In the news: “Are Women Children Of A Lesser God “

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Ragini Nayak “Are Women Children of A Lesser God”, The Hindu, May 2, 2010

“What is the worth of a woman’s work in terms of monetary outcome? Is it on a par with her male counterpart?

The Human Development Report 2000 says that women constitute half of the world’s population, perform a two-thirds of work hours, get one-tenth of the world’s income and less than a one-hundredth of the world’s property.

From daily wagers to lawn-tennis grand slam winners, women are being paid less than men for the same or similar work. Women remain the weaker sex with respect to pay-cheques and employment opportunities.

A major contention often raised is: if women’s work is usually of equal value, why are employers not slashing their payroll costs by hiring women instead of men? If they are paying men more than women in a free market, there must be a reason. Conversely, it is argued that equal pay for women is not just an issue regarding pay/wages inequality between men and women but it reflects upon the social, cultural and political perception of women as being physically and intellectually inferior to men.

Let us realise that a comprehensive effort has to be made to subvert the male perception of women’s economic worth and initiate the use of job classifications established on the basis of the work actually performed and the value of the work using objective criteria unrelated to the worker’s sex.”

Second-class children

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This week’s Economic and Political Weekly features an article by Ravinder Kaur on the preference for married sons over daughters and bachelor sons.

Ravinder Kaur, Dispensable Daughters and Bachelor Sons: Sex Discrimination in North India, EPW, VOL 43 No. 30 July 26 – August 01, 2008

Daughters may not be wanted but daughters-in-law are necessary for family well-being and perpetuation. Similarly, not all sons in the family receive equal treatment and those who are left bachelors suffer a lesser fate. This paper attempts to move beyond currently available explanations of low sex ratios and daughter elimination. While supporting the hypothesis that large peasant castes in the north and north-west practised infanticide, non-marriage of men and polyandry as strategies to control family numbers in relation to available resources, this paper makes three arguments: one, that these strategies occurred together, two, that one needs to go beyond this explanation to understand why daughters were the dispensable ones and, three, that the number of sons wanted was by no means unlimited.

I am including the citation and abstract, and a link to EPW. The full article is accessible only to subscribers I think, but just in case the current week is available to all, here it is: http://www.epw.org.in/epw//uploads/articles/12487.pdf