District Human Development Report, Bankura
5.4.1 Status of women in Bankura district: a brief review : (i) Sex ratio in Bankura district, according to 2001 census is 953, which is higher than the state level as well as national level sex ratios (934 and 933 respectively). Sex ratio, separated for different caste categories show that in the district of Bankura the sex ratios for SC and ST population (966 and 984 respectively) are higher than the sex ratio for general caste population (937). This reflects higher gender discrimination among general caste and a comparably better approach towards women among scheduled tribe population.
(ii) General fertility rate in Bankura district is higher than that in West Bengal. There exists a close relationship between family planning practices and female literacy.
(iii) According to 2001 census, overall literacy as well female literacy in Bankura district are lower than the state and national levels. Female literacy in Bankura district (2001) is 49.4 percent as against male literacy of 63.4 percent. Girls’ enrolment per thousand boys in the primary and upper primary sections is 937 in Bankura district. Moreover, dropouts among girls increase with higher levels of classes. There exists a negative relationship between female age of marriage and school dropouts for girls.
(iv) Female work participation rate, according to 2001 census, is as low as 32.04 percent in Bankura. This is, however, higher than the state level and national level figures. Bankura is a predominantly rural economy, with poor standard of living, where women have to work mostly in agricultural fields as agricultural labourers in order to supplement family income. Women’s engagement in the tertiary sector is minimum and in the secondary sector, they participate only in traditional and less-remunerative activities.
(v) Up to December 2005, women’s share in the redistributed land has been very low. Single women Patta as a percent of total Patta up to 2005 was 5.61 as against men’s percentage share of 79.80.
(vi) Reservation of seats for women in Panchayat Bodies in Bankura was 39.44 percent in 2001.
Beyond this participation women’s involvement in different community based organization in Bankura appears to be nominal. Even when they participate as members of FPC, VEC, ICDS Beneficiary committee, etc, in most of the cases their participation is passive and ineffective.
In fact, Women’s political empowerment is unsatisfactory due to their lack of financial autonomy, traditional outlook of the family and society towards women’s right and efficiency, burden of household work and low level of education in general.
(vii) Women’s diet, in general, is reported to be inferior compared to male members in the family. They suffer from protein deficiency and malnutrition.
A considerably large number of women in Bankura district suffer from anaemia and tuberculosis. Most of the women in the rural area are deprived of antenatal care.
They have to carry on their heavier part of household activities even during pregnancy. They often have to opt for home delivery rather than institutional delivery mainly due to hurdles of transportation.
(viii) Although the data for exact average age of marriage for women in Bankura district is not available, different survey reports suggest that average age of marriage for women in Bankura lies between 15-18 and it is lower than national average.
Under the existing system of early marriage and dowry, women have less education, less command over household resources and properties and minimum decision-making power within the family.
(ix) Women in Bankura are worst affected by bottlenecks in rural infrastructure: insufficient water sources, poor health services network, lack of electricity in the interior villages, miserable condition of most of the village roads and tracks, lack of proper transport facilities. Lack of proper sanitation, lack of awareness and poor access to the existing Government schemes for women’s welfare worsen their situation.
(x) Women in most of the village have to bear the responsibility of firewood collection, either from a nearby forest or from a distant one, by walking 216 5 at least 2 KMs per trip. The working women bear the double work load: household work as well as work outside. Male members do not share household work in general.
(xi) In Bankura district, the problems like ‘women trafficking’ and ‘witch hunting’ are not reported. However cases of domestic violence related with the system of dowry and alcoholic habit of husbands are not very difficult to be found. (xii) In rural Bankura, we can still find social discrimination among women either on the issue of ‘caste’ and untouchability or on the basis of ‘haves and have nots’.
(xiii) There is a need to study the Bauri community exclusively to understand the underlying causes for the particular community to remain so poor and so backward.