India’s Gender Equality Surveys

In India, as everywhere in the world, events are held on March 8 on the occasion of International Women’s Day, but a recent poll by the Pew Research Center reveals that gender equality is not yet a principle shared by the majority of the Indian population.

In Chennai in March, women are being cared for

Several initiatives in Chennai were highlighted, such as these two free consultation offers reserved for women:

  • one is an eye check offered until March 30 in Dr. Agarwals Clinic
  • the other an awareness-raising consultation on how to care for your hair at the Apollo First Med clinic.

We do not know the result of these operations: Which women seized the opportunity? what follow-up is given if treatment is needed?

But despite this type of initiative, which aims to put women in the spotlight, the role of each gender in the structure of society and the family is still very unequal in majority in India. Here are the results of a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center among nearly 30,000 adults across India between the end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020 (mainly before the Covid-19 pandemic) on several topics, including gender perception in India community.

The Pew Research Center study on the place of women in society in India

More than 50 years ago, India was one of the first countries in the world to elect a woman as prime minister, and the country currently has several very influential women politicians, including Sonia Gandhi, who leads one of the most important national parties.

Today, most Indians claim that “women and men are equally good political leaders“.

Political leaders in India: women as effective as men

More than one in ten Indians believe that women in general are better political leaders than men. Only a quarter of Indian adults believe that men are better political leaders than women.

But in the domestic context, Indians tend to say that men should have a more important role than women. About nine out of ten Indians agree that a wife should always obey her husband, and nearly two-thirds of them strongly agree with this feeling. A fairly similar percentage of Indian women strongly agree with this statement (61% of women versus 67% of men) according to the Pew Research Center study.

The distribution of domestic tasks between women and men remains very unequal in India

Many Indians express egalitarian views regarding certain domestic tasks. For example, 62% of adults say that both men and women should be responsible for childcare. However, traditional gender norms remain prevalent in large sections of the population: almost a third of adults (34%) believe that childcare should be left primarily to women.

He is the man who has to support the family in India

A small majority (54%) say that both men and women in a family should support the family, but many Indians (43%) see this obligation as primarily men’s responsibility.

And Indian adults argue overwhelmingly that when jobs are scarce, men should have more employment rights than women, reflecting the continued dominance of men in the economic sphere. Eight out of ten agree with this mood, and a majority (56%) strongly agree.

Women walking down the street in Pondicherry

Native Americans value having sons AND daughters

Almost all Indians say that it is very important for a family to have at least one son (94%) and individually to have at least one daughter (90%).

Most Indians say that sons and daughters should have equal inheritance from parents (64%) and should be responsible for taking care of the parents when they grow old (58%).

However, respondents more often answered that sons rather than daughters should have more rights and responsibilities in these areas. For example, while about four out of ten Indian adults say that sons should have the primary responsibility for caring for aging parents, only 2% say the same of daughters.

Sons are primarily responsible for the parents’ last rituals in India

In addition, most Indians (63%) believe that sons – not daughters – are primarily responsible for the last rituals and rituals after the death of their parents. Religious burial practices for loved ones are considered very important, and at least according to Hindu tradition, sons must perform the last rituals for a parent to ensure the freedom of the soul in the afterlife.

Recently, women – including actress Mandira Bedi and the daughters of India’s former defense chief – have publicly defied these norms by lighting their family members’ funeral bonfires.

Women on the beach in Pondicherry

These norms are part of a larger phenomenon in Indian society, where families for various historical, social, religious and economic reasons tend to value sons more than daughters – a custom commonly known as “preference for sons”. . Adult sons traditionally live with their parents and provide financial support to the family. In contrast, when girls get married, their families can pay a bride price, an illegal practice that still occurs in some marriages, and girls often live with their husband’s parents and fulfill obligations to their in-laws.

In recent years, Indian society has placed increasing emphasis on improving the status of girls – the government program Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao (“”Save the little girl, educate the little girl“), for example, aims to prevent gender selection practices during pregnancy and to ensure educational opportunities for girls by conducting media campaigns to raise public awareness.

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