Do women want to be treated specially or equally? – Do men know the difference?

As per Article 15(3) of the constitution of India a special enabling provision was made towards the upliftment of women – “Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making any special provision for women and children”, thereby allowing positive for discrimination for women. The reason for insertion of clause 3 to article 15 was that, for centuries, women in India had been socially and economically handicapped. Thereby they were unable to participate in the socio-economic activities of the nation on a footing of equality with their menfolk. This article was to empower them by way of positive discrimination so as to bring about an equality between men and women, gradually reducing the gap between the two sexes.

Let us evaluate if this is true in modern India. The data points that can act as a barometer for concluding whether women are underprivileged could be:

  • Life Expectancy of women: Showing how well they are cared for and have access to medical facilities
  • Unnatural deaths of women
  • Women’s access to higher education
  • Women Child Labour
  • Homelessness of Women
  • Violent Crime against women
  • Women casualties in war
  • Political representation of women

Let us critically evaluate every parameter above with data comparing how well men and women of India have fared on the same:

Life Expectancy of Women: It is widely believed that women donot have access to medical facilities. If that is the case their life expectancy ought to have been lower as compared to the privileged men of India.

 

Particulars

Male

Female

Life Expectancy

62

65

As we can see above life expectancy of women is higher than men in India.

Unnatural deaths: Even in the case of unnatural deaths women have fared better than men. As per the WHO data, the number of non-natural deaths in the South East Asian Countries (India is a part of this group) is given below:

Year: 2008

(In ‘000)

Reasons for Death

Male

Female

All Causes

79,13,478.64

65,84,985.96

Communicable Diseases

25,25,517.23

2,507,378.56

Cancers

5,68,926.57

5,66,482.90

Cardiovascular diseases

20,10,290.25

16,05,605.64

Injuries

9,91,230.123

5,60,454.64

Intentional Injuries

2,93,042.05

1,27,055.14

 

Women’s access to higher education: India is currently having more number of graduates and post graduate women. The census data below speaks for itself:

Age

All India Female – Male Sex Ratio

Graduate and above Female – Male Sex Ratio

All India

Rural

Urban

Total

943

955

962

939

20-24

935

936

933

25-29

975

980

967

30-34

984

1001

951

35-59

951

966

924

60+

1033

1036

1027

As can be seen above the all India all age group graduate female to male sex ratio is way higher than the population sex ratio implying that more women as a percentage are sent to colleges than men. The difference is even wider in rural India where even more women as a percentage than men attend colleges as compared to urban India.

Child Labour: The working children are primarily boys who carry the burden of the patriarchal social construct in their roles as protectors/ providers of the family and at that young age have to shoulder the responsibilities of the family. Still India has special schemes for education and development of a girl child and not for a boy child

Urban Working ChildrenRural Working Children

Homelessness of Women: In the recent census data for 2011 about 1.05 mn men were found to be homeless with over 600 thousand in cities. Around 1.8x times more men were found to be homeless in the urban areas as compared to women. The situation was not very different in the rural areas where more men are homeless as compared to women. The all-India average is at 1.4x times more homeless men.

Homeless Indian Men

Homeless Indian Men

Violent Crime against women: Majority of the crimes are against the male population in India; we see that around 74% of all violent crimes are against the male gender. Men are 2.7 times more likely to be murdered and 4.4 times more likely to be seriously harmed than women in India.

Crime[i]

Men

Women

Murder (#)

25,665

9,457

%

73%

27%

Harm Not amounting to murder  (IPC 304/308) (#)

3,362

761

%

82%

18%

Women casualties in war: the male gender is primarily on the receiving end of all wars and lay down their lives for protecting the society. The casualties across all wars is given below–

Men

Women

Troop Casualties in WW1

3,74,64,404

Nil

Troop Casualties in WW2

2,70,70,026

Nil

Indo-Pakistani War of 1965

6,800

Nil

Indo-Pakistani War of 1971

12,843

Nil

Kargil War

980

Nil

Political representation of women: Women have higher political representation (shown by the number of voters) and it is seen that a dominant group is one which has more political representation as they control the law making in a democracy-

Year

Men (% votes)

Women (% votes)

1999

40.01%

59.99%

2004

41.93%

58.07%

2009

45.8%

54.2%

 

As we see above in all parameters women fare better than men still there is a demand for positive discrimination for them. Is this positive discrimination beneficial for the society. We have more women graduates, still the women are going out of the work force and prefer to stay at home. Men are required to maintain well educated women, which is evident in the laws such as Section 125 of CrPC. The violent crimes committed by women has substantially increased over the past decade; still they are treated with kid gloves in the eyes of law.

Given the above scenario, do we really require any type of special laws favouring women? Are women really underprivileged and donot have opportunities? It’s time to ponder. Let’s Stand Up for a Cause …

I’m blogging for the India Today Woman Summit 2015 #WomenPower activity at BlogAdda.

——————–

(i) Table 3.3 and 3.4 of Crimes in India 2012, NCRB.

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Higher Education Gender Biasness Myth – Part 2

This is the part 2 of the previous article titled Higher Education: Gender Biasness Myth. It is been said that women in India are not allowed to study, which is not correct as enumerated by the census data. The fact is quite contrary and completely opposite to the popular belief.

Women are promoted more in India for higher education (which is classified as graduation and above). The census data below speaks for itself:

Age

All India Female – Male Sex Ratio

Graduate and above Female – Male Sex Ratio

All India

Rural

Urban

Total

943

955

962

939

20-24

935

936

933

25-29

975

980

967

30-34

984

1001

951

35-59

951

966

924

60+

1033

1036

1027

As can be seen above the all India all age group graduate female to male sex ratio is way higher than the population sex ratio implying that more women as a percentage are sent to colleges than men. The difference is even wider in rural India where even more women as a percentage than men attend colleges as compared to urban India.

If we take the decadal changes in education in India, we can look at Post Graduates in the age group of 20-29.

Age Group 20-24

Males (#)

Females (#)

Post Graduates

25,66,169

28,31,783

In the field of medicine, we have now more women graduates / post graduates at 183,342 women as compared to 171,843 men in the 20-24 age group.

This gets us to a few pertinent questions:

Some thoughts to ponder upon. Stand Up for a Cause…

———–

Data Source: Census 2011

Women’s Reservation in the Parliament

In the recent past there have been a lot of debate on the reservation of women in the Parliament and a bill on Women’s Reservation has been promulgated in the parliament. There have been many reasons advanced for passing the bill such as:

  • 50% of the population are women, hence reservation should be there in the Parliament: As per Aristotle, democracy is akin to freedom, a freedom to rule and be ruled. “But one factor of liberty is to govern and be governed in turn; for the popular principle of justice is to have equality according to number, not worth, … And one is for a man to live as he likes; for they say that this is the function of liberty, inasmuch as to live not as one likes is the life of a man that is a slave.” In essence, freedom to be elected is an important canon of democracy and reserving seats in the parliament is a blow to this canon and counterproductive to democracy. Reasons such as 50% of the population are women is not a correct way of looking at it. In India, there are no restriction on women to contest elections and canvassing for the same. As democracy is based on the concept of liberty and choice, let the people choose whosoever they feel are the best candidates to represent them.

Having a reservation, takes away the liberty of choice from the people and also the liberty to be elected to represent the public, which is against the philosophy of democracy.

On another note, taking the above reasoning further, as 25% of the Indian population are children, why should we not reserve seats for them in the parliament?

  • There is no political representation of women in the parliament: India being an indirect democracy, has elected representatives who control the law making process. The elected representatives need to do as directed by the electorate as they are representing them. In case of India, over the last few elections, the percentage votes of men and women are:

 

General Election Year

Men (% votes)

Women (% votes)

1999

40.01%

59.99%

2004

41.93%

58.07%

2009

45.8%

54.2%

 

The dominant group from the above data is clearly the women of India, as they are nearly 60% of the voters, and not the men. Hence, women exercise more political representation than men as is evident from the voter data above. Women have themselves elected their representatives to the parliament and stating that they donot have an equal representation is incorrect as it is primarily their representatives in the parliament.

  • Women own just 1% assets of the world: How is owning just 1% assets a proof of ability to be elected to the parliament? Further, this number is used in many places but no source for the same is ever given. As per an estimate, the consumption of assets (real estate and jewellery) per year between men and women in India is about US$ 40.8 bn for men and US$ 58.5 bn for women. If they consume more assets than men then how come they hold only 1% of the assets? Further, this reasoning does not have any bearing on the discussion at hand.
  • Women’s voice is not heard: Again this is a misplaced argument. The government has special ministry just for Women’s Welfare and also many NGOs are funded for the development of women and to hear their voice. The Ministry of Women and Child Development (MoWCD) has been formed by the government of India. As per the website of MoWCD “the broad mandate of the Ministry is to have holistic development of Women and Children. As a nodal Ministry for the advancement of women and children, the Ministry formulates plans, policies and programmes; enacts/ amends legislation, guides and coordinates the efforts of both governmental and non-governmental organisations working in the field of Women and Child Development”. Another statutory organization working for women development is The National Commission for Women (NCW) whose mandate includes, “review the Constitutional and Legal safeguards for women, recommend remedial legislative measures, facilitate redressal of grievances and advise the Government on all policy matters affecting women”. Therefore, stating that women’s voice is not heard is an incorrect reasoning as there are ample constitutional machineries for the same.
  • Reserving seats in the parliament is a tool for women empowerment and upliftment: India has about 11% women in the parliament. Pakistan has a reservation in its parliament for women and has a 17.5% women representation. Do let me know if Pakistan’s ranking in women empowerment and freedom is higher than India. United States does not have any reservations for women in their house of representatives, do women there have no empowerment and freedom?

Reservation in the parliament is not a method and correct way to improve women empowerment and freedom. These objectives are best achieved by way of primary, secondary and tertiary education. India is already focused on education for both the genders, you may refer to the article Higher Education: Gender Biasness Myth for a further discussion.

 

One of the noteable feature of the Indian Constitution as compared with the Government of India Act, 1935 (which was passed by the British) was the abolition of communal elctorates, which the British had incorporated in the 1935 Act. Our forefathers adopted the ideology of no voting on communal lines in the Indian Constitution in the interest of national fraternity and solidarity. The vice of communal voting and reservations was abolished with the Indian Constitution. Therefore adding reservation based on gender in the parliament not only vitiates the ideology of our founding forefathers, which they had for independent India, but also infringes upon the liberty of the Indian people. Such a reservation, in essence, is a step backwards in democracy and against the vision of our learned forefathers. Reservations may also cause a deterioration in the quality of leaders/representatives as then the electorate may have to choose between sub-optimal candidates.

Let us all Stand Up for a Cause…

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IrBM Arguments in Media (Part 3)

Picture of the "Gingerbread House" i...

This is the third part to the series of Irretrievable Break-down of Marriage (IrBM) Arguments in the media[i]. The Part 1 and Part 2 of the article can be found here and here.

Another interesting argument promulgated in the media for passing the Marriage Law Amendment is that women donot own any assets and post a divorce are on the streets to fend for themselves.

The argument seems to state that women donot own any assets and hence should get an equal share in an asset which the husband has created. This share is to ensure the safety of women.

Let us analyse this statement in-depth based on the assets majorly owned by Men and Women in India.

Men

Women

  1. Own a House
  1. Own Jewellery (Also classified as Stree Dhan)
  2. Also own a House
  • Jewellery: The jewellery in India can typically be classified as
    • Gold Jewellery: India is the largest consumer of gold for jewellery purposes and it is estimated consumed roughly 745.7 metric tonnes of gold in 2010 for jewellery manufacturing[ii]. (ie. Approximately 7,45,700 kgs of gold). This amounts to approximately Rs. 2.23 lakh crores (ie. ~US$ 37.3 bn)[iii]
    • Diamond Jewellery: As per a Bain & Co. report, India consumes approximately US$ 8.5 bn of Diamond Jewellery annually[iv].
    • Silver Jewellery: It is estimated that India consumes approximately 3,700 metric tonnes of silver annually for ornamental items such as jewellery, utensils and gift items[v].  (ie. Approximately 37,00,000 kgs of gold). This amount to approximately 16.6 thousand crores (ie. ~US$ 2.8 bn)[vi]

Therefore, gold, silver and diamond consumption in India for ornamental purposes totals to US$ 48.6 bn on an annual basis.

  • Houses: The real estate sector which consists of residential, commercial, retail, hospitality and SEZs was about US$ 50.7 bn for FY 2011[vii]. Of the total real estate sector, women do hold a decent share of housing stock. This data can be estimated from the housing loans given to women as a percentage of total housing loans. As per an RTI[viii] by Vaastav Foundation on Union Bank of India, on an average 19.6% of the women were given housing loans as a percentage of total loans disbursed. As houses are typically purchased by way of housing loans, it can be said that approximately 19.6% of the houses are held by women.

Therefore of the total real estate sector of US$ 50.7 bn about US$ 9.9 bn is consumed by women and US$ 40.8 bn by men.

The Summary of the yearly consumption of assets between men and women for India is given below:

Particulars

Men

(US$ Bn)

Women

(US$ Bn)

Real Estate

40.8

9.9

Gold

37.3

Diamonds

8.5

Silver

2.8

Total

40.8

58.5

As can be seen in the above table, on a yearly basis, women acquire approximately US$ 58.5 bn of assets as compared to approximately US$ 40.8 bn of assets by men. Therefore, the idea that women donot hold ‘any’ assets does not seem to be backed by data, instead the data shows that substantial assets are held by women of India.

In developed nations of the world such as Sweden and Germany, the properties of husband and wife are treated separately and only joint contributed property is treated as marital property. Hence, only the marital property is divided in the case of separation. This comes from the tenet that all able bodied persons should be liable for their own upkeep[ix].

Do you still support IrBM?


[i] IrBM is a marriage amendment law currently being proposed in the parliament

[iii] At Gold Price of Rs. 30,000 /10 gms and an exchange rate of 1 US$=Rs.60

[v] India’s Consuming Interest in Silver by Rajan Venkatesh, http://www.lbma.org.uk/assets/alch28_india.pdf

[vi] Silver prices of Rs. 45,000 /1 kg and an exchange rate of 1US$ = Rs. 60

[vii] IBEF- Real Estate, August 2013, page 6 and 36, http://www.ibef.org/download/real-estate-august-2013.pdf (adjusted for exchange rate of 1 US$ = Rs. 60)

Women in Work Force – Part 3 (short update)

This is in continuation to the earlier posts which can be found here- Part 1 and Part 2.

One of the justifications advanced for women leaving the work force is that they join the part-time labour force. Let us analyze the past years data on Current Weekly Activity Status Approach (cws). According to the CWS approach, a person is considered as a worker if he/she has performed any economic activity for at least 1 hour on any day of the reference week. For details please refer this link.

As per the CWS Approach the number of women participants in the labour force have reduced by 20% from 2004 to 2012[i]

Female-LFPR- current weekly activity status

Male-LFPR-current weekly activity status

Do feel free to comment and hypothesize any other reason for this trend.


[i] NSSO employment surveys 60, 62, 64, 66 and 68. Current Weekly Activity Status (cws) approach data. (Participation rate per 1,000)

Home Page: Stand Up for a Cause…

Women in Work Force – Part 2

Shopper

I recently got a response to my article ‘Women in Work Force’, that women are leaving the work force because they need to take care of the children.

The justification seems logical but does not hold merit as –

  • Did women not have to take care of children in 2004? Were women not taking care of children earlier and therefore working and have recently realized over the past decade that they need to take care of children?
  • The proportion of children to the total population of India has reduced in the past decade, implying that lesser women-hours are to be spent on taking care of children now as compared to a decade earlier. Therefore logically their participation in the labour force should have increased as opposed to decreasing.

As per the census of India[i], the proportion of children in the age group 0-10 years has reduced from 26.5% in 2001 to 22.3% in 2011. This means, now more women should have free time as they donot have to take care of the children.

Another justification given for women going out of the work force is that they join the part-time labour force. If we analyse the labour force taking into account the subsidiary economic activity (ss) workers, even then number of women participants have reduced by 20%.[ii]

Female Labour Force Participation Rate (ps+ss)

Male Labour Force Participation Rate (ps+ss)

Hence, none of the justifications seem to be backed by facts.


[i] Census of India: 2011 and 2001

[ii] NSSO employment surveys 60, 62, 64, 66 and 68. Usual Principal Activity Status (ps) and Usual Subsidiary Economic Activity Status (ss) approach data. (Participation rate per 1,000)

Home Page: Stand Up for a Cause…

Women in Work Force

Woman drinking coffee

The working population in India is typically classified as 15-59 years age group. As a general philosophy every able bodied person is liable for their own upkeep and maintenance. Which implies every able bodied man and woman should ideally work and contribute to the society. This is to ensure that free riders are not there and the economy prospers.

A very important element in the growth for the economy is the participation of women in the workforce. The Labour Force Participation Rate[i] for men and women in India are given below:

Labour Force Participation Rate of Women

Labour Force Participation rate for Men

From the above table we see that Labour Force Participation Rate (LFPR) for women has reduced over the years as India is progressing towards development. Implying that more women choose to stay at home and not have an economic contribution. Such a trend should be a matter of concern for any society as free riders are like a parasite which is a non-mutual relationship where one party benefits at the cost of the other.

One of the reasons extended for women not working is that they take care of the household which should be considered as an economic activity. As per the NSO survey[ii], women spend about 2.1 hours cooking food and about 1.1 hours cleaning the house and utensils daily. In essence, women put in a total of 3.3 hours a day working within the house as compared to around 11 hours put in by their counterparts (ie. men). Hence, this justification also does not hold water.

One of the reasons for this disturbing trend of workforce participation of women reducing could be the lop-sided (biased) laws of India. All social and economic responsibilities are supposed to be shouldered by men and further there are no government programmes for their benefit. Let us take the example of maintenance, as per Section 125 of CrPC the liability for maintenance of wife, children and parents is only on men. No such liability is conferred on the women in India. If both men and women are considered equal then why such biased laws?

The effect of such laws is evident in the society with women becoming complacent and leaving the workforce. This has increased the parasitic tendencies and is a recipe for economic downturn.

What are your thoughts on this negative trend? Do feel free to comment…


[i] NSSO employment surveys 60, 62, 64, 66 and 68. Usual Principal Status approach data (Urban + Rural). (Participation rate per 1,000)

[ii] National Statistical Organization: Men and Women in India, 2012 – 14th Issue, Para 33

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