In a patriarchal society such as ours, women have been oppressed for a long time. Here, we unfold and understand how patriarchy works and affects women differently on the basis of their socio-economic background. Certain communities are oppressed more than others, due to lack of privilege. The intersectionality existing on the basis of caste, class, gender and religion leads to a creation of different kinds of inequality within women as a gender.
The place where you come from is a major factor that decides the amount of privilege you hold in society as compared to others. When we generalise women as a gender, we fail to acknowledge intersectionality and the problems that arise from it. Through this systematic oppression, misogyny and oppression often becomes invisible. This article lists down some concepts and communities that are not part of the mainstream discourse.
Commute gap refers to the gender gap between the place where the person lives and the place where they work. According to a research by Uber, three out of every five Indian women limit their opportunities to only a kilometre from home. Commute gap influences major decisions of a woman’s life.
As a student, she is put into a school close to home. When she grows up and has the liberty to work, she looks for jobs that are nearest to her home, so that she doesn’t waste a lot of time travelling, and rather, comes home soon and look after her family. A lot of working women turn down great opportunities just because they are at a greater distance from home.
Women who come from the lower economic strata, who have to work in order to sustain their living, perform double labour. Majority of them also come from lower castes. These women work outside as house help or at construction sites by undertaking physical labour. After work, they go back home and provide for their family.
They look after the child, cook food, and take care of household chores. In this way, woman labourers perform double the labour, out of which one becomes invisible due to its lack of recognition. Such women face oppression at multiple levels of class and caste. They are not provided any kind of relief from neither the government nor society.
Emotional labour is the exertion of energy for the purpose of addressing people’s feelings, making them comfortable, or living up to social expectations. Women are always the one to provide emotional labour to men. It is very rare that they receive the same sense of emotional support from their male counterparts.
It is always expected of women to be calm and composed; they’re expected to not express their anger or frustration, but put up a smiling face and show up at their jobs. If a woman does react in a ‘socially unacceptable’ way and displays her anger, she is perceived as a ‘bad woman’. Emotional labour is highly invisible in romantic relationships, wherein it is often a one-way road.
Women who come from tribal communities are dependent on nature for their livelihood. They have the responsibility of bringing water for the household. Therefore, they are dependent on natural sources of water, but due to climate change, water is becoming scarce. Similarly, they need wood to light fire to cook food, but due to deforestation, the number of trees is decreasing day by day.
Women are more vulnerable to climate change because women form the majority of the poor population. UNDP figures indicate that 80% of the people displaced by climate change are women. Climate change results in natural disasters. Research on this indicates that women are more likely to die in a disaster. This vulnerability is not talked about in the status quo.
80% of people displaced by climate change are women. Our NDC Support Programme 🔎works to accelerate #genderequality with women agents of change at the 💙 of #ClimateAction. More on our global #GenderinNDCs work: https://t.co/Yh2DqkQwbX #ActOnTheGAP #ClimateAction pic.twitter.com/hyRyFE42Pj
— UN Development (@UNDP) April 25, 2019
Suicide among farmers is not a new phenomenon in our country where agriculture is a major occupation. Male farmers either migrate to cities in search of jobs, or commit suicide due to the financial burden of loans. Afterwards, it is women who are left behind to look after the farms, take care of the family, and do household chores. They are indebted with loans of their husbands.
When women fail to fulfil all such burdens, they might succumb to this pressure. There is no data available specifically for women farmers’ suicide. Women committing suicide are not registered by government officials as suicide. Their families report the death of the women in their house as caused by some illness, in order to save the reputation of the family due to cultural factors. Hence, the oppression and death of women farmers is not even counted and included in data.
In order to discuss these issues, we need to start a discourse at the local level, i.e., within families. Whatever little discussion is held about these topics, is limited to the elite circles of the society or academia in general. This discourse needs to seep down to the bottom of the hierarchy. We should question the system that normalises this oppression and fails to acknowledge it.
There should be gender sensitisation classes in school to talk about gender inequality. Moreover, within the structure of families, men should be held accountable for doing household chores, and women should be included in policy formation that directly impacts them. The discourse needs to be inclusive only then we can expect to change the system.