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

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Marriage, Work and Education among Domestic Workers in Kolkata

This paper analyses the findings of a research project undertaken by the School of Women's Studies, Jadavpur University on questions of marriage and related issues in the context of paid domestic work among the working women from two squatter colonies in Kolkata. The respondents are seen to be caught between the imperatives of early marriage and girlhood employment, but they insist upon the value of education for their daughters. Many of them have experienced and suffered early marriage and childbirth and are vehement in their rejection of such a trajectory for their daughters, even though not all of them are able to carry through such decisions. Parents from urban working-class neighbourhoods are not obsessed with sexual chastity of their daughters; they accept courtships and elopements, sometimes hailing the latter with some relief. What these mothers share with their middle class counterparts is an interest in tremendous investment in their children's education, which is in both cases accompanied by great expectations for the future.

Marriage and Migration

The web version of this article corrects a few errors that appeared in the print edition. This paper explores issues of agency, marital experience and citizenship in the context of a specific form of women's marriage migration that is taking place in both national and transnational contexts, much of this phenomenon spurred by skewed sex ratios in Asian countries. The resulting bride shortages in female deficit regions and countries have led to the "import" of women from areas with better sex ratios. The paper explores this "import" of brides from West Bengal and Bangladesh, and unravels the differences in the marital experience of cross-national and cross-regional Bengali brides. Focusing on issues of citizenship and religion, and how they affect these women and their children from such marriages, it calls for the provision of meaningful support structures for such brides, the first step towards which would be to acknowledge the growing volume of female deficit-induced cross-region marriages.

Matchmakers and Intermediation

Based on data from a research project on marriage conducted between 2007 and 2009 in Kolkata by the School of Women's Studies, Jadavpur University this paper seeks to explore the dichotomy between "arranged" and "love" marriage. It moves away from the register of "choice" and "consent" and focuses on the question of intermediation. Social and technological changes have altered existing institutions of intermediation and created new ones, even as changes in matchmaking have both responded and contributed to the development of the "arranged love marriage" system. The seemingly dramatic transformation in forms and institutions of intermediation has nevertheless kept intact or even reinforced both caste and class configurations within the marriage market as well as gender stereotypes in the choice of bride/groom. There are major elements of continuity, but these are neither seamless nor uncontested.

Addressing Domestic Violence within Healthcare Settings

Women experiencing violence most often decide to seek legal action only after the violence has escalated and that too without having any documentary evidence. The Dilaasa crisis centres at two public hospitals in Mumbai since 2001 have been established out of the recognition that the public health system is an important site for the implementation of anti-domestic violence intervention programmes. The crisis centres therefore straddle both discourses of public health and gender. The paper offers critical insights into the model and its impact in terms of its ability to reach out to women who are undergoing abuse and offer them multiple services in one setting.

State Policy and the Twelfth Plan through a Gender Lens

The rapidly changing urban scenario seems to have important implications for gendering governance in Kerala. Thus, besides the different histories mediated by caste and community, the spatial location of women leaders in local governance appears to be of central importance in shaping their agency. This article which is based on the research about women leaders in local governance in Kerala in 2005-10 explores the extent to which success in local governance allowed these women entry into politics and gave them a greater presence within the public life. Generally it is seen that successful women leaders are often the bearers of a specific form of power that has been historically associated with the deployment of sentiment and affect, and ideal femininity, and that such power is understood to be crucial to local governance as well. However, an entirely different picture emerged from this study on women leaders of urban governance. Besides gentle power, successful women attribute their success equally to knowledge - of official norms and procedures.

Gender Responsive Budgeting in India: What Has Gone Wrong?

The manner in which the Indian initiative on gender responsive budgeting has panned out appears to be a classic case of putting the cart before the horse. This article analyses the two prime strategies adopted by the Government of India for institutionalising GRB, namely, the "Gender Budget Statement" and Gender Budgeting Cells to highlight what has gone wrong, and what needs to be fixed. The authors also draw on experiences from other countries, to argue that GRB in India needs a completely different rhythm if it has to translate into better outcomes for the women of our country. With the formulation of the Twelfth Plan under way, the moment is opportune to push for groundbreaking changes in the policy discourse on GRB.

Ladlis and Lakshmis: Financial Incentive Schemes for the Girl Child

A desk review of 15 girl child promotion schemes relying on conditional cash transfers across the states and discussions with a few non-governmental organisations, implementing officials and beneficiaries show up some of the shortcomings. The eligibility criteria, conditionalities and registration procedures need to be simplified. Despite the pumping in of huge financial resources, there is no field-level monitoring to study the impact of such schemes nor is there a grievance redressal mechanism. An in-depth analysis would help in assessing whether in the long run conditional cash transfers could lead to a significant change in the parental attitude towards daughters.

Beyond Feminine Public Altruism

The rapidly changing urban scenario seems to have important implications for gendering governance in Kerala. Thus, besides the different histories mediated by caste and community, the spatial location of women leaders in local governance appears to be of central importance in shaping their agency. This article which is based on the research about women leaders in local governance in Kerala in 2005-10 explores the extent to which success in local governance allowed these women entry into politics and gave them a greater presence within the public life. Generally it is seen that successful women leaders are often the bearers of a specific form of power that has been historically associated with the deployment of sentiment and affect, and ideal femininity, and that such power is understood to be crucial to local governance as well. However, an entirely different picture emerged from this study on women leaders of urban governance. Besides gentle power, successful women attribute their success equally to knowledge - of official norms and procedures.

Gendering the Twelfth Plan: A Feminist Perspective

A gendered analysis of the Approach Paper to the Twelfth Five-Year Plan suggests that women must be recognised as growth agents in India's political economy across all sectors. The gendering of public policy must move into macroeconomic space. While "inclusion" is listed as an objective, there is lack of clarity on the mechanisms for including the excluded, and for measuring and monitoring inclusiveness over the plan period. From a gender point of view, the generation of livelihoods and employment should be the central driving force for growth, and the resources generated should support social policies that universalise education, health and social security.

Small Loans, Big Dreams: Women and Microcredit in a Globalising Economy

The belief in the credit-based collective model has failed to explore the impact of microcredit beyond its immediate project environment and how resources are politically invested by the groups in a given sociocultural context. There is an inadequate understanding as to how the discourse on empowerment through microcredit is framed by different actors and what the trade-offs are between different dimensions of empowerment. Limited attention is paid to the role of various institutions - local and national - on microcredit and women's empowerment.

Informed by Gender? Public Policy in Kerala

While conventional indicators in Kerala that measure the status of women such as literacy, life expectancy, sex ratio, average age of marriage, infant mortality, and maternal mortality are mostly favourable, women have not fared well in the state in terms of non-conventional indicators such as gender-based violence, mental health, and the incidence of suicides. This paper attempts to take a critical look at the much-acclaimed status indicators for women in Kerala and reflects on the work of the Mahila Samakhya Programme as an illustration of public policy focused on women.

Reproductive Rights and Exclusionary Wrongs: Maternity Benefits

Women contribute to the economy with their unpaid labour as well as social reproduction work but maternity protection in India is sector-specific and employer-employee centric. It thus leaves out the large majority of women in the unorganised sector. A new scheme such as the Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana which is being piloted in 52 districts implicitly recognises the need to compensate for wage loss due to maternity and provide support for the mother and child's nutrition. However, a series of exclusionary clauses mar the objectives of the scheme. This paper attempts to demonstrate the misguided "targeting" of this scheme. The Planning Commission is preparing to scale it up at the national level in the Twelfth Plan, perhaps with the same set of incentives and disincentives as are currently spelt out in the pilot phase document. The data clearly shows that if these exclusionary clauses remain they will "victimise the victim".

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