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Info Change India - Gender bias


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The resilience of patriarchy

By Pamela Philipose

Despite an active women’s movement and social and political recognition of the problem, discrimination continues to mark every stage in a woman’s life, and patriarchy is becoming further entrenched. The sex ratio at the start of the 20th century was far more equal than it is today, violence against women is manifesting itself in newer forms, and the oppression of socially excluded women is taking on brutal contours


Voices and silences in history

By Tanika Sarkar and Sumit Sarkar

Though the social reformers of the 18th and 19th centuries looked at women through the conservative lens of family, chastity and purity, they did make gender and the condition of women a dominant public issue, and set into motion the process of change


Barriers to the classroom, barriers in the classroom

By Anita Rampal

Yes, the odds are stacked against the girl who wants to stay in school -- because she is more malnourished and hungry, because she also does the housework and looks after siblings. But insufficient attention is paid to one important factor that pushes her out of school -- the quality of education. Parents who find their daughters are not learning much in school think she would be better-off grazing cattle


Good girls are submissive and subsidiary

By Deepti Priya Mehrotra

School textbooks continue to portray a predominantly male and patriarchal world. Women are depicted as demure, stay-at-home accessories for the male. They seem to exist only to preserve the status quo


Renaming Nakusa

By Freny Manecksha

What's in a name? Plenty, if you happen to be one of 222 girls in five blocks of Satara district, Maharashtra, called Nakusa, which means 'unwanted'. These are also blocks which have registered a sharp decline in sex ratio over the last decade


Sex-selective abortion and India’s declining female sex ratio

By T K Sundari Ravindran

The decline in child sex ratios in India cannot be addressed only by preventing misuse of preconception and prenatal diagnostic techniques. Factors other than sex-selective abortion -- including higher under-5 mortality for females in every state -- are also responsible. It is important to address the root causes of sex determination -- gender discrimination manifested through son-preference and daughter-neglect


Why do boys get all the milk?

By Anumeha Yadav

As in so many families, the Kumhars who live in a Jaipur slum take their two daughters to the construction site where they work every day. But their son goes to a private school, and is assured a glass of milk a day. The disparities and biases that creep into the distribution of food within the family have long-term impacts on the health and wellbeing of women and girls. But the Food Security Act does not address them


How many women in science labs?

By Vineeta Bal

About half of our qualified women scientists are dropping out of the system. This is a loss not just in terms of gender representation but in terms of the investment that has gone into training them. Scientific establishments are beginning to wonder why this happens, and why women scientists appear to be at a disadvantage


Silences in academia

By Mary E John

We have seen 150 women’s studies centres set up since 1974. But the idea was not so much to introduce women’s studies as an add-on discipline as to bring the gender dimension into all higher education, introducing a perspective that would change existing ways of creating knowledge and work as a catalyst to make change happen


Marriage as oppression

By Ravinder Kaur

The weight of a female-unfriendly political economy and society ensures that even for women empowered by education, marriage remains an oppressive and unequal institution. Marriage is still seen as an exchange of women and goods, a form of social mobility for the family, which will exercise patriarchal control through honour killings of inter-caste and inter-gotra unions


Multi-layered deprivations of Muslim women

By Syeda Hameed

Patriarchy in the Muslim community is that much stronger because it is seen -- erroneously -- as enjoined by religion. Women from within the Muslim community must speak out if the stranglehold of patriarchy is to be broken. They must reject triple talaq, reject the burkha, lead namaaz, perform the nikaah and insert gender-just clauses into the legal contract that is their nikaahnama


‘Do we suffer because we are Muslim?’

By Syeda Hameed

250 girls study at the Azmatul Quran madrasa in Dehradun district, learning the Koran and Hadith, Arabic and Urdu, Hindi and English, maths and science, even computers. But they are in tattered clothes, sitting on the floor in a bare classroom. Why can’t the state give them the same uniforms, midday meal and scholarships as other government schools?


The violence of caste and the violence in homes

By V Geetha

A dalit woman can be humiliated for daring to cross a dominant caste woman on the road, for refusing the sexual advances of a dominant caste male, or for protesting her subordinate status. In these instances, the very fact of being dalit seems enough to invite violence -- it is as if dalits are made to suffer an ‘ontological’ wounding


A home of her own

By Bina Agrawal

Women’s rights in property, when effectively implemented, can give them a stronger sense of identity and social protection. “We had tongues but could not speak. We had feet but could not walk. Now that we have land we have the strength to speak and walk,” said women in Bihar


Health and the other half

By Imrana Qadeer

Women’s health is much more than their reproductive health, but this is the only aspect public health policy focuses on. Unless the social determinants of a woman’s health, including her secondary status in the family, are addressed there will be little change in the falling sex ratio, malnutrition and maternal mortality


The lost mothers of Rajasthan

By Neena Bhandari

More than half of all married women in India are anaemic and one-third are malnourished. No wonder India contributes a quarter of global maternal deaths. Maternal mortality has a direct impact on infant survival, but only 46.6% of mothers receive iron and folic acid for at least 100 days during pregnancy. Rajasthani women are no exception, but in Jhakaron ki Dhani village there are signs of change


Women as bodies, not persons

By B Subha Sri

Textbooks, teachers and teaching methods prompt medical students to see the human body as impersonal, female sexuality as little more than childbearing, and rape victims as so much evidence in a medico-legal case. In the family welfare departments and maternity wards of hospitals, they learn to treat women as cattle


Twice undermined

By Anita Ghai

A personal article on the multiple biases facing disabled women who are infantilised even by the empathetic, medicalised by doctors, denied their sexuality and constantly pressurised by society to be ‘normal’


Gendered violence and biases in the criminal justice system

By Vrinda Grover

Suspicion and contempt for female victims of sexual violence permeates the criminal justice system. A victim of rape or molestation, for instance, must pass the test of the ‘good Indian woman’, and the ‘good woman’ cannot be one who wears revealing clothes or goes out late at night


The workplace is still gender-unequal

By Padmini Swaminathan

An examination of the Minimum Wages and Maternity Benefit Acts establishes that extending the coverage and scope of such legislation will make only a marginal difference to women's conditions at work. In fact, while ostensibly addressing labour market inequalities, the state has actually contributed to reinforcing gender-based discrimination in the work arena


How equal are women as citizens?

By Neera Chandhoke

Women got formal citizenship with the dawn of independence in India. But it was only after the struggles of the women’s movement since the ’70s that background inequalities were considered and these formal rights expanded into more substantive rights, including the right to property, representation in local governance, the right to life and free movement and the right to health and social protection


Women in retreat after Independence

By Zoya Hasan

Why does India present the paradox of at least four major political parties headed by women, and yet have so little representation of women in Parliament? And why is there so much opposition to reservations for women in Parliament and state legislatures when there is no opposition to reservation at the panchayat level?