ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Changes and Continuation of Gender Roles in Urban India

Female Education

Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is perceived as an important tool for women’s empowerment through which women can break different sociocultural barriers. But a qualitative study conducted among 45 married urban women in Delhi and Yamuna Nagar district of Haryana explains how education is used to maintain the existing gender hierarchies and gender division of labour. It highlights that reproduction and transformation of social structures are evident in a novel manner where ideas of women’s emancipation and subordination coexist.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a non-legally binding declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948. This declaration recites basic ideals to be upheld by all countries. UDHR defines that all human beings, irrespective of their race, religion, sex, birth status, nationality, property, political thought, and language are equal. The slogan “women’s rights are human rights,” given by feminist activists, explains that in general, women are disadvantaged groups and gender mainstreaming1 of human rights is required to raise their status in the quest of gender equality. This will aid women to participate equally in political, social, civil, and economic events, eventually making them entitled to basic fundamental human rights in most parts of the world which is still a distant dream for many. One such right is the right to education, a fundamental human right declared under Article 26 of the UDHR.

The famous Ghanian proverb attributed to the Ghanian scholar James Emmanuel Kwegyir-Aggrey, “If you educate a man, you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman, you educate a family,” sheds light on how women were traditionally denied education. The sole purpose behind this saying was to encourage parents to educate their daughters (Burek 2007). This maxim advocates for creating new opportunities for women by expanding their social spaces, but within the ideology of traditional gender roles, where men are key breadwinners and women are primary caretakers of their families and children.2 Interestingly, the aforementioned Ghanian saying was quoted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization on its 50th anniversary to promote female education.

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Updated On : 24th Feb, 2017


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