Women Welfare in India Upsc

Women  represent almost half of the total population of our country  and their particıpation in the development programmers is considered of out-most significance. No schemes whether in the field of economic development or social development can be successful unless women play their constructive role in such programmers. In-spite of the social imbalances existing in the society, there has been considerable improvement in their social status and today women occupy many high positions and their instinctive zest for life and cheerful disposition illumines many homes. Women's role in directing and shaping the destiny of the society is crucial. 


The status of women in India has been a chequered one as it has seen many ups and downs. In the Vedic age, they were worshiped as goddesses. In the Muslim age, their status suffered a sharp decline and in the British regime they were looked down upon as "slaves of slaves." Sınce independence the tide seems to have gone in their favor. There is no denying the fact that women in India have made some progress, may be, because of the social legislation, the progress made in the fields of education, health or economics or as a result of technological developments, or because of a process of evolution. Though in very small numbers, today we have women in almost all spheres of life.

 They are doctors, engineers, pilots, journalısts, teachers, administrators, judges including a woman judge in the Supreme Court, State governors, ambassadors, members of Parliament and ministers. We have had a woman Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi and a President of the U.N. Assembly Mrs. Vijay Laxmi Pandit. Ms. Sheila Dixit, Ms. Vasundhara Raje, Ms. Uma Bharti and Ms. Rabri Devi had taken over as Chief Ministers of Delhi, Rajasthan, M.P. and Bihar respectively Ms. Jayalalita was  the Chief Minister of T.N. Ms. Mayawati has been the Chief Minister of U.P. thrice. Ms. Rajinder Kaul Bhattal has been the Chief Minister of Punjab. Ms. Sonia Gandhi is the Chairperson of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA)-Coalition government at the Center, lead by the Indian National Congress of which she is also the President. 

The Constitution (73rd & 74th) Amendment Acts. 1992 provide 33 per ocal cent reservation for women in Panchayati Raj institutions and urban l bodies enabling women to take the positions of Sarpanchs, Mav ome Aayors councillors, etc. of their respective bodies. Ms. Kiran Bedi has become an legendary as a model IPS woman officer, Late Ms. Kalpana Chawala illustriors example as a woman astronaut. But the situation on the economic front is dismal. The women world in the house which includes, collection of firewood, bringing of water from long distances and helping in the family business or in the fields is not recognised because they are not paid for it.

 The census report does not take note of it  is estimated that the average hours of unpalable work done by women outside their home ranges from 6.1 to 7.5 hours per day with some women working for 10 hours and more. This apart, 89.5 per cent of the women workers are engaged in the unorganized sector, On these, 82 per cent are in agriculture and allied occupations. In the organized sector women form 13.3 per cent of the total number of employees

 In the public sector they account for 11 per cent of the employment force and in the private sector the percentage is 17.8. me So far as senior management jobs are concerned, women hold 5.8 per cent posts as against men in sımilar posıtions. There are only 9 per cent women officers in the Indian Police Service. In the Indian Administrative Service. there are 7.5 per cent women. Though concern is being expressed for her emancipation in every field, economic independence is of paramount importance. Efforts are on to ensure that women are economically not dependent on anyone.

 But these efforts have hardly been of any help. The woman is now burdened with two kinds of jobs-her work within the house and the job outside. She does not find any free time to enjoy the fruits of her economic independence. Not only that, in many cases she is the custodian of her salary till she arrives home. Her salary later becomes a part of the total income of her family. The economic independence is not the final solution. An equal emphasis has to be laid on the total development of the woman, the awareness about her rights and responsibilities, the recognition of her role and the work that she does at home. If necessary the social system must change so that the woman does not have to ask for concessions. 

The condition in the political arena is no better. Each political party stands for women's participation in political activities in a big way. But do we see the reflection of their wishes in Parliament?

 The percentage of women members of Parliament has been on the decrease. Twenty-three women were elected to the Lok Sabha in the first general election while 19 were elected or nominated to the Rajya Sabha. Today, after 53 years of independence, there are only 24 women members of the Lok Sabha and 24 of the Rajya Sabha. A dismal picture of the status of women as attempted above is further reflected in their position in the society. As stated earlier, the sex ratio in India is 927 girls per 1000 boys. In some states it is most alarming. 

As reported in the census 2000 it is 793 in Punjab, 820 in Haryana and 897 in Himachal Pradesh. Infant mortality rate is higher for girls with a ratio of 7.8 per cent for girls to that of 6.7 per cent for boys (U.N. The World's Women) In 1990, 40 per cent of the women were assaulted by their partners (UNIFEM Biennial Report) and 65.3 per cent women reported of some kind of abuse (UNDP Report). In 2000, the estimated adult literacy was 31.3 per cent for women and 54.6 per cent for men (U.N. Social Indicators). According to the National Family Health Survey 1998-99 only 52 per cent of women are consulted for decisions concerning their own health. 

The percentage of deliveries attended by health professionals in 1998-99 was 43 per cent, the lowest proportion is 22 per cent in Uttar Pradesh. Women's wage rate is on an average only 75 per cent of that of men and constitutes only one fourth of the family income. It is estimated that in India there are 92 million working women. Studies conclude that not only the women form the most impoverished lot but also that the women represent the fastest increasing group of impoverished. Nowhere, apart from certain African countries, has poverty adopted the female face in such a fantastic manner as in the sub-continent. Poverty reflects not only in economic terms but also translates into deprivations of several kinds. In poorer households right from food, work, education, clothing to marriage, women receive the worst of the lot.

 Nutritious food is reserved for the male members. If there Is an increase in the household expenditure, it is the women and the young girls' diets that are first slashed. Alongside unequal food distribution comes unequal provisions for health care facilities. Studies show that females are less likely to receive medical care than males, less likely to be admitted to hospitals and in some instances less likely to survive than boys. A poor nutritious state of females means that their illness is of longer duration. Girls are made to leave schools at the smallest of excuses, mainly to act as household assistants or domestic servants while boys are allowed to study relatively more. 

For every woman who steps out of the house to work as a domestic help or as a construction worker or as farmer, there is her daughter who stays back home babysitting, cooking and housekeeping. Thus, lesser fed lesser loved and lesser educated she is often gotten rid of in the form of manage earliest of the earliest, sometimes barely in her teens. This lead to premature motherhood and a staggerıng mortality rate of 410 per  hundred thousand deliveries, giving birth on an average 5.3 times in her life. However, many a time she is not allowed the dignity of marriage but rather used like a slave.

 In most Indian households, females are denied as much independence in professional education and other essential forms of instruction like rationality to make economic investments and a nice life. She is groomed to subordinate herself to the collective will of the family to ensure that she makes a good lhfe later. A young and easily nominative girl is still the dream Bohu (daughter in-law) of the Indian household. Later on, she is denied inheritance on equal footing. There is obviously lack of decision making power even of the elementary type. This includes stepping out of the house to Visit friends or to shop. 

When it comes to higher decisions like those related to finance, property, planning families, etc. independence is almost unheard of. Hard pressed to accommodate the role both of breadwinners and domestic caretakers, women are often forced to make compromises on professional fronts. They accept jobs that pay less, offer minimum economic and social security, where labor laws are difficult to implement and where there are minimum chances of economic growth. In rural areas 87 per cent women are employed in agriculture as laborers and cultivators. 

In urban areas about 80-90 per cent of the women workers are employed in household industries, small trade and services and building and construction. A woman still bears the cost of her traditional domestic chores while the rising cost of living has put on her additional burden of pouring money into the family kitty.

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