From Ranjani K. Murthy - researcher and policy advocacy person around gender, poverty, health and emergencies on gender and alcohol policy.
To respond and critique Ranjani's perspective or to add your knowledge on this important issue please either reply by email to this note or click Read More below and comment on the platform
Towards gender and socially just alcohol policy in India
The other day, I was asked a question: “These days women in the corporate sector and elite colleges in Chennai, India want to visit pubs and drink just like men. Advertisements on liquor are targeting Indian women as much as men, what do you think?” This was in a context where the right-wing was against women’s consumption of alcohol stating that ancient Hindu scriptures do not permit women to drink (in fact Manu Smriti licensed men to remarry if their wives drank!). In fact a few years back the right-wing raided pubs in a southern state and molested a few women.
At the same time, the World Bank observes that 81% of India lives on under $2.50 a day -what is necessary for a decent standard of living? When I visit village or slums in states (same as provinces) of India where prohibition has not been imposed (majority of states) the main demand from poor, Dalit, and Adivasi women is prohibition. They complain that between half and a majority of men drink regularly (contrary to WHO statistics, 2010 which states 25% of Indian men are ever consumers of alcohol) and eat into men’s earnings and part of their own earnings. The wellbeing of family members suffers, apart from the health of the men involved. Expenses on health increase.
To: Impact: Social and Behavioural Change with The Communication Initiative From Ranjani.K.Murthy – researcher and author of, among other titles “Poverty, and Women's Empowerment” writing here on the need for address gender-specific challenges with greater commitment and resources, a call to action resulting from the impact of eleven countries reporting a gender ratio at birth skewed towards males. To respond and critique Ranjani's perspective or to add your knowledge on this important issue please either reply by email to this note or click Read More below and comment on the platform Beijing Platform for Action: Progress and Challenges Twenty Years On [Note: In order for more voices to be heard and more comments to be aired, an occasional series of original blogs will be posted that are related to social and behaviour change.]
At the Fourth United Nations World Conference on Women held at Beijing in 1995, the UN, national governments and civil society called for action on eleven critical areas.
• Women and the environment
• Women in power and decision-making
• The girl child
• Women and the economy
• Women and poverty
• Violence against women
• Human rights of women
• Education and training of women
• Institutional mechanisms
• Women and health
• Women and the media
• Women and armed conflict
Yes, there has been progress on these critical areas. Women, for example, are more included in forest protection and watershed committees than before in India. They are engaged in seed preservation and sustainable agriculture. Women are more found occupying positions of political power, with the progress varying across countries. Women won sixty four percent of parliamentary seats in Rwanda in the elections held in 2013 (Republic of Rwanda, 2013).
Can women’s right to land be achieved without the right of rural landless to land, and preventing land grab?
What can be done to further right to land and women’s land rights?
(Please join this dialogue with an email reply to the ideas outlined below and/or by clicking the "Read More" link below and adding a comment)
Sex-disaggregated data on ownership of agricultural land is scarce. The Food and Agriculture Organization [FAO] provides data on share of women amongst agriculture holders, defined as those who exercise decisions and manage agricultural operations (FAO, 2011). This data, available for a limited number of countries, suggests that the share of women amongst agricultural holders ranges between 0.8% (Saudi Arabia) and 50.5% (Cape Verde) - most recent observation at the time of finalising the report. A majority of countries for which data was available record a figure of less than 25% as share of women amongst agriculture holders (FAO, 2011). The data on legal ownership of land is likely to be even lower, as, with the migration of men, women manage the farm which their husbands own. UN Women has rightly placed women’s ownership of land and resources as post 2015 development agenda (UN Women, 2013).
However can women’s right to land be achieved without the right of rural landless to land, and preventing land grab?
Rural landlessness was always a concern in several Asian countries, wherein land distribution has been skewed across caste, religion and ethnicity. Land reform programmes which were conceived post-independence in countries like India to address skewed land distribution have rarely been implemented due to resistance from powerful groups.
Thanks to a friend of mine, on 11th of May, 2014 I had the opportunity to speak on a Tamil television channel called Puthiyathalaimurai (meaning new generation) on gender and women’s health in India. The half an hour question and answer session was in Tamil. While my mother tongue is Tamil, I grew up in north-India and I was hence not as fluent in Tamil as in English. Nevertheless I accepted the request.
The anchor was backed by a team of young and smart researchers. I gave them the data I had on gender and women’s health in Advance. The team formulated the questions based on the data as well as their general knowledge which was impressive. They ran through the questions with me and we did a mock interview. A life cycle and gender approach was taken to understand women’s health. Some issues were kept out, like the health issues confronting sexual minorities as it was felt to be controversial.
However, issues such as gender discrimination in food, immunisation and work load, skewed child sex ratio and sex ratio at birth, sexual education of adolescent girls and boys, lack of choice with respect to partners, poor maternal and reproductive health, high rates of anaemia amongst girls and women, burden of contraception on women, addressing health consequences of violence against women, reproductive cancers and its effect on women and mental health of women were discussed.
How men’s addiction to substance use affect women’s health was another topic of discussion, as well as issues of health services not adequately reaching Dalits [a traditionally marginalised group], tribal population, minorities those living with disability, etc. It was also observed that women’s health cannot be looked at outside the context of privatisation.