Women, Education, and Family Structure in India

Women, Education, and Family Structure in India

Women, Education, and Family Structure in India

Women, Education, and Family Structure in India

Synopsis

Five decades of independence have produced dramatic increases in women's educational achievements in India; but education for girls beyond a certain level is still perceived as socially risky. Based on ethnographic data and historical documents, this book explores the origins of that paradox. Contributors probe the complex relationships between traditional Indian social institutions- the joint family, arranged marriage, dowry, and purdah, or sexual segregation- and girls' schooling. They find that a patrifocal family structure and ideology are often at the root of different family approaches to educating sons and daughters, and that concern for "marriageability" still plays a central role in women's educational choices and outcomes.

Excerpt

The 19th and 20th centuries have seen the rapid spread of Western‐ style schooling throughout much of the nonwestern world.Indeed, in the post-colonial era the institutionalization and spread of this kind of education has become an important marker of national development and modernization and, concomitantly, rates of female literacy and educational achievement have become one set of measures of women's participation in such development. Markers of educational achievement are also commonly-used cross-national indicators of gender equity and the status of women.Thus, international surveys of women's status routinely contain statistics on female literacy and years of schooling, along with statistics on such other factors as work, health, and political participation. Similarly, studies that address women and development issues commonly include some discussion of women's more restricted access to education and lesser educational achievement as compared with men.

While education is assumed to be of paramount importance to the socio-economic status of women nationally and internationally, there is a surprising paucity of studies in the women and development literature focused specifically on education. Fewer yet try to address the complex linkages between women's participation in this particular area of the public domain and the more private world of kinship and family that women are assumed to inhabit. Yet, an analysis of such linkages may help to explain the disparity between men's and women's rates of literacy and educational achievement in much of the developing world, as well as the mixed results of education-oriented efforts to improve women's status. The purpose of this volume is, then, to explore connections between the more public institutions of education and the more private institutions of family and marriage for one contemporary society, India.In India, as elsewhere, these linkages have remained relatively . . .

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