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Articles: Life in AP
Gender Inequality: Reality or Myth?
- Mr. Vachaspati Velavartipati
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Empowerment of women is felt necessary for the overall development of the society including the reduction of the population growth rate. Empowerment of women means to make women powerful and confident in their day to day life on par with men. In India the motto of policy makers is to make women empowered by means of economic, social, physical, and political and Quality of Human Rights the women enjoy. A change, which is radical, has taken place in the family life of the women of rural Andhra Pradesh because of the scheme of DWCRA, which empowered them. The total population of Andhra Pradesh as at 00:00 hrs of 1st March, 2001 stood at 75,727,541 as per Provincial Census of India, 2001. Andhra Pradesh occupies the fifth place in population as against the fourth in the previous Census of India. During 1981-1991, this state witnessed an increase of 24.20 per cent in population, which came down to 13.86 per cent during 1991-2001 while the country’s decadal growth rate is 21.34 per cent. This achievement of Andhra Pradesh is spectacular. Andhra Pradesh has shown the sharpest decline in population growth rate among all the states (10.34 per cent). The average annual exponential growth rate has declined to 1.93 per cent in 1991-2001 from 2.14 per cent in 1981-1991. . Presently, 4, 20,000 DWCRA groups are working only in Andhra Pradesh which is major portion of total DWCRA groups in India. The main highlights of the DWCRA are: the women members of DWCRA form a group of 10 to 15 women at the village level for delivery of services like credit and skill training, cash and infrastructure support for self-employment. Women save one Rupee a day and after watching the performance of a group over nine to twelve months, that group is given a one time grant of Rs.25,000 /- as a Revolving Fund (shared by Central and State Governments in 50:50 ratio) towards infrastructure, purchase of raw materials, marketing, child care and so on. The DWCRA groups formed in Andhra Pradesh cover more than 2 million women and their savings have crossed Rs.15 million so far. It is assumed that the DWCRA has created a sense of confidence among the women of rural Andhra Pradesh and they are moving towards autonomy in decision-making at all fronts which reflected in the reduction of population growth rate in the State. The State of Andhra Pradesh has every right to claim the credits of the statistics of Census of India, 2001 for its performance regarding the population control as it is in the forefront of empowering women in the state by means of DWCRA. The hypothesis of the study is to test the Empowerment of Women in Andhra Pradesh through scheme, DWCRA is, whether superficial or at the cultural core. The study views empowerment of women as a process having personal, economic, social and political dimensions as individual empowerment of women forms the ‘CORE’ of the empowerment process. The main objective of the study is to identify and analyze the following : Reproductive Rights and Choices of women such as the right of individual women to regulate their own sexuality; to conceive when she wants and as often as she wants, to terminate unwanted pregnancies and carry the desired fetus to its full term, to bear and raise healthy children and to maintain her sexual reproductive health; the loci of authority in the family over women’s reproductive rights and the constraints in enjoying those authority and the origin of those constraints, the relation between the income levels of women of DWCRA and their reproductive rights, the consumption of the economic profits by DWCRA women, the stability of the family of women of DWCRA, domestic violence if there is any and the attitude of the officials concerned and the society towards it, awareness of the family planning, and the rate of family planning, the age of marriage, the age of conception, and the gap between the two consecutive conceptions, the reasons for the gap, the age of sterilization, the methods of anti-fertility measures they have taken, the popular methods of contraceptives and their availability and the future methods of contraceptives, their health related problems focusing on their reproduction, mode of expenditure by women of DWCRA and their husbands, participation of women in local-self government, and their membership in other organizations and institutions which are politically, socially, financially active. Since the scheme, DWCRA is meant for rural people, the role of caste will be there, which is to be thoroughly investigated. The Area of Study is DWCRA groups in Andhra Pradesh, Region wise. The Respondents are the members of DWCRA, and all the government officials concerned with DWCRA such as Project Directors of DRDA (District Rural Development Authority), Non-Governmental Organizations and other people who are either directly or indirectly related to the empowerment of women and DWCRA. The Methodology of the study includes both quantitative and qualitative techniques such as questionnaires, conducting interviews and observation. There are three regions in the State of Andhra Pradesh: Telagana (11districts), Coastal Andhra (9 districts) and Rayalaseema (4 districts). The Study is confined to approximately 3000 DWCRA groups from the 5 districts of Telangana, the 5 districts of Costal Andhra and the 2 districts of Rayalseema (250 DWCRA groups from each district, covering approximately 50,000 DWCRA women from the selected 12 districts all over the state). About fifty active DWCRA women and their husbands representing 250 DWCRA groups will be selected to participate in the preparatory workshop conducted at the mandal head quarters in each district. These workshops are aimed at arriving at innovative and improvised ways of empowering women through their active participation in addition to collecting the data necessary for the study on the one hand and giving them the orientation required for the investigation. Thus they become the investigators for the study and their perception and opinions are used to shape and better the process of investigation. After this brief orientation of the objectives in the questionnaires, they collect the data by using the questionnaires and conducting interviews. After the collection of the data, DWCRA women investigators will be involved in the analysis and interpretation of the data. One DWCRA woman and her husband investigators, who are successful, is selected from each district to participate in the final state level workshop where all the government officials concerned and the NGO’s who are involved throughout this study will take part. A comprehensive report is prepared at the end of the study and duly submitted. ---------------------------------------------------------------- Brief description of the social relevance of the research and information on the extent to which all relevant variables have been taken into account. Women have secured strong economic, socio–cultural and political footholds in certain countries. In such countries, we find various positive effects: women have succeeded in various fields; institutions function according to well-defined democratic norms; the levels of crime, violence in general and against women in particular, corruption and population growth rate are low to very low; decision-making is not concentrated in the hands of a few people; citizens actively participate in local self government; and the voice of women is listened to and respected at all levels from family level to nation. In these countries, women have begun to seriously alter the very nature of politics and have made enduring and substantial gains for themselves in every field. This situation can be witnessed in the Scandinavian countries like Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland, where they are moving in the direction of almost as much participation as men at all fronts. But in India, women are treated as marginalized citizens; as legislators have failed to come to consensus in providing reservations to women in the legislature. This is a paradox in democracies. There are several socio-cultural, economic and political factors for this status of the Indian women. They are marginalized citizens in the sense that they may not be allowed to exercise any autonomy in the decision-making process and to have any right over their bodies and enjoyment of their economic profits achieved, leave alone their participation in politics. It is doubtful whether the women of DWCRA are enjoying the profits of their economic activities or not. Even the Woman Prime Minister, women Chief Ministers and women dignitaries have hardly done anything to improve the conditions of women in India. So, women could not get any boost for their morale and remained ignorant of their reproductive rights. All the Family Planning Programmes, though implemented since 1951, have miserably failed in India since women are left ignorant and powerless. Hence Indian population crossed one billion. Economic, social, cultural and political values have progressively degraded. The blatant exploitation and oppression of women continued unchecked. They deprived of job security and the violation of Human Rights against women has become rampant. This has ultimately reduced them to the state of masochistically enjoying being victimized. Of late, it is identified that the Empowerment of Women is necessary to check the population growth and effect sustainable development. Most of the schemes launched by both the Government of India and the state governments have either failed to attract the attention of Indian women or resulted in partial success as they failed to instil a sense of confidence in women, except DWCRA (Development of Women and Children in Rural Areas), a scheme of Central Government, implemented with greater commitment in Andhra Pradesh. This has empowered women who have begun enjoying being powerful and self-reliant. This has resulted in a radical and desirable change in the demography in Andhra Pradesh namely the sharpest decline of population growth rate. Since the women of DWCRA are part and parcel of the patriarchal system, the goods and services they produce, their access to the markets, their consumption of their income, the mode of spending of DWCRA women, the transition of their family from Joint to Nuclear where women has larger scope enjoying the autonomy in decision making level, role of caste status of women of DWCRA, in the nutshell, what happened in the rural Andhra Pradesh after the introduction of DWCRA in the family level has been little investigated. Hence it is necessary and relevant to study the Empowerment of Women at the family level after the introduction of DWCRA in Andhra Pradesh and the success stories and social, cultural, economic and political factors involved in the overall perspective of improving the quality of the life in the new development perspectives in a globalizing world. ------------------------------ Discussions are welcome. Alternative Methodologies are most welcome as they can contribute something new in searching alternatives. Females are most welcome.

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