Gender roles have been a much-debated topic for a long time in India. While several women are stepping up to positions traditionally held by men, studies reveal that the patriarchal gender bias continues to cloud their judgement. In 'Key findings to Indian attitudes to gender roles', the Pew Research Centre found that 62 per cent of people felt that both men and women are equally responsible for taking care of children. However, 34 per cent still think that children should primarily be a woman's responsibility.
Only 6% Believed That Women Should Take Financial Decisions
On similar lines, at 54 per cent, just over half of Indians think that both men and women should be responsible for earning money to run a household. Yet, 43 per cent of Indians still view it as an obligation for men. Almost three-quarters of the people surveyed said that both genders should take financial decisions in a family, and 20 per cent believed that only men should be responsible for managing the finances. Moreover, only 6 per cent thought that only women should be liable to make financial decisions in a family.
Interestingly almost nine in ten people (87 per cent) surveyed said that "a wife must always obey her husband." At 64 per cent, a majority of Indians agree with the sentiment. While most Indian women agree with the statement, women are modestly less likely to say that women should obey their husbands in all situations. Indian women are typically less likely than Indian men to express egalitarian views on gender roles.
Women More Likely To Be Chosen As Political Leaders
In an exciting finding, Indians are broadly more likely to accept women as political leaders. In 1966, Indira Gandhi was one of the first woman prime ministers globally. Other well-known women figures in the Indian political spectrum are Sushma Swaraj, Mamata Bannerjee, Jayalalitha, Pratibha Patil and Sonia Gandhi. About 55 per cent of the people believe that women and men make equally good political leaders, whereas 14 per cent believe that women perform better in politics than men. On the other hand, only a quarter of people think that men make better political leaders than women. Thus, signifying the comfort women possess in politics.
An overwhelming majority of Indians believed that it was essential to have both sons and daughters in the family. However, a substantial share of people still accepts sex-selective abortions in the country. Indians are remarkably united in believing that every family should have one son and a daughter separately. As a custom broadly known as 'son preference', Indian families place their sons on a higher pedestal than their daughters. One enduring manifestation of son preference has been the illegal practice of sex-selective abortions – using ultrasound or other tests to learn the sex of a fetus and terminating the pregnancy if the fetus is female, the research mentioned.
The survey also found that four in ten Indians either entirely or somewhat accepted sex-selective abortions. They agreed to 'get a check-up using modern facilities to balance the number of girls and boys in their families. In contrast, about 53 per cent of Indians said that this practice was utterly unacceptable. About 63 per cent of Indians said that sins should solely be responsible for the last rites of their parents or their burial rituals. However, one cannot deny that the attitudes differed in different religious groups. Religious rituals are widely seen as essential practices in Indian households. In Hinduism, which is a majority religion in India, sons must perform the last rites and post-death rituals to ensure the freedom of the soul in their afterlife.
Only Handful Of People Agreed That Girls Primarily Should Perform Last Rites
About 74 per cent of Muslims, 67 per cent of Jains and 63 per cent of Hindus believed that sons should perform the last rites of their parents. On the other hand, only 29 per cent of Sikhs, 44 per cent of Christians, and 46 per cent of Buddhists put this responsibility on their sons. Instead, the three religions mainly asked both sons and daughters to perform their last rites. Similarly, a handful of Indians believed that daughters should primarily be responsible for the last rites of the parents.
Among all other religions, Muslims are more likely to stick to back traditional gender roles in families, while Sikhs are the least likely community to hold similar views. For instance, about 61 per cent of Muslims said that men should be responsible for earning money for the family, while just 17 per cent of the Sikhs believed the same. Moreover, Muslims are more likely to give ageing parents to their sons than to their daughters.
India More Conservative Than The World
The research findings reveal that while both men and women are almost on the same median to equalize the roles and responsibilities of different genders, Indians still form the community that seems to be more attached to the traditional gender roles in homes. In the series of surveys conducted by the centre, the Indian public is more conservative than the rest of the world. Out of the total 61 countries, only one country in the world has a higher notion that men should be preferred over women when jobs are scarce. Moreover, only two countries are ahead of India to believe that marriage is more satisfying when the husband provides for the family and the wife takes care of the house and children.
Lastly, on a positive note, 76 per cent of people believe that violence against women is a big problem. Police registered 'crimes against women' have doubled from 2010 to 2019. Moreover, rapes and murders of women have led to mass protests in recent years. The survey asked respondents which of two options is more important to improve women's safety in their community: teaching boys to respect all women or teaching girls to behave appropriately. While 51 per cent of people believed that it was more important to teach boys to respect all women, only a quarter of people thought it was more important for girls to behave appropriately.