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WOMEN EMPOWERMENT IN UDALGURI


DISTRICT, ASSAM
Mr. Nripesh Kalita, Lecturer
Deptt. of Economics, Khoirabari College
Khoirabari, Udalguri( B.T.A.D.), Assam
Email: nipkalita@gmail.com
Mob. No:- 9859708181

Abstract

The present paper is an attempt to analyze the status of women and their
empowerment in terms of various socio-economic indicators such as access to
education, employment, demographic composition, political participation, experience
of domestic violence etc. in Udalguri District (B.T.A.D), Assam using secondary data
obtained from various sources. The study reveals that the participation of women in
the development process through economic and non-economic activities in the
economy of the district is not taking its pace. In the district, women enjoy quite
inferior status as compared to the average women in the state. Percentage of women
in the government services and their political participation is quite low and does not
show any sign of significant improvement. Sex ratio in the district is improving over
time,. But the situation is worse in case of their financial autonomy and sexual
violence. Female enrolment rate is below fifty per cent in spite of universalisation of
primary education and provision of mid day meal schemes. Although Government has
undertaken a number of steps the situation has remained gloomy mainly because the
educated women are not forward looking and cherish the baseless age old customs.
There is a need to create awareness towards achieving the desired goal of women
empowerment in the district.

Key words:- education, employment, women empowerment.


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1. Introduction :-

Since ancient times, women have played an extremely important role in


socio-economic development of different states in India. History is replete with tales
of courage and of extraordinary achievement. Martyrs such as Kanaklata were at the
forefront of the struggle for independence. Padmashree Chadraprabha Saikia was
actually the first women of Assam who works in the backward and remote areas of
the state to encourage the women folk to came out from the barriers of the society. In
today’s world, women have attained levels of eminence and distinction, as
educationists, doctors and technologists, contributing to the growth of the State, and
to the strength and uniqueness of its social fabric. Contributing at work and at home,
women – their status and their role - hold the key to the advancement of the State, its
people and the economy. Yet women are not treated as equal as men.
The Indian Constitution gives equal political rights to both men and
women, but the representation of women in Parliament and State
Legislatures is very less. In Assam, the status of women is high in
comparison to the women of some other States of India. One salient
feature in the society of the state is the absence of the dowry
system. But women in this part of our country are lagging behind in
so many spheres due to lack proper development of women folk. So,
the concept women empowerment is important and we should
study the condition of women in our society to understand the
actual condition.
The Udalguri District of Assam is one of the four districts which were created
after a long ending of 14 years of Bodoland movement in 10th. February, 2003 with
the signing of the Accord between the Central & State Government and the Bodoland
movement leaders. Udalguri district is bounded by Bhutan and West Kameng District
of Arunachal Pradesh state in the North, Sonitpur District in the East , Darrang
District in the South , and Baksa District in the West. It has two sub division,
namely, Bhergaon and Udalguri covering 11 development blocks (Udalguri, Mazbat,
Khoirabari, Bhergaon, Rowta, Kalaigaon, Besimari(part) , Pub Mangaldai (part) ,
Paschim Mangaldai (Part), Borsola(part) and Dalgaon) consist of 824 villages. The
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total geographical area of the district is 1,852,16 sq. km. The extent of the district
lies between 92008′E to 95015′E Longitude and 26046′N to 27077′N Latitude.
About 48% of the total population of the district are female and out of the total female
population 32% are belongs to Schedule Tribe. The status woman in the society of
this region of Assam is not very high. Due to lack proper socio-economic
development of this region, the women of this district are lagging behind their
counterpart (women of the state of Assam). The socioeconomic set up of the district
has not been conducive to overall development. Since it is a multiethnic district with
heterogeneous cultural backgrounds, it has been experiencing insurgency and ethnic
strife for the last three decades because of which not only its economy but also the
social fabric is under threat. The worst victims in the process are the women. Though
the entire region is free from some of the social evils like dowry, sati pratha, female
feticide and infanticide because of the prevalence of tribal and indigenous culture,
other forms of gender discrimination do exist as revealed in various gender gap
studies. It is contrary to the general perception that women of Udalguri district are as
disadvantageous as the women in rest of the state. In certain respects the position of
women in the district is weaker than that in other district of the state. Keeping these
points in view it was thought to undertake an in-depth study on the status of women
and their empowerment in the district.

3. Objective of the study :-

To assess the empowerment of women in Udalguri district, the present study


is being done with the broad objectives of finding out the actual condition of women
empowerment in the district with respect to their development and well being.
The specific objectives are to know about the –
(1) Employment,
(2) Education,
(3) Demography and
(4) Political participation of women in the district.

4. Methodology :-
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In order to examine the status of women empowerment we


have collected secondary data from different sources like Udalguri
District Planning & Development Branch; NIC- Udalguri District; DRDA,
Udalguri District; Asom Mahila Samata Society and Statistical Handbooks and other
statistical publications of the government of Assam at the disaggregate level.
Analysis has been made by putting them into four categories on the
basis of (1) employment (2) education (3) demography and (4)
political participation across different groups categorized on the
basis of different administrative setup like Sub Divisions,
Development Blocks and Villages of the district. We have also
personally collected some data from some villages of Khoirabari
Revenue Circle to know the actual situation of women of the region.
So the study is basically analytical and descriptive.

5. Meaning and of empowerment :-

Empowerment is both a process and a result, that cannot be measured nor can
it be taken by some individual or institution/organization and given to some body else.
A woman can only empower herself; organizations (through logistic support) and,
governments (through their gender just policies) can play a role in supporting the
journey and providing an enabling environment. Women are empowered when they
become aware of the unfair power relations they face and are able to take the
challenge to overcome inequality. Empowerment enables women to take control over
their lives and builds self-confidence and self- reliance.
Women’s movement advocated country wide formation of grassroots and
professional women’s groups/ coalitions around a common goal. And thus empower
women to ask for gender just laws and institutions and if justice is being denied to law
in their own hands. Through women’s activism, introduction of equality in
discriminatory laws relating to marriage, dowry, divorce, inheritance and domestic
violence have been introduced and this has empowered women.
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6. Analysis and findings :-

a) Employment Status:
To analyze the status of women on the basis of their
employment status, we have considered in this section percentage
distribution of workers (main, marginal and non workers) and
formation of SHGs in the district.
Out of the total population 50.53% constitute the total work
force of the district and of the total workers 32% are women
workers. About 43% of the total female workers are main workers,
57% are female marginal workers and out of the total non-workers
60%. It is important to note that proportion of main workers is
relatively high and non workers and marginal workers are low
among male population which is not true in case of female
population. As usual proportion of main workers among male
population is relatively higher than that of female counterparts.
Similarly marginal and non worker proportion of females exceeds
that of males. In the 25 Nos. of tea gardens of the district 90% of the
total labours are female. About 47% rural women are engaged in
marginal occupations in supplement the family income.
To examine the nature and status of women employment in
the Public Sector (Govt.) of the district it is important to know their
class wise distribution. Data reveal that only 11.86% of total
government employees were women. They were mostly employed
in class III category of government services. This shows a very
disappointing picture about status of women employment in
Udalguri district. There has not been any significant increase in the
women govt. employees in a period of 10 years from 2001 to 2010.
In this period the women govt. employees only increased from
9.52% to 11.86%.
Women’s awareness about micro credit programme and
formation of women Self Help Groups also indicate women’s effort
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for economic emancipation and employment status. Data analysis


about the formation and activities of women Self Help Groups shows
that out of total 6760 SHGs registered under the 11 development
blocks, 4036 are women Self Help Groups (SHG) in the district. The
DRDA assisted 344 women SHG and trained 155 women SHG for
economic activities. On the other hand, the Asom Mahila Samata
Society, Udalguri district unit also helping in the formation of women
SHGs in the district with the assistance of district DRDA. The total
women SHG formed with the help of Udalguri district unit of Asom
Mahila Samata Society till July, 2010 are 344 nos., total Women
member of these SHGs are 4934 nos. , total No.
of Savings Groups under these SHGs are 274 nos. , total member of
Savings Group are 13991 nos. and total Savings of these SHGs are
41,828,266.00. With formation of these women SHGs, the
participation women in different economic activity has also
increases. Due to increase in economic activity of women, their
income also increases and they can now help the family financially
as well as they can take decisions in some family matters. The main
activities of these SHG are Piggery, Poultry farming, goat rearing,
bamboo works, horticulture, agriculture and weaving. Sometimes
the savings group lending money at a nominal interest rate to poor
and needy people who are not member of their group. It has been
observed that with the increasing activities of these women SHGs in
the district the status of women also increases in the society.

b) Educational Status :-

The educational attainment of women of Udalguri district


can be analyzed through female literacy rate and female enrolment
rate at different stages of education. The female literacy rate is 67% in
Udalguri district which is higher than the state literacy rate of 54.6%.
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Now let us analyze the pattern of female literacy across the


groups when classification of district is made on the basis of
development blocks. Female literacy rate increases across the 11
blocks along with the increase in total literacy rate. From the
analysis of data we find that it is lowest (40.04%) in Mazbat block and
highest (69.61%) in Udalguri block and Rowta block is second
highest(67.46%). Wide variation in female literacy rate is seen across
the district which range from as low as 40 per cent to as high as 69
per cent. If we examine female literacy rate according to developed
area and less developed area, we find a positive relationship.
Female literacy rate is higher in developed area of the district like
Udalguri, Harisinga and Rowta and it is lowest in less developed
area of the district like Mazbat, Khoirabari and Besimari.
The data about drop out of female student reveals a
different story here. It shows that in the three blocks (Bhergaon,
Kalaigaon and Khoirabari) of the district the number of female drop
out students are 504 nos. In Dhupguri and Jhargaon village under
Khoirabari bock the no. of female drop out students are 68 and 54
respectively. The age group at which the drop out is maximum is
14-17yrs.

c) Demographic Status :-

Sex ratio is one of the important demographic factors that


indicate the status of women in a particular society. A social system
with higher sex ratio itself shows the higher status of women. The
sex ratio of Udalguri district is estimated to be 947, which is slightly
higher than the Assam state average of 933. The total female
population of the district are 3,69,105 which is 48% of the total
population. Out of the total female population 1,19,429 ( about 32%)
are belongs to Schedule Tribe, 14,097(about 3%) are belongs to
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Schedule Caste and 235579 ( about 63%) are belongs to General


Caste, Muslim, Christian, Tea Tribes and others. The majority of the
women of the total population are belongs to Bodo community.
Let us examine the pattern of variation of sex ratio in the
district. The data shows that sex ratios decrease with the increase in
the literacy rate which is in fact a disturbing trend in a developing
society. It is observed to be highest in Low Literacy block and lowest
in Higher Literacy block. In the higher literacy block like Udalguri
and Rowta, the sex ratio is 932 and in lower literacy block like
Mazbat and Bhergaon, the sex ratio is 948.

d) Status of Political Participation :-

Women’s political participation is another input to their


empowerment. It is one of the important factors that contribute to
their well being. In Udalguri district, though the participation of
women in political fields has not been seen a growing trend but the
number of women member in 114 Village Council Development
Committees (VCDC) went up from 56 nos. in 2008 to 84 nos. in 2010
and in the same period the women member of school management
committee also increases from 31 nos. to 58 nos. So, women of this
district are capable of taking decisions in case of village
development and in case of development of education in their
locality.
In the Election of Bodoland Territorial Council Assembly in
2010, Lalita Das was lone women candidates out of the total 10
Constituency in the district and Anima Bayan was the lone elected
member of 2006 BTC Assembly. In last assembly election Kamali
Rani Basumatary from 64 No. Panery constituency was the lone
MLA from the district. So, women representative from the district to
BTC assembly as well as state assembly is not very significant.
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The following table shows the nos. of male and female voter
in the Bodoland Territorial Council Assembly Election in 2010
Table :-1
No. of voters in BTC Assembly Election in 2010
In Udalguri district
Voter Population
Sl. No. Constituency Name
Male Female Total
1 31 Khwirwbari (ST) 23489 22827 46316
2 32 Bhergaon (ST) 22708 22623 45331
3 33 Nonwi Serfang (Non ST) 22168 20934 43102
4 34 Khaling Duwar (ST) 26266 24559 50825
5 35 Mwdwibari (Open) 27847 26352 54199
6 36 Horisinga (ST) 23799 22951 46750
7 37 Dwhwnsiri (ST) 27712 25672 53384
8 38 Bhairabkunda (ST) 26768 24645 51413
9 39 Pasnwi Serfang (Non ST) 26610 25466 52076
10 40 Rowta (ST) 26243 24972 51215
Source :- http://www.udalguri.gov.in
In the above table we have observe that the percentage of female
voters in all the 10 constituencies of the district is varies between
47% to 49% and in case of male voters it is 50% to 52%. So, the
number of female voters in the district are not too small comparing
to the male voters.

7. Summery and Conclusion :-

Thus from the above analysis it is quite clear that


development process in the district is not gender neutral; women
enjoy inferior status as compared to the average women in the
state. The percentage of women employees to total employees in
the district in the Government services is low. There has not been
any significant improvement in this regard in the last decade. As
regards women’s political participation it is found that percentage of
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women voters has always been less than that of male voters in all
the constituencies but the gender gap is not very significant. The
percentage of women elected members is very low compared to
male counterparts and has not been showing any sign of significant
improvement. This shows only poor participation of women in the
state as well as BTC assembly politics.
In the areas of employment and education, most of the
developed block of the district have performed well. But Lower
developed blocks have low employment and educational status. It
is seen that total work force participation rate, proportion of female
main, marginal and non workers, female literacy and female
enrolment rates are low in Low developed blocks in the district.
As regards to sex ratio, it is not bad. It is high both in
Udalguri and Rowta block of the district. In the higher literacy block
like Udalguri and Rowta, the sex ratio is 932 and in lower literacy
block like Mazbat and Bhergaon, the sex ratio is 948.
When we examine the factors like household decision making,
control over resources, freedom of movement, workforce
participation rate, women’s experience of violence, attitude towards
unequal gender role etc in the district, we find some interesting
result. Women in general enjoy better status in some blocks of the
district like Udalguri, Rowta, Pub Mangaldai as compared to women in
Khoirabari, Bhergaon and Kalaigaon block in terms of decision making
power at the household level. Proportion of women taking decision
jointly with their husband or alone in any of the decisions is higher
in Udalguri block than in other block of the district.
When we analyze women’s attitude towards wife beating, we
find that less women of the developed area of the district support
the cases of wife beating as compared to less developed area.
However awareness about micro credit programme is more in the
district compare to the state. Formation of SHGs from 1999 to 2007
is highest in the district. However percentage of women SHGs to
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total SHGs is highest in the district. The women SHGs of the district
are functioning properly and contributed handsome amount of funds
through micro savings to the economy of the district.
In our study we have got 13 instances of women trafficking
in the district. The women’s of the backward region of the area has
been attracted towards women traffickers because of lack of
knowledge and lack of employment and they are lured by the
middleman called dalal and became victimized. So, it is in the hands
of govt. to stop such incidents with bold step and involve local NGOs
in this regard.
For solving the problem of female drop out in the district,
Asom Mahila Samata Society, Udalguri district unit is organizing
different types of progammes. But the govt. can also employ
Sarbasiksha Mission in the different blocks of the area where female
drop out is higher to arrange village level programme for eradication
of such problem.
Although Government has undertaken a number of steps the
situation has remained gloomy mainly because the educated
women are not forward looking and cherish the baseless age old
customs. Thus there is a need to create awareness towards
achieving the desired goal of women empowerment in the district.

References

•Asom Mahila Samata Society, DIU-Udalguri(2010-11) Progress


report up to the month of Apri 2010.

•Behal Monisha (2002.) Changing Women’s Status in India: Focus on the Northeast, edited
by Walter Fernandes and Sanjoy Barbora. Publisher: North Eastern Social Research Centre,
Guwahati.

•District Employment Exchange, Udalguri

• Govt. of Assam (2008): Statistical Hand Book of Assam,


Directorate of
Economics and Statistics, Guwahati.
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• Nayak, P. and B. Mahanta (2008): “Women Empowerment in


India”,
http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1320071
• Nayak, P. and B. Mahanta (2009): “Women Empowerment in
Assam”,
http://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/12684/

• Shivakumar, A.K. (1996): “Gender Related Development Index”: A


Comparison for Indian States”, Economic and Political Weekly, April
16,
1996.