Title

Ripples of Social Change: Occupations of Women in Rural India

Presenter Information

Jyothi Gupta

Start Time

7-10-2006 1:00 PM

End Time

7-10-2006 2:40 PM

Abstract

Most females in rural India experience the vicious circle of lack of access to education, early marriage, and deprivation of opportunities for gainful employment. Women’s occupations that contribute to rural economy, although integral, are not valued, unpaid and this invisible, resulting in women deprived of economic resources, such as ownership of property. This leaves them disempowered, marginalized, oppressed and unable to fully participate in society. They remain for generations victims of social and economic injustices. This paper will describe (a) the impact of the social and cultural contexts on women’s everyday occupations and (b) a model for social change that has evolved out of the partnership between residents of four villages and a non-government organization. In-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with the instructors of family life education program using a focus group format. The primary intent of the interview was to gather data on their everyday occupational lives and how (if any) changes had occurred due to their involvement in the community programs. The women unanimously reported transformative changes that have impacted positively on their daily lives and family relationships, thereby improving the wellbeing of self and family. They attributed these benefits to the acquisition of new occupations that has expanded their occupational contexts, roles and identity, altered their routines and habits, and increased community participation. The meaningfulness of this increased participation stems from working for the common good of all women and to promote social change. A serendipitous discovery during the interview was the power of group work and the strong relationships that have been forged as a result of a shared commitment to empowering and improving the daily lives of rural women. It was apparent that the group identity is a strong influence on their individual identities and everyday lives. Finally, the participants reported enjoying the focus group experience, expresses gratitude foe having an opportunity to share their stories, voice their thoughts and feelings and were touched and intrigued that their “ordinary” lives was of interest to an Indian woman who, in their view, has “escaped” the ordinary existence.

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Oct 7th, 1:00 PM Oct 7th, 2:40 PM

Ripples of Social Change: Occupations of Women in Rural India

Most females in rural India experience the vicious circle of lack of access to education, early marriage, and deprivation of opportunities for gainful employment. Women’s occupations that contribute to rural economy, although integral, are not valued, unpaid and this invisible, resulting in women deprived of economic resources, such as ownership of property. This leaves them disempowered, marginalized, oppressed and unable to fully participate in society. They remain for generations victims of social and economic injustices. This paper will describe (a) the impact of the social and cultural contexts on women’s everyday occupations and (b) a model for social change that has evolved out of the partnership between residents of four villages and a non-government organization. In-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with the instructors of family life education program using a focus group format. The primary intent of the interview was to gather data on their everyday occupational lives and how (if any) changes had occurred due to their involvement in the community programs. The women unanimously reported transformative changes that have impacted positively on their daily lives and family relationships, thereby improving the wellbeing of self and family. They attributed these benefits to the acquisition of new occupations that has expanded their occupational contexts, roles and identity, altered their routines and habits, and increased community participation. The meaningfulness of this increased participation stems from working for the common good of all women and to promote social change. A serendipitous discovery during the interview was the power of group work and the strong relationships that have been forged as a result of a shared commitment to empowering and improving the daily lives of rural women. It was apparent that the group identity is a strong influence on their individual identities and everyday lives. Finally, the participants reported enjoying the focus group experience, expresses gratitude foe having an opportunity to share their stories, voice their thoughts and feelings and were touched and intrigued that their “ordinary” lives was of interest to an Indian woman who, in their view, has “escaped” the ordinary existence.