Sunday, March 8, 2009

Interesting Survey on Women by TOI

Bad news on Women’s Day for those who believed that Indian women would be empowered if only they were able to become the bread-winner.

Actually, it seems the hold of the patriarchy is only somewhat weaker among metropolitan working women than it is among housewives. A survey of single and married women, about half of them working and the other half housewives across eight of India’s biggest cities has shown that a majority of them do not decide how the money is to be spent. Nor do they believe that they should be able to determine what they may or may not do by way of evening entertainment. The findings are particularly sobering because those surveyed are relatively young, in the 20 to 40 age group and from the highest socio-economic categories SEC A and B. Clearly, a lot will need to be done to alter mindsets before the change in a woman’s economic status translates into genuine empowerment. The poll was conducted exclusively for TOI by leading market research agency Synovate India in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune and Jaipur in the week leading up to March 8. A total of 1,004 respondents were split roughly equally between the eight cities. About half were aged 20-30 and the rest 31-40. Similarly, the SEC A-B split was roughly even. The surveys most revealing finding was that only 46% admitted to deciding how their money was spent or invested. Significantly, this proportion was only a little higher - 52% - among working women. Even among single women, only 49% decide what they do with their money. So, who decides for the rest? The parents mainly, for single working women. Husbands mainly, for married women in general and housewives in particular. The response to a question on who should decide how a woman entertains herself in the evenings also illustrated just how entrenched the patriarchy remains. Only 42% said the woman herself was quite capable of deciding on the issue. While only 3% felt the so-called moral police had any right to stick its nose in the matter, a majority said parents or husbands should decide on the lakshman rekha. Across categories of age, married/single, working/non-working and SEC groups, this proportion was much the same, varying in a narrow band of just 51% to 55%. If there was little to distinguish between single and married women, working ones and housewives on the questions of the survey, there was a clear difference between responses from different cities. Kolkata, on the whole, emerged as the city with the most liberal attitudes and Chennai as the one with the most conservative. Another question posed was on whether a woman's career was more important than her family. Interestingly, less than one in ten chose a third option put to them – that they should not have to choose between career and family. Over two-thirds said the family was more important than one's career and less than one-fourth said their careers were their priority. Not surprisingly, there was a clear difference between single and married women and between working and non-working ones on this score. How safe do women find their cities? Not very. While 54% overall said they felt safe traveling around the city on their own, 45% said they did not. Chennai, Pune and Kolkata - in that order - turned out to be the cities where women feel safest, but somewhat surprisingly, Bangalore and Mumbai emerged as the only ones in which the majority felt unsafe. Single women exhibited greater confidence than married ones; working women more than housewives. Between the two age groups, however, there wasn't much of a difference. Are women discriminated against when it comes to pay and promotion? A majority said no, but a substantial 43% said yes. Chennai and Pune respondents were emphatic in rejecting such a hypothesis and Mumbai and Kolkata the two cities in which a majority felt gender-discrimination was a fact of life. On the question of whether sexual harassment was common at the workplace, however, Pune, Jaipur and Chennai were the cities in which more respondents said yes than no while Mumbai and Kolkata were the cities in which the lowest proportions said yes. Finally, to return to the provocation for the survey, we asked women whether they felt a Women's Day should be celebrated at all. An overwhelming 87% said it was right and proper a special day be reserved for them. In Chennai and Bangalore that proportion was as high as 95%. If you thought younger, single, working women would care less about such token gestures than slightly older, married working women or housewives, think again. The findings reveal quite the contrary. Single women were more enthusiastic about Women's Day than married ones; the young more keen than the older lot and working women more than housewives. In fact, even among the SEC categories, SEC A respondents were somewhat more in favour of the idea than SEC B.

No comments: