Gender Gaps in Social Protection

Sony Pellissery (2008)

Eligibility for and entitlement to welfare rights are often contested within the power structure of households and communities. This article examines how access to public provisions is determined for women requiring social protection in three different life situations (single mothers, widows/deserted women without children, and disabled women). In-depth interviews and surveys from two villages in the state of Maharashtra, India, revealed that households and communities formulate informal rules based on micro-level interactions in order to determine access to welfare rights.

The Oppression of Women in India

Abstract: Discusses the roles that patriarchy and the dowry system play in patterns of violence against unmarried, married, and widowed women in India. In Indian society a female is the property of her father until marriage, the property of her husband thereafter, and the property of her sons should she become widowed. Once married, a woman leaves her home to join the home of her husband’s family, bringing with her a dowry that becomes the possession of husband and in-laws. Girls are considered less desirable than boys and are at risk for violence from birth. Forms of violence against Indian women include dowry burnings, that is, death by burning because a dowry was considered too small, and subjugation of widows to the ritual of sati, the practice of burning a wife alive with her husband’s corpse.

Exploring the Effects of Gender Differences and Widowhood Status on the Days Spent in Poor Health: A Secondary Data Analysis From India

Abstract: The majority of research in India has focused on the impact of widowhood on health status and health care use, while little emphasis has been paid to the number of days spent in poor health among widowed population compared to other marital categories. Thus, the current study explores the relationship between widowhood and days spent with poor health outcomes among adults in India. Additionally, gender differences in the relationship between widowhood and days with poor health outcomes are further studied.The research employed nationally representative cross-sectional data from the 75th round (2017–2018) of the National Sample Survey (NSS). To investigate the associations of marital status (married vs widowed) and other factors with days spent in poor health, a negative binomial regression model was used. Additionally, the interaction model of age and widowhood was estimated separately for men and women.The findings suggest that widowed individuals had consistently prolonged days with an illness, limited activity, and confinement to bed. After adjusting for socioeconomic and demographic characteristics, the findings suggested that widowed women (IRR=1.141, 95% Confidence interval=1.01–1.29) were more likely to spend days with limited activities than married women. The marital status-age interaction indicated that older widowed women were more likely to have days of restricted activity and confinement to bed than married women, but such link is absent for men. In India, the elderly widow often spends her days confined to bed and prolonged days with limited activity. Policymakers and practitioners in public health should develop effective policies and programmes to enhance the health and well-being of widowed women, particularly those from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds

Aging and Social Networks: A Perspective on Gender Disparity in India

Yatish Kumar and Priya Bhakat (2021)

Abstract: In India, the “feminization of aging” is one of the areas in which prejudice most frequently occurs. Noticeably, poverty, isolation, changes in residential care, and weak institutional support push women into several vulnerabilities. This study demonstrates that elderly women are often denied basic rights and are compelled to reside in old-age homes; the situation is worse for elderly widowed women. We examine the claims that the lives of elderly
women are more precarious due to their lower literacy, limited social exposure, and monetary dependence. Being women, old, and widowed, they are affected by triple vulnerabilities that
require concrete policy implications.

Widows in South India Society: Depression as an Appropriate Response to Cultural Factors

Helen E. Ullrich (1988)

Abstract: Data gathered over a 23-year period from a village in South India form the basis of this description of the Havik Brahmin widow. The following hypotheses are examined: religious beliefs as the basis for her treatment, her sexuality as a threat to the society, and depression as an appropriate response for the widow who was regarded as responsible for her husband’s death. The author argues that cultural factors predispose a widow to depressions, which meet the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders —III —Revised criteria. Beck’s triad, pathognomonic for depression (negative self image, negative view of the future, and negative interpretation of life events), is integral to the life of a widow. As women have gained increased control over their lives during the past 23 years, the situation of the widow has improved. Increased educational opportunities and age of marriage are factors associated with a decrease in the belief of a wife’s devotion as a life-preserver. Women have been instrumental in decreasing a widow’s stigmata and instigating improvements in the widow’s situation. Accompanying these changes has been decreased depression among women in general and widows in particular.

Exploring Barriers to Inclusion of Widowed and Abandoned Women through Microcredit Self-Help Groups: The Case of Rural South India

Microcredit programs have been applauded as the magic bullet for the poor, especially women with limited financial resources. Building on previous research, this study examines effects of a microcredit self-help group (SHG) program on perceptions of social exclusion among widowed and abandoned women who participated in groups established after the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami in Tamil Nadu, India (N=109). Read More

Microcredit Self-Help Groups for Widowed and Abandoned Women in South India: Do They Help?

Results are presented from a study on a microcredit program with self-help groups implemented forwidowed and abandonedwomen inTamil Nadu shortly after the Indian Ocean Tsunami. Data were collected from 109 participants measuring the women’s investment patterns, loan amounts, demographics, and overall well-being (psychological, economic, communal, and familial). Read More

Environmental Justice and Gender: Renaming the Problem, Reframing the Lens, Rethinking Solutions

Women and children are particularly vulnerable to health risks associated with living in toxic environments. Women’s position in society, their unpaid and undervalued labor, and low socio-economic status often expose them more than men to direct and harsh environmental problems. Despite their exposure to environmental problems, women tend to be under-represented in discussions and decision-making about the environment and the effects of climate change in their communities. Read More

The Development of Self-Efficacy Beliefs of Widowed and Abandoned Women Through Microcredit Self-Help Groups: The Case of Rural South India

Widowed or abandoned women are among the poorest and marginalized people in Indian society. In an effort to empower these women to achieve a sustainable livelihood and overcome discrimination related to marital status and caste, a local nongovernmental organization, Kalangarai, organized widows and abandoned women into microcredit self-help groups (SHGs) along the Southeast coast of India. Read More