Throughouthistory, women have been oppressed in different degrees in differentparts of the world. Society has had certain expectations of women andin most parts of the world, the woman has been reduced to a childbearing being. She has been deemed incapable of performingintellectual tasks which have been reserved for the capable malegender. The woman is more to be seen than to be heard and therefore,she cannot assume leadership roles. She has been constrained in thehomestead to focus all her capabilities in that limited space. Thisis especially the case in the third world countries wherecivilization hasn’t caught up with society. This paper focuses onthe plight of women in India and highlights the key issues in thestruggle to better their lives, with reference to thevideo/documentary produced by Dorothy and Kristin in the year 2001‘Womanby Woman’,and addressing the issue of conflict.
Producedin 2001, the video Womanby Womanfocuses on the daily issues facing Indian women in the country’sleast developed parts. Despite the vast beauty of the environmentbeing displayed in the video, the poverty level facing the familiesis disheartening. The most affected part of the population is thewomen and children. This is well portrayed in the documentary withwomen having to bear the pain of poverty through manual work tosustain their families. However, some women have decided to undertakethe initiative to educate their counterparts on matters such asfamily planning. Such move is undertaken to help in the fight againstthe abject poverty that has for a long time defined their lives(Dorothy and Kristin, 2001). Coupled with background narration, thedocumentary is well presented with the producer’s themewell-delivered to the viewer.
Theconflict perspective or the conflict theory emerges clearly from thedocumentary. This theory is derived from the ideologies of Marxiantheory which stipulates that a society is dynamic in nature. Thismeans that, the society is continually undergoing changes in allaspects social, economic and political. As in the video’sanalysis, the changes are in society’s assumptions and expectationsof women, which demonstrates the inequality in terms of gender. Moreso, it is about how women intrinsically view themselves. It is arevolution in the way society is organized because changing themanner in which women operate means a total societal overhaul as sheis the anchor from which society thrives (Dorothy and Kristin, 2001).This means that, the society needs to adopt and make institutionalrevisions so as to accommodate a woman’s improved stature.
Indiais one of the most populous countries in the world and therefore ithas extreme socio-economic structures in its society. Throughout itshistory women have been expected to take care of the family and otherhousehold chores. This is especially the case for the rural poor whodo not have many resources and therefore, the husbands are the solebreadwinners. The burden left for the women at home is immense,especially in the rural setting where infrastructure is poor and thusaccess to basic provisions of water and electricity is lacking. In asociety where women pay the dowry to marry their husbands, a paradoxis created when the man becomes the head of the household aftermarriage and can practice polygamy. This explains why the birth of aboy-child is more celebrated than the birth of a girl-child.
Education,or the lack of it, is a main area of concern. From the case study,Indian women are denied education from an early age while their malecounterparts are exposed to it earlier on in life. The girl is henceprepared for the tasks ahead of her in her womanhood from this stage.She is introduced to household chores which comprise of fetchingwater and taking care of livestock. These tasks are strenuous on awoman’s anatomy and also on her intellectual development. It isimportant to note that education is no panacea for all issuesregarding women. It is, however, a critical platform to equip womenwith relevant life skills to tackle their daily activities andenlighten them on relevant issues affecting their lives. It will alsogive them alternative means of livelihood earning them respect fromtheir husbands (Dorothy and Kristin, 2001). On the other hand,advocating for education for society as a whole will ensure thatdiscipline on equality will be instigated from early childhood andthus transform future generations.
Secondly,the issue of healthcare is critical to the women and the case infocus in the documentary. The female anatomy is naturally morefragile than the male anatomy and this is because of her reproductivesystem which is complex and delicate. Young girls begin having theirmenstrual cycle and the society in which they live in does not allowthem to truly appreciate their womanhood due to the many tasks aheadof them. Due to lack of proper education, a good number of the womenin the affected areas are unable to take care of themselves. Maternalhealthcare is also poor and this causes painful birth processes aswell as the pain of losing newborns. The issue of family planning iscentral to women’s health and in the case of India lack of properaccess to health facilities, it poses a threat to the women. In thecase study, women are being advised on the use of contraceptives toavoid continued conceiving. Exposure to health facilities isimportant if the health of these women is to be improved. This willgo a long way in restoring the dignity of women and also improve theoverall health of women, with the specific improvement of theirreproductive health.
Thirdly,it is important to cultivate a culture of gender equality. The notionthat women are inferior to men should be ignored and completelyscraped off from society. Subsequently, a self-empowering strategyshould be adopted where each individual is viewed first as a humanbeing. Promoting equity and equality will work well to influence allother avenues. This is by far the most effective means of elevatingthe status of women due to its multi-faceted nature. In the videocase study, Surita and her husband break down these barriers byworking together in their household and acting as a good example tobe emulated by others. Supporting gender equality will guarantee thereduction of female infanticides and suicides. It will ensure thatwomen are seen as assets rather than liabilities.
Thewomen’s intellectual capabilities are slowly being accepted intosociety and therefore, women are emerging as leaders in differentfields of influence. This is through empowerment which has gone along way in building their confidence. Additionally, the readiness ofmen to accept women as equals has gone a long way in changing the waysociety views women. The dynamic effort to equip women so as toimprove their input and productivity in society is a responsibilityof each and every one in their different scopes. Indeed, there is newhope for the villages of India regarding women and in the entireworld.
Woman by Woman (2001): New Hope for the Villages of India: Dorothy Fadiman, Kristin Atwell: Free Download &Streaming: Internet Archive. (n.d.). Retrieved May 29, 2016, from https://archive.org/details/woman_by_woman