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Conservative compulsion forces higher percent of Gujarat women to do domestic work than most states

NSSO figures: rural+urban
By Rajiv Shah
Amidst the big talk around Gujarat women being more secure than most Indian states, what is perhaps forgotten is that many of them are unable to come out of the socio-religious constraints, which ties them to their domestic work full time, even as forcing them not to do any full-time job. A just-released National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) report, “Participation of Women in Specified Activities along with Domestic Duties”, has found that a much higher percentage of Gujarat women are driven by the conservative socio-religious framework compared to most Indian states in doing domestic work.
Based on a survey it carried out between July 2011 and June 2012, the NSSO report said, 18.7 per cent of rural women and 14.6 per cent in urban women do their domestic duties “because of socio-religious constraints.”
What should be puzzling for the state’s policy-makers and concerned individuals is, an inter-state comparison shows that a much lower percentage of rural women from 15 out of 20 major states are “constrained” to do domestic duties because of socio-religious constraints. The NSSO does not find the situation in urban areas any different: Here, 14 out of 20 major Indian states have a lower percentage of women feeling “constrained” by socio-religious considerations while doing domestic work.
In fact, just about 3 per cent of rural women in Uttarakhand, 3.8 per cent in Tamil Nadu, 4.6 per cent in Kerala, 5 per cent in Himachal Pradesh, 6.8 per cent in Karnataka, and 7.6 per cent in West Bengal cite “socio-religious constraint” as the chief reason for full-time involvement in domestic duties. This is against Gujarat’s 18.7 per cent, Haryana’s 18.9 per cent, Odisha’s 19.4 per cent, Punjab’s 28.1 per cent and Uttar Pradesh’s 28.8 per cent rural women citing the same constraint. Significantly, these states are also known for their conservatism towards women, including poor sex ratio.
NSSO figures: rural+urban
Things are not very different for urban women, either. As against Gujarat 14.6 per cent urban women finding socio-religious constraints as the main reason for doing domestic duty, the respective percentage for Kerala is 4.3 per cent, Jammu & Kashmir 5.7 per cent, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh 5.9 per cent each, Uttarakhand 6.9 per cent, and Andhra Pradesh 9.9 per cent. States with higher percentage of urban women than Gujarat citing this constraint are just four – Uttar Pradesh 29.9 per cent, Punjab 18.2 per cent, Rajasthan 16.9 per cent and Bihar 15.2 per cent.
A conservative atmosphere, naturally, would mean not allowing women to do full-time job – even within the household premises. Thus, Gujarat’s only 16.4 per cent of rural women told the NSSO surveyors that they are “willing” to do full-time work within household premises. This is lower than most Indian states except three (Punjab 13.5 per cent, Jammu & Kashmir 14.5 per cent, and Uttar Pradesh 16 per cent). As for the urban areas, Gujarat’s only 23.7 per cent of urban women said they were willing to accept full time work within household premises, again lower than most estates except seven.

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