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Patriarchal societies seem to perpetually find themselves in a precarious position, where the line between order and disorder is dangerously blurred.


GS Paper 1: Role of women and women’s organisation;

Mains Questions:

  1. Campaigns against inter-community relationships are a way to redirect anxieties over large-scale structural disruptions. Discuss. 15 Marks
  2. How does patriarchy impact the position of a middle class working woman in India? 15 Marks

Dimensions of the Article:

  • What is Patriarchy?
  • Impact of patriarchy upon women
  • Measures taken by the Government
  • Way Forward

What id Patriarchy?

Patriarchy represents a natural order for a society defined by it. A social system that places men, women and other genders in hierarchies learns to perceive the plurality of genders as unnatural and views women with suspicion. Since people have only been socialised to see this hierarchy as natural, they remain attuned to the possibility of it crumbling any moment and fear any potential sign of anarchy. Lack of control over women’s sexuality is an example of such anarchy that concerns not only the women’s so-called guardians but the society at large

The concept of patriarchy is important for an analysis of gender inequality in society. Patriarchy is composed of six structures:

  • The patriarchal mode of production: This exist in households where housewives are the producing class and husbands are the expropriating class
  • Patriarchal relations in paid work: It exclude women from better types of work, assigning them those considered as requiring less skill.
  • Patriarchal relations in state: The state also is patriarchal in nature which shows in its actions and policies.
  • Male violence:  Male violence is often legitimized by the state which refuses to intervene against it or does little to end it.
  • Patriarchal relations in sexuality:
  • Patriarchal relations in cultural institutions.

Wably defines patriarchy as “a system of social structures, and practices in which men dominate, oppress and exploit women”.

Towards a feminist understanding of intersecting violence against women and  children in the family - ScienceDirect

Impact of patriarchy upon women

  • Dual burden of work: With the rise of economic wellbeing in the post 1990s India, women have found themselves increasingly getting employed outside home. However there liberty has come in a form where they have to do household work combined with office work, due to nuclearization of family and high labour cost.
  • Corporate Glass ceiling: Owing to patriarchal expectation of looking after children and doing household chores lead to affecting the mobility of women in corporate ladder.
  • Limited job venues: The freedom to choose one’s occupation is severely eclipsed for women, where in recent times they are largely confined to service sector, more commonly known as pink sector which includes Sales jobs, Information and technology, customer care, and others.
  • Wage gap: Despite equivalent qualification for a job like man, women often bear the brunt of patriarchy in the form of low pay.
  • Safety issue: Work often requires constant spatial mobility, which in the wake of increased cases of violence against women, discourages them to take employment in the first place, and further dampening India’s low women’s labour-force participation rates
  • Cost involved: To make work environment conducive for women, government has passed legislations for increased maternity leaves, provisions for crèche facility, committee to protect women from sexual offences among others. All these legislation though try to insulate the harmful effect of patriarchy has in turn increased the cost of employing women compared to men.

Measures taken by the Government:

  • Setting up Nodal Ministry of Women and Child Development (MoWCD), to give the much-needed impetus to the holistic development of women and children. Two Statutory Commissions have been established to safeguard the constitutional and legal rights of women and Children, namely: 1. National Commission for Women (NCW) 2. National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR).
  • Programme and Schematic Intervention: The Government has been implementing number of schemes and programmes for creating an enabling environment for women and also children. Such as,
    • Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS),
    • Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana (IGMSY) for pregnant and lactating women to improve their health and nutrition status,
    • Support to Training & Employment programme for Women (STEP) scheme to ensure sustainable employment and income generation.
    • Ujjwala scheme is implemented for prevention of Trafficking and Commercial Sexual Exploitation.
  • Mechanisms for Convergence: Convergence is the key to effective implementation of Ministry’s programmes. For example: To improve Child Sex Ratio and empowering the Girl Child (Beti Bachao Beti Padhao) a joint schematic initiative of Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Human Resource Development with MoWCD.
  • Gender Budgeting Initiatives: GoI introduced a Gender Budget Statement as part of the Union Budget, as an important tool for reporting allocations for women and provides an indication of the funds flowing to them. To institutionalise this Gender Budgeting Cells (GBCs) in all Ministries / Departments was set up.
  • National Policy for the Empowerment of Women 2001: Aimed at bringing about advancement, development and empowerment of women in all spheres of life through creation of a more responsive judicial and legal system sensitive to women and mainstreaming a gender perspective in the development process.

Way Forward

Though the values of patriarchy still looms on India’s landscape, however owing to increased education and economic prosperity among women in particular and in society in general, the condition of women is rapidly improving. All this is making India an inclusive society in true sense

February 2024