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Gender Policy for the Manifesto



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Mr. Venugopal, pl. propose a particular paragraph which captures your view;
I personally am in favour of promoting equality in all issues and providing
support to working women to rear children, as provided in the West. But
beyond that, I am very much doubtful if reservation of seats/ jobs for
women is called for. SS

At 07:33 PM 3/7/01 -0800, venugopal <gvvs@nird.ap.nic.in> wrote:

>There is no specific mention to gender issues in IPI manifesto.
>Perhaps the International Women's Day could be an occasion to
>start focusing  on these issues. I am trying to present some of
>my thoughts as questions and answers here to stimulate debate:
>Q: Any woman is a member of some household. Why should any focus
>be given to a woman as an individual, rather than treating
>family as a unit and attempting to increase family income? In
>other words, if all office-going women (except lady doctors,
>nurses and the like) are asked to stay at home and if their jobs
>are given to unemployed men, wouldn't that be better for the
>whole economy as it would reduce unemployment problem?
>A: This sounds like a typical 'Taliban' type of an argument.
>This presupposes a number of questionable beliefs: 1. that
>certain stereotyped roles are reserved for women and certain
>others reserved for men, without any botheration to analyse
>whether the person has aptitude, ability and perseverance to
>take up the job and without examining whether such division of
>roles, of confining 50 % of humanity to the kitchen,  is just
>and fair. 2. that there is justice and fairly within the family
>in the sense that once the family gets the income, everybody in
>the household automatically gets a fair share of their desires
>fulfilled . 3. that a woman going to office is only 'bringing'
>salary but is not seen to be 'doing productive work'. 4. that
>only such work is considered valuable, which results in earning
>money from the market, completely ignoring the value of services
>rendered which are taken for granted. Works like caring for the
>children, cooking, bringing water, taking care of the household
>are all considered 'free' while only going out for getting some
>money is considered a 'job'. Even without entering into the
>basis for such beliefs, the question can be answered simply like
>this: "No, it wouldn't be making better sense economically, as
>most women have got into jobs because of their merit, despite
>strong bias against them and to reserve jobs for only men would
>mean putting less competent men in places where a more competent
>woman is working right now.   Such measure may redistribute some
>small percentage of jobs across different families and give an
>apparent impression of reducing unemployment  but it will not
>lead to overall efficiency in the economy. In addition to this,
>such step would be at great social cost and will take the
>country many centuries backwards, by its repercussions on
>important social indicators including education "
>Q: What is this bias one is talking about? In these days when
>women have entered all fields including the ones which were
>traditionally male bastions, where is the scope for bias?
>A: Gender bias exists and prevails in almost all walks of life.
>For example, one can see how many active participants in IPI
>debates are women or how many bytes are being devoted for gender
>issues. The bias starts even before the child is born, as the
>basis for the recent decision to ban pre birth sex determination
>tests shows. Then bias operates when the child is born. In a
>typical traditional family, the birth of a boy is celebrated
>while the birth of a girl is accepted with the hope that 'the
>next one would be a boy'. Then bias operates with sending the
>child to school. If a brother and sister are going to school and
>even if the sister happens to be more intelligent or more
>hardworking, chances of her higher education are curtailed. Bias
>operates with the kind of toys and kind of games the children
>are encouraged to play, "e.g. boys can climb walls and trees,
>but girls are not supposed to" , the kind of dress children are
>supposed to wear, with girls being encouraged to wear bangles,
>ear-rings and so on, which would announce their arrival for
>eventual development of women as sex symbols, while boys have no
>restrictions and are permitted to do anything that pleases them.
>Bias operates in choice of career. Bias operates in marriage, in
>addition to the  obvious concepts like dowry,  as can be seen
>from demands on part of the bride to forget her parental home
>and merge with the marital household, with no such restrictions
>being expected on part of the groom. Bias operates in obvious
>crimes against women like sexual harassment, rape and reducing a
>woman to a commercial object for consumer advertisements.  But
>even outside such overt incidents, there are issues like
>domestic violence, inability of the woman to have a say in
>running her own household and so on. Then there is bias in
>inheritance laws and control over property.
>Q: After all, God has made man and woman as different. Why
>should there be equality?
>A: One is not arguing here against biological differences,
>though research in biotechnology may bring some revolutionary
>changes there too. But, one is questioning need to perpetuate
>many differences which are created by the society. Everybody
>should have the basic liberty to do what he or she wants to do,
>without any conditioning by society. That is the only point
>being made here.
>Q: Is it worth fighting for women's rights and creating  more
>divisions in the society rather than men and women working
>together for development of India?
>A: Nobody is asking women to fight men. What we are discussing
>is how the whole society can be more sensitive and  provide
>conditions for people to work in a humane manner, so that men
>and women get equal chances to pursue whatever fields  each
>person wants to, without any undue social conditioning about
>stereotype roles.
>Q: Isn't this talk about gender bias basically that of an urban,
>upper middle class, office-going, high caste woman? What about
>the rights of rural, low income women?
>A: It may be true that urban middle class women may have given
>greater expression to their voices in terms of newspaper
>articles or magazine coverage. But, the issue is equally
>relevant to women in poor households. In fact, lot of social
>mobilization in India in recent years has taken place among
>rural women, be it the role of women in self-help-groups, or
>anti-liquor campaigns or literacy movements.
>Q: All this talk sounds reflecting western values. Can we not
>focus on our indian culture and values of motherhood so that
>women take care of their children properly and produce better
>citizens for tomorrow? Of what good is this  trend of rising
>rates of divorces and broken homes?
>A: Whatever does not stand to scrutiny on basis of  basic
>universal principles like human rights should be rejected. If
>people of every culture start thinking of going back to what
>they perceive as ideal, we will  have the Taliban groups of
>different religions  indulging in bizarre  vandalism. But nobody
>is asking here that women need not take care of their families.
>All that one is talking about it is that there is a need for men
>also to help taking care of their children, and take part in
>producing better citizens, rather than leaving such
>'uninteresting' work to women. Nobody is arguing that happy
>couples should divorce. Nobody is advocating to ape the west in
>every aspect. All that is being  said is that woman has an equal
>right in determining her future, both domestic as outside. There
>should be support systems for single women and women-headed
>families so that a woman is not condemned to stayon  in an
>unhappy marriage only for the sake of values imposed by society,
>sacrificing her own interests, aptitude and desires.
>
>
>
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>This is the National Debate on System Reform.       debate@indiapolicy.org
>Rules, Procedures, Archives:            http://www.indiapolicy.org/debate/
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>
>

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This is the National Debate on System Reform.       debate@indiapolicy.org
Rules, Procedures, Archives:            http://www.indiapolicy.org/debate/
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