According to a report issued by the Pew Research Center, a Washington, DC-based non-profit, although Indians accept women as political leaders, they still prefer traditional gender roles in family life. The study, titled “How Indians View Gender Roles in Families and Society,” was conducted from November 2019 to March 2020 and is based on a survey of 29,999 Indian adults.
While 55% of Indians feel men and women make equally competent political leaders, “nine-in-ten Indians agree with the concept that a wife must always obey her husband,” according to the research. This sentiment was only slightly less popular among Indian women than it was among Indian males (61 percent versus 67 percent ). Despite the fact that the majority of Indians have egalitarian views on gender roles, with 62% believing that both men and women should be responsible for child care, traditional norms still hold influence, with 34% believing that child care “should be handled mostly by women.”
Similarly, although a “thin majority” (54%)” agree that “both men and women” should be responsible for earning money, as many as 43% believe that earning an income is primarily a male responsibility. In addition, 80% of Indians believed that when employment is scarce, males should have greater rights to work than women.
Preference for sons
While Indians revere both boys and girls, over 94 percent said it is very essential for a family to have at least one son, while 90 percent said it is very important for a family to have at least one daughter. Around 64% of Indians believe that sons and daughters should have equal rights to their parents’ inheritance. However, while four out of ten Americans believe sons should be the primary caregivers for ageing parents, only two percent believe daughters should be the primary caregivers.
The report found that 40 percent of Indians saw “sex-selective abortion as acceptable in at least some circumstances,” noting that prevalent gender norms “are part of a wider phenomenon in Indian society where, for a variety of historical, social, religious, and economic reasons, families tend to place a higher value on sons than daughters.” 42 percent, on the other hand, said this practise was “completely unacceptable.”
Despite the fact that Indian women are not significantly more likely than Indian men to hold egalitarian views on son choice and gender roles, the survey found that young Indian adults (18 to 34) held the same views as their elders.
In addition, the Pew Center report compares gender perceptions in India to studies from throughout the world. According to the research, a worldwide median of 70% said it was very essential for women to have the same rights as men, and a similar ratio was observed in India, with 72 percent saying it was very important for women to have the same rights as men. Individuals in India, on the other hand, were less likely to support gender equality than those in North America (92 percent), Western Europe (90 percent), and Latin America (82 percent). They were more likely to do so in comparison to Sub-Saharan Africa (48 percent median) and the Middle East-Northern Africa region (44 percent). Indians were more inclined than Pakistanis to advocate for gender equality in South Asia (72 percent to 64 percent ).
According to the report, “Despite largely agreeing with global public opinion on equal rights for women,” Indians tend to be more conservative than people in most other countries examined when it comes to gender dynamics in the home and business. For example, a median of just 17 percent of people in 61 nations entirely agreed with the statement, “When jobs are scarce, males should have greater rights to a job than women,” whereas a median of 55 percent of Indians agreed. Indians were far more traditional than people in North America (4 percent, median), Western Europe (7 percent), and Latin America (20 percent), with only Tunisia (64 percent) having a larger percentage of people who agreed with it. According to the paper, this mentality, along with a lack of employment, might explain “why India has one of the lowest rates of female labour force participation in the world” (21 percent vs 53 percent global median).
When asked “Which kind of marriage is more satisfying: one where the husband provides for the family and the wife takes care of the house and children, or one where the husband and wife both have jobs and take care of the house and children together,” Indians were among the most likely to say the husband should earn while the wife focused on the home: 40% of Indians preferred this traditional family dynamic, compared to a global median of 23%.
Indians with a college degree were also less likely to retain traditional views on gender roles, although this did not apply to all gender-related problems, according to the survey. For example, 80 percent of college graduates (as opposed to 88 percent of those with less education) still believe that women must always obey their husbands.
While women in India’s southern states had better socioeconomic results on average than those in other areas of the nation, views about gender in the south were not necessarily more equal than those in the Hindu belt, according to the survey. While southern Indians were less likely than northern Indians to believe that a wife must always obey her husband (75 percent vs. 94 percent), they were more likely to believe that men in families should be in charge of financial decisions (25 percent vs. 13 percent) and that women should be in charge of child care (44 percent vs. 30 percent).
Source: The Hindu