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Gender and equality in India AST1ICI lecture 5 Banaras ca. 1979, Bengali couple.

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Presentation on theme: "Gender and equality in India AST1ICI lecture 5 Banaras ca. 1979, Bengali couple."— Presentation transcript:

1 Gender and equality in India AST1ICI lecture 5 Banaras ca. 1979, Bengali couple.

2 Prominent Indian Women India had a woman PM long before Australia Women in India have traditionally played quite prominent roles. The queen of Jhansi was a hero of the 1857 freedom war.

3 Desirable women The favour of Goddesses such as Lakshmi is desired by all, as she is the goddess of wealth. Annapurna, the giver of food, also plays a key place in the belief systems of many poor people in India. Mahalakshmi, Calender art, Banaras ca. 1978

4 Powerful Women Women in Hindu stories are often dangerous and powerful figures. Goddesses such as Durga had the power to defeat men. Gods and their consorts are both powerful, such as Shiva and Shakti Durga wall painting, Banaras ca. 1980

5 Dangerous women In village Hinduism local gods and in particular goddesses are quick to anger and if not kept happy with offerings will become angry and cause suffering. It is dangerous not to appease Shitala goddess of small pox.

6 Traditional gender roles Gender roles cant be understood without considering family structures. The key factor is the importance of the joint family system. Almost all Indians traditionally lived in joint families.

7 Family structures In a joint family brothers live together in their family home. Wives move into the house of their husbands family. Women and men relate more as groups than as individuals. Banaras ca. 1980

8 Regional caste/class differences There are some regional differences. Matriarchal systems in Tripura and Kerala. Stronger roles of women in Bengal. More equality and group identity in lower castes. Rajasthan and Banaras ca. 2009

9 Indian Women and Islams arrival Did women in pre-Islamic India have greater equality? What was the interaction between Islamic ideas about Purdah and Indian ideas about purity? Or was the status of women changing due to the dominance of feudalism in the medieval period? These are questions which has been much debated in India. Drawings of statues from Khajuraho

10 Colonial era interactions Victorian British ideas about morality and hard work influenced Indian womens movements for uplift. Texts like Womens Dharma Teachings taught women how to contribute to family and national growth.

11 Imbalance in birth rates There has always been a preference for sons, as they earn more for a family and have higher status. Ultra sound and pre- natal tests have led to a massive increase in gender imbalance. Delhi ca. 2006, palna means adoption and this is just outside an orphanage its for mothers to leave babies in

12 Marriage and dowry Indians often spend most of their earnings on marrying off their children. In particular the brides family is hit with the cost of the wedding and often extortionate dowries. Rekha Poster Banaras ca. 1978 1994 Salman Khan Madhuri Dixit

13 Weddings Weddings are of central importance. They are about the relationships of two families, not just individuals. Arranged marriages are still more common than love marriages

14 Lavish Weddings Weddings, even simple ones, can have hundreds of people at them. Some weddings have had thousands of people at them and there is debate about the waste involved.

15 Marriage and Jati (caste) Traditionally, and to this day, and even in the Diaspora, most Indians marry in their jati communities. This plays a key role in determining the continued existence of caste customs and traditions.

16 Dowry and extortion Although in theory dowry is illegal, since 1961, it is widely practiced today. The amount of dowry in a consumerist society has grown. Dowry extortion is a major middle class issue and tragedy. at-stake/

17 Education Women were often less educated but now are becoming more equal. Women are more marriagable if their education matches that of their prospective grooms. Banaras ca. 1980

18 Social roles Women were traditionally seen as guardians of traditional values and the purity of families. Often more religious. Men were seen as being able to go out into the world more in the quest for a living.

19 Rural/Urban divide In rural areas there is a greater persistence of the traditional joint family system. Traditional family structures and gender roles tend to break down in urban areas. Banaras ca. 2006

20 Manushi and womens liberation Women have campaigned for equal rights since independence. The magazine Manushi has been a prominent forum. Founded in 1978 by Madhu Kishwar it ran till 2006 in print.

21 Change and Conflict In some areas, such as Haryana, there is conflict between changing family structures and tradition. This has led to violence and honour killings in extreme cases.

22 Gram Panchayats and reservation There is reservation for women in local government at the Gram Panchayat level Women are taking an increasing role in local governance. Also reserved seats for scheduled castes and tribes.

23 Gender and Equality There is no shortage of leading figures in India who are women. Uma Bharti BJP CM. Sheila Dikshit, CM of Delhi Mayavati, CM of UP. But all represent their group interests more than their gender. cil+of+Ministers

24 Gender equality=general equality? Gender inequality in India has to be seen alongside the issue of caste and economic inequalities. Can gender equality be attained whilst there is still such large caste and class inequality in India? Images from a wedding ritual: Banaras ca. 2006

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