Does India wants its women to stay poor?

Written by Sabrangindia | Published on: January 22, 2019

Women still receive 34% fewer wages than their male counterparts for the same work. The study also found that cutting taxes on wealth predominantly benefits men who own 50% more wealth than women globally, and control over 86% of corporations.


Wage inequality

Davos: Unpaid work done by women looking after their homes and children is worth 3.1% of the country’s GDP. Women spend 312 minutes per day in urban areas and 291 minutes per day in rural areas on such unpaid care work. In comparison, men spend only 29 minutes in urban and 32 minutes in rural areas on unpaid care work.
 
An Oxfam report on inequality published on January 21 revealed much more. It added that at the workplace, women still receive 34% fewer wages than their male counterparts for the same work.
 
“When governments reduce their expenditures on essential public services such as education and healthcare, women and girls are the first ones to lose out on these services,” according to the report.
 
Girl children from the lower strata of society are lucky to see a classroom at all. In India, girls belonging to families in the top 20% get nine years of education on average, while girls from families in the bottom 20% get none at all. Even those who make it to school are often pulled out when money is tight, the report said. In addition, more than 23 million girls drop out of school annually because of lack of toilets in school and proper menstrual hygiene management facilities.
 
There were only nine women billionaires in the list of 119 Indian billionaires.
 
Then, because social norms subject women to domesticity, they often have to stay home and look after the young and the elderly.
 
Citing a 1,000-household survey undertaken in the states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh, Oxfam in its report said 53% of those surveyed said it was acceptable to harshly criticise a woman if she failed to care well for the children and 33% felt it was acceptable to even beat a woman for this reason.
 
Similarly, 60% felt it was acceptable to harshly criticise a woman if she left a dependent or ill adult unattended and 36% felt it was acceptable to beat her for the same reason.
 
Also, 41% felt it was acceptable to beat a woman if she did not prepare a meal for the men in the family while 68% felt it was acceptable to criticise her harshly.
 
Besides, 42% said a woman should be beaten if she failed to fetch water or fuelwood for her family and 65% felt she deserved to be criticised harshly.
 
A whopping 54% felt it was fine to beat a woman if she left the house without asking a man’s permission and 86% felt she should be criticised harshly for doing so.
 
Observing that these issues put severe restrictions on women’s ability to go out and undertake paid work, Oxfam said women’s ability to undertake paid work is not merely determined by economic considerations but also by social norms.
 
“It is understood that a woman’s primary role is to take care of the house and her family and any income-generating work is secondary to this role,” it added.
 
The study also found that cutting taxes on wealth predominantly benefits men who own 50% more wealth than women globally, and control over 86% of corporations.
 
The Oxfam study also referred to India’s poor 108th ranking on the WEF’s Global Gender Gap Index of 2018, saying it was 10 notches less than in 2006 and far below the global average and behind its neighbours China and Bangladesh.
 
Oxfam said India has many laws that deal with violence against women, but their implementation remains a challenge, including due to a deeply patriarchal society.
 
Oxfam said inequality has a “female face” in India, where women are less likely to have paid work when compared to men, while even among the richest there are only nine women in the country’s 119-member billionaires club.
 
The paid work women do bring them fewer earnings as compared to men due to the existing wage gap and therefore households that rely primarily on female earners tend to be poorer, it said, referring to the country’s gender pay gap at 34%.
 
It observed that various intersections of caste, class, religion, age and sexual orientation have further implications on women inequality as a process.