party candidates. These women were predominantly married, illiterate/literate and from very poor families. This trend focuses on whether these rural women, always in veil, inarticulate and ignorant of the rules of the political game would be able to make even a dint in their selfidentity. While in Bangladesh, most of the women members attained school level education and were married. Though these women had attained some school level education, they were not employed thus leading to dysfunctional educational syndrome. This was one of the major reasons for the lack of effective participation among these women in Union Parishads in Bangladesh. But we still find some sporadic cases among these women who have made a mark in the Parishad cutting across the gender-class-traditional bias of a primarily Islamic society.


The context that defines women’s political participation is the endemic nature of patriarchal structures and the resultant gender inequality and gender discrimination in the region. Gender relations are rooted in the ideology of relationship whereby women are seen as subordinate to men. Women are consistently denied inheritance rights, adequate food, freedom of expression and mobility, participation in community activities and say in personal choices and preferences (from education, to spouse, number of children, to profession, etc.) They are thus denied a meaningful role in decision-making, and are not in a position to access educational and health care facilities, or political and financial institutions nor own assets and resources. Women’s place in the family hierarchy and relationships within the home combine with the socially prescribed gendered division of roles to determine their levels of exclusion in both the private (household) and public spheres. Class, caste, religion, ethnicity and location are additional factors that mediate gendered social relations. Types of political participation Participation in electoral processes involves much more than just voting. Political participation derives from the freedom to speak out, assemble and associate; the ability to take part in the conduct of public affairs; and the opportunity to register as a candidate, to campaign, to be elected and to hold office at all levels of government. Under international standards, men and women have an equal right to participate fully in all aspects of the political process. In practice, however, it is often harder for women to exercise this right. In post-conflict countries there are frequently extra barriers to women’s participation, and special care is required to ensure their rights are respected in this regard. Political parties are among the most important institutions affecting women’s political participation. In most countries, parties determine which candidates are nominated and elected and which issues achieve national prominence. The role of women in political parties is therefore a key determinant of their prospects for political empowerment, particularly at the national level. Because political parties are so influential in shaping women’s political prospects, Governments and international organizations seeking to advance the participation of women in elections justifiably tend to focus on the role of political parties. Political participation extends beyond parties, however. Women can also become involved in certain aspects of the electoral process through independent action— particularly at the local level—and by joining civil society organizations. Some women in post-conflict countries have gained political experience by participating in non-elected transitional assemblies. Women’s networks, trade unions, non-governmental organizations, and the media can all provide avenues for women’s political participation.


Women in Power and Decision Making Legislative enactments have dramatically increased women’s access to decision making rd th structures over the last decade. The 73 and 74 Constitutional Amendments passed in 1993 provide for reservation of 33% of elected seats for women at different levels of local governance in both rural and urban local bodies. Also there would be one-third reservation for women to posts of chairperson of these bodies. One–third of the seats are further reserved for women belonging to the SC/ST community. The Panchayats (Extension to Schedule Areas) Act 1996 (PESA) made this amendment applicable to Schedule V areas. This has dramatically increased women’s participation in local bodies. For every five-year tenure of local governments, about one million women get elected to panchayats and local bodies. In some states, the number of elected women exceeds the reserved one-third quota. The Constitution provides for rotation of seats reserved for women but does not prescribe the number of terms for which seats may be served for rotation. Seats are reserved for one term, two terms or more depending upon the provisions made by the State Legislature in the State law. The option to reserve seats for more than one terms is open, but it is for the State Legislature to decide the number of terms for which seats will remain reserved. Tamil Nadu has taken a positive step by freezing the reserved seats for women for two terms. Local government institutions have not been given full financial and political powers to function independently but 29 subjects ranging from agriculture to poverty eradication have been devolved to these institutions. In theory, the presidents of the gram panchayats, block panchayats and district panchayats are responsible for prioritising the developmental needs of the villagers and allocating the grants accordingly. In practice, the level of responsiveness and manner of functioning of the panchayats varies considerably across states. As far as women’s participation is concerned however, the legislative enactments have ensured that they are represented in all states. Many of the elected women entering the public arena for the first time lack confidence, feel isolated, and have no previous political experience. They need to develop their innate leadership skills. Studies conducted in different parts of the country show that 95% of the elected women representatives (EWRs) are first-timers in politics and join politics because that is what their male family/village members want. As first timers without previous exposure to politics, many of the elected women lack the capacity to function properly in the panchayats and municipalities, and consequently are not taken seriously by their colleagues. Sustained training and networking efforts are being undertaken both by government and non government agencies to ensure that women’s capacity to participate improves. With just a few years of experience, women have emerged as articulate, motivated leaders all over the country. Gender budgeting involving grassroot elected women representatives is being used for advocacy in several places. Increased networking and formation of confederations of elected women representatives has helped to strengthen women’s leadership. This approach has been especially successful in southern and western India. The formation of these networks promotes 91

solidarity among the elected women representatives, otherwise divided by caste, religion and geographical boundaries. Thus, formation of these networks is the first step in the direction of empowering women. Table Percentage of Women Representatives in PRIs 1997 2002 States/UTs GP TP ZP GP TP ZP Andhra Pradesh 33.84 37.01 33.21 33.00 33.65 33.24 Arunachal Pradesh Arunachal Pradesh Panchayati Raj Act (not yet Passed) Assam 18.01 26.09 33.45 34.73 30.00 Bihar Post 73rd Amendment Elections not held in the state, not available. Chhattisgarh 33.74 34.33 34.67 Goa 36.53 31.76 34.00 Gujarat 17.29 33.43 33.38 33.35 33.48 33.54 Haryana 30.74 35.31 80.53 33.59 34.65 34.71 Himachal Pradesh 32.93 33.59 33.33 36.78 33.90 34.66 Jharkhand Current figures not available Jammu & Kashmir State proposes adopting 73rd Amendment Karnataka 43.79 40.21 36.45 44.86 42.24 38.09 Current figures not Kerala 36.21 38.40 34.20 available Madhya Pradesh 32.93 34.84 2.99 33.82 33.44 33.79 Maharashtra 33.33 33.31 33.31 33.33 36.06 33.73 Manipur 35.67 36.07 35.48 36.07 Meghalaya Mizoram Traditional Councils perform duties of local government. Nagaland Orissa 33.35 33.35 33.26 35.88 35.14 34.66 Elections Punjab 35.69 35.69 32.78 31.90 due Rajasthan 29.73 31.67 3.21 34.52 36.29 36.11 Sikkim 37.34 30.43 36.88 31.52 Tamil Nadu 25.07 35.31 3.40 26.86 26.94 26.37 Tripura 33.55 34.18 34.29 33.33 35.81 34.15 Uttar Pradesh 15.08 23.11 23.60 Uttaranchal West Bengal 36.33 35.18 33.94 22.46 22.42 21.58 Andaman & 34.33 33.33 34.39 37.31 33.33 Nicobar Islands Chandigarh Current figures not available 33.95 40.00 30.00


Dadra & Nagar Haveli Daman & Diu Delhi Lakshadweep Pondicherry India





39.68 33.33 26.98 40.00 NCT government Propose conduct of panchayat elections 37.97 36.36 37.97 36.36 Not Available. Post 73rd amendment elections not held in the state 6.40 8.86 3.38 3.66 2.70 2.99

Source : Annual Report 2000–01, Ministry of Rural Development, Govt. of India. Interestingly, the Gram Sabha without women is not a legal entity, therefore, the traditional community forum which excluded women cannot exercise legal authority unless women also participate. In Madhya Pradesh, the law envisages that at least onethird of members present in Gram Sabha must be women, to constitute the necessary quorum. Reservations have also meant that social biases have to give way to more inclusive forums, both in respect of gender and caste. Even in very traditional communities where previously women could not participate like those of the village assemblies, they are welcome now and are, in fact, encouraged to participate in many places. Participation in decision making as EWR has impacted on other aspects of capability development. In a study of some hundred EWRs from four districts in Haryana, it was noted that the majority were illiterate when elected to office. After two years in office, women have sought to acquire literary skills and are committed to the education of their daughters. Women’s Representation in Parliament Rajya Lok Sabha Percentage Seats Sabha 22 4.4 219 16 27 5.4 237 18 34 6.8 238 18 31 5.9 240 20 22 4.2 243 17 19 3.4 244 25 28 7.9 244 24 44 8.1 244 28 27 5.3 245 24 39 7.2 245 38 39 7.2 223 20 43 7.9 245 15

Year Seats 1952 1957 1962 1967 1971 1977 1980 1984 1989 1991 1996 1998 499 500 503 523 521 544 544 544 517 544 543 543

Percentage 7.3 7.5 7.6 8.3 7.0 10.2 9.8 11.4 9.7 15.5 9.0 6.1


1999 2004

543 539

49 44

9.0 8.2

245 245

19 28

7.8 11.4

Source : CSDS Data Unit Supportive interventions are needed to ensure that the 73 amendment does not lose its potential transformative edge when implemented within the reality of a feudal, patriarchal, and highly fragmented society.Thus, Maharashtra has provided for Mahila Gram Sabhas that preceded Gram While the sphere of local governance has seen significant improvement, the numbers of women in official positions remains relatively low.The representation of women in the decision making level through the Indian Administrative Service and the Indian Police Service which stood at 5.4% in 1987 increased to 7.6% in 2000. Of all employees in central, state and local governments, 17.47% were women in 2001. Women’s in Top Decision-making committees of Political Parties Party Committee No. of Total % of Women members women CPI(M) Politburo 0 15 0 Central Committee 5 70 7 CPI Secretariat 0 9 0 National Executive 3 31 10 National Council 6–7 125 5 Political Affairs JD 0 15 0 Committee Parliamentary Board 0 15 0 National Executive 11 75 15 UF Steering Committee 0 15–17 0 BJP Parliamentary Board 1 9 11 Election Committee 2 17 12 Congress Working Committee 2 19 11 Source : Manushi (96), September–October 1996, p.27 The Panchayati Raj brought more than one million women as members and chairpersons of local bodies. However the performance and election of women in different states varies: Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh elected 38 percent women in the elections of 1996, Punjab 29.6 percent and Karnataka a little over 43 percent. Bidyut Mohanty summed up the profile of the elected women on the basis of various case studies as, being While the Acts per se do not provide for all-women panchayats, their subsequent emergence has been an interesting development. It needs to be pointed out that as early as 94

1989 nine villages in the western state of Maharashtra had elected all-women gram panchayats reportedly an outcome of the campaign of an independent farmers’ organization, Shetkari Sanghatana. West Bengal got its all women gram panchayat in May 1993 under the Left Front Government. The unanimous decision for all-women panchayats was reportedly because men did not want controversy or expose women to contests. Earlier, an all woman panchayat was elected in Andhra Pradesh in the seventies and another in the eighties. One other reason for all women panchayats was that higher caste men did not want to work under a lower caste woman. The participation of women under the PRI by all accounts has generally been positive. The main obstacles to women’s fuller participation have been those of inexperience, inadequate information and knowledge about the system and their role in it, of class, caste and religion, and of lack of resources. That many came in as proxy candidates place their legitimacy into question. Resistance has come from women’s families, political parties, male colleagues who see women quotas as a hur dle in their political aspirations, and male officials. The use of no-confidence motions against sarpanches (often to also dislodge male sarpanches belonging to backward castes and tribes) is also widespread. Some states have tried to curtail the practice through legislation. According to one analysis the rotation of women’s reserved seats fails to advance women’s right to political office as the next election shifts the quota to another area rendering theirs as general seats, it also opens women to manipulation and control by male politicians who use them as their proxies. Women’s groups in India have come forward to provide the necessary support and capacity building of women representatives in local government. Several NGO programmes are underway to train women and many women representatives turn to the support bases of women’s movement and NGOs. One successful example is that of COVA, a network of 750 organisations in Hyderabad, India. COVA works for communal harmony through community empowerment. It be gan its intervention with the objective of establishing the legitimacy of women political representatives to address the concern that women’s reserved seats had been captured by male politicians who in fact performed the duties of elected women.

The participation of women under the PRI by all accounts has generally been positive. The main obstacles to women’s fuller participation have been those of inexperience, inadequate information and knowledge about the system and their role in it, of class, caste and religion, and of lack of resources. That many came in as proxy candidates place their legitimacy into question. Resistance has come from women’s families, political parties, male colleagues who see women quotas as a hur dle in their political aspirations, and male officials. The use of no-confidence motions against sarpanches (often to also dislodge male sarpanches belonging to backward castes and tribes) is also widespread. Some states have tried to curtail the practice through legislation. According to one analysis the rotation of women’s reserved seats fails to advance women’s right to political office as the next election shifts the quota to another area rendering theirs as general seats, it also opens women to manipulation and control by male politicians who 95

use them as their proxies. Clearly, election to the panchayats, in and by itself, is not a panacea for women’s subordination. Many women regretted that the panchayats were not mandated to address problems such as dowry, frequent child birth, female education, men’s alcoholism, spousal abuse and women’s unemployment. While women from activist backgrounds were able to enlarge the agendas of the panchayats to address some of these issues, women who were newcomers to politics could not. An even bigger problem is that the resources and the planning capabilities of the panchayats are relatively limited. State legislatures determine how much power and authority the panchayats will wield. Very few states have engaged in a serious devolution of the panchayats’ development functions. Most panchayats are responsible for implementing rural development schemes rather than devising them. The village level panchayats, in which women are especially apt to be active, work under particularly severe constraints.

The different ways in which politics is understood locally and nationally is also extremely significant. The kinds of decisions that the gram panchayats make are often simultaneously economic, social and political. They have to do with questions of land ownership, municipal facilities, marital disputes and the distribution of power. This convergence of issues between public and private spheres encourages the panchayats to further expand the definition of the political to include issues that are normally considered private rather than public, social rather than political and collective rather than individual. The boundaries that are traditionally drawn between politics and other domains narrow at the upper reaches of power. Of the hundreds of issues that come before MPs, few directly bear upon the situation of women. The attention currently being given to panchayati raj is linked to the need for decentralisation within the overall policy shift under structural adjustment, where the role of the central state is being reduced. It is hoped that panchayats will prove be more costeffective and efficient in their delivery of services. However, the revival of a panchayati system, especially one that grants greater powers to women, hinges crucially on the devolution of power from existing vested groups, whether it be the state bureaucracy or local lobbies. Thus, the actual outcome of the decentralisation process remains uncertain. There is likely to be considerable variation in the extent to which a genuine process of decentralisation occurs, depending on the extent to which particular state governments are willing to devolve power and resources, the nature of local level political interests and processes and the general state of civil society in particular regions. In some states, there has already been considerable stalling of the election process. These will be constraining factors on the extent to which women are able to represent their interests in local selfgovernment. More than 100,000 women were elected in panchayati-raj institutions throughout the country, including several thousand chairpersons. In the past, very few women stood for elections; the nomination system for women operated on the basis of patronage by the dominant political or social group and led to more or less tokenistic representation. Some


states, like Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, introduced a reservation policy of 22-25 percent in the mid-eighties but this was seen to be inadequate. Even though these reservations were based on an electoral process, those elected were largely women relatives of the sarpanches (panchayat leaders) or other influential members. The promotion of women in panchayati raj is seen as a means to address women’s subordinate position in rural society and their lack of political power. But there is an equal if not greater emphasis on the gains that are expected to accrue to society by having more women as political representatives in local bodies. In particular, women’s participation in panchayati raj is expected to bring about: - improved implementation of development schemes for women and other sectoral programmes in e.g. education, health and sanitation, horticulture etc.; - a more active role of women in the mediation of disputes, particularly at familial level; - a fresh and incorrupt input into local government. However, most reviews on the position of women in the panchayats to date emphasize the difficulties women encounter in standing for elections and in carrying out their functions once elected, because of prevailing social norms. Unrealistic expectations may be being raised of women members, particularly when considered in the light of past experience and of the constraints mentioned above. Moreover, there is perhaps insufficient attention to the personal economic and social costs of women’s participation.

Mainstream gender in Panchayats
The influx of women political leaders through the 73 CAA led to the dawn of a new reality in politics. Panchayats as an institution give women much required space and is a liberating and enabling mechanism. On the other hand, the social structure is embedded in traditional patriarchal values that set restrictive conditions on women. Both the systems viz. Panchayats as institution and the social structure have placed conflicting rd demands on women leaders. The 73 CAA as a top down policy fails to address this reality. It was a challenge for CSOs to facilitate women in taking advantage of Panchayats, a process that could transform the social structure and power relations. Many forces against women’s leadership remain. Access to information necessary to govern is still a problem. Respect that should be accorded to women as elected leaders has not been paid, reducing women’s confidence to govern. In addition, social restrictions curtail their voice, mobility and rights to decision-making. Enabling mechanisms have to be developed to fortify women’s position as leaders and reduce negative forces.


Functional literacy: A major limitation that keeps women in a weaker position may be traced to the lack of functional literacy. Women leaders often sign on documents without reading and understanding the consequence. As a result, illegal and false court cases have been levelled against them. In this context, a literacy programme that concentrates on reading skills is most desirable in its first phase. State training policy: Regular and ongoing training programmes which address the needs of the elected leaders especially women are necessary. The programme should employ innovative methodologies, strive for a wide outreach, and be gender-sensitive, with a scope to evolve on the basis of feedback. It is envisioned that through such training programmes women understand their rights and obtain skills to voice and assert their concerns, make informed decisions, and demand accountability. Supportive measures for women’s leadership: Women who have not had opportunities to participate in local-self governance need time to understand and function as representatives. In this regard, the Government machinery must be sensitised to build supportive relationships with women leaders. For example, women need more than five years to become effective as chairpersons, but the chairpersonship reserved for women rotates every five years. While the principle of rotation is desirable, there needs to be some other ways to accommodate and support the needs of newly elected women leaders. Active coordination among stakeholders: To strengthen women’s leadership at the grass-roots level, all stakeholders, such as the Central and State governments, the media, academics, NGOs and community based organizations, need to clearly define their roles and coordinate with one another to comprehensively mainstream gender into development. Strategies 1.In order to increase the number of women in local government a comprehensive package needs to be developed and distributed nationally. This package to include information kits for women who are considering standing for election; workshop outlines and suggestions on how to support candidates; a media kit for use by women candidates; and a candidate database. 2.Funds be established to assist women to run for election. 3.Best practice models be developed on women and local government and all local government be encouraged to adopt them. 4.A mentoring programme be established to provide support, information, resources and assistance to women in local government 5.Women employed in local government be offered opportunities for career development. 6.Local government women’s associations be established. 7.National databases be established on women in local government that provides resources and material for research on women and gender issues. 8.Guidelines need to be developed to measure the impact of all policies and programmes on women and men.


Training 1. Citizen’s awareness of gender, politics and human rights programmes be established for men and women. 2. Training programmes for women candidates on the political system, local government functions and processes and support for them to stand as candidates. 3. Training programmes for elected women in local government functions and processes and in leadership skills. Girls and young women’s education should include training on self-reliance, selfconfidence and their Obstacles The rights of women are enshrined in law, and there are no formal legal barriers to women’s political participation in election processes. In practice, however, there are often formidable obstacles to women’s active participation in politics. The hurdles to be overcome can be particularly daunting for women considering running for office, and may be overwhelming for women in post-conflict countries. Politics has traditionally been a male domain that many women have found unwelcoming or even hostile. Societies in which traditional or patriarchal values remain strong may frown on women entering politics. In addition to dealing with unfavourable cultural predilections, women are often more likely than men to face practical barriers to entering politics, including a paucity of financial resources, lower levels of education, less access to information, greater family responsibilities, and a deprivation of rights that has left them with fewer opportunities to acquire political experience. With the exception of the close relatives of male politicians, women generally lack the political networks necessary for electoral success. Political parties The most common route to elected office is through political parties. Most candidates depend on parties for their nomination, their base of electoral support, and help during the election campaign, financial resources, and continued assistance after their election. While some candidates run for office independently of political parties, it is far more difficult to win election without the backing of a political organization, especially at the national level. Hence, women seeking an entrée into politics must usually turn to political parties. Political parties vary greatly in the extent to which they seek to promote women into leadership positions and to recruit women as party candidates, as well as in the extent to which they address political, economic and social issues of special concern to women. Since political parties often tend to be more open to nominating women as candidates for local elections, women may find it easier to start at this level and use it as a stepping stone to national office. Most countries have a law regulating how political parties must be organized and registered and dictating how they must operate. The operational provisions of the political party law can be extremely important in establishing the framework for women’s political participation. For example, if parties are required to practise internal democracy and employ transparent nomination procedures through primary elections, all-party


caucuses, locally based candidate selection or similar options, women will generally have a better chance of emerging as candidates. In contrast, highly centralized parties that are tightly controlled by a few leaders or organized around well-known personalities— usually men—may be much less receptive to selecting substantial numbers of women as candidates. This may be particularly true in post-conflict countries, in which political parties are frequently associated with male-dominated military groups. Political party laws may include provisions aimed specifically at enhancing women’s political participation. For example, they may require parties to affirm their position on gender equality in the party constitution. They may mandate that party management and party policy committees be gender balanced. Political party laws, or in some cases election laws, may require a gender balance in candidate lists as well. Alternatively, laws may offer parties incentives such as more free broadcast time or additional public funding if they include certain numbers of women among their candidates. New laws are often introduced in post-conflict countries, providing an ideal opportunity to incorporate these and other provisions aimed at ensuring equal political participation for women. Generally, parties that practise internal democracy and have transparent nomination procedures offer the best prospects for women to emerge as candidates. In order to ensure more balanced representation, political parties in many countries have adopted voluntary targets or quotas specifying a minimum number or proportion of women on their candidate lists, and may even alternate women and men on the lists. In some countries, this has become a legal requirement. Many political parties have established “women’s wings”; in some cases these have constituted a useful tool for the advancement of women, while in others they have led to the compartmentalization or marginalization of women within the party. Women’s participation required for free and fair elections Women’s equal participation is essential to the conduct of democratic elections. At the practical level, an election fails to comply with international obligations and standards unless the opportunity for full and equal participation by women is provided.For elections to be truly free and fair, women must have the same opportunities as men to participate in all aspects of the electoral process. Women should have an equal chance to serve at all levels within local and national election management bodies. Women should be engaged on an equal basis as election monitors or observers. Women should be able to participate fully in all aspects of political party operations. Voter education. Voter education can be a critical factor in enhancing women’s participation in elections, particularly in post-conflict countries in which women have not traditionally played an active role in the electoral process. In the broadest sense, voter education includes the dissemination of basic information on voting rights, the political system, candidates and issues, as well as specific information on where and how to vote. Voter education should include publicity encouraging people to vote, with campaigns targeted specifically at women as well as at men and women together. Non-governmental groups organizations can often make a valuable contribution by helping to develop gender-sensitive voter education messages. This involves promoting a positive image of


women as leaders and politicians in order to encourage women’s participation in the political process and challenge the traditional view of a society dominated by male leaders. In post-conflict societies, such messages can highlight the importance of women’s knowledge and expertise in the areas of reconstruction and national reconciliation. Women’s groups can make a significant contribution through activities such as advocating for gender balance among candidates, election administrators, observers and other electoral participants. Election administration. The practical aspects of administering an election can have an important impact on women’s participation. Election management bodies should operate independently, impartially and transparently. Boards at all levels should include women as part of their membership and leadership. Where necessary, special training might be made available for women to ensure that they are qualified to assume such positions. Election management bodies should develop a clear policy on advancing women’s electoral participation. They should take gender considerations into account in all aspects of their work and should strive to facilitate and increase women’s participation. Election observation. The presence of observers can serve as a deterrent to fraud and malpractice. Observation may be carried out by international organizations, domestic groups or both. In general, international observers should be able to impartially assess the quality of elections and to provide suggestions on how practices can be improved. Observation methodology should take into account how various aspects of the electoral process can have a different impact on women than they do on men. Observers should carefully assess the way in which the legal framework, political parties, election administration and other factors affect women’s participation. Ideally, observer groups, and particularly national groups, should include equal numbers of women and men. Specialized election observation efforts can be designed to focus exclusively on the role of women in elections. Women seem more apt to exercise leadership collectively than individually and more opportunity for this exists in community based than national movements. Quotas provide one means of ensuring a critical mass of women in office to enable them to effectively voice their concerns. Women are also most apt to become active in movements and institutions that address the interface between their private and public roles. This often happens when public policies hinder their capacity to fulfil their domestic responsibilities. The greater informality of community than national arenas may also help explain women’s greater participation at the local level. Similarly, the more open and democratic forums are, the more likely women are to be represented. The creation of democratic deliberative bodies of the kind that sometimes exist at the local level and rarely at the national level, are vital ingredients of women’s participation Networking: To facilitate the inclusion of women’s issues in the political and public agenda, networking between the women’s organizations and women politicians, in particular, is necessary. Curriculum and media should be adequately utilized so as to change patriarchal social values and encourage women towards leadership roles and activities.


Organize Pressure Groups: To support women candidates and mobilize funds for

increasing women’s participation in politics, NGOs should organize support groups and raise the political consensus of women through seminars, workshops, orientation training, mass media, etc. To lobby for increasing women’s participation in politics, pressure groups should be formed within and outside the Parliament. Participation in political parties: To increase the number of women in the rank and file at all levels of political parties, grassroots women’s organizations should mobilize women at all levels. They should also highlight the potentials of women and their competence as candidates. Knowledge about the functions of Panchayats and Union Parishads: Most of the women members had lower levels of education. Their training may be conducted by the relevant training institutes or by the respective district authority with the financial support of the government or assistance from the donor agencies/development partners. To participate in the local bodies meeting: In order to ensure proper participation in the local bodies, the government may undertake the membership of women members in the different committees, specially the committees dealing with family planning and women’s development. A mechanism should be developed to ensure regular attendance of the women members at the meetings. Selection procedures of party’s candidates: Rural women do not have a clear appreciation and adequate awareness of the issues faced by the women because of the respective environment. Women members, whatever may be their selection procedure, are recognized as leaders at the grassroots level by the government and by the local community. They should, therefore, be given adequate training and exposure to the issues, which stand in the way of the integration of women with the socio-economic life of society Role of Government
Election rules and regulations to be restructured: In India election rules should be restructured in the light of facilitating women’s participation in the electoral processes, i.e. right to choose their representatives, freedom to express their views and opinions, freely allowed to cast their precious vote, strict ban on use of violence in elections, limits on expenditure and its strict implementation. Representation of women members at the local level committees: In India at the local level, planning and decision-making committees should comprise at least 50 percent women. Social programs should be introduced to encourage women’s effective participation in such activities. Fair representation of minorities: Government should also let the minorities like Hindus and Christians be represented in the decision-making process, which could be facilitated by the help of reservation or through fair entry basis. Information and training to women members of local bodies: The government along with the NGOs imparting training should provide information and training to women members of local bodies to increase their knowledge of local government, responsibilities and functions. This could be through information manuals, mobile training program and through audio-visual mediums. Women should be given various opportunities for leadership training and education in order to encourage them to take up political and


leadership position in all fields. Supportive services should be provided to allow women to participate in local bodies.
Literacy in legal rights and politics: In all formal and non-formal schools, proper training

and exposure to the legal and political rights of women should be given to bring about attitudinal changes among both men and women.
Improvement of motivational programs: To create greater awareness among women about

their low status in society and the need to improve it, motivational programs for expanding opportunities for education, health care and employment should be launched. Role of Political Parties
Need for democratization from within: If women are to come even without reservation, as

was not approved by some sections of the women’s groups and the academia, the foremost responsibility should be that of the political parties who should recognize the capability and success of women and give party tickets to those who are interested to stand for the said post. Party manifestoes and constitutions should include gender equity as one of their goals and have a plan of action for its achievement. The present system of reserved seats is a necessary evil that may continue until greater representation of women is achieved. However, political parties in Bangladesh should work together to amend the system of nomination to direct election of women to the reserved seats for the Parliament as well. Political parties should: Adopt internal democratic structures; In proportional systems, place women contenders high enough on the candidate lists to ensure they will be elected, including through such mechanisms as “zippered” lists, and consider voluntary quotas or targets for women candidates; In majority systems, establish voluntary targets or quotas to ensure a specified minimum number of women are put forward as candidates; Provide support and resources to ensure the election of women candidates; Make certain that women are fully represented in party leadership and policy committees; Clearly identify the advancement of women and issues of special concern to women as priorities in their platforms.
Conscientisation to women’s issues: To raise the political consciousness of the people and

to sensitize them about women’s issues, political parties should organize workshops, dialogues, discussions and mass meetings. Political parties should also sensitize party leaders and party workers about women’s issues by organizing discussion sessions.
Maintain linkages with voters: Political parties should encourage their women candidates

to maintain a continuous linkage with the voters, with special emphasis on women voters, so that they are not misled by the male members of their families.


Fair elections at all levels: Political parties should work towards free and fair elections so

that women candidates can contest. Awareness programs for the voters should be undertaken so that they can cast their vote in favor of eligible candidates.
Stand against factionalism: Political parties should take a positive stand against

factionalism, fundamentalism and misinterpretation of religious beliefs, which stands in the way of women’s political participation. In order to develop political awareness and consciousness, women should be involved in social, economic and political activities.
To change the policy of political parties: Women belonging to all political parties have to

take organized steps to change the discriminatory policy and approach political parties in the matter of financial support to women candidates in elections. Political parties should provide financial allocations for the campaign expenditure of women candidates. Role of NGOs and Civil Society NGO Agenda: Political empowerment of women should be incorporated in the NGO agenda. They should consciously make an effort to emphasize the issues of gender equity and women’s empowerment in its right perspective. Both men and women leaders at the grassroots and national levels must be sensitized to women’s issues, and form pressure and advocacy groups for the realization of gender equity. Women should be made aware of their potential political power and their contribution to the political process as voters. Civil society actors should: Identify women willing to run for office; Provide training and other types of support for women candidates; Lobby to ensure issues of special concern to women are addressed in party platforms; Lobby for legislative changes to advance women’s empowerment; Develop cross-party networks of women; Develop and disseminate gender-sensitive messages for voter and civic education; Advocate improved media coverage of women’s issues and women candidates; Persuade international donors to support projects aimed at advancing women’s political participation. The way forward Recognising that affirmative actions where taken have opened unprecedented spaces for women , these are the essential first steps needing follow up for removal of distortions and ensuring fuller participation of women across class, caste, religion, and national/ethnic divides. For achieving the goal of Beijing Platform for Action’s goal of adequate representation of women in all decision making bodies will require the following steps to go forward 1. Introduction of affirmative action in the countries where it does not exist to reserve seats for women to ensure a “critical mass” (33 percent) at different tiers of representative bodies to be elected directly from their constituencies, with provisions for the inclusion of


marginalised women. And implementation of affirmative action in letter and spirit where they already exist. These must have the provision of operating till women’s equal participation in the political process is achieved. 1. Removal of distortions in the reserved seats system to create an even playing field by instituting direct constituency based elections. Mandating women’s presence in committees and bodies to prevent their exclusion from decision-making. Removing any other anomalies that place a burden on women compared with women. 2. Making equal participation of women in political process an official policy to be ensured through: introduction of a mandatory 20 percent women’s membership in political parties as a qualification for participation in elections; commitment by political parties (through manifestos) to inclusion of programmes for women in nation building activities; institution of a special fund for female candidates, irrespective of political affiliations, to contest elections at all levels.. 3. Developing and running training programmes for women in local government to equip them for fulfilling their responsibilities effectively. Provide them with information on their duties and powers; give them skills of identifying, planning and implementing development programmes; of conflict resolution and of women’s agency. 4. Special allocation within budgets, at different tiers, to women members for implementing programmes and ensuring that they are not marginalized or bypassed. Making women’s membership of committees/sub-committees, arbitration councils, etc. mandatory both in local government and legislatures. 5. Training for male members of local government for sensitivity towards women members and the imperative of their inclusion in the business of the elected body. Introducing special measures for relieving elected women of the household burden for playing a fuller role. 6. Facilitation of NGOs to play a more coordinated role in linking elected women, catalysing platforms and networks of solidarity and support: by creating an enabling environment, providing security against physical threats, violence and harassment and provision of resources. 7 Closure of gap between the women’s movement and elected representatives to foster collaboration and cooperation of women at all levels through the initiation of dialogue by women’s groups with elected women. 8 Sensitisation by women’s and human rights groups of the media to the issues of elected women and the potential of their role in the political process; sensitization and mobilization of women voters to vote for female candidates. 9 9 Above all, the removal of all barriers to women’s participation in political processes particularly of discriminatory legislations and structural barriers that entrench inequality between classes and gender. Government actors should: Ensure that political party laws and other election-related legislation do not indirectly disadvantage women; Consider legislation requiring political parties to adopt democratic procedures for their internal operations;


Consider temporary special measures requiring political parties to include a substantial proportion of women high on their candidate lists; Provide incentives for political parties to promote women candidates, including resources, training and increased access to broadcast time. Providing increased airtime for women in politics between elections could also advance women’s participation by enabling voters to make informed assessments at election time of the overall performance of political parties, including their support of women who have been elected as representatives.

The media should: Provide gender-sensitive coverage of elections, avoiding negative stereotypes and presenting positive images of women as leaders; Provide women candidates with at least as much airtime and print space as that given to men; Focus attention on issues of special concern to women in news programming; Undertake voter and civic education programmes aimed specifically at women.




Girls’ education was identified as a development tool in September 1990 at the World Summit for Children, when the global community agreed to the Goals for Children and Development in the 1990s, including “universal access to basic education and achievement of primary education by at least 80 per cent of primary school-age children through formal schooling or non-formal education of comparable learning standard, with emphasis on reducing the current disparities between boys and girls.”4 A decade later, at the World Education Forum in Dakar, Senegal, six goals were endorsed – two-thirds pertaining to gender parity and equality in education. The next year, the Millennium Summit gave birth to the Millennium Development Goals, which also focused on girls’ education as being crucial for development. The push for gender parity in education has produced three UN flagships for girls’ education: Education for All, headed by UNESCO; the Fast-Track Initiative, under the auspices of the World Bank; and the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative, coordinated by UNICEF. Each lead agency, active in all the enterprises, coordinates various partners including development agencies, donor nations and non-governmental and community-based organizations. The Beijing Platform for Action includes a section on the education and training of women. The strategic objectives identified in that section are: ensure equal access to education; eradicate illiteracy among women; improve women’s access to vocational training, science and technology, and continuing education; develop non-discriminatory education and training; allocate sufficient resources for and monitor the implementation of educational reforms; and promote lifelong education and training for girls and women. Recognising that non-discriminatory education contributes to more equal relationships between men and women, the Platform for Action identifies areas in which discrimination in education exists, including: customary attitudes; early marriages and pregnancies; lack of gender awareness on the part of educators; girls’ domestic responsibilities and the reduced time they are allowed for education; and sexual harassment.


Discrimination in education resources is found in: inadequate and gender-biased teaching and educational materials; lack of adequate schooling facilities, particularly for girls’ special needs; stereotyped images of women and men in educational materials and teaching; gender-biased curricula and teaching materials which reinforce traditional sex roles; gender-biased science curricula and texts; and insufficient resources for education, particularly for females. The Platform for Action recommends strategies specific to each of the above, and advocates use of other avenues for change, such as exploiting the potential of the powerful mass media as an educational tool, and specifically targeting the involvement of women in technology education. The Five Year Plan documents recognise that national developmental and demographic goals cannot be achieved unless women’s education is taken up on a priority basis. All possible strategies, starting from flexible school timings to decentralised planning and administration have been recommended over and over again. One of the arguments put forth by educational administrators is that serious efforts were really never made to implement some key recommendations like flexible school timings and appointing local people as teachers in primary schools. Some of these ideas have been tried out in pockets, especially in Rajasthan through Shiksha Karmi Project and Lok Jumbish. Flexible timings were also experimented in Madhya Pradesh. But, unfortunately they have remained essentially microlevel initiatives and have not been integrated into the mainstream.

This phenomenon has compelled some commentators to ask if non-implementation of Governments own policy is because of lack of political will or because certain powerful vested interests are determined to ensure a significant section of our society remains illiterate and disempowered. Therefore, many enlightened leaders are demanding the law of the land be enforced and that elementary education be made a fundamental and inalienable right. Making children’s rights to primary education justiceable and enforceable in court of law could push basic education on the national agenda as never before.

The National Policy on Education (1986, revised in 1992) is perhaps the most lucid document on women’s education. It was hailed as a major breakthrough in addressing gender issues in government policy. The chapter titled “Education for Women’s Equality” states: “Education will be used as an agent of basic change in the status of women. In order to neutralise the accumulated distortions of the past; there will be a well-conceived edge in favour of women. The National Education System will play a positive, interventionist role in the empowerment of women. It will foster the development of new values through redesigned curricula, textbooks, the training and orientation of teachers, decision-makers and administrators, and the active involvement of educational institutions. This will be an act of faith and social engin-eering...The removal of women’s illiteracy and obstacles inhibiting their access to, and retention in, elementary education will receive overriding


priority, through provision of special support services, setting of time targets, and effective monitoring....”

Bridging the gap between intention and action – Girls’ and Women’s Education Provide schools within walking distance, closer to the place of dwelling, if necessary satellite schools for remote hamlets, . • Provide child care facilities/cràche within school premises, . • Provide escort for girls, if school is away from the village or hamlet, . • Introduce flexible school timings and region specific school calendar, . • Provide alternative modes / forms of schooling, combine formal with non-formal, condensed courses for drop-outs, residential schools (Ashram Shalas) for special focus groups like nomadic tribes etc., . • Appoint more women teachers in rural areas and provide them with secure residential accommodation. . • Expand pool of women teachers by lowering qualifications, providing intensive training (near the place of dwelling), providing regular educational support, organizing special condensed coursed for drop-outs who can be trained to work as teachers, providing secure accommodation for out-station teachers, etc. . • Make curriculum relevant to the lives of poor women who are engaged in battle for survival, . • Recognise the problem of working children, provide special facilities with flexible calendar and timings, . • Introduce facilities for “bridge programmes” to enable dropouts to re-enter the school system. . • Provide incentives like uniforms, textbooks, exercise books, attendance scholarship, free bus passes etc. . • Involve the community in managing the school through advocacy, mobilisation and formation of village education committees with at least 50% women members, . • Improve quality of education, motivate teachers to make learning a joyful exercise, . • Decentralise educational planning and administration, bring it closer to people so that it reflects the special needs and aspirations of the community, . • Create village level education committees to plan, support, encourage and monitor basic education;

Monitoring mechanisms:

. Government of India has a well established system for monitoring programmes and submitting regular reports to State Assemblies and the Parliament. While nationally funded projects follow the routine system of reporting through a MIS system; externally assisted projects and programmes follow two parallel systems. While the regular system continues to operate, each donor-assisted project has its own reporting system. Annual reports, periodic review missions and mid-term and end-project evaluations are followed by most


donors. However, DPEP follows a different system with six monthly joint reviews and periodic issue specific studies. DPEP has also developed two software packages that enable monitoring through computerised information systems, i.e. Project Management Information System (PMIS) and Education Management Information System (EMIS). The centralised monitoring and assessment system provides information to all contributing donors and the World Bank. Some states have also done extensive household surveys to create base line information. . Lok Jumbish Rajasthan has evolved a unique planning, review and monitoring system. The system encourages a regular participatory process review consisting of Cluster level Review and Planning Meetings (monthly) to Block Level review and Planning Meetings (monthly) culminating in the State Level Review and Planning Meetings (periodic). In addition LJ has a computerised MIS system to track each component of the project i.e. building construction, training, retention registers, formation of village education committees, women’s groups’ etc. All information is disaggregated by sex and at any given point the project has information by sex from the village education committee to the state office located in Jaipur. . . Introducing flexible timings, and context specific school calendars is necessary to promote enrolment and retention of girls. Here again teacher unions have resisted flexible school calendar and timing across the country. The urban/semi urban middle class and the rural middle class (including land owning castes) form the bulk of rural teachers. They are said to be the backbone of many political parties. Mobilisation during elections and subsequent political trouble shooting is done through teachers. They constitute a vocal and powerful group in electoral politics. Therefore it is not surprising that key policy recommendations have remained unimplemented. . Rajasthan Lok Jumbish Gender Sensitivity in management Since the inception of LJ, gender sensitivity has been woven into the philosophy and structure of the organisation. As different organisations have different interpretations about this phrase, it would be helpful to clearly state what gender sensitivity in LJ management means:

. • Firstly, it means what circumstances should be created to appoint women in reasonable proportion. . • Secondly, it implies that women should be able to work as equals and should not have to conform to stereotyped expectations. They should, moreover, have appropriate working conditions and facilities for safety and essential comfort. . • Thirdly, women’s role in the family and responsibilities of motherhood should be recognised. They should be enabled to work at a time and pace suitable to them. The fact that, generally speaking, they have to bear a double burden should be acknowledged and scope provided to them get over fatigue. . • Fourthly, circumstances that result in women’s isolation should be altered - at the individual as well as group level. An organisation should attempt to create women’s


collectives and networks for empowerment. . • Fifthly, necessary steps should be taken to prevent sexual abuse and mental and other harassment. Exemplary penal measures should be taken if such happenings were to occur. . • Sixthly, women must have a say in decision making. This should not be confined to decisions that affect women staff members and women and girls in educational and related situations, but all decisions, including decisions concerning policy and finance. . • Seventhly, a gender sensitive system of educational management has to have the capability to extend gender sensitivity to the entire system of education and to monitor it. The Indian administrative system is based on the principle that generalists, who do not have roots or vested interests are, by definition, superior to those who have a stake in what they do. Experiences of successful initiatives in the government and in the non-government sector point to the role played by dynamic and committed leaders in making the system work to the best advantage of the beneficiaries. Staying power within a department, district, programme or project is somehow frowned upon. Looking back over fifty years of government functioning, it is quite apparent that committed civil-servants, technocrats, specialist have been the only ones who have made a significant difference. Yet, the system continues to transfer teachers every few years, move committed civil servants from positions where they have made an impact. The system binds and bind everyone to inflexible rules and regulations. Even when autonomous bodies are created to provide for flexibility, they gradually take on the character of the main system and loose their flexibility and innovativeness. Recruitment policies, transfers, financial decentralisation and devolution of administrative powers to lower levels become contentious issues. . Innovations in the public sector with potential for large scale replication:

• Micro-planning and school mapping as a technique to enumerate all children in the school going age, record their enrolment and attendance status, estimate demand for non-formal education, identify barriers to participation, take stock of infrastructure. Teacher attendance and motivation has been tried out in Rajasthan Lok Jumbish with considerable success. Using this information, generated by local people through Village Education Committees, Prerak Dal (group of animators) or rural women’s groups work out decentralised strategies for mobilisation, improving school environment and motivating and supporting teachers. The result is micro level plans that reflect the felt needs of the community. Lok Jumbish has introduced both a Village Education Register and Retention Register to keep track of, and update, information. This system of planning from below has resulted in opening new schools, establishing non-formal education centres, organising residential camps/programmes for out-of-school adolescent girls and organising decentralised training for teachers, village level animators and members of village education committees. This effectively results in transferring the initiative to the people and to educational administrators working at the Block and District levels. In Rajasthan this has brought into the open the phenomenon of the invisibility of girls and has forced rural communities to think about the status of girl children. Mahila Samakhya, meaning women’s equality through education, is a women’s empowerment project which seeks to bring about change in women’s perception of 111

themselves and that of the society. It endeavours to create an environment for women to mobilise themselves into collectives. Women are to seek knowledge and information in order to make informed choices and create circumstances in which they can learn at their own pace and rhythm. The centrality of education and life long learning is an important focus of the project. A Sahayogini (a cluster co-ordinator in 10 villages) facilitates the process of mobilisation and organising women. She functions as the link between women and the project structure. She accesses and organises resource support by way of training and other inputs to meet the emerging demands of women. These demands range from childcare support to workshops, fairs and training programmes on specific issues/themes. Where possible, the programme links up with other development initiatives. For example, the programme has had links with the public distribution system, the health care system with access to forest produce and education. This Dutch Assisted programme is operational in 5000 villages of Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh. It has been recently extended into Madhya Pradesh and Assam through the DPEP initiative.

Bridging the gap between intent and action involves a wide range of hard management decisions. It is not enough to proclaim one’s good intentions through policy documents and statements. India has no dearth of good policies and programmes. The basic question is one of commitment to act. Reviewing interesting initiatives, successful inno-vations and effective programmes, one cannot but notice that India is a country of varied experiences. No document can do justice to the hundreds of stories, small and large, that made a difference. From committed teachers who plug along regardless of insensitive system and harsh ground conditions to large national projects that have become show pieces of the nation – it is not such a grim situation. The challenge before us is to devise ways and means to harness the experience of micro-initiatives, both in the government and non-government sector in order to bring about meaningful change in the management of education. We have wonderful policies, but are at a loss to implement them. Instead of working on new policy documents every few years, we as a nation will do well if we decide to set aside all debates and discussion on policy and focus on the effective implementation.8 We have talked the talk, lets now resolve to walk the walk, however arduous the journey may be. . Unless every child – girl and boy – has an opportunity to go to school, and is retained and taught in school for at least five years there will be no significant change in the educational scenario in India. Adult and Non-formal education programmes will then make a qualitative difference. Non-formal and other forms of partial education programmes cannot be a substitute for universal access to elementary education. This is of particular importance for girls’ education. Ensuring every girl child experiences childhood and has access to schooling should be the priority of all educational interventions. . • Identify the most deprived sections of society and design and implement timebound special programmes for girls. Link the special programmes to the formal school system (where feasible) and give a big push to girl children from the poorest and the most disadvantaged sections of the society. . • Similarly, running time-bound special educational programmes for adolescent girls (and boys) who are either out of school or have completed grade 5 and have nowhere 112

to go or have never been to school. Focusing on education, skill development, selfconfidence building and health education of adolescents will create a critical mass of educated women in society. The ripple effect of this needs no elaboration. Such an intervention will have a positive impact on primary education – creating role models that have visibly benefited from education. This intervention lends itself to effective NGO – Government collaboration. . • Upscale and replicate innovations that have made an impact (see page 16 of this paper) by organising intensive training and study tours for a team that is ready to initiate or strengthen a programme. Organisations like UNESCO can play a very important role in partnership with the Government. Intensive advocacy to replicate the lessons of few successful innovations could be followed by an intensive training/study tour. Handholding, nurturing and encouraging innovation is necessary. However, it is important to keep in mind that only the generic principles can be replicated. No model, however successful, can be duplicated. Duplication of models can be disastrous – especially in a country with so much diversity. . • Orient and train educational administrators, teachers and faculty in training institutions and sensitise them to gender dimensions of educational access and give them the necessary skills to deal with gender issues in their working and living environment. Training a few individuals in an organisation will not suffice. A critical number of converted and motivated functionaries are necessary to bring about sustainable change in any organisation. . • Follow-up gender sensitisation training with appropriate administrative reform. Rules, regulations, work ethics, training systems and a whole range of management systems need to be reviewed from the gender lens. Some examples have been cited in this paper. . • Do away with stand alone gender consultants or women’s focal points in mainstream institutions. Create a three-dimensional (matrix) system. A three-way work allocation system can be adopted. For example each functionary can be given three interlocking responsibilities. Dimension one related to a component of the programme (formal, non-formal, extra-curricular, school health, teacher training, curriculum development etc.). Dimension two related to a special focus group girls (even here one can distribute between urban poor, rural backward community, minority) children with disabilities, children from disadvantaged castes / communities, children of nomadic tribe etc. Dimension three where each worker is made fully responsible for one small geographical area – with full responsibility for logistics, personnel and finance. Each functionary ends up with an interesting job profile. The danger of marginalisation can be addressed in this way. Training and support of functionaries to work in a holistic manner is a precondition for the success of this strategy. • Create a public platform at the District/State/ Regional level where key political leaders are invited to publicly commit themselves to promoting girls’ education. Follow up with regular news/information on what is happening where. The main focus could be on facilitating the implementation of Government’s policies and programmes. This platform could also be used for seeking information, recognising teachers who have made a difference, giving awards, bringing to light persistent absenteeism by teachers in some areas and so on. Making primary education a public and political issue may go a long way in building


political commitment and administrative will. . Adult literacy programmes The main strategy that has been followed since 1988 to spread adult literacy has been the Total Literacy Campaign (TLC) of the National Literacy Mission (NLM), using volunteers in time-bound decentralised programmes. Post Literacy Campaigns and Continuing Education Programmes have also been part of the NLM’s effort to sustain adult literacy. The NLM was revamped in 1999. The goal that has been set is to attain a sustainable threshold of 75% literacy by 2007 by imparting functional literacy to non-literates in the 15–35 age group. At the core of the programme is a pedagogical approach known as ‘Improved Pace and Content of Learning’ which essentially maintains that given the shortlived motivation of adult learners, literacy classes need to be short in duration with intensive teaching and high quality inputs. These campaigns are area-specific, time-bound, participative, cost-effective and outcome-oriented. Apart from imparting functional literacy, TLC also disseminates a ‘basket’ of other socially relevant messages, such as enrolment and retention of children in schools, immunisation, propagation of small family norms, women’s equality and empowerment, peace and communal harmony, etc. The impact of these efforts is reflected in the data.The female literacy rate increased from 39.3% in 1991 to 53.7% in 2001, while the male literacy rate increased from 64% to 75% over the same period.The gender gap in literacy has thus come down from around 25% to 21% between 1991 and 2001. There has been a decline in the absolute number of female illiterates from 200.07 million in 1999 to 189.6 million in 2001. Education for all The 86th Constitutional Amendment Act, 2002 makes free and compulsory education a justiciable fundamental right for all children in the 6–14 year age group. The Government of India is committed to realising the goal of elementary education for all and bridging of gender and social gaps by 2010. The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA – Education for All), launched in 2001– 02, is the national umbrella programme that is spearheading the universalisation of elementary education through a community-owned approach, with a specific focus on the provision of quality education. SSA has relied on the Education Guarantee Scheme (EGS) and Alternative and Innovative Education (AIE) which are specially designed to provide access to school-less habitations. SSA seeks to reduce the gender and social gap through context specific innovative interventions. The National Programme for Education of Girls at Elementary Level (NPEGEL), a component of SSA, provides region specific strategies to enable girls to come to school, provide remedial teaching through bridge courses and residential camps. It targets the most educationally backward blocks in the country where the female literacy rate is below the national average and the gender gap is above the national average.

The District Primary Education Programme (DPEP) started in 1994 had a holistic approach to reducing gender and social disparities and universal access, retention and achievement. Enrolment of girls has shown significant upward trend in DPEP districts as compared to non-DPEP districts.


A synergetic public-private partnership has been built up during the Tenth Plan to achieve the objectives of Universalisation of Elementary Education. There has been significant mobilisation of women’s groups, grassroots level women’s associations and mothers’ groups to secure regular attendance and continuation in schools. Lok Jumbish, a programme started in Rajasthan in 1992, gives priority to the education of girls, and to involving women at all levels of educational management. Adhyapika Manch (female teachers’ forum) was a unique strategy adopted by Lok Jumbish in which it focused on the role of women teachers in education for social change. In its third phase, 1999–2004, special emphasis has been given to Sahaj Shiksha Centres established for children belonging to school-less small habitations, girls engaged in domestic chores and dropout children in the age group, 9 years and above. Balika Shikshan Shivirs (girls’ camp) have been opened for those adolescent girls who have missed the opportunity of going to school because of family compulsions, early marriage or lack of school facilities. Muktangans or open space schools have been opened where children in the 5–14 years age group can come according to their own convenience and learn at their own speed. The Madhya Pradesh Education Guarantee Scheme, started in 1997, received international recognition with the award of the Commonwealth Gold Medal for best International Innovation 1998, given by the Commonwealth Association of Public Administration and Management. Under EGS, the Government gives a guarantee to provide a primary schooling facility to children in a habitation where there is no such facility within a kilometre, within a period of 90 days of receiving a demand for such a facility by the local community. The EGS has thus created a three way partnership to ensure the right to primary education: between the community, the local government (panchayat), and the state government. A primary schooling facility has been set up in every habitation of the State. This scheme has been able, through decentralised provisioning and management of primary schooling, to expand outreach and better target disadvantaged children. The key principles of the programme are decentralisation, community ownership and partnership, and it is girls from disadvantaged groups that have especially benefited. Moreover, the achievement levels of EGS school children have been found to be on par with those of regular government primary schools. The Madhya Pradesh Jan Shiksha Adhiniyam,2000 (People Education Act) was formulated for strengthening community management of education, on the principles of statecommunity partnership and for making the public education system accountable to the community for the quality of education it delivered. School curricula and teaching-learning materials have been revised to make them gender sensitive.Social learning curriculum (SLC) started as part of a small educational project for girls and later adapted for about 150 government schools in Uttar Pradesh, has been an attempt to include overt teaching lessons with broad objectives of developing appreciation for equity, respect for diversity and democracy, capability to question, argue and negotiate in the context of real life experiences and social situations. Initially aimed at girls and later all the children in the 9+ age group, the SLC is based on the belief that schooling is an influential form of socialisation where children from an early age are capable of learning complex values,processes,relations and positions, if taught and transacted through


appropriate methods and tools. Two initiatives Udaan and Janshala need a special mention. The Udaan experience reflects upon the content and the process of developing the SLC, training the teachers, the challenges faced and the impact on girls. Janshala is a school improvement programme operational in all formal primary schools of 138 blocks in India. The Shiksha Karmi project aims at universalisation and qualitative improvement of primary education in remote, and socio-economically backward villages of Rajasthan with primary attention being given to girls. With teacher absenteeism having been identified as a major problem area, this project substitutes teachers in single teacher schools with a team of education local residents called Shiksha Karmis,’10% of whom are women. The National Policy of Education, 1986 is a major landmark in the evolution of the status of women in India. The policy addresses not only the issue of equality of educational opportunity for women but commands the entire educational system to work for women’s equality and empowerment. The policy gives overriding priority to the removal of women’s illiteracy and obstacles inhibiting their access to and retention in elementary education. The policy of non-discrimination will be pursued vigorously to eliminate sex stereotyping in vocational and professional courses and to promote women’s participation in non-traditional occupations, as well as in existing and emergent technologies. There are several programmes of Early Childhood Care and Education which include the ICDS, creches, Balwadis, ECE centres, pre-primary schools run by the state and the private sector and many experimental and innovative projects like Child-to-Child programmes, Child Media Lab, Mobile creches and Vikas Kendras. Making education a fundamental right for the 6–14 age group has led to inadequate attention being given to the 0–6 years, as well as the 14–18 age groups,in educational programmes. There is a need to improve quality of Early Childhood Care and Education for the 0–6 age group. Likewise, special effort needs to go into educational planning for young adolescent girls. Schooling has been made completely free for girls in most states upto the higher secondary stage. The participation of girls in secondary education has been increasing steadily from 13.3% in 1950– 51 to 39.9% in 2001–02. Various Centrally Sponsored Schemes have been formulated to strengthen school education and a large number of girls have benefited from these schemes. Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas (JNVs) have been setup in rural areas as pace setting schools for talented rural children and also to ensure greater participation of girls from SC/ST communities and from households below the poverty line. One third of seats in JNVs is reserved for girls. In the higher education sector, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has been implementing various schemes for promoting women’s education in Universities and Colleges like schemes of grants to women’s universities for technical courses,scheme for construction of women’s hostels, setting up of Women’s Study Centres in 34 universities, etc. Participation of women students in polytechnics was one of the thrust areas under World Bank assisted Technical Education Project. The scheme of community polytechnic aims at bringing in communities and encouraging rural development through Science and Technology apprenticeship and through skill oriented non-formal training focused on women, minorities, SCs/STs/OBCs and other disadvantaged sections of the society. Currently, 43% of the total beneficiaries are


women. The Indira Gandhi National Open University identified 148 districts with low female literacy and have provided those districts with IT infrastructure so as to establish connectivity in these regions with other parts of the country for free flow of information. Resources Resources allocated to education were 3.49% of the GDP in 1997–98 and 3.82% in 2001– 02, 3.97% of GDP in 2002–03, with the highest being 4.25% in 1999–2000, although the commitment to increase resources to 6% of GDP was accepted in 1995. Elementary education received the highest priority with more than half (1.76%) of the investment in 2002–03 being at this level. Resources allocated to education are expected to increase in proportion to the requirements of universalisation. To ensure that the programme is not checked by shortage of resources, the present government has imposed a 2% educational cess on Union Taxes. The cess amount estimated for the year 2004–05 is Rs. 49,100 million (0.16% of GDP). The private sector in education is growing, and while this helps in expanding the schooling infrastructure it is also associated with the emerging inequities— those who are better off, urban and male going to private schools and those who are poorer, rural and predominantly female going to government schools.

Policy Framework and Action Points

There follow a number of action points which governments may wish to adapt to suit their national circumstances and use in the formulation of policies, plans, programmes and projects. School management, teachers and school staff organise gender training/planning workshops for teaching staff, in co-operation with school management, parents associations and teachers unions, in order to provide school staff with an understanding of the construction of gender; develop binding guidelines and disseminate them to all educational and training institutions; publish a newsletter containing information and data on gender and education; establish, for all staff, selection and promotion criteria that include specific expectations in relation to the achievement of gender equity; develop materials to assist teachers with assessment and evaluation procedures, including examples of assessment tools that consider the different experiences, interests and aptitudes of girls; encourage teachers to change their practice in a particular way, through, for example, promotion or allocation of resources; and ask schools to submit a plan of action to achieve gender equality and equity, and an annual report on progress made in this respect. School organisation and practice


ensure that the school dress code enables girls to engage in sport and active play; establish staffing procedures to ensure that women are represented in leadership positions; ensure that the timetable provides girls with real flexibility in their subject choice; and provide for the physical needs of each girl in relation to privacy, hygiene and clothing. Curriculum ensure that gender considerations are included in all educational and training curricula, thus providing a curriculum which in content, language and methodology meets the educational needs and entitlements of girls and which recognises the contributions of women to society and values female knowledge and experience; include in the curriculum a range of teaching methods which best promote the active participation of girls in learning; provide access for girls to all areas of the curriculum, and establish the skills and confidence necessary to utilise this access; in partnership with the school community, provide information on conception, contraception, pregnancy, childbirth, child rearing, parenting and relationships; develop a curriculum which critically examines the gender distribution of work in families, households and paid work, and the relative values attributed to these different kinds of work by society; and provide advice on subject choices to ensure that girls do not limit their training and employment opportunities by the patterns of their study. Educational materials ensure that textbooks and tests are gender-sensitive as regards the language, images and examples used therein. Career counselling and guidance sensitise people engaged in career counselling on gender issues, thus ensuring that they also direct women to sex-atypical occupations; disseminate information to students and parents about career counselling and vocational guidance; devise a career guidance programme to encourage bright girls to further their education in areas where they are traditionally under-represented, such as technical and scientific areas; and guide boys and men also into ‘female’ occupations, which could eliminate gender segregation in jobs. Girls’ perceptions and attitudes stimulate girls to plan on working careers by changing their expected time allocations to both the labour force and home and their own perceptions of their roles and capabilities; establish mechanisms for identifying, supporting and monitoring girls at risk; and provide programmes for school teachers, counsellors and parents in order to enable them 118

to understand those issues which place girls at the risk of not completing their education, issues such as income support, housing and childcare. Parents’ attitudes and involvement set up parent-teacher organisations to increase the awareness among parents of the benefits of educating and training girls and to involve parents more with schooling in general; and engage parents and the community in the development of programmes and materials that enhance and develop awareness of the impacts of gender construction. Sex education give advice to young girls and boys on avoiding unwanted pregnancies and on reproductive health, including protection against HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. Sex-based harassment develop programmes that teach girls and boys effective communication and conflict resolution skills; develop policies at school level to demonstrate that sex-based harassment is unacceptable behaviour and ensure that it is punished; and provide programmes and materials that inform school and wider communities about the underlying causes of sex-based harassment and its impact on the education of girls. Vocational training prohibit discrimination in vocational education and apprenticeship programmes; take affirmative action to recruit more women to vocational education and apprenticeships; ensure that girls are familiarised with vocational education and apprenticeships, set up orientation programmes and provide connections with potential employers; and re q u i re government contractors to provide on-the-job training opportunities for women or to participate in training programmes that include women and minorities. Affirmative action put in place a programme to give preference to women in terms of education and training and career advancement until such time as women are available in sufficient numbers and at sufficiently high levels to ensure fair competition. Image of women devise strategies to project a more positive image of women’s working abilities and promote their entry into non-traditional occupations. Non-governmental organisations can play an important role in reorienting society’s and men’s attitudes to acceptance of new employment roles for women.



Studies of gender and health issues abound with evidence of the disadvantaged status of women relative to men. India is one of the few countries where women and men have nearly the same life expectancy at birth, despite the natural female advantage in this regard. However, it has also been pointed out that the focus of health research must move beyond the reproduction of data that repeatedly proves this disadvantaged status, to actually examining the reasons for India’s falling sex ratios, gender differentiated mortality rates, and socio-cultural beliefs governing health. However, there is no consistent overall policy framework on gender issues to which government departments can be held accountable. The national machinery dealing with women and development lacks co-ordination, resources and power. The system needs reform .Gender and health There are now a host of indicators available on women.s health in India showing their poor health status compared to men. However, there is also a need to move beyond reproducing these data to examining the causes of differential mortality by gender; gender-specific health environments; and socio-cultural and other norms surrounding health, which create different perceptions of and responses to women’s and men’s health. Also, women may be more susceptible than men to diseases which cause death. Comparisons of the morbidity of men and women in the same households usually show female morbidity to be higher, possibly due to lack of health care. Differential morbidity by gender is partly due to the different health hazards to which men and women are exposed. One study in Tamil Nadu showed a higher incidence of respiratory diseases among girls exposed to smoke-filled kitchens. There may also be differences in the duration and intensity of illness by gender, these being correlated with poor nutritional status and inadequate health care. Because of undernourishment, girls are likely to take longer to recover from illnesses. Nutritional status and growth are also affected by illnesses and their severity and duration, and the health care received during and after illness. At least four sets of factors conditions gendered access to health care, i.e. need; permission; ability (including affordability); and availability. The extent of women.s relative health needs has already been indicated, but evidence from elsewhere suggests that the probability of girls. illnesses being reported is much lower than boys; women are socialised into accepting pain and suffering. In terms of permission, i.e. social factors affecting access to health care by gender, women.s constrained mobility and literacy are a disadvantage. Ability to access health care is limited by direct and opportunity costs, and the lack of fit between the timings of clinics and hospitals compared to women.s schedules. Poor women cannot afford to wait for long periods at government facilities so


they tend to use private health care for all but severe or chronic illnesses. The availability of health care is restricted in terms of coverage and quality especially in rural areas. Other issues here are the relevance of the care provided to women.s needs; and the culture and attitudes prevailing in health sector institutions. Many women, especially those from rural areas, find the health system quite alien. The scolding. attitude of medical staff also dissuades women from using health sector institutions. For a combination of these reasons, most women in rural areas continue to use home remedies or local health systems. There has been some success in integrating allopathic and non-allopathic medicine at local levels, but not on a broad institutional scale. Meanwhile, .modernisation. and environmental degradation may represent threats to indigenous knowledge bases on health and health resources. Measures are required to indigenous health resource and knowledge bases and to develop their potential, especially among women. The approach to women’s health has evolved over the 90s from a target-oriented approach into a more holistic, integrated life-cycle and needs-based approach. The challenge is to ensure that women’s health throughout the life cycle, from birth to old age, is a public health priority; and that it is viewed in a holistic manner that encompasses decline in the incidence of diseases; improvement in access to, and the quality of services; and empowers women to make informed choices. Improvement in the health status of women is sought to be achieved through access and utilisation of health, family welfare and nutrition services with special focus on the underprivileged segment. The Government of India is engaged in considering ways and means of fostering active community involvement in the population and reproductive health programme. Bringing down the incidence of maternal mortality is a priority. The progress is evident from the data, which shows fall in maternal mortality rate (MMR) from 437 in 1993 to 407 in 1998. The total fertility rate (TFR) stood at 3.2 in 1998 and the objective is to bring this down to 2.1 by 2010. Infant mortality rate (IMR) for girls was 70.8 in 1999 and 69.8 for boys. Latest data suggests that the IMR in 2002 stood at 65 for girls and 62 for boys. The crude birth rate fell from 29.5 to 25.0 and the crude death rate from 9.8 to 8.1 between 1991 and 2002 respectively. Maternal mortality, despite the fall in the MMR, remains high. In Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, it is 707 and 670 respectively. Other states in which MMR is above the national average of 407 are Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Assam. Causes of maternal death include haemorrhage, sepsis, obstructed/ prolonged labour,unsafe abortion,anaemia, etc. Factors responsible include poor health care facilities, lack of access to health care units,poor nutrition,early marriage,frequent and closely spaced pregnancies. Access of the poor to integrated health services is limited, especially in rural areas, despite the fact that the poor face a disproportionate disease burden. The resurgence of communicable diseases is a challenge. The Common Minimum Programme of the present government commits to increase public health expenditure to 2–3% of GDP. The government proposes to launch a National Rural Healthcare Mission throughout the


country to improve healthcare delivery over the next five years. Key measures include a national scheme for health insurance for poor families,special attention to poorer sections, food and nutrition security, focused population stabilisation programme in high fertility districts, replication of success of the southern states, and availability of life saving drugs at reasonable prices.

India’s health system There is a range of health institutions in India, including government services, private institutions and NGOs. A considerable bias exists towards urban areas in terms of availability of health care facilities — in 1986, only 21% of all hospitals were in rural areas. Government health care systems are based on the establishment of Primary Health Care (PHCs) centres and sub-centres. Though PHCs are meant to cover only 30,000 persons each, only 15% of them stayed under this limit (1988). Studies have shown that in rural areas, PHCs cover over 40,000 people each on average and that 16% of the population in rural areas lives over 10km away from the nearest health care centre (Bhalla 1995). Inadequate number of PHCs and poor health care at those that do exist has led to the growth of a large private health sector. Recent data suggests that over 84% of health expenditure is now private. The effects of the increased privatisation of health care is dealt with in detail below. Access to health care is found to vary by income-level: studies have found that low-income households treated less than half of illness episodes compared to over 65% in high-income households. Health also forms a lower percentage of overall household expenditure in lower income households.

The primary implication of such nutritional biases is deteriorating levels of women’s health. The effect of this deterioration on the ability of women to fight disease is discussed elsewhere in this report. Lower rates of nutrition, however, also imply reduced economic productivity of women in terms of a reduced ability to function at optimal capacity, more sick days, and the inability to undertake regular long-term employment. Indeed, when explaining the retrenchment of an inordinate number of female workers, a government sector company cited such factors as the reasons for the women’s dismissals. Another important conclusion that must not be missed is the worrying inability of increased literacy levels and higher levels of income to affect ingrained nutritional biases. Health Indicators: A Comparison Past Health Indicators Performance Crude Birth Rate (Per 40.8 (1951) thousand population) Crude Death Rate (Per 25.1 (1951) thousand population) IMR (per thousand live 146 (1951– births) 61) MMR (per 100000 live 437 (1992–

Latest Findings 25.0 (2002) 8.1 (2002) 64 (2002) 407 (1998)


births) TFR (per woman) Couple Protection Rate

Life Expectancy at Birth Male Female Immunisation Status (% (1985–86) Coverage) TT (for pregnant women) 40 For Infants: BCG 29 Measles 44 DPT 41 Polio 36

93) 6.0 (1951) 10.4 (1970– 71) (1951) 37.1 36.1

3.2 (1999) 52.0 (2000) (1996–2001) 63.87 66.91 (2003–2004) 82.9 102.5 91.8 96.6 97.0

Source : Annual Report 2003–04, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, GOI

Health system reforms Health is a state subject. Faced with suboptimal functioning and resource limitations, almost all state governments have introduced health system reforms. Several states have obtained external assistance to augment their own resources for initiation of health sector reforms. Almost all States have attempted introduction of user charges for diagnostics and therapeutic procedures from people above the poverty line. The funds, thus, generated could be used to improve the quality of care in the institution. One of the major initiatives of the Ninth Plan was the Secondary Health System Strengthening project funded by the World Bank in seven states (Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Punjab, West Bengal, Maharashtra,Orissa and Uttar Pradesh).The focus in this project is on strengthening FRUs/CHCs and district hospitals to improve availability of emergency care services to patients near their residence and reduce overcrowding at district and tertiary care hospitals. The States have reported progress in construction works, procurement of equipment, increased availability of ambulances and drugs improvement in quality of services following skill upgradation training in clinical management, changes in attitudes and behaviour of healthcare providers; reduction in mismatches in health personnel/ infrastructure; improvement in hospital waste management, and disease surveillance and response system.

Gender and HIV/AIDS
Held in June of 2001, the United Nations Special Session on HIV/AIDS introduced a strong need to consider the gendered impact of HIV/AIDS, especially in developing countries. In the last three years, the percentage of people infected with HIV who are


women has risen from 41% to 47%, a higher rate of increase than that amongst men. Women are biologically more prone to getting the virus from sexual contact than men — the rate of infection from men to women is twice that of transmission in the reverse direction — but several other factors including economic dependence, social and cultural factors, bias in access to health care, lack of authority etc. further compound women’s biological disadvantage (UNIFEM 2000). In the case of India, it was found that only 36% of married women between the ages of 15-49 currently use modern contraception. (IIPS 1995). Studies have also found that, even when knowledge of contraception techniques exists, factors such as place of residence (state of residence and rural vs. urban), education, and religion are strongly related to both fertility and contraceptive use. (Velkoff and Adlakha, 1998). Data shows that Muslims have the lowest levels of contraceptive use while Sikhs have the highest; urban areas had higher use than rural areas; and use increases with increasing education levels (IIPS 1995). There is thus a need to problematise the issue of HIV/AIDS beyond the medical semantics to economic, social and cultural issues and, for the focus of this report, to gender. The gendered impact of HIV/AIDS is said to be predominant due to several factors: Financial dependence on men is one aspect of an unequal power dynamic, which means that women cannot control when, with whom and in what circumstances they have sex. Increasing poverty has forced many women to enter the commercial sex trade where rates of infection are very high and the power dynamic between them and their clients is imbalanced (see below). Within culture and religious bounds, women are not expected to discuss or make decisions about sexuality or ask for contraceptive use. Being a sexually transmitted disease for the most part, incidences of HIV/AIDS among women are often unreported for fear of the effects of such a disclosure on the reputation of such women, who fear ostracism from their families and communities. Cases of sexual abuse and domestic violence add to women’s subjugation. Refusing unprotected sex, or sex in general, might also lead to sexual abuse and domestic violence against women.

It has been found that the truck drivers are instrumental in carrying the HIV virus to rural and outlying areas (Upadhyay 2000). 5% of truck drivers are infected with the HIV virus, and more than 90% admit to visiting a prostitute at least once a week, with 68% of the encounters occurring without the use of any contraception. Low-income male workers in


urban areas in construction, transport and trade sectors have all been found to have frequent encounters with prostitutes. Increasing gender-sensitivity in health programmes - Awareness raising about women’s, and specifically girls’, health problems is needed to promote early recognition and treatment of illness among girls. - Health delivery systems need to be designed to take account of limitations on women’s flexibility in timing and mobility in attending health facilities. - Family planning programmes need to promote a wider range of contraceptive methods and follow up care. Women are rarely independent decision-makers; it is vital to educate men regarding responsible family planning. Gender-sensitive AIDS awareness and behavioural change requires decentralised peer group education, e.g. in existing women’s organisations in literacy programmes, and among groups of men, to complement mainstream public information campaigns.

Social sector policy, biases Social sector policies, institutions and delivery systems are influenced by historical legacies as well as by the interests of the various interest groups who influence state resource allocation. Current ideology about the nature and causes of poverty, about the role of the state in basic needs provision as well as prevailing views of gender roles and relations, also shape social services provision. Unless carefully conceived, social services provision can act to reinforce and reproduce gender biases. Moreover, not all women are equally served by social sector provision; biases also prevail according to region, location, class, caste and community. This chapter and the following one on education provide ample evidence of such biases in the Indian context. To date, social sector spending has been characterised by certain biases. Firstly, government subsidies have been concentrated in economic rather than social services, tending to benefit private entrepreneurs and better-off farmers. Secondly, the share of state allocations to health and education in Plan outlays have been declining steadily, except for a recent (since 1985) rise in the share of education expenditure (see Table 2). The share of health allocations continue to decline. Thirdly, social sector spending has been biased towards urban areas and towards higher level services. As a result of cumulative biases, social sector subsidies are mainly captured by relatively high income groups. For example, only 20 percent of health subsidies and about 35 percent of water, sanitation and housing subsidies reach the rural sector, where two thirds or more of the Indian population lives


The gender implications of these biases in funding have not been fully analyzed. However, it is clear that biases towards higher level services are likely to favour men, who, for example, form a progressively higher proportion of students at higher levels of the education system. Moreover, the lack of provision in areas such as health, pre-school, and lower levels of education, and water and sanitation, particularly in rural areas, increases the work burden of women directly, reducing their possibilities for productive employment and/ or taking a toll on their health in terms of reduced leisure and increased workload. There is increasing emphasis on NGO and community participation in social sector service delivery, and women are expected to play a key role within community based provision, often as unpaid volunteers. However, women’s participation will be constrained by their existing work burden, unless there are clear incentives and economic or social benefits to women’s participation built into community-based service provision. Health institutions and health policy Recent government policies have taken a very top-down, centralised approach to try and dictate family planning methods and their usage. Having historically used cash incentive programs to promote terminal contraception, policies are now trying to enforce rules that would disqualify persons who have more than two children from panchayats (local village councils). A recent bill seeks to extend this to members of parliament who violate the two-child norm. In June 1994, the Ministry of Labour tried to introduce amendments to the Maternity Benefit Act to restrict benefits to those mothers who had two or fewer children. Women’s groups argue that such policies do not change basic social biases involving family planning and that the government needs to focus on interactive, community-based education projects (that involve men and women) with adequate follow up care to change patterns of contraceptive use.

Under government direction, the use of non-terminal family planning policies (contraception, oral pills etc.) is increasing but is still nowhere near adequate levels. Terminal procedures such as vasectomies for men and tubectomies for women are more common, though the date on the numbers of procedures performed may be skewed due to the government sponsored voluntary sterilisation drives of the late 1980s (Mayer 1999). Regardless, terminal contraceptive procedures show a large gender bias. 93% of such procedures are tubectomies, though vasectomies are less dangerous procedures that can be performed just as easily. The focus of family planning policies on women has angered women’s groups. They argue that focusing family planning policies on women ignores the reality that women are usually not the decision makers in issues of fertility in a patriarchal culture like India’s. Further complaints leveled against the government’s family planning policies by women’s groups highlight areas of concern. These include: Government health care providers do not offer adequate information — if any at all — on reversible, non-terminal contraceptive options to women because they do not consider them to be responsible enough to be able to use them.


The use of injectibles and untested contraceptive methods, distributed without adequate information or follow up care, has also drawn sharp criticism from women’s groups. The increasing use of sex-determination tests without any safeguards or legal provisions, and the legalisation of abortions without first ensuring that adequate facilities were available have both angered women’s groups who argue that the government must build facilities and infrastructure to aid women to be able to take responsible and informed education before dictating top-down policy that isn’t appropriate to their reality. It is also imperative that the government recognises that a pervasive preference for the male child distorts the incentives for persons to respond to family planning initiatives and, therefore, programs must account for this preference and educate against it. Insufficient research has been done to gain feedback from women of different groups to find out what forms of contraception are more acceptable in their communities. Tailoring family planning programs to the specific needs of communities is critical to ensure their success. As an example, women’s groups point out that breast feeding, accepted in almost all communities, has a contraceptive function and also helps in increasing the gap between children but is never aggressively promoted in government family planning programs. There are a range of health service providers in India, including government services, private practitioners and voluntary organisations. Whilst there has been considerable investment in government health infrastructure, this has been heavily biased in favour of urban curative services. At the same time, urban-rural differentials in hospital coverage have widened (21 percent of hospitals were in rural areas in 1986 compared to 39 percent in 1956) and intended coverage of primary health centres (PHCs) and sub-centres has not been achieved. In 1987, there was one primary health centre per 40,215 population on average, compared to a target of one per 30,000. In 1988, only 15 percent of PHCs fulfilled the prescribed norms in terms of population coverage and supplies. There was a particular shortage of lady health visitors (LHVs) suggesting that women’s health needs specifically were being neglected. One recent study found that 7.1 percent of rural births take place in government hospitals compared to 43.1 percent of urban births. Of home deliveries, 9.4 percent were attended by medical personnel in rural areas, compared to 23.1 in urban areas. Poor and worsening coverage and quality of care in government health services has led to a mushrooming of the private health sector. In 1974, 16 percent of hospital beds were in the private sector; by 1988 this figure had risen to 30 percent. Recent data suggest that 84 percent of expenditure on health is privately rather than state financed. All social groups use private health care; the proportion of household health expenditure on private care ranges from 72 percent in low income groups to 95 percent in high income groups.


Voluntary agencies have also played a significant role in health provision and particularly in promoting alternative models of community health care. There are an estimated 7,000 voluntary health organisations in operation in India. Government is increasingly encouraging non-government health agencies to take on implementation of its programmes. Access to health care is affected by income level: one study found that low-income households treated less than half of illness episodes compared to 60 percent in highincome households; health spending formed only two percent of household expenditure in high-income households compared to 10 percent in low-income households. Status within the household, clearly affected by gender, also determines access to health care . Health policy as stated in the Eighth Plan stresses the goals of Health for All by the year 2000 and health for the underprivileged. Prioritization of primary health care is another theme. Beyond this, there is increasing promotion of both NGOs and the private sector as alternative providers. The quality of care offered by non-government health care providers and their ability to provide services to social groups currently excluded from provision cannot be assumed but requires investigation. If to date, there has been a failure to reach poor women in rural and urban areas, Dalits, tribals and Muslims, for example, this cannot be assumed to be only a problem of state inefficiency, since private and non-government actors have also been playing a major role in health provision for some time. Family planning is one area which has had an explicit and almost exclusive focus on women. Growth in family planning expenditure, particularly since the mid-1960s, is such that it is now almost equal to all other health expenditure put together. Moreover, family planning is now the lead agency in public health provision. These funding and organisational priorities reflect a dominant approach to women’s health in which women are targeted primarily as child bearers. Recent widespread criticism of family programmes has led to some modifications in the use of language relating to fertility control and in the delivery of family planning services. However, approaches to family planning based on women’s individual ‘right to choose’ need to address the limitations on women’s control over and choices about their sexuality and reproductive behaviour.

Women’s health is also affected by their work. The relationship between work and health is quite complex. The assumption that economic participation improves women’s status and thus health is too simplistic; it may do so but only under specific circumstances where they have control over increased earnings and feel the right to greater consumption, for example. Whilst work can increase incomes and thus spending on food and health care, this will not necessarily benefit women themselves. At the same time, longer working hours and occupational hazards can impact negatively on women’s health.


Women’s consumption is inadequate, particularly among poor women, but they work extremely long hours. Adolescent girls are often working 10 hours or more a day by the age of 15. Boys are more likely to be compensated for their work with additional food.

Ill-health, poverty and poor working conditions form a vicious cycle with relatively greater impact on women, who carry the burden of sickness in the family and are thus often constrained to work in the unregulated sector. Women are exposed to a range of occupational health hazards, from their domestic work as well as paid work and may be especially prone to occupational hazards because of their concentration in unregulated sectors. Specific occupational health hazards suffered by women include: bad posture; damage to eyesight; respiratory problems and exposure to dust and toxic chemicals; and forms of mental stress, anxiety and depression. Insufficient attention is paid to women’s occupational health problems which are often dismissed as caused by other factors. With the implementation of structural adjustment and the resulting likely expansion of unregulated and unorganised forms of employment, the need for systems of monitoring and protection for occupational health problems is increasing. Such systems would need to address the gender-specific nature of occupational health problems.

Gender bias in access to health care National survey data from 1990 found evidence of lower medical contact rates of female than male children and that female children were the most disadvantaged group in the household in this respect. The states with the largest gender differentials in medical contact rates were Orissa, Haryana and Punjab. Other smaller-scale studies have shown that female children are only one third of total children attending outpatient facilities; and only 16.5 percent of children admitted to hospital. Of those who are admitted, girls are more likely than boys to die, suggesting that they are only brought to hospital at an advanced stage of illness. However, survival chances of girls vary by birth order: whilst first sons and first daughters had roughly equal chances, the second plus daughter was at much greater risk, indicating selective neglect as between female children. This indicates that analysis of gender differentials in mortality and morbidity needs to contextualize gender categories according to age, birth order, familial relationship etc. At least four sets of factors conditions gendered access to health care, i.e. need; permission; ability (including affordability); and availability. The extent of women’s relative health needs has already been indicated, but evidence from elsewhere suggests that the probability of girls’ illnesses being reported is much lower than boys; women are socialised into accepting pain and suffering. In terms of permission, i.e. social factors affecting access to health care by gender, women’s constrained mobility and literacy are a disadvantage. Ability to access health care is limited by direct and opportunity costs, and the lack of fit between the timings of clinics and hospitals compared to women’s schedules. Poor women cannot afford to wait for long periods at government facilities so they tend to use private health care for all but severe or chronic illnesses. The availability of health care is restricted in terms of coverage and quality (see above)


especially in rural areas. Other issues here are the relevance of the care provided to women’s needs; and the culture and attitudes prevailing in health sector institutions. Many women, especially those from rural areas, find the health system quite alien. The ‘scolding’ attitude of medical staff also dissuades women from using health sector institutions. Finally, medical staff often adopt communal or other biases, for example, purveying the idea that Muslim women have too many children. This can lead to poor communication between medical personnel and client, resulting in unnecessary health risks. Awareness raising about women’s and specifically girls’ health problems may be important to promote early recognition and treatment of illness among girls. Health delivery systems need to be designed to take account of limitations on women’s flexibility in timing and mobility in attending health facilities. For a combination of these reasons, most women in rural areas continue to use home remedies or local health systems. There has been some success in integrating allopathic and non-allopathic medicine at local levels, but not on a broad institutional scale. Meanwhile, ‘modernisation’ and environmental degradation may represent threats to indigenous knowledge bases on health and health resources. Measures are required to indigenous health resource and knowledge bases and to develop their potential, especially among women.

Family planning There has been a great deal of controversy over family planning programmes in India. In some sections of the bureaucracy, among the elite and in some international agencies, the rate of growth of the Indian population is perceived to be responsible for increasing poverty, overcrowding, unemployment and so on. Others perceive poverty to be a cause rather than a consequence of population growth, since poor families may have additional children for security or as an economic resource. Family planning investments are seen by some as a substitute for development and structural change; vertical family planning programmes are relatively easy to implement, compared to long term improvements in the economy, in health and so on. Due to their primacy in funding and organisational terms, family planning programmes have been diverting resources from other health care uses; for example, Auxiliary Nurse Midwives, who are burdened with a wide range of health tasks at sub-centre level, are liable to focus mainly on meeting family planning targets and neglect their wider primary health care role. The assessment here is that the impact of family planning programmes has been relatively poor. There has been some success in increasing contraceptive usage, but limited impact on the birth rate. Terminal methods have been widely adopted but tend only to be used after family completion. Non-terminal methods have as yet made little impact.


A number of limitations of family planning programmes are presented, in relation to information, attitudes, the methods promoted and the lack of a gender perspective. Information tends to be limited to single methods, usually sterilization, rather than a range of methods being presented, together with their relative advantages and disadvantages. Here again, communal bias is prevalent: the widespread belief that Muslims do not use contraception and therefore need to be specifically targeted by family planning programmes is countered with evidence that, apart from markedly lower use of sterilization and higher use of the oral pill, their pattern of utilization of contraception is similar and overall only slightly below that of other religious groups. As regards methods, breast-feeding requires more concerted promotion and support, for its contraceptive effects and also nutritional benefits. This would require interventions in the workplace to assist breastfeeding. Terminal methods have a controversial history. Since the mass sterilization of men in camps in the 1970s, terminal methods have subsequently focused almost exclusively on women; the proportion of tubectomies in total sterilizations may be as high as 93 percent. Given that vasectomy is a comparatively straightforward procedure, awareness raising and promotion to counter the negative image of vasectomy is required. Similarly, barrier methods are rarely supplied to women on the grounds that they are ignorant of how to use them; in reality the need for ongoing supplies and monitoring (and therefore ongoing resources) may be the major constraint to their promotion. Injectables have attracted a lot of criticism from women’s organisations. They are considered to be under-tested, difficult to reverse and to have a range of potentially dangerous side effects. The context of lack of care in which these, as well as other contraceptive methods, are supplied, is a major problem in monitoring problems with contraceptive use. Family planning programmes need to promote a wider range of contraceptive methods, including balanced information about them all. Breast-feeding, barrier methods and vasectomy, in particular, need to be further encouraged. Follow up care needs to be provided in conjunction with family planning services, to ensure proper use, avoid complications and monitor for side-effects. In spite of the current emphasis on women’s right to choose, there is a lack of recognition of the constraints on women’s rights to choose over questions of their fertility and sexuality. Women working in the formal sector are to be penalised under new government legislation which will deny them maternity leave after the second child. There is little recognition of the fact that women are rarely independent decision-makers. It is just as important to educate men regarding responsible family planning and reproductive decision making.


State initiatives: National Health Policy 2002: focuses on the need for enhanced funding and an organizational restructuring of the national public health initiatives in order to facilitate more equitable access to the health facilities, particularly of the disadvantaged sections of society. It highlights the need for time-bound programmes for establishing a network of a comprehensive primary health care service, extension and health education, mediation through health volunteers, establishment of a referral system and encouraging private initiative for providing health care facilities. Reproductive and Child Health (RCH) Programme: (first phase 1997-03, second phase from 2003) aims at reduction of maternal and infant mortality, creation of awareness about rights of population in health care and improvement in the heath care delivery systems. Interventions for reducing maternal mortality and morbidity include the promotion of safe deliveries in institutions and at home. The birth attendants are being trained for conducting clean deliveries under RCH. Along with this, efforts have been increased to address women’s health issues and concerns related to HIV/AIDS, TB, Malaria, Leprosy and other communicable diseases. Visibility for men is also sought in the RCH programmes. National Rural Health Mission (NRHM): The NRHM (2005-2012) seeks to provide effective health care to rural population throughout the country with special focus on 18 States, which have weak public health indicators and/or weak infrastructure. It aims to undertake architectural correction of the health system to enable it to effectively handle increased allocations as promised under the National Common Minimum Programme and promote policies that strengthen public health management and service delivery in the country. It seeks to revitalize local health traditions and mainstream AYUSH into the public health system. It aims at effective integration of health concerns with determinants of health like sanitation & hygiene, nutrition, and safe drinking water through a District Plan for Health. It seeks to improve access to rural people, especially poor women and children, to equitable, affordable, accountable and effective primary healthcare. Family Welfare Programme: has adopted a Community Needs Assessment Approach (CNAA) since 1997, through a decentralised participatory planning strategy. The Department of Family Welfare has taken several new initiatives in the Ninth and Tenth Plan Periods to shift the focus from individualized vertical interventions to a holistic and life cycle approach giving priority to reproductive health care. The program as a part of the RCH programme aims at reducing infant mortality rate to 30 per 1000 live birth and maternal mortality rate to 100 per 100,000 live births by 2010. The major interventions

reiterated in the 10 Five Year Plan include 100 per cent registration of pregnant women, essential obstetric care (around 67 per cent of the pregnant women received atleast one antenatal checkup), 24 hour delivery services at PHCs and CHCs, screening for anemia, promotion of safe delivery by trained personnel, etc. Also efforts are being made for establishing male reproductive health centres to motivate men to accept family planning. No scalpel vasectomy project was launched in January 1998 to promote male participation in the family welfare programmes, due to which male sterilisations have gradually increased from 1.8 percent in 1997 to 2.46 percent in 2002. The project has 132

been implemented in 20 States. National Population Policy 2000: recognises links between socio-economic development and health. It affirms the commitment of the Government toward voluntary and informed choice, consent of citizens while availing of the reproductive health care services, and continuation of the target free approach in administering family planning services. Adolescent girls have been recognised as a priority group in the National Population Policy and the RCH programme. The Pre-Natal Diagnostic Technique (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act 1994 amended in 2003 seeks to prevent misuse of new technologies by bringing the technique of pre-conception sex selection and use of mobile ultra sound machines within the ambit of this Act and has made punishments more stringent. The Central Supervisory Board constituted under the Chairmanship of the Minister for Health and Family Welfare has been empowered for monitoring the implementation of the Act. Similarly State level Boards have been constituted for monitoring implementation in the States. Around 2000 district level committees have been set up in all the States and UTs, and separate bodies have been constituted for the Defence Services Medical Institutions. These apart from granting/canceling registration of centers also enforce prescribed standards. The Indian Medical Association in collaboration with UNICEF and NCW held a meeting of religious leaders in 2001 at which sex selection was strongly condemned. The co-operation of religious and spiritual leaders has been sought to create awareness about the rights of the girl child and the resultant consequences of female foeticide. The Advocacy Strategy formulated in 2002 for checking and preventing sex selection and termination of female foetus is being implemented in partnership with several stakeholders. The Supreme Court issued directions to the Centre, States and UTs in Centre for Inquiry into Health and Allied Themes (CEHAT) vs. Union of India (R (2001) 5 sec 577) regarding monitoring and effective implementation of the Act. The recently introduced ‘Janani Suraksha Yojana’ scheme has the main objective of reduction in maternal mortality/infant mortality by making available quality care in essential and emergency obstetric services and by way of focusing at increased institutional delivery in the BPL groups. The scheme focuses on tracking of pregnancy from the beginning, identification of pregnancy-related complications, enhanced assistance on delivery in a health institution, linking antenatal check up and mental care and providing appropriate referral and transport assistance. Trained and Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA)/Trained Birth Attendant act as an effective link between the field level Government machinery and intended beneficiaries, encouraging mental care, institutional delivery and small family norms. The scheme is available to all women from BPL families, of age 19 or above. Benefit is available upto two live births. Cash assistance as provided to the mother on the birth of a child in a health institution (institutional delivery) on a graded scale. A number of activities have been undertaken in a concerted manner in States where the decline in child sex ratio is significant. Government of India in collaboration with the State Governments, Population Foundation of India, Plan India and other donor partners


launched a national campaign against sex selection and pre-birth elimination of female foetuses in eleven States namely Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. Apart from taking stringent action, they include the use of decoy customers, awareness raising through extensive use of multimedia, sensitization of the medical community and appropriate authorities, the launching of the “Save the Girl Child” campaign and appointing a high school topper, Ms. Aruna Kesavan, as its ambassador for the campaign for 2004, etc. The National Nutrition Policy (1993) and the National Plan of Action on Nutrition (1995): The policy recognizing the multifaceted nature of the problem of malnutrition recommended a multisectoral strategy at various levels. It includes both direct nutrition interventions for specially vulnerable groups as well as indirect policy instruments for creating conditions for improved nutrition, like ensuring food security, minimum wage and equal remuneration, improving the public distribution systems, effecting land reforms, etc. A National Nutrition Council has been set up under the Chairmanship of the Prime Minister and an Inter-ministerial Coordination Committee under the Chairpersonship of Secretary, DWCD for planning, coordinating, reviewing and monitoring the implementation of nutrition measures. This inter-sectoral approach has created a positive impact on the nutritional status of children below 6 years and expectant and nursing mothers. The National Nutrition Mission under the Chairpersonship of the Prime Minister was set up in 2003 with the objective of addressing the problem of malnutrition in a holistic manner and accelerating reduction in various forms of malnutrition. The Mission is also responsible for providing policy direction and effective coordination of nutrition programmes being implemented by the Government. A pilot project is being implemented in 51 backward districts in the country where undernourished adolescent girls, pregnant and lactating women are provided 6 kgs of wheat/rice per month free of cost. The National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) has taken several steps to prevent discrimination of women with HIV/AIDS. NACO through its Prevention of Parent to Child Transmission (PPTCT) program provides counseling to help pregnant women make informed choices about childbirth, treatment, etc. Abortion is never forced on her, nor is she forced to keep her child away from breast-feeding. It also emphasizes priority to be given to women’s needs in treatment, their involvement and participation in decision-making and supports the Positive Women Network+ (PWN+) which has membership from across the country to fight for their rights and encourages legal resources centers to take up cases in court pertaining to their right to health, property and employment. The Greater Involvement of Positive People (GIPA) strategy emphasizes involvement of HIV positive persons in decision-making processes. Apart from the above initiatives, NGOs have been proactive in providing health services, particularly in the areas of reproductive health and rights, checking and preventing female foeticide and infanticide and HIV/AIDS. They are active in


implementing programs related to drinking water and sanitation and hygiene. They are also involved in empowering, mobilizing and organising women, raising awareness, advocating for policy change and partnering with the Government in achieving the set standards. Public expenditure on health as percent of GDP and total Government expenditure has declined from 5.3 per cent in 1997 to 5.1 percent in 2001 and 3.5 per cent in 1998 to 3.1 percent in 2001 respectively. The Government expenditure to total expenditure on health has remained around 18 per cent during the same period. Private expenditure on health has shown a significant increase, indicating a growing dependence of the population on private health care facilities. Privatisation of health care would affect the most vulnerable sections -the women, the poor and those residing in the rural and backward regions.

Impact of State Initiatives The persisting adverse sex ratio has been an important concern to the nation. There has been a marginal increase from 927 in 1991 to 933 in 2001. During the decade, though there has been an improvement in sex ratio in both rural and urban areas, the sex ratio in urban areas is considerably lower than in rural areas. There is significant variation in sex-ratio across States. The sex ratios are more favourable for females in the Southern and Eastern States than the Western and Northern States. Kerala continues to have a sex ratio favourable to females (1036 & 1058 females in 1991 & 2001 respectively) as against a low of 710 in Daman & Diu and 777 in Chandigarh. The other States having an adverse sex-ratio include Haryana, Punjab, Sikkim and Delhi. Several States have also recorded a decline in sex-ratio during the decade.

The incidence of malnourishment among women and children continues to be widespread, the consequence of which is the high rate of morbidity and mortality among them. According to the NFHS II, 1997-98, more than 50 percent of the ever-married women and 75 per cent of children suffered from anemia. Women still lack access to the daily per capita requirement of the recommended minimum nutrition. Nearly 60 per cent of the women particularly pregnant and lactating women suffer from anemia. This is in spite of self-sufficiency of food production which has not percolated to households with low per capita income. A programme has been implemented since 1997-78 to treat anemia and severe anemia among pregnant women, wherein they have been provided with folic acid and iron tablets daily for 100 days. More than 90 percent of the households under the poverty line consumed less than the average energy levels

according to the estimates of the NSSO’s 50 Round Survey on Nutritional Intake in India.


The morbidity pattern, according to the National Council for Applied Economic Research Survey in 1995 indicated a prevalence rate of 103 per 1000 persons at the national level. It was found to be higher among women in both urban and rural areas. Further, it was seen to be highest among women in the 15-59 years age group, children below 5 years, old people ( above 60 years). Morbidity prevalence was highest in the States of Kerala, Orissa, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and Andhra Pradesh. Data from the National Cancer Registry Programme estimates the addition of about 800,000 new cancers cases in the country every year. Cancer sites associated with tobacco form 35 to 50 per cent of all cancers in men and about 17 per cent of cancers in women. These cancers are amenable to primary prevention and can be controlled to a large extent.. From a comparison of the goals and achievements made by Government between 19962000 on some of the indicators in health and family welfare programmes, it is seen that the goals set have been achieved with respect to life expectancy at birth. Achievement is close to fulfilment of the goal in relation to immunization of infants. Challenges ahead Women’s health is also related to the socio-cultural practices in the country. Women continue to carry the heavy burden of work both within and outside the house, follow the norm of eating last, have limited access to and control over resources, both tangible and intangible, and decision-making powers within the household. In spite of the various efforts made by the Government and other stakeholders to provide equal access to health care for women and children, there are striking disparities in the health status of women and children, particularly girl children. The disparities are higher for those belonging to the SC/ST and minority sections of the society, those residing in the remote rural and tribal areas, backward and conflict-ridden States and districts.



Violence against women and girls continues to be a global epidemic that kills, tortures, and maims – physically, psychologically, sexually and economically. It is one of the most pervasive of human rights violations, denying women and girl’s equality, security, dignity, self-worth, and their right to enjoy fundamental freedoms. Violence against women is present in every country, cutting across boundaries of culture, class, education, income, ethnicity and age. Violence against women is a universal problem that affects all countries, regardless of their degree of development, and occurs across all segments of society. It is an ancient and universal problem occurring in every culture and social group. Power inequalities between women and men and the masculine culture are the major sources of this violence. In order to stop violence against women, it is increasingly recognized that the focus of attention also needs to be directed toward men. Violence against women is not an isolated or contingent problem, but one with deep structural roots whose definitive solution will call for an ongoing effort from society as a whole. Violence against women is a social phenomenon of many and varied dimensions. It is the expression of a social order based on inequality, a result of the assignment of different roles to women and men on the grounds of their sex and differential recognition of the male role as superior. Violence, an expression of gender inequality, is therefore a mean to which many men recur to maintain their privileges by subjugating women, with devastating effects for the victims Gender-based violence is indiscriminate. It cuts across racial, ethnic, class, economic, religious and cultural divides. It affects women and men, girls and boys of all ages in different ways. However, females are more often the victims than males, with girlchildren and women with disabilities facing the most challenges. Many forms of sexual, physical, emotional and psychological violence are hidden, perpetuated in the privacy of the home and unseen by the community. Other harmful traditional practices and forms of socio-economic violence are structural and public. There is a growing recognition that countries cannot reach their full potential as long as women’s potential to participate fully in their society is denied. Data on the social, economic and health costs of violence leave no doubt that violence against women undermines progress towards human and economic development. Women’s participation has become key in all social development programmes, be they environmental, for poverty alleviation, or for good governance. By hampering the full involvement and participation of women, countries are eroding the human capital of half their populations. True indicators of a country’s commitment to gender equality lie in its actions to eliminate violence against women in all its forms and in all areas of life.


Until the late 1980s and the 1990s, violence against women was a taboo subject of discussion even in international fora analyzing the question of women’s rights. There were in fact two phases with regard to the articulation of the international human rights of women. The first phase, which culminated in the drafting of the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, involved discussion of the issues relating to “discrimination” against women in political and civil life as well as in economic, social and cultural life. Except for the question of trafficking, issues relating to violence against women were not included in the Convention. With a focus on discrimination in the workplace, access to state services, and discrimination in family law, the Convention was a major landmark for the international articulation of the rights of women. It was only in the 1980s that violence against women became a focal point of international mobilization. In 1991, the CEDAW Committee, responding to pressure from women’s groups formulated recommendation 19, that articulated violence against women as gender based discrimination covered by CEDAW. Women from the grassroots from all over the world came together and mounted an international campaign to make violence against women an important issue of human rights. These activities culminated at the United Nations World Conference on Human Rights that took place in 1993 in Vienna.

Domestic violence Domestic violence will be understood to be any violence, physical, sexual and/or psychological – in the last case, if reiterated – inflicted on the perpetrator’s spouse or intimate partner or on people comprising the core family. In many cases, in particular in the case of domestic violence inflicted on women, it occurs because the perpetrator is in a position to wield permanent power over the woman in question. Any definition of domestic violence must cover the following: . • Infliction of physical, sexual and/or psychological violence. . • Perpetration by the spouse or former spouse, partner, expartner or any other person with whom the victim forms or had formed a similar relationship (boyfriend/girlfriend) or by any other member of the family. . • In the case of domestic violence inflicted on women, command of a situation of permanent power by the perpetrator. . • Regularity, i.e., reiteration of violent acts, in the event of psychological violence.

Sexual violence Any act in which a person is obligated, under coercion by one or several others, to bear or


perform actions of a sexual nature may be termed sexual violence. Any definition of sexual violence must cover the following: . • . • dignity. Reference to any abusive act of sexual nature. Violation of the person’s sexual freedom, infringing on his/her human

Workplace violence This type of violence refers to abusive behaviour engaged in by superiors in rank or peers in the workplace, without the consent of the person on whom it is inflicted, creating an intimidating, hostile or humiliating work environment for the victim and jeopardising her/his job or interfering with her/his career. Therefore, the elements that characterise workplace violence are: . • Abusive behaviour. . • Perpetration at workplace. . • Infliction on a person without her/his consent. . • Creation of an intimidating, hostile or humiliating work environment for the victim. . • Placement of her/his job in jeopardy and limitation of her/his possibilities of promotion. Two different forms of workplace violence are considered: sexual harassment and bullying. The only characteristic differentiating the two is the sexual connotation inherent in the former. Nature and Forms of Domestic Violence ; The domestic violence against women may be classified as under – .(a) Physical Violence .(b) Emotional Abuse .(c) Economic Abuse Each of the above may take different forms and only the most common forms which are frequently used by the perpetrators may be described as under – (a) Physical Violence The most common and frequently used forms of physical violence used


against women are(i)Slaps (ii) beating (iii) pulsing (iv) Kicking (v) throwing objects (vi) beating with cane (vii) Burning with rod (viii) holding with rope (ix) Sexual coercion or assault. (b) Emotional Abuse : The mental or emotional abuse of a woman may take the following forms – (i) Using abusive language (ii) Insulting her in the presence of children, other member of the family and relatives (iii) Blaming her for everything that goes wrong in the family (iv) Charging her frequently on small and negligible issues (v) Making her feel guilty for no fault of her (vi) Giving her verbal threats to use physical force (vii) Giving her threat of divorce (viii) Treating her like a servant (ix) Keeping a strict watch on her movements (x) Prohibiting her from meeting her friends and relatives (xi) Prohibiting her from expression of her view on family matters (xii) Suspecting her for extramarital relations (xiv) Using ugly and insulting language for her parents (xv) Insulting her for housekeeping (xvi) Demeaning her family background (xvii) Criticising her for lacking intelligence (xviii) Threatening her to commit suicide (C) Economic Abuse Following are the most frequently used forms of economic abuse against women – (i) Preventing her from taking a job (ii) Forcing her to leave present job (iii) Not allowing her to purchase things of her liking and choice (iv) Stopping her from access to resources or money (v) Pressurising her to bring money from her parents and so on. CRIME AGAINST WOMEN IN INDIA Despite existence of a number of special legislations for providing protection to women, the proportion of crime against women has deteriorated. Women continue to be victims of various types of crimes. Although Women may be victims of any of the crimes such as `Murder', `Robbery', `Cheating', etc, only the crimes which are directed specifically against Women are characterised as `Crime Against Women'. These are broadly classified under two categories. (1) The Crimes under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) (i) Rape (Sec. 376 IPC) (ii) Kidnapping & Abduction for different purposes (Sec. 363 - 373 IPC) (iii) Homicide for Dowry, Dowry Deaths or their attempts (Sec. 302/304-B IPC)
(iv) Torture, both mental and physical (Sec. 498-A IPC)

(v) Molestation (Sec. 354 IPC)


(vi) Sexual Harassment* (Sec. 509 IPC) (vii) Importation of girls (upto 21 years of age) (Sec. 366-B IPC) (* referred in the past as `Eve-Teasing') (2) The Crimes under the Special & Local Laws (SLL) Although all laws are not gender specific, the provisions of law affecting women significantly have been reviewed periodically and amendments carried out to keep pace with the emerging requirements. The gender specific laws for which crime statistics are recorded throughout the country are (i) Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 (ii) Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 (iii) The Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Act, 1979 (iv) Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986 (v) Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act, 1987 Reported Incidents of crime A total of 1,40,601 incidents of crime against women were reported in the country during 2003 compared to 1,43,034 during 2002 recording 1.7% decline during 2003. These crimes had reported continual increase during the year 1999 to 2001 with values at 1,35,771, 1,41,373 and 143, 795 cases respectively and declined during 2002 and 2003 with 1,43,034 and 1,40,601 cases respectively. Andhra Pradesh, accounting for nearly 7.3 per cent of the country’s population, has accounted for 13.1% towards total incidents of crime against women in the country by reporting 18,382 cases. Madhya Pradesh, with nearly 5.9% share of country’s population has accounted for 10.3% of crime against Women by reporting 14,547 cases during the year. Crime Rate The rate of crime has also declined by 2.9 per cent from 13.6 in 2002 to 13.2 during the year 2003. Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi were the top three States in the order of crime rate at 23.6, 23.0 and 22.1 respectively. Trend Analysis The crime head-wise details of reported crimes during 1999 to 2003 alongwith percentage variation is presented in Table-. The crime against women has declined by 1.7 per cent over 2002 and increased by 3.6 per cent over 1999. The IPC component of crimes against women has accounted for 93 per cent of total crimes and the rest 7 per cent were SLL crimes against women.


TableProportion of Crime Against Women (IPC) towards total IPC crimes Sl.No Year 1 2 3 4 5 Total Crimes IPC Crime Against (IPC cases) women Percentage to total IPC crimes

1999 17,64,629 1,23,122 7.0 2000 17,71,084 1,28,320 7.2 2001 17,69,308 1,30,725 7.4 2002 17,80,330 1,31,112 7.4 2003 17,16,120 1,31,364 7.6 The proportion of IPC crimes committed against women towards total IPC crimes have increased continually during last 5 years from 7.0 per cent in 1999 to 7.6 per cent during 2003.
Crime head-wise analysis

Rape cases have reported mixed trend over last 5 years with an increase of 1.8 per cent in the year 2002 over 2001 and a decrease of 3.2 per cent in the current year. Madhya Pradesh has reported the highest number of Rape cases (2,738) accounting for 17.3% total such cases reported in the country. However, Mizoram has reported the highest crime rate 5.9 as compared to National average of 1.5. Rape cases have been categorised as Incest Rape and other Rape cases. Incest Rape As compared to 1.7 percent decrease in Rape cases, Incest cases have declined by 16.3 per cent from 369 cases in 2002 to 309 cases in 2003. Madhya Pradesh (123) has accounted for the highest 39.8 per cent of the total such cases in the country.

Rape Victims
Out of 15,847 reported Rape cases in the country, there were 15,856 victims of Rape. 8.3% (1,320) of the total victims of Rape were girls under the 14 years of age, while 11.3% (1,792) were teenaged girls (14-18 years). Nearly two-third (9,873) (65.5%) were Women in the age-group 18-30 years. 2,811 victims (17.8%) were in the age-group of 30-50 years while only 0.4 per cent were over 50 years of age. Offenders were known to the victims in as many as 13,782 (87.0%) cases. Of these neighbours were involved in 34.2% of cases (4,731 out of 13,782) and close relatives were involved in 6.9% (949) cases. The State/UT/City-wise details are presented in These cases have reported a decline to 8.3 per cent as compared to previous year


(14,506). Rajasthan(1,750) has accounted for 13.2 per cent of the total cases at the National level. Jammu & Kashmir with country’s share of 6.0% (797) cases has reported the highest rate at 5.7 as compared to the National level rate of 1.2. Rape: There is a growing demand for amendment of the narrow definition of rape in the IPC and to delete the provision in the Indian Evidence Act (Section 155 (4)), where the antecedent of the woman can impeach credibility of her evidence. The National Commission for Women has reviewed the laws and has recommended a comprehensive amendment regarding offences against women in the IPC to redress crimes against women. Consultations are under way to amend the relevant Sections of Indian Penal Code, Criminal Procedure Code and the Indian Evidence Act. A new scheme is also being drafted by National Commission for Women to provide compensation to rape victims. The Supreme Court in various cases is convicting the accused based on the evidence of the victim without seeking corroboration. In many cases, the Supreme Court, in addition to penalizing the accused has been granting compensation for women (BodhiSattwa Gautam -vs-Subhra Chakroborthy ( AIR 1996 SC 922), Chairman Railway Board -vsChandrima Das ( AIR 2000 SC 988 ), Delhi Domestic Working Women’s Forum –vsUnion of India {(1995 ) 1 SCC 14}. The Supreme Court has laid down certain guidelines about the support that should be given to the women in rape cases.

Dowry Deaths
These cases have declined by 8.8% over the previous year (6,822). Out of the total such cases reported in the country around 21.3% of such cases were reported from Uttar Pradesh (1,322) alone followed by Bihar (909) (14.6%). The highest rate of crime (1.1) was, however, reported from Uttaranchal as compared to the National average of 0.6 only. Torture(Cruelty by Husband & Relatives) ‘Torture’ cases in the country have increased by 3.0 per cent over the previous year (49,237). 16.1 per cent of these were reported from Andhra Pradesh (8,167). The highest rate at 10.5 was reported from Andhra Pradesh as compared to the National rate at 4.7.

Incidents of Molestation in the country have declined by 3.0 per cent over the previous year (33,939). 20.8% of total such cases were reported from Madhya Pradesh (6,848) which also reported the highest rate (10.8) as compared to the National average of 3.1.

Sexual Harassment (Eve –Teasing)
The number of such cases have significantly increased by 21.4 per cent over the previous year (10,155). Uttar Pradesh has reported 40.3 per cent of cases (4,970) followed by 143

Andhra Pradesh 18.5 per cent (2,286). Haryana has reported the highest crime rate 5.5 as compared to the National level rate of 1.2. Sexual Harassment: According to the recorded data from the National Crime Records Bureau, cases of sexual harassment are increasing. The existing provision in the Indian Penal Code was found inadequate to address all forms of sexual abuse and harassment that range from teasing, gestures, molestation to violent sexual abuse. The Supreme Court in Vishaka's case (AIR 1997 SC 3011) has defined sexual harassment, which is in accordance with the definition in General Recommendation 19 of the Convention, and has laid down certain guidelines as preventive measures against sexual harassment at work place and has directed employers to put in mechanisms at the work place. Pursuant to the above judgement, Government has taken many steps to ensure compliance with the law laid down by the Supreme Court (refer Article 11).

Importation of Girls
A decline of 39.5% in such cases were reported as only 46 cases were reported during the year as compared to 76 cases in the previous year. Bihar alone has reported 37 cases sharing 80.4% of the total such cases at the National level. Crime Trends - (Special Laws)

Sati Prevention Act
The practice of Sati is on the wane in modern times. Still sporadically, cases under this Act get reported. However, no such case from any of the State/UT was reported in the country during the year 2003.

Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act
Cases under this Act have registered a decline of 16.5 per cent during the year as compared to the previous year (6,598). 51.1% (2,839) cases were reported from Tamil Nadu which also reported the highest crime rate of 4.5 as compared to the National average rate of 0.5. Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act A significant decline of 58.4 per cent was noticed for cases under this Act as compared to previous year (2,508). Andhra Pradesh with 909 cases has accounted for 87.2 per cent of such cases at the National level. It has also reported the highest crime rate of 1.2 as compared to the National average rate of 0.1 only.

Dowry Prohibition Act
The cases under this Act have declined by 4.6 per cent as compared to the previous year(2,816). More than one fourth (26.3%) cases were reported from Bihar (706)


followed by Orissa (412) which also reported the highest crime at 1.1 compared to 0.3 at National level. Dowry and dowry death: Demanding and taking dowry is treated as a crime and the Dowry Prohibition Act has been amended in the years 1984 and 1986 and the Criminal Law also has been amended correspondingly. The details have been furnished in the Initial Report (Para 369 and 370). There has been a slight decrease in the incidence of harassment for dowry and dowry deaths in the year 2002-2003. The practice of dowry continues despite the law, as it continues to enjoy social sanction. Unemployment and greed for materialistic gains and overemphasis on marriage for women are making them more vulnerable to dowry harassment Cross Border Trafficking Inter-country trafficking in the SAARC region has assumed large dimensions in the recent past. Globalisation, economic disparities between the countries, development of modern means of transportation, lack of employment opportunities, demands for entertainment industries etc, has given rise to cross border trafficking. Cross border trafficking also gives rise to the conflict of immigration laws vis-à-vis the rescue and rehabilitation of the woman. Government has created a favourable policy environment for such activities. Government in its National Policy for the Empowerment of Women (2001) has undertaken to lay a special emphasis on the programs and measures to deal with women in difficult circumstances. Asian Development Bank recently completed its project with the Government of India, Bangladesh, and Nepal to assess the magnitude of the problem and to devise methods of combating trafficking in women and children. Sexual harassment of women The Supreme Court in the Vishakha Vs State of Rajasthan case in August 1997 considered provisions in CEDAW to address sexual harassment at the workplace. It laid down guidelines on sexual harassment at the workplace by holding that actual molestation or even physical contact is not required for it to be construed as sexual harassment, if the background of the entire case establishes the genuineness of the complaint. The significance of the Supreme Court ruling was that CEDAW, though not directly part of domestic law, could be used by the Indian courts to shape national laws. The Supreme Court of India has passed an order in April 2004 according to which the Complaints Committee as envisaged by the Supreme Court in Vishakha judgement will be deemed to be an inquiry authority for the purposes of Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1964 and the report of the Complaints Committee shall be deemed to be an inquiry report. Taking into account the Supreme Court’s judgement in the Vishakha case, the Government of India is actively considering enactment of a law for prevention and redressal of sexual harassment of women at the work place. Rape laws are under scrutiny following the report of the Justice Malimath committee (2003). Progressive legislation in the context of personal laws has endeavoured to make Indian family law more gender just. Positive developments include the passing of the: Indian Divorce (Amendment) Act, 2001: 145

amended to remove gender inequality and to do away with procedural delays in obtaining divorce; Marriage Laws (Amendment) Act 2001: enabling the applicants to apply for maintenance and education of minor children to be disposed of within 60 days from the date of service of the notice to the respondent; Marriage Laws (Amendment) Act 2003: aggrieved wife may file petition in the district court within local limits of whose jurisdiction she may be residing; Indian Succession (Amendment) Act, 2001: enables a Christian widow to get a share in the husband’s property even in the absence of a will. The Hindu Succession Act is also being amended to grant coparcenary rights to women. Violence against women Statistics on the incidence of total crimes committed against women to the total crimes in India has shown that the incidence of crimes against women has increased from 135771 in 1999 to 140601 in 2003. However the proportion to the total crimes has marginally declined from 2.76 percent in 1999 to 2.56 percent in 2003. The increase in the number of cases of crime reported is due to the fact that increasing legal awareness has enabled people to access the redressal system. Four pronged strategies have been adopted to address violence, i.e., (a) legislative action, (b) training and awareness, (c) support service, through crisis intervention and rehabilitation center, crimes against women cells, strict enforcement of poverty alleviation programmes, enhanced opportunities for education of girls, proactive measures by enforcement machinery with participation of NGOs and (d) action at social level such as encouraging NGOs to generate public opinion on law enforcement agencies, self help groups of women, organizing gender awareness week, etc. All women police stations have been set up in 14 States to facilitate in the reporting of crimes against women. Help line cells in police stations have been set up to address calls regarding incidence of violence against women. Voluntary Action Bureaus and Family Counseling Centers have been set up in police stations to provide counseling and rehabilitative services to women and children who are victims of family maladjustment. Special Courts, viz., Family Courts and Fast Track Courts have been set up and some courts are exclusively meant to address crimes against women. Gender sensitization of enforcement agencies especially the police and the judiciary is being imparted periodically. . Domestic Violence: In addition to the Indian Penal code, a new law on domestic violence, ‘Protection from Domestic Violence Bill, 2002’ had been introduced in the th Parliament on 8 March 2002 to address the hitherto hidden form of violence against women in the domestic sphere. This Bill was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee, since there were objections by women’s group. The Committee has given its recommendations, but no further action could be taken on this bill as Parliament dissolved in February 2004. The present Government has committed to enact a law on domestic violence. A new Bill has been drafted taking into consideration the views of women’s groups and is likely to be introduced soon.


Female infanticide and foeticide: Female infanticide exists in some parts of the country. The reason for this practice is the preference for sons to daughters. Amniocentesis and Sonography are often used to determine the sex of the unborn child and is misused to abort the female foetuses. Another major concern is the adverse sex ratio, which is declining sharply in some states, viz. Punjab, Harayana and Delhi. Government has enacted ‘The Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex selection) Act, 1994’ (PNDT) which has been amended in 2003, to prevent misuse of scientific techniques and to prohibit clinics from revealing the sex of the foetus. Factors Contributing to Violence against Women and Girls Some of the factors that foster an environment of violence against women include: . • attitudes in society that define women as inferior, the property of men or emotional and irrational; . • a preference for sons over daughters for cultural or economic reasons; . • the perception that women ‘deserve’ punishment for perceived faults such as bad housekeeping, ‘nagging’, ‘unwomanly’ conduct or actual or suspected infidelity; . • alcohol abuse; . • the perception that violence against women is a private matter and should not be talked about outside the family; . • the failure of police and other authorities to act when violence is reported; . • high rates of acquittal by courts by those accused of such violence; . • an acceptance as a reasonable defence of violence that the victim has ruined her own or her family’s honour; . • ‘cautionary’ rules of evidence, i.e. advising the jury in a case to treat women’s evidence with caution on the premise that they habitually lie about sexual matters; . • traditional practices that continue even when there are laws against them; . • the perception that women can be thrown out of the marital home if their husband no longer wants to live with them; . • imposing strict dress codes for women or prohibiting them from public places, with punishment for failure to conform; Consequences of Gender-based Violence Gender-based violence adversely affects victims, family members, perpetrators, communities and states on profound emotional, physical, psychological and economic levels. It accounts for more death and ill health among women ages 15 to 44 worldwide than cancer, obstructed labour, heart disease, respiratory infections, traffic accidents and even war. Some of the consequences of gender-based violence include feelings of hopelessness and isolation, guilt and depression, or suicide. The more severe or longer term the abuse and violence the greater the impact on women’s autonomy, sense of worth and ability to care for themselves and their children. In concrete terms, it may lead to bruises, cuts, broken bones or limbs, unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections (including HIV/AIDS), permanent disabilities or death. Rape and domestic violence are major causes of disability and death among women of reproductive age in both developed and


developing countries. In developing countries, it is estimated that gender-based violence accounts for 5 per cent of the healthy years of life lost to women of reproductive age . In addition, victims may also suffer from a loss of human potential and wages, resulting in personal economic hardship and depressed overall development. Violence – and the threat of violence – reduces women’s and girl’s opportunities for work, their mobility and their participation in education and training, community activities and wider social networks. If women are prevented by violence from developing their full potential, this has serious implications for the development of the country as a whole Children who are abused “are wounded in their self-esteem; they feel dirty, ashamed, they lose faith in others”, Childhood sexual abuse has also been shown to be a predictor of a number of negative behaviours, including drug and alcohol abuse, early sexual initiation, multiple sexual partners, unprotected sex and prostitution. Girls’ education is often affected as well as they may become pregnant and be expelled from school. Physical health outcomes Injury (from lacerations to fractures to internal organ injury), unwanted pregnancy, gynaecological problems, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV/AIDS, miscarriage, pelvic inflammatory disease, chronic pelvic pain, headaches, permanent disabilities, asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, self-injurious behaviour (smoking, unprotected sex), suicide, homicide, maternal mortality.

Violence against anyone is unacceptable. Violence experienced by women, however, particularly intimate partner violence and sexual assault, represents a unique aspect of the wider social problem of violence, and requires specific attention and solutions. Individual experiences of violence against women must be assessed against the backdrop of historical, social, political, cultural and economic inequality of women. Violence against women in society seriously affects the ability of women to achieve equality. It is not only the incidence of violence against women which limits women’s lives, but the fear of violence which affects their daily existence, how they dress, where they go, with whom they associate, and their mode of transportation. Violence against women continues to be a significant and persistent social and economic problem in India with serious impacts on our health, justice and social services systems. The focus on violence against women does not deny or diminish the rate of violence against men; however, as these indicators demonstrate, women represent the vast majority of sexual assault victims and spousal assaults experienced by women tend to be more severe overall, more frequent, and cause more serious physical injury and psychological harm.

Law and order and criminal matter is a State subject under the Constitution and therefore the State Governments are directly responsible for dealing with the enforcement 148

machinery which are registering, investigating, detecting and preventing crimes against women. The Central Government has initiated a number of measures to check such crimes. Apart from legislative changes in the relevant Acts, instructions/ guidelines have been issued from time to time to the State Governments/Union Territories to effectively monitor and enforce legislations relating to crimes against women. The Minster for Human Resource Development had written during August 2000 to all State Home Ministers stressing the need for including gender sensitization module as a component of training courses for enforcement machinery in the State Police Training Academies and also on the need for gender sensitization of Judiciary. Preventive Measures: The Government is strengthening the existing legislation and developing institutional machineries (all women police stations, gender sensitisation of law enforcement personnels, creating legal awareness, creating neighbourhood groups by involving civil society, etc) through extensive research and review. It is also running projects that provide support to vulnerable women (short stay homes, hostels for working women, etc) and rehabilitation of victims of violence. The Central Social Welfare Board is implementing the scheme of Family Counselling Centres to provide preventive rehabilitative services for women and children who are victims of atrocities and family problems. Family Counselling Centres are running in the District Police Headquarters in different states and 19 Family Counselling centres are functioning in police headquarters at Delhi, Kerala, West Bengal, Orissa, Tripura, Pondicherry, Assam, Karnataka, Manipur, Goa, Maharashtra, Punjab, Haryana, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Uttar Pradesh, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh, which provide legal aid and run help lines. Crimes against women's cells have been set up in the States of Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Orrissa, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Karantaka, Madhya Pradesh and in the Union Territories of Chandigarh, Delhi and Pondicherry. Special Courts have been established to deal with crimes against women. In the year 2001, which was observed as Women Empowerment Year, Secretary,DWCD had written to all State Governments to set up District Level Committees headed by the District Magistrates to review and monitor cases of crimes against women. 12 State Governments, viz., Andhra pradesh., Chattisgarh, Daman & Diu, Harayan, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Orissa, Punjab, and Uttar Prasesh have reported to have set up such Committees. The Central Government has also initiated steps to organise an effective campaign to sensitise the public about violence against women and has initiated action to compile and collate statistical information pertaining to crimes against women on rape, causing miscarriage, harassment both mental and physical in a marital relationship and offences relating to marriage, dowry death, molestation, kidnapping and procuration of minor girls. State initiatives The discriminatory provisions of law are being progressively reviewed by several bodies, such as the Law Commission, the Legal Department, DWCD, National Commission for Women and National Human Rights Commission. The National Commission for Women is continuously reviewing the existing laws that are discriminatory. Some of them are:


The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956, The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986, The Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act, 1987; The Guardians and Wards Act, 1860; Indian Penal Code, 1860; The Christian Marriage Act, 1872; The Indian Succession Act, 1925; The Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929; The Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937; The Factories Act, 1948; The Minimum Wages Act, 1948; The Employees State Insurance Act; The Special Marriage Act, 1954; The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955; The Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956; The Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956; The Hindu Succession Act, 1956; The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961; The Foreign Marriage Act, 1969; The Indian Divorce Act, 1869: The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971; The Bonded Labour System ( Abolition ) Act, 1979; The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976; The Contract Labour ( Regulation & Abolition) Act, 1979; The Family Courts Act, 1984; Juvenile Justice Act, 1986; National Commission For Women Act, 1990; The Inter-State Migrant Workmen ( Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979; The Pre Natal Diagnostic Technique (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1994; The Infant Milk Substitutes, Feeding Bottles and Infant Foods ( Regulation of Production, Supply and Distribution ) Act, 1992. Of the 41 legislations having a bearing on women, the NCW has reviewed and suggested amendments to the discriminatory measures in 32 Acts. A Task Force on Women and Children headed by a Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission further examined these recommendations of the Commission in respect of 14 Acts in detail and amendments have been effected in a few enactments. The Department of Women and Child Development has suggested amendments to the Sati (Prevention) Act, 1987, Indecent Representation of Women (Prostitution) Act, 1986 and Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956. The Ministry of Home Affairs has proposed amendments to certain sections relating to Rape in IPC, Indian Evidence Act and the Criminal Procedure Code. The Government has proposed to amend Section 66 of Factories Act, to facilitate night shift work for women also. An Inter-Ministerial Committee including NCW and NGOs working in this field has been constituted in May 2005 to review existing laws to address discrimination and ensure equality to women.

Challenges Ahead The National Policy for the Empowerment of Women (2001) has recognized that all forms of violence against women, physical and mental, whether domestic or societal including those arising from customs or traditions shall be dealt with effectively with a view to eliminating its incidence. Institutions and mechanisms/ schemes for assistance will be created and strengthened for prevention of such violence, including sexual harassment at work place and customs like dowry, rehabilitation of victims of violence and for taking effective action against the perpetrators of such violence. The Policy commits to take effective measures to prevent all forms of violence including sexual harassment, customs like dowry and trafficking of women and girls. The Government is drafting a National Plan of Action to implement the above National Policy. This plan will focus on creating support infrastructure to compliment legislative efforts and on creating a conducive environment for women for reporting cases related to violence against them.


Gender sensitivity among policy makers will be strengthened along with the awareness on the prevention of atrocities on women Despite the constitutional mandate of equal legal status for men and women, the same is yet to be realized. The dejure laws have not been translated into defacto situation for various reasons such as illiteracy, social practices, prejudices, cultural norms based on patriarchal values, poor representation of women in policy-making, poverty, regional disparity in development, lack of access and opportunity to information and resources, etc. The Government in many of its initiatives through the National Empowerment Policy of Women, 2001, gender budget, Women Component Plan and various schemes has attempted to bridge the gap between the promise in the Constitution and the Convention and the defacto situation. Many State Governments have initiated several measures against trafficking. The states of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka have initiated special rehabilitation measures for Devadasis. Andhra Pradesh has adopted a State Policy on trafficking of women and children and Bihar has established a State Action Plan for the welfare and rehabilitation of trafficked women and children. Madhya Pradesh has launched a scheme 'Jabali' that focuses on welfare and development of trafficked women and children. Maharashtra has set up 50 Family Counselling Centres and a Monitoring Committee to monitor the working of children's homes. Tamil Nadu has taken many steps against trafficking viz., created the Anti Vice Squad to deal with trafficking, set up District Advisory Committee and Village level watch dog committees, social defence welfare fund for women and children and their rehabilitation, mapping of trafficking in terms of source, transit and destination points and creation of crisis intervention centres to prevent child abuse. West Bengal has established homes for HIV infected persons exposed to commercial sexual exploitation. Goa has enacted the Goa Children's Act, 2003 providing for stringent control measures to regulate access of children to pornographic materials. The enforcement machinery, the police and the judiciary are being made sensitive to deal with this issue. Various training and orientation programmes are being conducted with the police, to create awareness about the legal provisions and the gender perspective. Sensitisation meetings are being organised with the judiciary and a manual is being prepared for the judiciary and the police to deal with the cases under the Prevention of Immoral Traffic Act. Civil Society Civil society organisations are also being encouraged to undertake various schemes sponsored by the Government. Many NGOs are running shelter homes and are involved in rescue and rehabilitation of these women. They are working at grass root level providing support to women in prostitution and the trafficked women in terms of strengthening the voice of the vulnerable section economically and to secure their rights as individuals and also in HIV /AIDS prevention programmes.



1. Since legal measures cannot exist in a vacuum, a supportive enabling environment conducive to the application of the law must be created, e.g., birth and marriage registration in relation to early marriage laws. In spite of numerous laws which currently exist, implementation and enforcement of these laws are often weak. Measures to strengthen the implementation and enforcement of laws are essential and these could cover: 2. Strong action should be taken against law enforcing authorities and agencies involved in cases of trafficking, rape, torture, extortion or any other form of violence. Strong and effective measures on the part of the government is urgently needed and NGOs are to play an appropriate role in this regard. 3. While laws and legal measures are important preventive and protective instruments, there should not be over-dependence on the law; furthermore, in the interpretation of the law, there could be occasions where the spirit of the law should be considered. 4. Relevant training should be imparted to concerned personnel – medical, police, legal and judiciary, etc., and such training should be undertaken as early as possible to increase receptivity. Training should cover gender-sensitization for attitudinal change and specific training related to handling of violence against women incidences. Such training should as far as possible be integrated into existing training programmes. Training manuals tailored to particular target groups could be produced for standardized and sustained training. CEDAW should be included in the curriculum of law schools. 5. Shelters and crisis centres should be established in strategic locations and these centres should try to offer “one-stop” service (covering for example medical, counselling, legal and economic assistance) by governments and NGOs. 6. Investigation desks should be established at every police station so that women and girls can report acts and file charges of violence against them in a safe, confidential and enabling environment free from fear of penalties or retaliation. 7. Customary or traditional practices that are inherently violent and infringe upon the personal integrity and human rights of women should be reviewed and challenged. 8. Strong action has to be taken against inimical local practices such as any fatwa which is being used to victimize women. Illegal practices like child marriage and polygamy are to be stopped by the respective countries in the region. 9. The prevailing concept and ideology of support services and counselling with the view to preserving the integrity of the family unit should be examined as reconciliation could sometimes result in VAW victims returning to the situation in which further harm 152

could be inflicted. 10. At the institutional level, coordinating mechanisms to combat violence against women such as a task force or national committee on violence against women should be established. A plan of action should also be formulated, identifying priority concerns, remedial measures, implementation bodies and mechanisms, and the time-frame for action. Institutional mechanisms (such as national women’s rights commission) should be established for legal reform, and for overseeing implementation of laws. 11. Community-based groups should be mobilized both to prevent and remedy, as well as serve as watchdogs and monitors against violence against women. In this regard to maximize people’s participation, the process of democratization and decentralization should be promoted. 12. The participation of women in decision-making in the political process and governance play an important role in promoting the interests of women and in this regard, measures like affirmative action to increase the participation of women in this process should be encouraged. 13. Networking and the strengthening of linkages should be promoted among: women’s NGOs women’s NGOs and NGOs in other sectors, e.g., development, children and youth NGOs, the government sector, research institutes (especially women’s studies centres) and related members of civil society 14. Particular attention should be paid to strengthen the linkage between the women’s movement and the national machinery (focal point) for the advancement of women, while not prejudicing the advocacy and watchdog roles of NGOs. 15. Since many studies and activities have been undertaken on the subject of violence against women, a repository of available information should be established, preferably within existing national and subregional facilities. 16. Create an environment of accountability of police towards all people in the community, not just those with power and influence or those from the same caste or community. Ensure that people from all caste and ethnic groups are given opportunities for entry, training and promotion with police forces so that all sections of society are represented in all levels of the police. In order to ensure this, urgent consideration should be given to reform of the police system as it exists; 17. Conduct proper and regular gender sensitisation and orientation courses for police personnel of all levels, irrespective of gender. Individuals from other backgrounds who have a role in ensuring the rights of women should be invited to address police and provide information on their roles and experiences in dealing with women victims of violence -- these can include non-governmental organizations, counsellors and health professionals.


18. Provide mandatory training to all judges, magistrates, lawyers and public prosecutors to enhance their understanding of violence against women, its causes and consequences. Programs of gender-sensitization and awareness-raising should be integrated and made mandatory through continuing legal education seminars or workshops for judges


Women and Environment Women and environment has been a global concern since the 1990s, and sustainability the underlying yardstick to assess the translation of policy concerns to the grassroot level. Achieving sustainability at a local level requires a balancing of the imperatives of livelihood with those of ecological preservation. In rural India, over 96% of households use bio-fuels, 39% of fuel wood is collected from forests, 62% of households collect water from lakes, handpumps or wells, and 90% lack toilet facilities. Women have traditionally been responsible for subsistence and survival tasks which include collecting water, fuel wood and fodder. Time and energy spent on household maintenance has direct implications for other activities. Women’s livelihood and health are both directly affected by the quality of rural environment and by the technology in use. Programmes and policies that recognize the link between women's well being and environmental health cut across various sectors and include initiatives in forestry, water supply, rainwater harvesting, sanitation, natural resource management etc. Several programmes have been initiated over the decade of the 90s including programmes for the removal of waste, land development, fuel and fodder production, minor forest produce and aerial seeding. The major environmental problems sought to be addressed relate to air and water pollution, degradation of common property resources, threats to biodiversity, solid waste disposal and sanitation. The Tenth Five-Year Plan emphasises the sustainable use of resources. The emphasis placed by the plan on governance has encouraged administrative measures like reservations in all sectors. The plan lays a particular emphasis on water supply and increase in forest and tree cover. The nodal agency for activities relating to environment is the Ministry of Environment and Forests. Gender sensitive resource managementis encouraged through several schemes. Reservations have been made for women to ensure their involvement. The implementation strategy seeks to ensure that programme benefits reach women, and to institutionalise and deepen their participation in the decision making process at grass roots level. Some important initiatives include: Women’s participation has been built into the Joint Forest Management (JFM) Committees which are grassroot level institutions for conservation, protection and management of degraded forests. At least 50% of the members of the JFM general body are required to be women, and at least 33% of the membership in the JFM Executive Committee/ Management Committee is to be filled by women. In order to improve general cleanliness and also protect the dignity of women of poorer sections, construction of toilet complexes is being emphasised under the National River Conservation plan. Construction of more than 3600 toilets in the states has been taken up. Gender issues relating to forestry are given special focus in the training of Indian


Forest Service officers. Women’s participation is encouraged in community resource management and watershed programmes. Rural women living below the poverty line are provided with financial assistance to raise nurseries in forest lands The Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Sources is implementing several programmes to benefit women by reducing drudgery and providing better and convenient systems for cooking and lighting. Environmental education programmes supported by the Department of Education play an important role in creating awareness and seeking local specific solutions to environmental problems. New initiatives to improve urban environment, especially water and sanitation, emphasise partnerships between private, community and government agencies. Community based initiatives There has been a long history of community participation in resource management in India,andpracticessuchaspreservingsacred groves around temples have been ways of ensuring forest cover. The Jamatia Tribals of Killa village in south Tripura, collectively own forests called Asha Van or forests of hope and have rules that govern extraction of resources. Women take an active part in protecting the forests. Similarly the Khasis in Meghalaya and Maities of Manipur maintain and preserve forests as abodes of their ancestors and as forest gods. Many such practices and traditions have fallen into disuse with industrial development. However, it is increasingly recognised that effective resource regeneration needs to be community-led. Degradation of Natural Resources Women have traditionally played an important role in managing and protecting natural resources and their access to natural resources like land, forest and water, especially for tribal and other disadvantaged groups of women are significant factors. With increasing commercialization and corporatisation of management of these resources, however, women are being marginalized from their traditional roles and access, which very clearly has an adverse impact on the sustainability of these resources themselves, apart from increasing women's vulnerability in the struggle for survival. The increasing pressure for access to these resources also has an adverse impact on women in the family, with the incidence of violence increasing. Initiatives for the development of natural resources must not be at the cost of livelihoods and means of survival of large number of indigenous populations and communities dependant on these resources. Women are major contributors in these economies and bear the brunt of these developments. They are also increasingly the victims of violence in instances of a conflict of interest between the state and the users. The Uttaranchal Van Panchayat rules were revised in 2001, and women are represented on these committees. Many women’s groups (Mahila Mangal Dals) have been organised


in Uttaranchal apart from Van Panchayats, to protect and use civil forests outside the Van 4 Panchayat based on consensus decision-making. The Ministry of Environment and Forests constituted a task force in June 2003. The task force comprised of ten members from various fields. Both the Minister for the Environment and the Minister for Health are represented on this, and it aims to bring together health and environmental experts and address the health impacts of environmental change. The task force has decided that it will address women and children as a priority, and seek to ensure that they are educated on environmental health risks, such as those resulting from the kitchen smoke to which women are always exposed. Given theTenth Plan objective of achieving 25 per cent tree/forest cover as one of the monitorable targets for the Plan, an ambitious afforestation programme has been launched through the National Afforestation and Eco-development Board. All existing afforestation schemes have been converged under this programme and are being implemented through decentralised forest development agencies(FDA)set up at the forest division level. The FDAs are a confederation of the Joint Forest Management Committee (JFMC) at the village level, and thus provide an organic link between the forest department and communities. Land Rights for Women Very strong gender inequalities exist in various inheritance laws, especially in land reform laws passed by various states. In a number of North Western States, including Haryana, Punjab, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh, the land inheritance devolves on male lineal descendants and consequently, widows and daughters inherit only in the absence of male heirs. In Uttar Pradesh section 171 of the Zamindari Abolition Act bars any female child from inheritance of agricultural land. In some States women cannot even buy agricultural land because of the absence of land records to prove their rights as Agriculturists The explanation for the neglect of forestry and women is obvious. Development has concerned itself with producing surplus for the market economy, and because natural forests are used by the poor and tribals for their consumption needs, and women remain involved in the subsistence rather than the cash sector of the economy, both were not able to attract serious attention from the planners. While forests were conceived only in terms of supplier of raw material for industry, the interest of women was considered subsumed within the family. In almost all schemes for the rural poor the family approach was adopted under the assumption that benefits to the head of the family, who is assumed to be a male, will percolate down to women and children. While it is now universally accepted that identifying the interest of the family with its male head exhibits a gender bias, there is no unanimity as regards how one should explain the relationship between women and natural resources. Shiva (1986)


conceptualises the link between women and the environment mainly in ideological terms. Her argument is that there are important connections between the domination and oppression of women and the domination and exploitation of nature. Because the domination of women and of nature have occurred together, women have a particular stake in ending the domination of nature. Thus it is simplistic to argue that ‘women, qua women, are closer to nature or more conservationist than men. Rather, poor peasant and tribal women's responses to environmental degradation can be located in their everyday material reality - in their dependence on natural resources for survival and the knowledge of nature gained in that process. People's relationship with the environment is rooted not just in ideas but also in their material reality. Hence, insofar as there is a class (caste/race)-based division of labour, property and power, these factors structure the effects of environmental change on people and their responses to it. For instance, in poor peasant households, women are usually the worst affected by environmental degradation while also often possessing a special knowledge of plant species and processes of natural regeneration, since it is they who typically collect and gather from forests and village commons, and in high maleoutmigration areas are also often the main cultivators. But women, who are no longer dependent on or in contact with the natural environment in the same way, will neither be so affected nor so knowledgeable about species-varieties. In this conceptualisation, therefore, the link between women and the environment lies in the interactive effects of ideology and material conditions, rather than being rooted mainly in ideology or women's biology.’ This is illustrated by women's involvement in movements such as Chipko, which have emerged mainly in hill or tribal communities among which women's role in agricultural production has always been visibly substantial and often primary - a context more conducive to their public participation than found in communities practising female seclusion. Between the three types of lands - forest, revenue, and private - women are most dependent on forest lands, where they are gatherers of forest produce for subsistence and sale. They are also employed by the Forest Department and contractors to work as unskilled labour on public lands. They have similar roles as collectors and as wageemployees on common and revenue lands, though to a lesser extent, as these lands are more degraded, and their total area in the country is perhaps only one-sixth of the forest area. In community forestry programmes and JFM areas women are also supposed to participate in the management of afforested lands. Lastly, women are involved as producers in farm forestry programmes. Thus women have four distinct occupational roles in forestry - gathering, wage employment, management, and production.. Collection of Minor Forest Products In addition to wood, the poor collect what are called minor forest products (MFPs). These include fodder and grasses; raw materials like bamboo, canes and bhabbar grass for artisan based activities; leaves, gums, waxes, dyes and resins; and many forms of food,


including nuts, wild fruits, honey, and game. In the Himalayan villages, where tree fodder is vital for the local economy, older women train the younger ones in the art of lopping and collecting forest produce. Much of it is done by women in the lean agriculture months when agricultural employment is not available. A study of village Fakot in U.P. showed how poor women's interest in renewable use and sustained yield is more compatible with national objectives of environment preservation for the forest reserves (Rocheleau 1987). Seventy per cent of MFPs are collected from the five states of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa, and Andhra Pradesh which has 65 per cent tribal population (Guha l983:l890). Most MFPs come from forests, and provide valuable flows for subsistence and cash. But here women face three main problems; their rights of collection are not well publicised, the states have nationalised many MFPs in the interest of revenue, and opportunities for self-employment which collection of MFPs generate are on the decline. Lack of information - Often women are not aware of what they can collect from forest lands. This leads to harassment. A Government Commission on Women interviewed Dapubai, a tribal woman in Udaipur who got only Rs 7 for 10 kg of gum, which took her 10-12 days to collect (Bhatt 1988:v), although its market price was Rs 250. When asked to comment on the low price, she said, "How can I demand a higher price? The trader's man threatens to report me to the Forest authorities for entering the forest area. Then we will get nothing." The ability of tribal women to enjoy their rights in forests is insecure when they are uncertain what these rights are. But informing them is not considered politically desirable, whereas keeping the poor ignorant of their rights and leaving them to the mercy of the low-paid forest staff is perceived as politically neutral. Such is the irony of the Indian political system! Nationalisation of MFPs - Before nationalisation, the gatherers could sell forest produce to anybody, but under the new system it has to be sold to the Forest Department only. In almost all cases the Department has appointed agents formally or informally (GOI 1987). This has put the gatherers at the mercy of two different sets of people, the contractor as well as the government department, and payment gets routed through both of them (FAO 1989: 70). For instance, private trade in sal seeds is illegal in Madhya Pradesh, but shopkeepers manage to exchange it with tribals for daily necessities at a low price. They then sell it to government bodies, thus defeating the very purpose of nationalisation (GOI 1988). Nationalisation reduces the number of legal buyers, chokes the free flow of goods, and delays payment to the gatherers, as government agencies find it difficult to make prompt payment. This results in contractors entering from the back door, but they must now operate with higher margins required to cover uncertain and delayed payments by government agencies, as well as to make the police and other authorities ignore their illegal activities. All this reduces women's collection and incomes.


Women as producers in farm forestry As regards farm forestry, the benefits to women are constrained by two factors: their own place in the family, and the legal position regarding their ownership of private lands. Unfortunately, over the past several decades women have been deprived of their customary rights in management and ownership of land. It appears that the transition in land rights from communal to private ownership has affected women adversely. So long as land was commonly owned, women had a voice in its management, but with private owning of land, their rights have become diluted. The result is that both extension programmes and credit services are now geared to men, which has helped them to get into the modernised sector while women have remained behind in the subsistence sector. Women's right of access to land and other material resources is not a legal issue alone. As their control over loans, income and assets goes down, their access to social resources such as knowledge, power and prestige diminishes. Disparity in gender status gets intensified with the emergence and deepening of other forms of stratification. Subordination and seclusion of women is more noticed in communities where social differentiation and hierarchy based on ownership pattern or on prestige is more pronounced. Possible Solutions As already stated, of the several roles women have in forestry, the most important is as gatherers of forest produce. Women would therefore be greatly benefitted if opportunities for collection from forest and public lands are enhanced. This would require:• • • • • • • •

sharing of management and protection with women, a change in the silvicultural practices of managing forests, a change in the nature of species being planted on public lands from timber to usufruct based trees, improving women’s access to markets, value-added technology, training and credit, building gender sensitisation at the project preparation stage, publicity about women's rights in forest and community lands, and a change in outlook to facilitate the above. We discuss these below.

Sharing of management Social conditions in India are such that neither cattle nor human beings can be totally stopped from entering forests or village lands. What is therefore needed is adopting policies which improve productivity of degraded lands, taking constraints of the human and livestock pressure as givens of the situation. Given the ease of access to forests it has been impossible, in practical terms, for the Forest Department to enforce its property rights. Forest lands too, like revenue lands, have been a victim of the "tragedy of the commons" phenomenon where community rights and management have not existed or


have broken down. Therefore, any effort towards reforestation can yield results only if it involves local people, specially women, in protection. Sharing of management and usufruct with women, if properly implemented, could have wide ranging implications on forest regeneration and welfare of the poor. Women's subsistence compulsions have shown greater sensitivity to ecologically sustainable development needs. Thus it would be in the interest of the Forest Department to give higher priority to women's needs. Given the sex segregated and hierarchical nature of Indian society, separate women's organisations and staff are needed to work among women, to instill confidence in them, so that they can fight for their rights. Therefore, whenever there is recruitment, more women need to be recruited in the Forest Department. The village level committees should have adequate and equal representation of women. Forestry staff should be sensitised on gender issues through orientation programmes. As women in many societies still feel inhibited in expressing themselves in mixed gatherings, each committee should have a separate women's cell for raising their consciousness and for improving their skills. The quality of women's participation and the control they exercise over decision making processes is more important than the sheer number of women present in such bodies. Both the short and long term goals of supporting women's participation in natural resource management must be defined clearly. Is the goal limited to integrating women in on-going or new programmes simply because traditional gender roles assign subsistence tasks of biomass gathering to women? Or is the goal to empower women to gain greater control over their labour, knowledge and local natural resources which may eventually lead to changing gender relations resulting in greater gender equity? Unless a commitment to working towards greater gender equity in the longer term is incorporated as a programme goal, success in increasing women's participation in forestry programmes may end up being short-lived or may even result in increasing rural women's excessive work burden. Drinking Water and Sanitation This is an area of critical concern for the public health. Although 85 per cent of the villages have been covered under safe drinking water supply, the actual coverage of the hamlets and households have been much less particularly in the hilly, tribal, drought prone and desert areas where women have to travel a long distance for fetching the drinking water. The priority concern for the Tenth Plan should be to ensure that every woman could access safe drinking water in the neighbourhood. More than 70 per cent of the population in India are not covered by toilet and sanitation facilities. The women, particularly living in the urban slums, are the worst sufferers since their privacy is disturbed severely. The low cost sanitation scheme for the liberation of the scavengers had unfortunately a very tardy performance. Even the meagre allocation of the Plan resources are not being fully utilised by the State Governments and the demeaning practice of manual scavenging of night soil by the female scavengers is still


continuing in many urban areas. The Tenth Plan should have a fresh look into the entire issue of urban sanitation in the country which badly affects the interests of the women. Water in recent years has assumed an increasing importance.According to studies done by the Indian Market Research Bureau, households that collect drinking water from exposed sources like ponds, lakes, canals, etc visited dug wells about 12 times a day, public hand pumps and taps nine times, exposed sources like lakes six times. The distances travelled ranged from 100 to 1000 metres. Women, who are the primary collectors of water, spend approximately two and a half hours a day on average for this purpose. Diminishing availability on the one hand and the belief that better management of water is needed, have stimulated efforts at community based initiatives for the management of water supply, both drinking water and irrigation. A decade-long water campaign was launched by the Self Employed Women’s Association(SEWA)in 1995 in nine districts of Gujarat. Watershed Committees have been set up, with the majority of members being women.These have been successful in regenerating wasteland, community pasture land and private land, as well as planting trees and increasing grass cover for better water retention. Successful rainwater harvesting has been done in several villages in Rajasthan through the efforts of a local NGO, Tarun Bharat Sangh. Official estimates for 1993 were that 78.4 percent of the rural and 84.9 percent of the urban population in India had access to safe drinking water, although these are thought to exaggerate actual coverage, since many villages were only partially covered. Moreover, increasing scarcity may be affecting access and these figures do not account for facilities which are not functioning. In rural areas, women and children walk long distances to collect water; in urban slum areas, poor women rely on standpipes which are beset by problems of low water pressure, short durations of supply, large numbers of users and are located some distance from women’s homes. Reliance on hand pumps in poor urban areas particularly may be contributing to a lowering of the water table, ultimately affecting access for everybody. Water collection and management is now widely recognised as being predominantly women’s work under prevailing gender divisions of labour. Poor water supply facilities and increasingly scarce water resources thus create a considerable labour burden for women and also contribute to poor health conditions within households and communities. There is a need to consult women - of all communities - in the design and implementation of new water supply projects. Failure to do so has, in many instances, led to project failure. Women should also be involved in technical and managerial aspects of community-based water provision, with appropriate incentives, training and rewards; women should not be seen as cheap or voluntary labour for community-based service provision - this will lead to poor services and/ or incur high opportunity costs for the women concerned. It is also important, however, to overcome opposition and gain the support of men for a more public role for women in these areas.


In new water supply provision, there is a need to consider the range of uses of water of women, which are not restricted to the domestic sphere, but also include irrigation for agriculture, livestock, small-scale enterprises etc. The capacity and management of new systems and tariffs need to take account of the range of uses of water as well as affordability for women as well as men. The opportunity cost of women’s labour needs to be included in any cost benefit analyses of new water supply facilities, as well as consideration of the need for flexible systems so that women can fit water collection and management around other activities. Access to water in India is critically mediated through caste relations, such that Dalit women may not have direct access to village water supplies. These issues are rarely discussed in the literature or in project design. Discrimination against Dalit women in access to water indicates that this may be a priority area of intervention to support Dalit women in particular. Sanitation provision is much less widespread than water supply in India. There is a need for a more co-ordinated approach in water supply and sanitation since the impact improved water supply may be limited where lack of sanitation facilities means that new supplies are easily contaminated. In 1988-9, only 3.15 percent of the rural population had access to government-assisted sanitation facilities, with eleven percent of rural households having private facilities. Men in general may attach much lower priority to sanitation facilities than women, which may explain the lack of provision in this area; it has also been suggested that sanitation provision may be a higher priority for better-off rural women, living in the centre of villages, than poorer women on the edge of settlements, though evidence for this is limited. In 1987-8, in urban areas of India, one third of the population had no access at all to lavatory facilities; 60 percent of those who did shared toilet facilities. In urban areas, lack of privacy in sanitation is a priority for all women, not just the well-off. Since they cannot be seen relieving themselves in public, they are forced to do so under cover of darkness, leading to considerable discomfort and possible health problems. Consideration should be given to the need for increased public toilet facilities in urban areas around places where women work and live. In one sanitation project in an urban slum area, women emerged with different priorities from those proposed under a government housing scheme. Whereas the original proposals favoured private toilet facilities in dwellings, women themselves preferred shared public facilities, which they perceived as more hygienic and less work (i.e. someone else would maintain them). Interestingly they also felt that provision of private toilet facilities was more likely to result in their homes being appropriated by higher income groups. Again, it is important to consult women about the design of new facilities and implementation of sanitation projects and where possible to involve them in skilled labour, technical and managerial aspects of such programmes (e.g. in latrine construction).


Housing needs by the year 2000 are estimated at 32.6 million units in rural areas and 31.2 million units in urban areas. The Eighth Plan does, however, give priority in housing to single women and female-headed households, as well as Scheduled Castes and Tribes. However, no concrete measures are proposed and it is expected to take a ‘reasonable amount of time’ to meet the housing needs of these groups. In order to extend housing provision to poor urban groups and particularly to female-headed households, enabling mechanisms for the provision of housing finance are needed. This is particularly the case for those outside formal employment, of whom women are a large proportion.

Housing and Shelter Although the women are the house-keepers their perspectives are not generally considered in the planning of houses and housing colonies and provision of shelters in both urban and rural areas. The gender bias in planning of human settlements should be removed by necessary amendments in the building bye-laws and the rules and regulations of the town planning. Special attention should be given for providing adequate and safe housing and accommodation for women including single women, heads of households, working women, students, apprentices and trainee Gender sensitisation at the project preparation stage How can gender issues be adequately addressed in forestry development? Key to this objective is identifying and, to the extent possible, quantifying the potential gains that will accrue to women and the likely losses they may have to bear as a result of the planned intervention. Micro-planning provides an ideal forum for this kind of thinking. Specific issues to be considered include:

pre-project benefits likely to be foregone by women and their households, with special attention to households headed by women: e.g., when common land is to be utilized for tree plantations; when gathering and sale of wood from government forests is eliminated as a source of income for poor households; when the utilisation of minor forest products is expected or likely to become commercialised; or when changing gender-specific economic interests and incentives induced by project interventions are likely to deprive women of access to previously accessible resources; workload implications for women: e.g., the extent of added labour required of women of various socio-economic groups for project activities (such as watering, weeding, protection); longer distances to be walked for gathering fuel, fodder and other products previously obtained from land now brought under a different production and management regime; the effect of such additional labour requirements on women's time and labour allocation and on women's and household welfare (e.g., curtailing of time allocated to other tasks, increasing reliance on child labour);


probable gains to women from planned interventions: e.g., increased availability of forestry products (but check for potential conflicts arising between men and women, between commercial and subsistence users); availability of new products for subsistence and/or market-oriented income generation; introduction of new income-earning activities based on forest products not previously available; generation of wage-labour opportunities (but check for potential distortions in male-female competition for new employment); differences and potential conflicts between probable gains and losses for women and those anticipated for men, households in general or the community as a whole: e.g., men's strong preference for timber species crowding out women's need for fuel and fodder trees; men's preference for selling trees en block conflicting with women's need for the domestic or home-industry use of byproducts; or men's interest in cash-cropping of trees and their command over the labour of women in their household forcing women to reduce their time allocations to other family-care and/or income-earning tasks.

Changes in outlook One aspect of this bureaucracy that demands greater understanding is its "culture" something that is highly relevant to the success of all community participation schemes. For example, while the principle of JFM assume a participatory/ consultative framework, the government bureaucracy that is charged with its implementation operates in a decidedly non-participatory/ non-consultative fashion. Bureaucratic regulations regarding release of budget, physical targets, development of working plans, all act against the more flexible adaptive process needed to successfully implement a JFM programme. What is needed, therefore is an effort to identify the key points of leverage through which the forestry bureaucracy could be incrementally moved toward more open working practices.

Gender mainstreaming and voluntary action
The women’s movement in India has a long history, dating back to the nineteenth century, and has played a key role in influencing both the state and wider civil society, especially in its most recent phase since the early 1970s. In the 1990s, however, a wide range of actors have taken up women’s, or gender, issues as part of their agenda, including the state, political parties, international agencies and a growing number of nongovernment organisations.

The women's movement in India today is a rich and vibrant movement, which has spread to various parts of the country. It is often said that there is no one single cohesive movement in the country, but a number of fragmented campaigns. Activists see this as one of the strengths of the movement which takes different forms in different parts.


While the movement may be scattered all over India, they feel it is nonetheless a strong and plural force. It is important to recognise that for a country of India's magnitude, change in male-female relations and the kinds of issues the women's movement is focusing on, will not come easy. For every step the movement takes forward, there will be a possible backlash, a possible regression. And it is this that makes for the contradictions, this that makes it possible for there to be women who can aspire to, and attain, the highest political office in the country, and for women to continue to have to confront patriarchy within the home, in the workplace, throughout their lives. Despite the longstanding and vigorous women’s movement, patriarchy remains deeply entrenched in India, influencing the structure of its political and social institutions and determining the opportunities open to women and men. The negotiation and conflict between patriarchy and the women’s movement are central to the constitution of the nation-state. The development of the revolutionary movement in the country marks a great hope for women all over the country. Women too must move forward collectively, united to demand what it theirs by right, to oppose the continuing atrocities and discrimination, to participate in the struggle for a new democratic society. If the women’s movement moves forward hand in hand with the revolutionary movement for new democratic revolution only then the root causes of women’s oppression can be smashed and concrete steps forward for the emancipation of women taken. Women’s liberation can be achieved as part of the transformation of the entire socio-economic set-up. Women's Movement in India is an attempt at delineating the tremendous responses of women from the different parts of the Indian sub-continent to the growing women's problems. Starting from the mainstream organisations to the most articulate autonomous omen's groups, the volume depicts the various pattern of women's struggle against ageold suppression and discrimination and for equality with men. It covers the development of women's movement from east to west and north to south of the country. Considerable gains have been made by the women’s movement and there is a wealth of experience - of grassroots organising, of the design and implementation of services and development projects, of lobbying the state and of working within state structures - to draw on. The women’s movement has also built up a substantial body of research on women and development and gender and development issues as well as an institutional research capacity. Particular issues taken up by the women’s movement in the last two decades include: violence against women; the law and legal reform; health and family planning issues; and issues around women’s work, employment opportunities and employment conditions. Many women’s organisations work in several of these areas at the same time. A number of strategies have been adopted in relation to these issues.


For example, work around violence against women has included public awareness campaigns and demonstrations, lobbying the government for legal reform, taking up individual cases and extending support to women victims, confronting perpetrators of violence against women and organising social boycotts of offenders. Demands for changes in police structures and practices have also featured strongly, resulting in the setting up of special women’s units and special all women police stations in some cities. However, these strategies in relation to the police are now seen as having further marginalised women victims of violence within police structures. There is now a shift (as in Maharashtra) towards composite policing, where training and equal opportunities policies are being integrated. The new shift away from women-specific interventions to the integrated gender-aware policy of composite policing needs to be encouraged in future strategies. NGO approaches to gender issues Of the thousands of NGOs, only a small proportion - probably less than 20 percent focus activities explicitly on women and even fewer are ‘women’s’ NGOs. Moreover, there is a concentration of NGOs generally and women’s NGOs specifically in the West and the South. In the North, where gender disparities are the worst, there is a low density of NGOs. The resources, infrastructure and skills base of existing women-focused and women’s NGOs and networks needs to be drawn on in order to support the local development of NGOs in areas of the country where NGOs currently have little presence. Key areas of NGO activity with women include: economic support and services; infrastructure provision; health and family planning; social, political and legal issues; labour conditions; and support or resource functions (e.g. training, research, documentation, networking etc.). NGOs working with women, or with a gender perspective, in India range in their activities across a number of sectors and issues, and many may be involved in several areas at once. The multi-functionality of many women’s NGOs may limit their ability to access resources where these are channelled in a sectoral framework. A number of different types of NGO or voluntary agencies are involved in womenspecific programmes or work from a gender perspective. In the past, there has been something of a divide between women’s movement related organisations, who have been largely urban based and advocacy oriented, and non-government development organisations, who are mainly rurally based and have been involved in social programmes and poverty alleviation for a considerable period. Some women’s organisations have become increasingly professionalised and taken on a more NGO character, whilst others have attempted to maintain a movement character. Socio-political activities have also shifted ground: there is increasing recognition of the diversity of the women’s movement, especially as Dalit women have become more visible; uniform interests or strategies can no longer be assumed. There has been a loss of confidence in legal reform or legal awareness as a strategy for working with women, given problems of implementation and communal, class and other differences which have emerged in this area. There has been a move towards supporting and mobilising popular


campaigns (e.g. the anti-arrack movement described above) and other forms of social boycott. Due to the earlier efforts of the women’s movement, work in areas such as domestic violence is now considered legitimate development activity. The current focus on gender training as a strategy has led to a proliferation of organisations offering training of different kinds to NGOs and government but there is some scepticism about the impact of such training as it is currently constituted. Some NGOs with a long record of work in rural communities are now seeking ways of increasing poor rural and particularly Dalit women’s access to land, forest resources and secure livelihoods. These programmes have emerged out of long-term interactions and discussions with women in particular rural localities. Their importance lies in the attempt to increase the asset base of poor rural women Overall, NGOs are increasingly seen, by both government and donor agencies, as alternative service deliverers to government as part of a wider agenda of decentralisation and liberalisation. Government departments in the social sectors are now directed to allocate a certain percentage of funds to NGOs. Given existing gender bias in access to social services, particularly, this raises questions about the implications of increased NGO involvement in service delivery. The underlying assumption that NGOs will be more efficient, participatory and equitable service deliverers than state agencies needs to be questioned, particularly from a gender perspective. Long-standing concerns have been heightened among women’s organisations and in the NGO sector more generally about the implications of their greater role in service delivery in the contemporary Indian context. This implies a need for scaling up of activities and pressures to be more accountable to funders and possibly to meet particular targets to demonstrate efficiency, or, in this context, gender sensitivity. These pressures are perceived as potentially limiting the flexibility, participatory nature, capacity for innovation and critical role of NGOs generally, but specifically those working with women, where considerable investment in awareness raising and organisational work may be required. There is a question as to whether women’s NGOs, specifically, face particular constraints in scaling up activities. Alongside investment in enhancing the capacity of NGOs for expanded service delivery where appropriate, there is a need to provide mechanisms for continued support to smaller NGOs, particularly those working with women. One such approach may be the provision of decentralised innovation funds. Whilst NGOs, as well as government programmes are increasingly targeting women as beneficiaries, many still lack a gender perspective: there is a tendency by focusing on women as a broad category to homogenise women’s interests across communal, class, caste and other differences. There are relatively few NGOs working with men, alongside women, from an explicitly gender perspective. Crude targets such as increasing the numerical representation of women are insufficient indicators of gender-awareness. Mechanisms are also needed to ensure that poor, lower caste or minority women are adequately represented among beneficiaries. Encouragement is needed for the development of gender-aware approaches to working with men.


Gender sensitivity is increasingly a requirement for donor support of NGOs. This raises questions about the ways in which funding agencies can assess, monitor and evaluate the gender awareness of NGOs and support the development of their capacity in this respect. Support for the development of gender-aware monitoring and evaluation methodologies and of institutional capacity of NGOs is important, so that NGOs do not perceive criteria for gender-sensitivity as externally imposed demands with little relevance to local conditions. Such methodologies need also to incorporate attention to the differences between women. With the exception of women’s organisations, women are under-represented in NGO work, and tend to be concentrated in field rather than leadership positions. Women in NGOs face a number of particular constraints due to the internal structures and institutional culture of NGOs and conflicts between their expected behaviour at work and in the domestic sphere. Efforts to increase the gender-awareness of NGOs need also to address these internal organisational issues and look towards the introduction of equal opportunities policies. There has been considerable growth in networks of NGOs and women working in NGOs in recent years. Latterly, this has been given a new impetus by networking efforts in preparation for the UN Conference on Women in 1995, with NGO consultations occurring at local, state, regional and national levels. This momentum needs to be sustained beyond the immediate goal of working towards the Beijing conference. There is a need to build on existing networks but also to extend them across institutional boundaries, so that women’s NGOs or women working in NGOs also develop stronger links with women outside the NGO sector. Links across the rural-urban divide and, specifically, between urban-based women’s movement organisations and rural-based development organisations need to be encouraged. Dialogue between women’s movement organisations, gender specialists and technical experts in particular sectors, particularly in areas such as natural resources management and irrigated agriculture, could facilitate the development of a more clearly articulated gender perspective in these areas, where it is currently lacking.

Although there are several thousand NGOs in India, the proportion of these explicitly targeting women is low and they are concentrated in particular regions. NGOs are under increasing pressure to become alternative service deliverers to government, which may limit their flexibility, capacity for innovation and advocacy role. Scaling up may pose particular problems for women’s organisations and their multi-functionality may also limit their access to resources where these are channelled on a sectoral basis. Some women’s organisations may wish to retain an independent, social movement character, rather than become professionalised and reliant on external funds. There are pioneering areas of NGO activity with a gender perspective in India which may need support, for example, attempts to increase the asset base (land, forests etc.) and secure the livelihoods of poor rural women; and HIV/AIDS awareness programmes, linked to other health issues and to women’s empowerment.


The examples in this section are drawn from recent Indian experiences, but similar cases exist elsewhere, and the typology is more generally applicable. There are three main types of empowerment, when cases are classified by the nature and role of the change agent: (i) those that are catalyzed by NGOs, (ii) those that develop as people's movements in which the change agents may be external or internal, and (iii) joint government-NGO initiatives. Each type has specific strengths and weaknesses. NGO based experiments have the plus of being innovative, flexible, and responsive in both their substantive content and their methods. One reason is that, with a few exceptions, they tend to start small and remain small. Thus, while they can generate interesting new experiments, their results are not easily replicable or expandable. This problem is often compounded by the fact that key personnel are few in number, and the leadership structure of many organizations is quite thin. Although many NGO tend to guard their autonomy quite fiercely, the kind of work they generally do - providing different services, or supporting functions - can mean that they have to work within the larger political if not social status quo without challenging it directly. This constraint is probably less strict for advocacy NGOs than for those providing services. People's social movements, unlike NGO, are not constrained in this manner, and many quite consciously set out to alter the social and political status quo. By the very nature of their work, if successful, they tend to be large and may extend beyond specific locales. Their strength is that they are able to go directly to the heart of the causes of poor people's lack of power and work to transform them. But this can also mean that they may face opposition (sometimes violent) from those who control resources, a violence from which they may not be able to insulate their weakest and most powerless members. Interestingly, some of the most exciting of recent empowerment experiences in India are the result of joint actions by government and the non-governmental sector. As we will see in some of the examples below, these are able to avoid the NGO problem of small size and weak replicability, as well as to use the power of the state (to some extent at least) to tackle the vested interests of the powerful. But their strength can also be their weakness, in that they are constantly under pressure to adapt to the needs and methods of government; the danger of cooption or of succumbing to bureaucratic or political pressures from within government are ever present.

Promoting institutional change and support to NGOs _ - Training for women candidates and representatives in local government is needed for women from all communities, particularly Dalit, tribal and Muslim women. - Women’s effectiveness in local government could be strengthened by supporting increased links between local government representatives and local development


NGOs; such alliances have proved effective in other countries in challenging vested interests. - Alongside investment in enhancing the capacity of NGOs for expanded service delivery where appropriate, there is a need to provide mechanisms for continued support to smaller NGOs, particularly those working with women and/or not directly engaged in service provision. - The resources and skills base of existing women-focused NGOs and networks needs to be drawn on to support the development of NGOs in areas of the country where they currently have little presence. - Gender training needs to be integrated into mainstream training programmes; incentives to institutions are needed to invest in training and follow-up. It should assist in supporting long-term links between institutions (e.g. between government and non-government; across sectors) and should aim to become self-sustaining by training trainers. Gender training must be systematic, analytically coherent and address other axes of inequality (e.g. caste, class). It must support government (and non-government) personnel in promoting long-term change within their institutions, while recognising the constraints to this. Finally, gender training must address male needs without losing sight of the politics of gender.


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