The world is marking yet another International Women’s Day on Wednesday. Many women in our society sacrifice their own interests to take care of family interests and to fulfil their responsibilities. Yet, their dream of equality in society is still elusive. The findings from a survey conducted by Malayala Manorama offer significant insights into their worries, demands and desires.
Among the survey participants 80.12% were women, 19.73% were men and 0.15% were transgenders. Most of them concluded that harassment for dowry is still one of the major burning issues. Of these, 16.58% considered this as the topmost problem. Though dowry may not be demanded as such in words, the practice is rife, those surveyed admitted. They apparently had in mind a spate of suicides reported from across Kerala in recent times.
To the question whether “good marital relations” are the most important factor in life, 62.50% said that it was not the only important thing. Among the 32.02% who said 'yes', men accounted for 59.48% and women just '32.02%'.
Ten pressing issues
Other major issues cited by the survey participants are the difficulties due to the juggling of job and domestic responsibilities (29.85%), lack of own income (16.15%), inability to take independent decision on any matter (13.58%), constant nagging by husband or his family (7.95%), domestic problems owing to liquor consumption (7.22%), facing ridicule for one’s looks or complexion (2.82%), the pressure to quit job due to family responsibilities (2.83%), moral policing issues (2.61%), and the lack of freedom to spend money in one’s own way (0.41%).
Those who were surveyed were asked to rank the issues in the order of 1, 2 and 3 according to their gravity. The 10 aforementioned issues were considered the major ones as per the importance accorded by the respondents.
Discrimination at workplace
More than three-fourth of survey participants also felt discrimination at workplace. About 76.60% said that women do not get equal treatment with men at the workplace. Among women 81.36% and among men surveyed 57.41% shared the opinion. However, 42% of men and 18.64% women noted there was equality.
Lack of personal time
To the question whether women have to postpone their own personal interests, health, and dreams “to attend to family needs, 85% of the surveyed said that was very much true. Among women 91.55% and among men 58.55% too were unanimous on the issue. Those who professed contrary opinions were: 41.45% men and 8.45% women.
Pressure to prove one's worth
Do women struggle to prove to society that they are smart both at home and the workplace? A whopping 84.69% concurred this was indeed a reality. Among the responders, only 15.31% said ‘no’. Among men, 65% and 89.56% among women said that the stress caused by the need to prove self-worth weighed on them.
Do men join women in the household chores, taking care of the aged or differently abled in the house? Nearly one-fourth (25.07%) said 'no'; 28.76% said men indeed do small chores; 12.24% said both men and women share all work; and 33.92% noted men will lend a hand if asked.
Deferring of own interests
Do women have to defer own interests for a later time? In all 85% women agreed that was indeed the case; just 15% responded negatively.
Freedom to spend own income
Are women able to spend their own income as they wish? If the women do not earn do they get money to spend for their needs? This query had a mixed response: only 22.38% said 'yes' but 42.9% said 'no'; but a significant 34.71% replied 'sometimes' they can spend money as they wish.
Mental and physical oppression at home
About 80.84% of the surveyed said women faced mental and physical oppression at home.
Responsibility for upbringing of children
The upbringing of children is a major challenge of parents. In a sign of changing attitudes, 87.2% underlined the point that the father and the mother should share the duties and responsibilities during all the phases during the children's growth. Only 12.18% said in the survey the mother has more responsibility than the father. A minuscule 0.62% said the father has more responsibility than the mother.
Don’t women need a house or property? To this question 96.53% said it was necessary to include women as joint owners while buying a house and to give women equal share in the family property. Those who said so included 91.48% men and 97.81% women.
Status at home
To the question whether men and women received equal recognition at home, 63.32% said ‘no’ but 36.68% said there was equality at home.
If the responses of only men are taken, 62.31% said ‘yes’ and 37.69% said ‘no’. In the case of women, the responses were diametrically opposite, with 69.58% saying there was no equality and 30.42% replying ‘yes’.
Should women go for movies alone? Among the surveyed 16.48% said with certainty that women should not go for movies or travel at night alone. Among them, 21.89% were men and 15.16% were women. Among the 56.37% who said with certainty that such freedoms should be there, men's share was 58.63% and women's 55.84%; but 27.15% responders said “somewhat”.
Do you consider women’s dress to be the cause of many problems? This query also received an overwhelming answer with 82.01% saying it was not so and 17.99% offering a 'no'.
Adverse or obscene remarks
The survey respondents were sharply divided on the question whether they ever faced obscene comments, anti-woman remarks or physical attacks in a public place or on social media. While 51.56% said 'yes', a close 48.44% denied.
Tolerance to slapping
Domestic violence is a reality. Should a man beat his wife, sister or lover? The answer to this survey query was a big NO: 93.30% of men and 97.21% women said firmly that it cannot be allowed. Just 3.7% of male responders and 2.7% of women said a man may beat his wife, sister or lover.