Women in India: A reality check

Shanthi Kunjan with mother © Priti David in 
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Tribal elders | Women >>

“Tribal communities are a standing example of how women play a major role in preservation of eco historic cultural heritage in India.” – Mari Marcel Thekaekara (writer and Co-Founder of ACCORD-Nilgiris) | Learn more >>

Tracing the rise of patriarchy to class-based “civilisations” and the diminishing role of women in such societies, Chris Harman, in his book ‘A People’s History of the World’, says in hunter-gatherer societies, there was no male supremacy over women as there was almost always a division of labour between the sexes, with the men doing most of the hunting and the women most of the gathering. […]

New intensive production techniques tended to prioritise men’s labour over women’s. The use of the plough, for instance, encouraged an increased division of labour between the sexes, since it was a form of heavy labour not easily done by women bearing or nursing children. These new ways of production created new relations between members of the group.

Women everywhere lost out with the polarisation of society into classes and the rise of the state. From being co-decision-makers with men, they were thrust into a position of dependence and subordination. […]

Today, when most societies consider themselves highly advanced compared with our “barbaric” ancestors, the position of women in society has changed little. ‘Frontline’ takes a look at the position of women in India today.

Source: Women and Men in India: 2012, Central Statistics Office, Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.

Source: “Women in India: A reality check”, Frontline Magazine (Cover), 25 January 2013
Address: http://www.frontline.in/cover-story/women-in-india-a-reality-check/article4275963.ece
Date Visited: Sat Oct 24 2015 10:19:10 GMT+0200 (CEST)

  • India must ratify the International Convention against Torture
  • The National Human Right Commission regards crimes like rape, molestation, torture, fake encounter in police custody as manifestations of a systemic failure to protect human rights

National Human Rights Commission

As in the past, the Commission continued to receive complaints from different parts of the country on a wide range of issues where rights of the people had been violated or negligence was shown by a public servant in the prevention of such violations. These complaints included cases alleging custodial deaths, torture, fake encounters, police high-handedness, violations committed by security forces, conditions relating to prisons, atrocities committed on women and children and other vulnerable sections, communal violence, bonded and child labour, non-payment of retrial benefits, negligence by public authorities, etc. […]

The Commission once again calls upon all the aforementioned State Governments to take immediate steps for sending their compliance reports to the Commission and simultaneously take comprehensive steps for protection and promotion of civil, political, economic, social and health rights, along with special measures to prevent acts of violence and discrimination towards women, including those belonging to the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes. […]

Source: Annual Report, National Human Rights Commission (2014-2015), Chapter 2.12 “Number and Nature of Complaints”, pp. 9-12
URL: https://www.mha.gov.in/sites/default/files/NHRC_AR_EN_2014-2015_27022019.pdf
Date Visited: 13 January 2022

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“Cover Your Country” by PARI: Rural people speak about their lives through photos, narratives, film, and audio materials >>

Video | “I saw women working 90 per cent of the time. They did backbreaking jobs for which you need an erect spine,” says P. Sainath in Visible Work, Invisible Women: Bricks, coal and stone | RuralIndiaOnline.org >>

There are over 700 tribes (with overlapping communities in more than one State) which have been notified under Article 342 of the Constitution of India, spread over different States and Union Territories of the country. The largest number of main tribal communities (62) has been specified in relation to the State of Orissa. The Scheduled Tribes have been specified in relation to all the States and Union Territories except Haryana, Punjab, Chandigarh, Delhi, and Pondicherry.

Source: National Commission for Scheduled Tribes, Government of India (Ministry of Tribal Affairs)
URL: https://www.ncst.gov.in/content/frequently-asked-questions
Date visited: 14 September 2021

There has been some changes in the List of Scheduled Tribes in States/ UTs during the last decade. 

Source: “Scheduled Tribes in India as revealed in Census 2011” by C. Chandramouli (Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India, Ministry of Home Affairs), 3 May 2013
Document: “23scheduledTribesIndiaRevealedInCensus2011EN20170503.pdf”
URL: https://ruralindiaonline.org/library/resource/scheduled-tribes-in-india-as-revealed-in-census-2011/
Date visited: 13 January 2022

Article 342 in the Constitution of India

  • Provides for specification of tribes or tribal communities or parts of or groups within tribes or tribal communities which are deemed to be for the purposes of the Constitution the Scheduled Tribes in relation to that State or Union Territory.
  • In pursuance of these provisions, the list of Scheduled Tribes are notified for each State or Union Territory and are valid only within the jurisdiction of that State or Union Territory and not outside.
  • Scheduled Tribes are notified in 30 States/UTs
  • Number of individual ethnic groups, etc. notified as Scheduled Tribes is 705
  • There has been some changes in the List of Scheduled Tribes in States/ UTs during the last decade

Source: “Article 342 Constitution of India”
URL: https://www.indianconstitution.in/2016/07/article-342-constitution-of-india.html
Date visited: 13 January 2022

Watch “The Good Ancestor – The Legacies We Leave” (3 min.): An animation that explores the legacies we might leave for future generations >>

Even though they are responsible for protecting the largest part of the global forest heritage […] a third of indigenous and community lands in 64 countries are under threat due to the lack of land tenure rights.

Pressenza Rio de Janerio in “Indigenous people are heading to CoP26: ‘There is no solution to the climate crisis, without us‘” (Down To Earth) | Forest dwellers in early India – myths and ecology in historical perspective by Romila Thapar >>

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