Women in India: A reality check

Print edition : January 25, 2013

Tracing the rise of patriarchy to class-based “civilisations” and the diminishing role of women in such societies, Chris Harman, in his book ‘A People’s History of the World’, says in hunter-gatherer societies, there was no male supremacy over women as there was almost always a division of labour between the sexes, with the men doing most of the hunting and the women most of the gathering.



The human story has been one of interaction between the development of “relations of production” and “forces of production”. New intensive production techniques tended to prioritise men’s labour over women’s. The use of the plough, for instance, encouraged an increased division of labour between the sexes, since it was a form of heavy labour not easily done by women bearing or nursing children. These new ways of production created new relations between members of the group.

Women everywhere lost out with the polarisation of society into classes and the rise of the state. From being co-decision-makers with men, they were thrust into a position of dependence and subordination. Over several civilisations, the change was rooted in the new relations that grew between people with the production of a surplus.

Today, when most societies consider themselves highly advanced compared with our “barbaric” ancestors, the position of women in society has changed little. ‘Frontline’ takes a look at the position of women in India today.

Source: Women and Men in India: 2012, Central Statistics Office, Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.





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