Poverty means that many families do not have access to clean safe water. It is often considered the woman’s role to collect water for the household. This is part of women’s other domestic duties e.g. childcare, cooking, cleaning, looking after elderly or sick relatives etc.
Physical damage to girls’ and women’s bodies takes time away from other things – education for girls, leisure time for women and keeps women out of economic activities, putting unpaid care work under the shadow of invisibility. Globally, women on average invest 2.5 times more time in unpaid care work than men (http://progress.unwomen.org/en/2015/pdf/UNW_progressreport.pdf).
ILO (2018) showed on average that women in India spent 297 minutes per day on unpaid care work compared to 31 minutes by men.
SOURCE: Reuters 2018 https://www.reuters.com/article/us-india-water-women-idUSKBN1K318B
Activists and women’s rights organisations continue to challenge gender inequality and discriminatory gender norms, in spite of pushback from the patriarchal State. How best to work with young women and engage men and boys in this process is a focus of interventions and work by practitioners from different parts of India.
Daily, we hear of incidences of violence against women and girls in India. And now with the COVID-19 lockdown we see two aspects of women’s lives exacerbated – unpaid care work and domestic abuse. While women and girls remain on the margins, the slightest socio-economic shock propels them into multi-dimensional poverty and increased discrimination. This is despite the fact that the country has some of the most progressive policies and civic movements, a large proportion of elected women representatives and millions of women actively participating in self-help groups.
At the same, India has one of the largest cohorts of young men between the ages of 13 to 26. Many of them are under-educated, under-employed, lack positive role models and struggle with perceptions of masculinity. To see real change, we need to focus on the eco-system around power and offer innovative strategies for young men to face issues of patriarchy and masculinity head on and become their best selves.