Poor Single Women Demand Public Funds

The number of Indian single women is quite large-39.8 million as per 2002 census. According to a study on the “status of low income women in India” released by the National Forum for Single Women’s rights, inadequate funds at the top level is causing the single women being turned away to the lower levels. Both the Central and the State governments need to device adequate budgetary provisions to reach out this large number of women.

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The low income single women of the country seem to comprise 10% of the total female population and are not willing to rely on the society for support and charity made by their families. Instead, they seek for public funds with which they can live with dignity. Looking forward to excoriate the general belief in people that most of the single women are old at the last stage of their life, the study puts forth the very fact that there are many young single women living in extreme challenging circumstances.

Many of these women have much to cope up with such as- widowhood, disorders, broken relationship, responsibility of raising children alone, domestic violence, harassment, social restrictions, unemployment and so forth. Just because these women are able-bodied, the fact that they also have many disadvantages cannot be ruled out.

The study has been conducted on the single women in Bihar, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Rajasthan with about 386 respondents. Amongst these respondents, more than half of them are below 45 years of age whereas only a few of them are over 60 years. Inspite of the fact that the majority of the group of women is young, most of them are illiterate. And amongst the women who are literate, the drop out rates before primary and secondary level education is pretty high in numbers. In addition to this, many of them were also married at low age which was the prime reason of their drop outs.

In case of widowed women, over 65% of them live in marital villages. Even though the single women live as extended family members wherein there are the sole responsibility takers of themselves and their children, they are not recognized by the government as the head of household. Amongst such women, only 40% of them were listed as “head of household” in their ration cards.

Though the government has housing schemes, only 12.7% of them could benefit from them. Many of the single women live in fear of being thrown out by the landlords and rest do not have a secure roof over their heads. Very few of the women own lands and the ones owning lands have problem in inheriting them as a matter of fact that Indian customs and traditions favors the male as the heir to all the assets.

The government has enabled the pension schemes but the social security pensions reach out only quarter of the respondents entitled for the scheme. The schemes seem to have problems at both, the levels of policy making and policy implementation. Under such circumstances, the single women have stood up to ask the government for the public funds so that they can carry out their living with dignity and peace.

Image courtesy : http://www.grameenfoundation.org
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