In thissixty-fifth archive story by Kristian Bertel, we are learning about the gender inequality in India, which many Indian women are expericing. Read the background story of this archive photo by the photographer.
Gender inequality in India refers to the health, education, economic and political inequalities between men and women in India. Various international gender inequality indices rank India differently on each of these factors, as well as on a composite basis and these indices are controversial. This photograph is a portrait of an Indian woman in Udaipur.
Gender inequality in India refers to the health, education, economic and political inequalities between men and women in India. Various international gender inequality indices rank India differently on each of these factors, as well as on a composite basis and these indices are controversial. This photograph is a portrait of an Indian woman in Udaipur.

Gender inequality in India

Gender is the range of characteristics pertaining to femininity and masculinity and differentiating between them. Depending on the context, this may include sex-based social structures for instance gender roles and gender identity. Most cultures use a gender binary, in which gender is divided into two categories and people are considered part of one or the other boys or men and girls or women those who exist outside these groups may fall under the umbrella term non-binary.

What does gender inequalities in India impact?

Gender inequalities and their social causes, impact India's sex ratio, women's health over their lifetimes, their educational attainment and even the economic conditions too. It also prevents the institution of equal rape laws for men. Gender inequality in India is a multifaceted issue that primarily concerns men that places men at a disadvantage or that it affects each gender equally.

Gender disparities in India
Some societies have specific genders besides man and woman such as the 'Hijras' of South Asia and these are often referred to as third genders and fourth genders and so on most people agree that gender is a central characteristic for social organization. Gender inequality has been a historic worldwide phenomena, not a human invention and based on gender assumptions. It is linked to kinship rules rooted in cultures and gender norms that organizes human social life, human relations, as well as promotes subordination of women in a form of social strata. The need to consider the socio-cultural influences that promote gender inequalities. In India, cultural influences favor the preference for sons for reasons related to kinship, lineage, inheritance, identity, status and economic security. This preference cuts across class and caste lines and it discriminates against girls. In extreme cases, the discrimination takes the form of honour killings where families kill daughters or daughters-in-law who fail to conform to gender expectations about marriage and sexuality. When a woman does not conform to expected gender norms she is shamed and humiliated because it impacts both her and her family's honor and perhaps her ability to marry. The causes of gender inequalities are complex, but a number of cultural factors in India can explain how son preference, a key driver of daughter neglect, is so prevalent.

However, when India's population is examined as a whole, women are at a disadvantage in several important ways. Although the constitution of India grants men and women equal rights, gender disparities remain. Research shows gender discrimination mostly in favor of men in many realms including the workplace. Discrimination affects many aspects in the lives of women from career development and progress to mental health disorders. While Indian laws on rape, dowry and adultery have women's safety at heart, these highly discriminatory practices are still taking place at an alarming rate, affecting the lives of many today as seen in this India portrait.

Son preference in India
A key factor driving gender inequality is the preference for sons, as they are deemed more useful than girls. Boys are given the exclusive rights to inherit the family name and properties and they are viewed as additional status for their family. In a survey-based study found that son are believed to have a higher economic utility as they can provide additional labor in agriculture. Another factor is that of religious practices, which can only be performed by males for their parents' afterlife. All these factors make sons more desirable. Moreover, the prospect of parents 'losing' daughters to the husband's family and the expensive dowry of daughters further discourages parents from having daughters. Additionally, sons are often the only person entitled to performing funeral rites for their parents. Thus, a combination of factors has shaped the imbalanced view of sexes in India.

"A study found that old age security, economic motivation and to a lesser extent, religious obligations, continuation of the family name and help in business or farm, were key reasons for son preference. In turn, emotional support and old age security were the main reasons for daughter preference and the study underscored a strong belief that a daughter is a liability"

Discrimination against girls in India
While women express a strong preference for having at least one son, the evidence of discrimination against girls after they are born is mixed. A study found less evidence of systematic discrimination in feeding practices between young boys and girls, or gender-based nutritional discrimination in India. In impoverished families, these scholars found that daughters face discrimination in the medical treatment of illnesses and in the administration of vaccinations against serious childhood diseases. These practices were a cause of health and survival inequality for girls. While gender discrimination is a universal phenomena in poor nations, a study found that social norms-based gender discrimination leads to gender inequality in India.

Gender role in society
Gender identity refers to a personal identification with a particular gender and gender role in society. The term woman has historically been used interchangeably with reference to the female body, though more recently this usage has been viewed as controversial by some feminists. There are qualitative analyses that explore and present the representations of gender, however, feminists challenge these dominant ideologies concerning gender roles and biological sex. One's biological sex is directly tied to specific social roles and the expectations and it is considered the concept of being a woman to have more challenges, owing not only to society's viewing women as a social category but also as a felt sense of self, a culturally conditioned or constructed subjective identity. Social identity refers to the common identification with a collectivity or social category that creates a common culture among participants concerned. According to social identity theory, an important component of the self-concept is derived from memberships in social groups and categories and this is demonstrated by group processes and how inter-group relationships impact significantly on individuals' self perception and behaviors. The groups people belong to therefore provide members with the definition of who they are and how they should behave within their social sphere.

Social roles in India
Categorizing males and females into social roles creates a problem for some individuals who feel they have to be at one end of a linear spectrum and must identify themselves as man or woman, rather than being allowed to choose a section in between. Globally, communities interpret biological differences between men and women to create a set of social expectations that define the behaviors that are appropriate for men and women and determine their different access to rights, resources, power in society and health behaviors. Although the specific nature and degree of these differences vary from one society to the next, they still tend to typically favor men, creating an imbalance in power and gender inequalities within most societies. Many cultures have different systems of norms and beliefs based on gender, but there is no universal standard to a masculine or feminine role across all cultures. Social roles of men and women in relation to each other is based on the cultural norms of that society, which lead to the creation of gender systems. The gender system is the basis of social patterns in many societies, which include the separation of sexes, and the primacy of masculine norms.

Read also:  An Indian portrait

Read also:  An Indian portrait

More archive stories

India is a land full of stories. On every street, on every corner and in the many places in India, life is rushing by you as a photographer with millions of stories to be told. In the archive story above, you hopefully had a readable insight in the story that was behind the photo of an Indian woman in Udaipur. On this website of Kristian Bertel | Photography you can find numerous travel pictures from the photographer. Stories and moments that tell the travel stories of how the photographer captured the specific scene that you see in the picture. The photographer's images have a story behind them, images that all are taken from around India throughout his photo journeys. The archive stories delve into Kristian's personal archive to reveal never-before-seen, including portraits and landscapes beautifully produced snapshots from various travel assignments. The archive is so-far organized into photo stories, this one included, each brought to life by narrative text and full-color photos. Together, these fascinating stories tell a story about the life in India. India, the motherland to many people around the world, a land of unforgetable travel moments. The archive takes viewers on a spectacular visual journey through some of the most stunning photographs to be found in the photographer's archive collection. The photographer culled the images to reflect the many variations on the universal theme of beauty and everyday life in India. By adding these back stories the photographer's work might immensely enhanced the understanding of the photographs.