What are the continued challenges for women in India against time and space? (15 Marks)

Mentor’s comment-

  • The question asks about the challenges faced by the women against time (in different periods of time) and space (at different areas, locations).
  • In the intro, briefly state how women have to face the challenges that persist both in time and space.
  • In the body, explain the challenges that deal with time- i.e. challenges that have been enduring for a long time like patriarchy, discrimination, inequality, violence, etc. In the second part of the answer, state the problems which women face at different places or vary by their location, these include- inequality for women in rural and urban areas, challenges due to status of the country with women in a developed country enjoying more opportunities and facing less discrimination, less crime against them, etc.
  • Conclude by stating the World Bank report which highlights the benefits of bringing the women on equal footing.


Nearly one-sixth of the world’s women live in India and many of them have adorned high offices like that of President, Prime minister, Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Leader of the Opposition, yet there are innumerable women who rarely step outside their homes.

Women in India face many socio-cultural, economical and political challenges. These challenges can be classified as:

  • Challenge against time
    • Timely maternal care: maternal care in India is moribund. Resource and infra constraint denies timely care to pregnant women, leading to high maternal mortality rate and Infant mortality rate (quite latest data on MMR)
    • Girl child denied timely interventions in nutrition and healthcare, especially in rural areas. Hence malnutrition and anemia among Indian girls is one of the highest in the world
    • Education is denied, and even if allowed in some cases, the girl couldn’t attend classes due to time constraints as a result of household work.
    • Early marriage, especially of girl children, reduces their opportunities, denying them the chance to get empowered.
    • A direct repercussion of challenge against time is the repeated exhortation against women going out at night by the so-called moral guardians of the society.
  • Challenge against space
    • Pink collarisation of jobs: The women are mostly deemed fit for “pink-collar jobs” only, such as teachers, nurses, receptionists, babysitter, lecturer, etc. which have been stereotyped for women. This denies them opportunities in other fields.
    • Glass ceilings: Women in India face artificial barriers like stereotypes, media-related issues, informal boundaries, which prevent them from advancing upward in their organization into management-level positions.
    • Sexual harassment at the workplace: #Metoo movement sheds light on numerous instances of sexual harassment at the workplace. However, due to the slow judicial system, justice hasn’t been delivered to these women.
    • Lack of political participation of women: The Indian Parliament currently has 11.8% women representation, and state assemblies have only 9%. Even though the 73rd constitutional amendment act mandates 33% of panchayat seats to be reserved for women. 
      • However, The dichotomy between representation and participation can be reflected by the prevalence of “Sarpanch Pati”.

Way Forward

  • Awareness generation and sensitization about gender equality and women’s rights should be instilled in boys and girls from a very early age in order to bring about a change in the mindset of the future generation.
  • Gender-based legislation: It is important to enact and enforce legislation and develop and implement policies that promote gender equality
  • Women should be respected at home. When women are respected at home, then children also learn about the importance of respecting women. Parents cannot treat their sons and daughters differently.
  • Developing and resourcing national plans and policies to address violence against women.
  • Gender-based surveys: Generate evidence on what works and on the magnitude of the problem by carrying out population-based surveys, or including violence against women in population-based demographic and health surveys, as well as in surveillance and health information systems.
  • Technological interventions such as improving CCTV coverage in urban areas, the panic button in smartphones, initiatives such as  SHe-Box, etc.

In order to improve the condition of Indian women, society must remember the words of J.L. Nehru: “India To awaken the people, it is the woman who must be awakened. Once she is on the move, the family moves, the village moves, the nation moves”.

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4 years ago

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