Insights Weekly Essay Writing Challenge -Topic – 10

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Every week a topic is given to you to write an essay on it. Now, we are in Tenth week (previous topics) and the topic for this week is:


Has Increased access to employment opportunities, financial independence and educational attainments enabled women in urban India to exercise their freedom and agency?



You should write it today itself. Before you pen it, brainstorm on the topic, jot down all the ideas that comes to your mind, make interconnections, make a flow chart and organize all the ideas to make your essay coherent.

Finally, write it down. It will be good if you first write it on a paper and then type it here.  Writing it and then typing it helps you remember everything for a long time.

  • prasanna

    can say some key words regarding this topic unable to find sources pls sir. topic is tempting to write but problem in sources..thanks in advance

  • vipul

    Has Increased access to employment opportunities, financial independence and educational attainments enabled women in urban India to exercise their freedom and agency?
    Current era of globalization has opened numerous opportunities for the women to redefine their role in society. Employment opportunities available in urban India has brought the several urban women outside the confinement of their households. Urban women are increasingly entering in all spheres of life which were earlier male dominant. Economic empowerment of urban women has been followed by the social empowerment. Ability to earn visible remuneration has enhanced the relative position of women within the family. Educated urban are well aware about their rights and have active participation in day to day family decisions. Urban women now have more entitlement to the family resources which they can effectively use to achieve desired outcome. Greater empowerment and independence generally lead to correction of inequalities in society that affect the overall wellbeing of women
    There is no doubt that urban women now have better access to education & resources than their rural counterparts. But participation of urban educated women in workforce is very low considering that they have relatively lesser social constraints. As per a report, 57 % of urban Indian women with graduation& post-graduation are home makers compared to 31 % of the rural women in with primary or secondary education. Shortage of Quality jobs is also keeping several highly educated women away from the job market. General perception that majority of educated young urban women are employed in call centers, IT industry, financial services etc. is just a myth. Overall Urban women participation in high paid jobs such IT enabled service is lesser than 1 % and women participation in financial activities is merely 1.5 %. Even among these, a large number of women withdraw from job market under their under their in-laws or husband pressure after marriage.
    Maximum employment opportunities for not so highly educated urban women lies in manufacturing sector. Nearly 28 % of urban women find job in manufacturing sector where condition of work is substandard & women are poorly paid. Women participation in export oriented industry make them more vulnerable to global trends. For ex: recession hit Europe & American market led to shut down of hundreds of hosiery manufacturing setups that left nearly 40000 women out of job in state of Tamilnadu itself. More disturbing figure is that nearly 12 % of urban women in India work in the private households where there are poorly paid and subjected to harsh conditions. Perception of urban society has been slow to evolve with the empowered urban women.
    Urban women also under goes through harassment at work place. They are discriminated by their bosses or mocked of their efficiency by fellow colleagues. Married educated women’s freedom to choose their profession still remains heavily influenced by her family members. Majority of high educated women end up in teaching, subsidiary jobs post marriage despite being capable of higher achievement. Even after 12 hours of hard work, working women are still expected to cook for family & take care of household activities. Working urban women face more domestic violence than their rural counterpart as they are better informed about their rights that challenge the male dominance.
    Today, urban women are more educated, financially independent than their mother & grandmothers but freedom of women is limited in scope due to unchanged societal attitude and unsafe environment Freedom for women can be interpreted in different context. Freedom can be ability to roam around at any time, to choose their life partners, freedom from any form of violence in & outside home, & freedom to have voice in society and politics. Recent attacks on pub going girls in Assam, Manglore and several other cities of India clearly indicates that society is still not matured enough to accept the emergence of liberal urban women. Delhi, Mumbai rape cases depict the dismal picture about the safety of women in urban India. Even the educated & financially independent women have very limited freedom in choosing their life partner due to traditional biases still inherent in our society.
    An agency approach to urban women development is very important for the absolute empowerment of women. In Agency approach, women consider themselves as an active agent who enjoys full control over their decisions and complete freedom to choose their destiny themselves. Urban upper middle class & rich women have more decision making power in comparison to poor & middle class urban women. Education attainment & employment opportunities can be helpful to achieve the better outcome for an Individual urban women but collective voice in form of women agency is required to bring out the structural reforms in society. Women collective voice can contribute to the changes in laws, policies, social norms that affect the lives of women. In India, majority of pro women social, law reforms have been driven by men. Shashi Tharor remarks about TV program Satymev Jayate that female foeticide situation is India is so bad that our Oprah Winfrey is a Guy (Amir Khan) ,echoes the man driven reforms culture of our society. Women representation in law making bodies such as parliament, office of high importance remains very poor. Female foeticide is equally prevalent in urban India despite being the more educated & financially independent women. Opposition to Dowry system remains weak in urban India despite the presence of more educated & aware women. All these social issues demands a more independent and empowered agency in urban India.
    Urban women with education entitlement & employment are more demanding & aware of their basic rights but maximum advantages of women rights, access to family resources, civil liberties ,decision making power is still enjoyed a miniscule minority of upper class /rich women. Middle class/poor who forms a major chunk of urban women are still stuck between family & office work. Examples of handful of women CEOs working in MNCs, entrepreneurs should not be used to exaggerate the women empowerment in Urban India .These are positive signs but looking at these numbers along with 6 decades of independence & plethora of women friendly laws ,level of women participation in high offices is highly disappointing. Today, urban women enjoys more freedom than their mother or grandmothers but their freedom is still defined & confined within traditional boundaries of society. Need of the hour is more social movements & reforms driven solely by women who can challenge the convention wisdom of society & remove the false notion of gender inequality still practiced in society.

  • neeraj

    Has Increased access to employment opportunities, financial independence and educational attainments enabled women in urban India to exercise their freedom and agency?

    India of the twenty first century has seen a dramatic rise in educational achievements, financial independence and employment opportunities of the other half of our population. This has brought about a feeling of equality, confidence and security among women. They are past the “laxman rekha” of their doorsteps. But, this newfound independence on the economic front has not changed much in their social milieu. The society, still male dominated, has prevented the women from exploiting the full potential of the economic independence.

    The increase in literacy level of women has opened up new vistas for their economic independence. With the phenomenal rise of Service sector in the Indian economy, the demand for women employees has received an unprecedented fillip. Owing to their pleasing personality and social skill, they have earned an enviable position among their male peers. Also, their success in IT jobs has given them a sea of job opportunities. The nature of the newly created job in urban areas like BPOs etc has removed the physical restraints, which were an impediment to the success of women employees. Also women have taken to fields which were considered male bastions, like engineering and defense services.

    The increased access to employment opportunities has provided a fillip to the education opportunities of the women. Owning to more jobs in BPO, IT sector and services sector, more and more middle class families are providing their female child with better education. The women are now much more open toward their career goals and are searching for new vistas. This has instilled in them a confidence which has eluded them for generation.

    Also, financial independence has changed their attitude toward marriage. They now don’t see marriages as a source of financial security. They want a husband who is understanding and caring of her. Love marriages are in vogue. Instances of office romance are now common. Also they are not behind in exploring the western ways like “friends with benefits” and “live in relationship”. Some actresses have openly advocated these practices. Also, trips to exotic places with peers like Goa, Khandala etc are common occurrences.

    Educational attainments have instilled confidence in the women. With this new gained confidence, they are ready to face any challenge of the world. New job opportunities have opened. Also, they have ventured into fields unknown to them. It has also changed the way the world looked at them. The freedom to pursue a career of their choice has broadened their job base. Finances, which were an impediment, has started flowing in research work and for entrepreneurships. Female CEOs are now not an unheard thing. Also, education has helped them know and fight for their rights.

    But the social milieu at the workplace and at home hasn’t changed much. Though, in-laws and husbands are happy with the increase in income of the working girl, they still want them to play second fiddle to the man. She has no respite after a hectic day at work. She has to take care of household chores and has to feed the child. Her relationship with male colleagues is seen with suspicion and restrictions imposed on the time she comes back from work. Inspite of financial freedom, they have no freedom and say in their own home.

    Also, they are physically abused and mentally tortured by their in laws. Home environment is still hostile towards them. Cases of dowry killings are still not unheard of. Honour killings are on the rise. Female feticide in urban areas is much more pronounced than in rural areas. She has hardly any say in such matters. Preferential treatment of male child is still the norm.

    Working women have to face myriads of problems. Finding a house for unwed working girl is still a tough challenge. Restrictions on entry and exit timings are imposed on them. A girl going to disc and bars is frowned upon and aspersions are cast on their character.
    The freedom to movement is also restricted by the increasing rape cases. Although, she is financially independent, she has to seek the protection of his male collegue or the company bus to travel at nights. Cases of groping and sexual assaults in buses are common occurrences. Though new law has been passed but it is hardly curbing the menace.

    Workplace environment is also filled with thorns. They have to compete with colleges who think that they are inferior to them and are here only because they are girls. Also, her collegues are insecure and think of her as an unnecessary competition in the workplace. Her smile can be mistaken for interest in him. Sexual harassment at workplace is a real threat. Though competent, she is sometimes not raised to higher level in her company because of her sex. Also, her rise in the company is attributed to personal and sexual favours to her boss. A friendly chat with her male counterpart is a reason for gossips around the workplace. Sexual remarks can be easily heard against her. Her style sense and confidence is does not go down well with her peers and has been termed “dented painted” by her male peers. Frustrated employees have sometimes raped a more successful female colleague. She is still seen as a sex object in her workplace.

    Most of the female employees are found in menial jobs like teller, receptionist, clerk, nurse etc. Though the number of female is increasing in executive jobs, it still remains a negligible part of the workforce. Males are considered more suitable to handle high end clients. Women CEO are very slowly increasing in number but their aspirations are marred by the lack of finances. Her entrepreneurial ideas hardly find any promoters and financers. Banks are reluctant to provide loans and say that their ideas are far too adventurous and infeasible.

    Discrimination in higher educational is also a marked phenomenon. Female research scholars are considered a non serious candidate as the professor think that this is her temporary job till she gets married. Research funds are diverted to male research candidates. Foreign research trips are not given to her. Stereotyping in science research is another major problem. Female scholars are deemed unfit in subjects like physics, mathematics, engineering etc. Even though they prove their mettle time and again they are discouraged from foraying into these fields. Even her parents discourage her to go into these fields.
    Though, female access to employment opportunities, financial independence and educational attainments have increased considerably over a few decades, the freedom of women to pursue the career of their choice, freedom to choose a suitable mate, freedom to choose a lifestyle, freedom in matters of households, freedom to roam around at any time of the day, freedom to better research facilities etc still elude them. The need of the hour is to change the male chauvinistic approach of the society to free the other half to fly in the unending sky of opportunities.

  • harvinder Singh

    Has Increased access to employment opportunities, financial independence and educational attainments enabled women in urban India to exercise their freedom and agency?

    The post liberalization period in India, more specifically has opened the new venues and versatile job profiles for the Indians irrespective of sex. The mushrooming of new found cities and their metro counterparts have provided the livelihood for the millions. These cities have progressed horizontally and vertically(the skyscrapers should also be acknowledged)but has also introduced the society to new chaos. The high rate of inflation associated with high growth rate has rendered a compulsion for both the sexes, particularly the middle class, to work for a sustainable earning to lead a respectful life. No doubt the women of the urban centers are participating economically to the household, but for majority of them is out of compulsion than out of comfort. Although the all powerful ladies in the Indian society are no more an alien for us, still society is short of raising an eyebrow on a woman achieving the top position. The few names like the first woman president, the first women secretary, the first CMD of a Bank are easy to remember as they stood as few among plethora of men, who earlier held this position. The first male president and first male chief of staff is an awkward statement in itself. The social position of the women in our society has witnessed a slightest improvement in the recent past, but the indicators are still short of what we say the equal representation and participation.
    1. Female Sex ratio:- It is presently resting on the alarming rate and more prominent in the educated urban classes. The wish for a male child is still prevalent in the society highlighting the predominance of male dominating society.
    2. Literacy:- There is still a huge gap between the literacy rates of male and female. The higher education further widening the gap which creates hindrances in women occupying the top slots of decision making bodies in all the sectors. Even the number of educated women taking up the jobs are nominal in urban areas.
    3. Representation as policy makers:- Elected members of the state and central legislative assemblies are still not more than 3%, even though they are representing a population almost equal of male. Is there any discrimination made in the rural female or urban in this context, no sort of biasing is done in this field.
    4. Male Chauvinism:- Female are contributing equally to the income generation of the family and they have proven their mettle and after suffering from the huge work pressures, traffic jams and hectic urban lives, still the onus of household work is on female only. Their equal work is paid unequally, they are considered inefficient in the works demanding more stretched hours(a notion in private sector) and works involving laborious works. They are still subject to domestic violence.
    5. Sexual harassment at work place:-This is not all together a new term nor it is unheard. The women has to suffer it as a routine in their work environment. Stalking is best example and passing of derogatory remarks, using foul language in the presence of a female colleague makes no difference to their male associates.
    6. Promotion aspects:- Women are seen as indulged and associated more with their domestic life and hence either forcefully by obligation or discrimination by the appropriate authority, are kept away from the fast track promotions. The women cannot accept the transfers usually associated with the promotions and has to suffer in their career prospects.
    7. Relocation of husband:- Women is duty bound to accompany her husband in case of relocation of her husband to a new territory and hence sacrifices her carrier.
    8. Upbringing of child:- The urban cities have invited the nuclear family concepts and in such a scenario, women generally have to compromise her job for upbringing of her child.

    However the female despite of all odds have progressed well in all spheres, predominantly after attaining education. No doubt the women in the urban centers cut edge on their counterparts in rural areas. The female workforce in the urban centers are making room for themselves in every sphere from science to legislature. Because of their presence in more heterogeneous society, they are less bound to the societal norms. The women of the urban centers have associated themselves well against the sex discrimination, but sadly the women are less safe in the urban amalgamation then in rural society. The urban centers have reduced the caste differences to a greater extent as compared to the rural areas but the sex discrimination still matches their counterparts.

  • Keerthi Narayan

    In the study of society, the status of women is an important area to focus. This is because, historically, women have held unequal status in the society vis-a-vis men. In the Indian context, post early Vedic society, the status of women declined gradually. By the nineteenth century was status of women was at its all time low. They were denied education, married early, refused share of their ancestor’s property and suffered inhuman treatment if she became a widow. She was dependent either on her father or brother or husband all through her life.
    From the 20th century, there were changes in this aspect of social structure. Social reformers, nationalists, independence of the nation from colonial clutches and the progressive ideology of national movement enabled the nation makers to provide constitutional and legal safeguards for women’s rights. From 1947 to 2013, Indian women have seen many positive changes.
    The present day urban Indian woman is a role model for her rural counterpart. She is educated, aware of her rights, employed and carries an air of independence. She is no more the same woman who kept her head low and stare still low when she took to the streets. Urban women of this era walk with confidence, look into one’s eyes and says what she wants to say.
    They work in all sectors, share responsibility of running the family with her male counterparts and demand respect they deserve. Education and employment have been the prime factors behind this change in women’s status in the society.

    Freedom is the ability to pursue one’s interests without any external constraints. Freedom can mean many things. It can be expressing one’s creative experience in writing or visiting a friend or deciding when to stop working. Women of urban India enjoy such freedoms. It is to be noted that such exercise of freedom requires some enabling factors.
    If a woman is dependent on her father or husband for livelihood she may not be able to pursue what she wants freely. Her father or husband may order her not to do anything which he is not comfortable with and she will be forced to accept. So, the first enabling factor for freedom is to have financial independence. This in turn implies employment. A good employment which offers a steady source of income requires educational qualifications. So education and employment and the resulting financial independence are the pillars on which women’s freedom rest.
    Besides, education and employment have intangible benefits also. They build up a woman’s confidence level, keep her abreast of the settings of society and country, make her aware of her rights.

    The contemporary Indian urban woman shows all such characters, though in varying levels. If we look at the Indian society, we can see women pursuing divergent professions. There are writers, architects, doctors, artists, activists, software professionals, lawyers, politicians and entrepreneurs. A close look at the variety and the number of women professionals make us understand that women of modern times pursue lives of their choice. They collect information and take decisions accordingly.

    However, these are not the only dimensions of women’s position in society. There are areas of concerns as well. Though women have been earning well, it has not translated into creation of assets in their name. Often her earnings are spent for the welfare of the family and kids. In terms of making decisions, she still asks her male family member. In spite of her improved status, she is sometimes subjected to domestic violence as well. Outside home there has been crimes against women in many cities.
    Changes always face resistance in any society. Urban women have been positive in tackling these challenges. During the occurrence of sexual violence against a young woman in New Delhi, they staged demonstrations, asked for amendments in the Criminal laws and achieved it. They took the support of like minded men as well. Such acts of expressing their concerns boldly, putting pressure on the political system for legitimate claims, displaying courage are welcome. They act as inspiring moments for many women who still look for emancipation.
    For a country which has a long history of treating women in a subordinate manner, self assertion of women, collectively and independently, is the way forward and the urban women have a good understanding of this fact.

    The nature of our society has been patriarchal through centuries. The improvements in women’s position in the past decades naturally will bring resistance from such a male dominated society. The few areas of concern like violence, independent decision making and long term financial security will also be addressed with time. For that to happen, the urban woman should continue to continue to confide in herself, assert herself boldly and use education, employment and the resulting financial independence in her pursuit for happiness.