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

Review of Women's Studies

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".

The Swarnajayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana was launched as an integrated programme for self-employment of the rural poor. Being a targeted anti-poverty intervention, the sgsy prescribes quotas for women (40%) among the eligible poor and also mandates that 50% of self-help groups formed in an administrative block under the scheme be women's shgs. This essay, through the prism of the sgsy scheme, attempts to understand how policy seeks to "mainstream" rural women from low-income households into market-oriented economic activities that seemingly facilitate a linear movement out of poverty. It examines how women themselves perceive the sgsy policy and the entrepreneurial identities it proposes they assume, and how selected women swarozgaris strive to engineer a fit between the imperatives of policy and their divergent life circumstances.

Using a village in Tamil Nadu as a case study, this article examines the initial response to the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme on the ground, the reasons behind the low participation, and its subsequent reworking to make it not just viable but also "successful". As conceived, the transformatory potential of nrega is limited. When operationalised in letter and spirit, such programmes may alleviate poverty, and to that extent empower women, but cannot transform our rural economies that are characterised by low growth, poor investments in infrastructure and limited generation of growth-led decent employment.

While domestic workers are covered by the legislative framework in many countries, in India they stand excluded from national legislations that deal with minimum wages, dispute settlement, conditions of work, social security and workplace injuries. This study draws upon the findings of a research project of the National Domestic Workers Movement that was conducted between February 2010 and February 2011. It sets out the definition of domestic work as a conceptual issue that is necessary for understanding domestic work and explores the constitutional and employment law framework and the challenges in legislating for this sector. It concludes with exploring ways of reducing the gap between law and practice.

This paper reflects on the engagement of a resource group for women and health with policy advocacy to regulate the assisted reproductive technology industry in India, including conducting a feminist health analysis of the provisions of a proposed legislation to regulate the sector. The paper discusses the challenges faced by the group, Delhi-based Sama, in the process of policy engagement, and elaborates on the political debates contained in the issue itself.

Beginning with colonial times and continuing to the present, irrigation has been an important site for the construction of gendered power and hegemonic masculinities. The strong connection between masculinities and irrigation cultures may provide an important explanation of why hydraulic bureaucracies are so resistant to change. The continued masculinity of irrigation requires critical investigation of masculinities, technology and organisations. Such studies will serve both as a first step to creating more space for women engineers in government water agencies, and contribute to unravelling important aspects of the cultural politics of water.

While women's participation is considered a key element of the sustainability plan of the drinking water supply system, some villagers in Rajasthan do not count women in the households while paying common water charges. This paper explores the social, political and environmental implications of not counting girls as household members and drinkers of water. It tries to find answers to the following questions: What are the implications of girls' non-payment for the cost of drinking water in a shared system? What might girls' non-payment mean in terms of the gendered sustainability goals of the project? What are the implications for women's and girls' political subjectivity, especially where natural resources are concerned? The paper also addresses a gap in the political ecology literature with respect to the gender dimensions of neo-liberal processes in the water sector by suggesting a variety of impacts when girls are excluded from water payment.

Recent analyses indicate a historic loss of equity in the shift in India's drinking water policy from a welfarebased, free supply mode to a market-oriented demandled approach. However, a complex entwining of caste and gender has consistently defined water allocation and access among users and entrenched fractures in the structure and culture of the policy-implementing and regulatory institutions. Contrary to popular assumptions, both official welfare-based supply and recent neo-liberal policies and interventions hinge on a tokenistic, segregated and apolitical mention of gender and/or caste concerns which, when translated into action, have often reinforced existing inequities. Based on the above observations, this paper argues that subsequent changes in domestic water policies have only served to exacerbate an enduring unequal social order around water in India.

Based on a study of water rights and women's rights in decentralised water governance in Maharashtra and Gujarat, this paper argues that decentralisation will fail to meet its desired objectives unless the value systems, culture and the nature of institutions, including the family, change. While the policy initiative of introducing quotas for women in public bodies is welcome and necessary, it is certainly not sufficient for the success of decentralisation in a society ridden with discrimination based on class, caste and patriarchy, and where the culture of political patronage is dominant. The presence of vibrant social and political movements that propose alternative cultural, social and political paradigms would be a necessary foundation for major social changes. The success of decentralised water governance is constrained by the conceptualisation of the larger reform in water at one level and the notions of the normative woman, community, public and the private domains, and institutions at another. Unless all of these are altered, decentralised processes will not be truly democratic.

At times the reports of the Law Commission are much more progressive than those that eventually go into amendments. On the other hand, a feminist perspective suggests that they reinforce colonial and patriarchal values. Using insights from feminist methodology, this article seeks to analyse this dichotomy. According to feminist legal theory, the legal subject is not an abstract, gender-neutral creature of the traditional legal imagination but an ideological construct, endowed with attributes that vary according to context. Between 1956 and 2009, four Law Commission reports addressed the issue of rape. However, it is noteworthy that there has been little to no change in Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code since 1860 when Thomas Macaulay drafted the code. The controversial issue of consent has not been defined or broadened, nor have the various nuances associated with it recognised. The law ministry has not accepted the terminological and paradigmatic shift from rape to sexual assault.

The conflicts within feminism have been largely dominated by issues of power and inequality between feminisms, particularly those that organise in transnational spaces. Movements such as third world feminism and "women of colour" have attempted to counter the hegemony of western feminist discourse by arguing for the recognition of "difference". In contemporary feminist perspectives on reproductive technology, it has become something of a truism to say that technologies are appropriated differently depending on the cultural context within which they are used. This paper is an attempt to understand the connections between feminisms as well as the feminist concepts that circulate in Australia and India. Through multisited feminism, it sees the differences more clearly by also understanding the threads that connect feminisms and multiple meanings that issues such as abortion and sex-selection can take on as they move through a range of political contexts.

Literature on caste and gender oppression has developed sophisticated methods and theories but there is little effort to explore the interconnections of varied feminine experiences. The silence by the upper caste feminist movements on marginalised femininities reinforces the notion of the homogeneity of Indian femininity. The corpus of works on sacred prostitution also reflects this notion. This article focuses on the outcaste ritual women who either as priestesses of temples or as moving shrines continue to be central to the religious cultural order in villages across parts of southern India. The fundamental challenge in writing the history of the outcastes is to make a paradigmatic shift and move beyond the history of pathos that defines the research on them.

The "feminist" or "feminism" is now replaced by the neutral sounding "gender relations". In some ways this limits the domain because it is not just about relations or roles, it is also about identity, about women's view of the world and their vision of the future. This paper examines various puzzles of the research methodology of women's studies. It argues that the research methodology of women's studies cannot be a facile one. It needs a further advance to say under what conditions a woman can negotiate her terms. Along with intra-household studies, it has to supplement inter-household relations. It should not forget that gender equation has two sides.

Feminist economists have been working on making visible the contribution of women to the economy. Time use surveys which were originally designed to capture women's contribution in unpaid productive work are now increasingly being used to understand and measure unpaid care work. However, these surveys are often designed within a very limited and simplistic understanding of care work, caregivers and the relationship that governs such work. The 1998-99 time use survey conducted by the Central Statistical Organisation is the only large-scale one on unpaid care in India. This paper critically discusses the scope, design/methodology of the survey and raises issues that are significant in capturing unpaid care work.