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Women and Society

Contemporary Indian society has been exposed to the broad processes of social transformation, agricultural modernization and economic development, urbanization and rapid industrialization and globalization. However, these processes have generated regional imbalances, sharpened class inequalities and augmented the gender disparities. Hence, women have become critical symbols of these growing imbalances. All these have affected adversely the various aspects of women's status in the contemporary Indian society.

Most families in India, irrespective of their caste and religion, are patrilineal. Patrilineality implies descent and inheritance through the male line. Even though a mother has a vital part to play in the child's life, the men in the family take major decisions regarding his/her future and that of others in the family. The first idea on gender role differences that a child acquires is that of women of one's family marrying and leaving their homes to live with different groups of people. Secondly, men appear to exercise far greater influence in decision-making and are far more visible and audible than their wives. Third, the mother, grand- mother, sisters etc do most of the tasks within the home. At meal times, they carry food to the fields for the men. All these tasks that consume time and energy are not counted as 'work' or 'employment' and there is no payment involved. In Western countries, women's groups, politicians and other concerned individuals have been arguing for payment for housework and childcare. In India the question of payment for household jobs has not really been an important issue or demand. The fact that women are expected to perform all these tasks as a part of their conventional roles and no special merit is awarded to them for these tiring and tiresome jobs.

The repeated under-representation of women's work is a reflection of a combination of factors. Women's work participation and their status as workers have been affected by various factors. Some of the important ones are women's self-perception, employers' attitude to women employees, traditional positions of authority in the rural and urban areas, and traditional role expectations.