“Conditions of urban poor women are more appalling than their rural counterparts.” Comment. (15 Marks)

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  • https://www.ndtv.com/education/10-more-rural-women-participate-in-workforce-than-urban-women-says-nss-report-1822828
  • The question is about discussing and differentiating the conditions of Urban poor women with those of rural counterparts.
  • The answer must briefly discuss how the conditions of women are different and rather more deplorable for Women of Urban areas in India in comparison with those of rural areas.
  • In a few introductory lines explain the general conditions of women in India.
  • The main body of the answer must explain the following aspects:
    • What are the conditions of women (poor) in urban India vs rural India?
    • Why is the condition more appalling in urban regions?
    • Discuss the causes of the above – societal, political and economic aspects.
    • Explain what are the consequences of such a disparity.
  • Conclude with what needs to be done to overcome such an issue.

Answer:

Half of India’s population consists of women, but as per UNDP’s Gender Inequality Index (GII), Indian women lag behind in the socio-economic indicators. The Maternal mortality rate, Girls not receiving secondary education are high whereas Female Labour Participation Rate, Women’s seat share in parliament are low. This is further substantiated by India’s ranking in Global Gender Gap Index by the World Economic Forum.

The dismal figures point towards the poor living conditions of the Indian women. And among them, the condition of urban poor women is even more deplorable than rural counterparts because

Food & Health of Urban Poor Women:

  • Inflation of milk, vegetables, and pulses directly affects the nutrition security of urban poor women and their children.
  • Since rural women engage in agriculture, fisheries and dairying; Government schemes for purchase of cattle, goat, hens- they’re slightly better off.

Residence & family life of Urban Poor Women:

  • Nuclear families in slums, usually without caste-community affiliations. Husband has less fear of relatives or elders of the community. Could be more abusive/domestic violence than rural.
  • Crime, Drugs, Liquor, Gambling, and Juvenile Delinquency is more prominent in urban slums than rural. When male members of a poor family engage in these evils, it has repercussions on the females of the house as well.
  • Urban areas have a higher cost of living. So, Urban poor woman have to engage herself in petty-labour while looking after the household chores and childcare. Rural women might have the help of grandparents/family elders/in-laws to take care of raising the children and dividing the domestic chores. So, she may have a slightly better peace of mind.
  • Urban slums have unhygienic conditions, and they are more prone to damage in urban floods which leads to diseases, financial distress. In Rural floods, Government relief and compensation packages are bigger and arrive more quickly due to the electoral politics.
  • Urban slums are more prone to eviction during anti-encroachment drives compared to rural slums.

Occupation & Financial Well-being of Urban Poor Women:

  • Urban poor women face inequality in wages and job opportunities. Salaried urban jobs require skill and documents- be it driver, electrician, plumber, nurse, receptionist, computer operator or teacher.
  • So, urban poor women due to lack of higher-education end up in rag-picking, construction and hazardous industries without social security are more prone to industrial/occupational disease, disability. Rural women don’t have social security either, but they’re less prone to occupational disease because pesticide spraying is usually done by males.
  • Urban poor women can hold only one type of job at a time (maids, ragpickers), whereas a rural poor woman can collect of minor forest produce in the morning, MGNREGA/farm-labourer in the afternoon and rearing hen/goat in the evening or going to a self-help-group for soap/handicrafts. So, employment security for rural poor women is slighter better than urban counterparts.

Political Voice of Urban Poor Women:

  • Nature of municipal level delimitation and electoral politics is such that despite women-reservation in Urban Local Bodies (ULBs), limited opportunity for the poor women to express their voices, compared to Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs).

The conditions of urban poor women are deplorable than rural poor women. The need of the hour is to provide them with opportunities for health, education, work through initiatives like SHGs, NGO programs and Government initiatives like DAY-NULM, PM Awas Yojana, ICDS etc. This would help us in achieving the SDG-5 which empowers all women & achieve gender equality.

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