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Women, Men and Work in Vidarbha

Gender (In)justice across Spheres

Based on the findings of a time-use survey conducted in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra, this article attempts to interrogate how unequal perceptions of the working status of equally occupied women and men may serve to reproduce inequalities that seep back into existing gender relations, maintaining the unequal status quo. Drawing from an example of a remedial public works scheme, it further attempts to demonstrate how state institutions can play a role in altering unequal conditions of and access to work to reverse unequal perceptions of work, thereby providing a beginning for a more “just” labour regime.

Many theorists have focused on the injustices found within households relating to the sexual division of labour. The sexual division of labour that patterns the actions of men and women, in itself long since viewed as being unjust (Bubeck 1995; Okin 1989), also influences and is influenced by the distribution of benefits within households. As Sen rightly points out, “Social conventions and implicit ­acceptance of ‘natural’ roles have a major influence on what people can and cannot do with their lives” (Sen 1995). It is these “natural roles” within families that have overlapped with other spheres to co-create individual roles and status in them.

In this article, we will attempt to examine the manner in which injustice within families, conceptualised in terms of the unequal outcomes of what Fraser (2003) terms “participatory parity,” seeps into other institutions to replicate injustice there. The focus of this paper is this verb, and the manner in which it is brought about in the context of rural labour. Our analysis is based on data from a pilot time-use survey conducted in the ­Vidarbha region of Maharashtra. As we will attempt to demonstrate, this disprivilege cuts across spheres, both public and private, to result in conditions that are unjust and unacceptable to women across social and economic classes.

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Updated On : 9th Aug, 2017

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