This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Pallavi Ghosh. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

5 Reasons Why It’s Better To Be A Woman In Kerala Than Haryana

More from Pallavi Ghosh

By Pallavi Ghosh

Kerala and Haryana are placed at two extreme ends while discussing the child sex ratio in India. Kerala is a space of respite with a consistently higher child sex ratio (964 girls per 1000 boys) and Haryana is where the ratio is skewed. Unlike Kerala, Haryana has thereby earned the reputation of a feudal space where despite economic progress, patriarchal mindset seems to dominate culturally, leading to gender-based discrimination in various forms. How is it that these two states that are amongst the relative better-developed regions fare so differently when it comes to gender-based discrimination?

kerala women
Source: MM/ Flickr

Here are 5 reasons why Keralite women are better off than their Haryanvi counterparts:

1. Discrimination Before Birth

According to an article published in The Hindu, estimates are that around 37,000 girls are at the receiving end of gender-biased sex selection every year in Haryana and account for 4% of gender-biased sex elimination in the country. The predominant attitude is to view a girl child as a burden and hence get ‘rid’ of her as early as possible. Such a mindset has a critical role to play in the skewed child sex ratio in Haryana.

2. Costs Of Labour Lost

Despite having a greater number of women involved in agricultural labour, Haryana has 31.3% of women having BMIs below 18.5 as against Kerala, where the percentage stands at 18. This had an adverse impact on not only women’s bodies throughout their lifetime but also in terms of life expectancy. It is no surprise thus that 13,370 more lives are either lost or suffer from the risk of being lost in Haryana than in Kerala. This is because of the differing life expectancy at birth rates. A study by Jean Dreze and Amartya Sen brings to light a 10% gap in the life expectancy at birth rates in the years 1990 and 1992 in the two states – Kerala (74 approx) and Haryana (64 approx).

GC graph 1

3. No Pay, No Say

Imagine a day when we are told to survive on Rs. 40 for a day. This is exactly the amount available to women in Kerala in houses where the monthly income is Rs. 10,000. Despite this meagre amount, women in Kerala are less dependent on others in the family – 5% less dependent, and thus more empowered than Haryanvi women. In the same study by Dreze and Sen, it was noted that the share of earned income for women in Kerala is around 12% approximately. However, if you think this is low enough, in Haryana, the percentage drops to 7.

4. To Read Or Not To Read

Literacy rates might be misleading in terms of gauging the level of progress, but they certainly reflect the level of investment in a child.

GC graph 2

Amongst adult women, the rate is an impressive 81 percent approximately – the difference in percentage being 54! In other words in terms of investment, fewer people are interested in funding girls’ education even in the primary level. Therefore, in cultural terms, the value of daughters suffers a blow in the process making them more of a burden than an asset. For those girls who are alive, not much money is ‘wasted’ on them.

5. Employment In The Organized Sector

If we compare the proportion of women employed under the organized sector in Haryana and Kerala, we find that a greater presence of women in the South Indian state. With greater opportunities and security, come greater decision-making powers and better conditions of living. Armed with better wages and conditions of work, women in Kerala are more empowered than their North Indian counterparts.

Source : Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation
Source : Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation

6. Early Marriages

The age of marriage is crucial in understanding the position of women in a given society. The earlier the normative year of marriage is for girls, the more dependent they are on others.

Source: Child Marriage in India (UNICEF)
Source: Child Marriage in India (UNICEF)

The median age for girls in Haryana is majorly below the legal age of marriage. This reflects the cultural attitude that believes that marriage is a woman’s destiny and not choice; the earlier she marries, the better it is because hey what else can a woman do after all? Getting married later means that the scope of agency and choice is greater for Keralite women.

So there it is, things as they stand today. While it is heartening to see the improvements that are being made when it comes to the position women hold in some parts of the country, the lag overall is saddening. Moribund traditions and huge inequalities are what are causing this gender imbalance, which is detrimental to our growth as a society. If the youth are the future of tomorrow, why do we forget that girls comprise a good chunk of that population? Giving them an equal chance is as much a necessity, as their fundamental right.

Let’s make #GirlsCount

You must be to comment.
  1. Amlan

    The better position of women in Kerala, is mainly because of matrilineal past. But, sadly the position of women in Kerala is getting worse day by day with the transition to patriliny and patriarchy, mainly because of increasing influence from the ever globalising world, polluting their culture with misogyny and patriarchy. Sex ratio actually decreased which once used to be much higher then todays 964 mark after the patriarchal transition.But, even today some parts of Kerala still follow their matrilineal tradition.

    Solution to the problem of son preference can actualy be a gender equal society with a mix of patrilineal and matrilineal system depending and adjusting itself to the needs of the situation of the two partners and the two families concerned, instead of strictly and irrationaly adherring to a particular convention.

  2. Almas Shamim

    While I totally agree that it is way better to be a woman in Kerala than in Haryana for the above mentioned reasons and some more (such as- it is also easier and safer to be a woman belonging to a minority religion or lower caste in Kerala than in northern states since minorities and lower caste members are better treated here), I want to remind you that not all is perfect in this Southern state. Women, even in Kerala, are expected to dress and carry themselves a particular way. It would be nearly impossible to walk in certain places of Kerala alone at night without being stared and commented upon and sometimes even molested. The general norm is that if there is a party in college, it is the guys who will really ‘party’ while the girls will enjoy just sitting and looking at the guys for a while before going back to their hostels since there is a ridiculous in-time. I have personally been demeaned coz I used to stroll in my college campus alone at night. There had been an incident of sexual harassment on one of these nights and I had raised my voice- created quite a scene- I was further criticized for doing that!! I was also judged for not ‘pinning my dupatta’, laughing loudly, sitting cross legged and wearing lipstick. Dowry is also a BIG thing in Kerala with even girls supporting and justifying the demand of maddening dowry. Of course, the same attitudes persist in most places in India! But, I just wanted to point out that a high literacy rate does not necessarily mean that girls are at par with men. They may be better off than women in Haryana, but their current status is no benchmark against which India should set its standards- it is just the basic minimum- a lot more needs to be done.

    1. Avi

      Spot on!

  3. Amlan

    I would like to put forward an issue related to the “Why should I care part of this article”. Two child policy has been called “discriminatory”. I think thats quite hypocritical to say so. By saying so, it seems that are re emphasising the sick dicriminatory idea that having ‘atleast 1 son’ is important and that famillies without a son are incomplete and hence should try for a 3rd child hoping for a son, for which “two child norm” is hindrance, not realising the problems of overpopulation and also difficulties of working women and also women in general in keeping on giving birth one after another in order to fullfill the society’s patriarchal, sick and unjust desire for sons or ‘atleast one son’, which is practically not always possible to have in a natural and just manner.Instead of reforming biased social structures and systems that lead to son preference,baselessly critisizing government policies of good intent wont do any good.

  4. Tyson

    Hi,
    It was a nice article.
    I just want to point out something that i found on the census website, its Delhi vs Puducherry.
    why Delhi begin a Metro city ended up at the last and
    puducherry also union territory like delhi ended up at the top?

More from Pallavi Ghosh

Similar Posts

By Shambhavi kumari

By Youth Ki Awaaz

By Lipi Mehta

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below