Indian women feel that gender based violence is a widespread and persistent challenge fuelled and excerbated by the twin problem of alcholism and dowry, according to a report released by the UN Women (United Nations entity for gender equality and Empowerment of women).
"Women unanimously cited gender based violence as a widespread and persistent challenge. Child marriage is still common as is female foeticide, although at reduced levels than earlier due to legislation that has made sex-determination illegal," the report stated.
Regarding gender equality, women feel that their continued subordinate position in society vis-a-vis men is due to traditional roles and duties thrust upon them, said the report which was launched today along with a film by the European Union and UN Women to pay tribute to Inspiring Indian Women here.
They attributed their subordinate position to low literacy making it difficult for them to access their basic entitlements and a resulting lack of employment opportunities increasing their vulnerability to economic exploitation.
"The lives of girls were found to be as difficult as women in rural areas due to restrictions on their mobility, expectations to assist in domestic work, livelihood generation and farming-related work and preparation for matrimonial roles to marry early," the report stated.
As for the health sector, although there is a greater awareness about HIV and AIDS in selected quarters in rural india, the awareness levels remain very low while associated stigma and discrimination is very high.
One of the major concerns women shared was about successive rain and crop failure due to shifting weather patterns which gives rise to poverty and food insecurity leading to increasing debt burden and landlessness.
Women identified lack of water and sanitation as major challenges too.
"They feel the lack of water and sanitation most acutely during menstruation and pregnancy. Women drew long link between the lack of toilets and retention of girls in schools beyond the primary level," the report said.