Advertisement

Demography

, Volume 51, Issue 6, pp 2307–2332 | Cite as

Muslim and Hindu Women’s Public and Private Behaviors: Gender, Family, and Communalized Politics in India

  • Sonalde DesaiEmail author
  • Gheda Temsah
Article

Abstract

Prior research on fundamentalist religious movements has focused attention on the complicated relationship among gender, family, and religion. Using data from a nationally representative survey of 30,000 Hindu and Muslim women, this study compares the daily public and private behaviors of women in India to examine how gender and family norms are shaped in the context of communalized identity politics. Building on the theoretical framework of “doing gender,” we argue that because communal identities are expressed through externally visible behaviors, greater religious differences are expected in external markers of gendered behaviors and family norms. Results indicate that Muslim women are more likely to engage in veiling and less likely to venture outside the home for recreation and employment. However, religious differences are absent when attention is directed at private behaviors, such as household decision-making power, gender segregation within households, and discrimination against daughters. Results underscore the multidimensionality of gender.

Keywords

Women’s Status India Women’s labor force participation Sex differences in mortality 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We gratefully acknowledge support from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Center for Child Health and Human Development grants R01HD041455, R01HD061048, and R24-HD041041. Supplementary funding was provided by The Ford Foundation and UK Government as a part of its Knowledge Partnership Programme. India Human Development Survey (IHDS) was jointly organized by the University of Maryland and the National Council of Applied Economic Research, New Delhi. We thank Reeve Vanneman and anonymous reviewers for comments on prior versions of this article.

References

  1. Agarwal, B. (1994). A field of one’s own: Gender and land rights in South Asia. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Agnes, F. (1994). Women’s movement within a secular framework: Redefining the agenda. Economic and Political Weekly, 29, 1123–1128.Google Scholar
  3. Agnes, F. (2002). Transgressing boundaries of gender and identity. Economic and Political Weekly, 37, 3695–3698.Google Scholar
  4. Ahmed-Ghosh, H. (1994). Preserving identity: A case study of Palitpur. In Z. Hasan (Ed.), Forging identities: Gender, communities and state in India (pp. 169–217). Boulder, CO: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  5. Amin, S. (1997). The poverty–Purdah trap in rural Bangladesh: Implications for women’s roles in the family. Development and Change, 28, 213–233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Arnold, F., Kishor, S., & Roy, T. K. (2002). Sex-selective abortions in India. Population and Development Review, 28, 759–785.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Avishai, O. (2008). “Doing religion” in a secular world. Gender and Society, 22, 409–433.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bacchetta, P. (2004). Gender in the Hindu nation: RSS women as ideologues. New Delhi, India: Women Unlimited.Google Scholar
  9. Bahramitash, R. (2004). Myths and realities of the impact of political Islam on women: Female employment in Indonesia and Iran. Development in Practice, 14, 508–520.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Balk, D. (1997). Defying gender norms in rural Bangladesh: A social demographic analysis. Population Studies, 51, 153–172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Basu, A. M. (1989). Is discrimination in food really necessary for explaining sex differentials in childhood mortality? Population Studies, 43, 193–210.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Basu, A. (1998). Appropriating gender. In P. Jeffrey & A. Basu (Eds.), Appropriating gender: Women’s activism and politicized religion in South Asia (pp. 3–14). New York, NY: Routledge.Google Scholar
  13. Bedi, T. (2006). Feminist theory and the right-wing: Shiv Sena women mobilize Mumbai. Journal of International Women’s Studies, 7(4), 51–68.Google Scholar
  14. Bhat, P. N. M., & Zavier, A. J. F. (2003). Fertility decline and gender bias in Northern India. Demography, 40, 637–657.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Blaydes, L., & Linzer, D. A. (2008). The political economy of women’s support for fundamentalist Islam. World Politics, 60, 576–609.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Bloul, R. (1998). Engendering Muslim identities: Deterritorialization and the ethnicization process in France. In M.-A. Hélie-Lucas & H. Kapoor (Eds.), Dossier 19 (pp. 21–37). Grabel, France: Women Living Under Muslim Laws.Google Scholar
  17. Brass, P. R. (1990). The politics of India since independence (The new Cambridge history of India). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Butler, J. P. (1990). Gender trouble: Feminism and the subversion of identity. New York, NY: Routledge.Google Scholar
  19. Caldwell, J. C. (1986). Routes to low mortality in poor countries. Population and Development Review, 171–220.Google Scholar
  20. Chatterjee, P. (1989). Colonialism, nationalism, and colonialized women: The contest in India. American Ethnologist, 16, 622–633.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Chhachhi, A. (1994). Identity politics, secularism and women: A South Asian perspective. In Z. Hasan (Ed.), Forging identities: Gender, communities and the state in India (pp. 74–95). Boulder, CO: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  22. Chowdhry, P. (2007). Contentious marriages, eloping couples: Gender, caste, and patriarchy in Northern India. New Delhi, India: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Cleland, J., & Wilson, C. (1987). Demand theories of the fertility transition: An iconoclastic view. Population Studies, 41, 5–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Collins, P. H. (1995). Symposium on West and Fenstermaker’s “doing difference.” Gender and Society, 9, 491–506.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Collins, R., Chafetz, J. S., Blumberg, R. L., Coltrane, S., & Turner, J. H. (1993). Toward an integrated theory of gender stratification. Sociological Perspectives, 36, 185–216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Connell, R. W. (1987). Gender and power: Society, the person, and sexual politics. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Das, M. B. (2005). Muslim women’s low labour force participation in India: Some structural explanations. In Z. Hasan & R. Menon (Eds.), A minority: Essays on Muslim women in India (pp. 189–221). New Delhi, India: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Das, M. B. (2008). Whispers to voices: Gender and social transformation in Bangladesh. Washington, DC: The World Bank.Google Scholar
  29. Derné, S. (1994). Hindu men talk about controlling women: Cultural ideas as a tool of the powerful. Sociological Perspectives, 37, 203–227.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Desai, S., Dubey, A., Joshi, B. L., Sen, M., Shariff, A., & Vanneman, R. (2010). Human development in India: Challenges for a society in Transition. New Delhi, India: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  31. Desai, S., Vanneman, R., & National Council of Applied Economic Research, New Delhi. (2005). India Human Development Survey (IHDS), 2005 (ICPSR22626-v8). Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research. doi: 10.3886/ICPSR22626.v8
  32. Donahoe, D. A. (1999). Measuring women’s work in developing countries. Population and Development Review, 24, 543–576.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Dyson, T., & Moore, M. (1983). On kinship structure, female autonomy, and demographic behavior in India. Population and Development Review, 9, 35–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Engineer, A. A. (Ed.). (1987). The Shah Bano controversy. Hyderabad, India: Orient Longman.Google Scholar
  35. Fournier, P., & Yurdakul, G. (2006). Unveiling distribution: Muslim women with headscarves in France and Germany. In Y. M. Bodemann & G. Yurdakul (Eds.), Migration, citizenship, ethnos (pp. 167–184). New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  36. Frankel, F. R., Hasan, Z., Bhargava, R., & Arora, B. (2000). Transforming India: Social and political dynamics of democracy. New Delhi, India: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  37. Fricke, T. (2003). Culture and causality: An anthropological comment. Population and Development Review, 29, 470–479.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Gerami, S., & Lehnerer, M. (2001). Women’s agency and household diplomacy: Negotiating fundamentalism. Gender and Society, 15, 556–573.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Ghuman, S. (2003). Women’s autonomy and child survival: A comparison of Muslims and non-Muslims in four Asian countries. Demography, 40, 419–436.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Goffman, E. (1976). Gender display. Studies in Anthropology of Visual Communications, 3, 69–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Government of India. (2006). Social, economic and educational status of the Muslim community in India. New Delhi, India: Government of India.Google Scholar
  42. Greene, W. H. (1993). Econometric analysis (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  43. Guillot, M., & Allendorf, K. (2010). Hindu-Muslim differentials in child mortality in India. Genus, 66, 43–68.Google Scholar
  44. Hammel, E. A. (1990). A theory of culture for demography. Population and Development Review, 16, 455–485.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Hammel, E. A. (1995). Economics 1, culture 0: Fertility change and differences in the northwest Balkans, 1700–1900. In S. Greenhalgh (Ed.), Situating fertility: Anthropology and demographic inquiry (pp. 225–258). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Hasan, M. (2001). Legacy of a divided nation: India’s Muslims since independence. New Delhi, India: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  47. Hasan, Z. (1994). Introduction: Contextualizing gender and identity in contemporary India. In Z. Hasan (Ed.), Forging identities: Gender, communities and the state in India (pp. 59–75). Boulder, CO: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  48. Hasan, Z. (1998). Gender politics, legal reform, and the Muslim community in India. In P. Jeffery & A. Basu (Eds.), Appropriating gender: Women’s activism and politicized religion in South Asia (pp. 71–88). New York, NY: Routledge.Google Scholar
  49. Hussain, N. A. (2010). Religion and modernity: Gender and identity politics in Bangladesh. Women's Studies International Forum, 33, 325–333.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Inglehart, R., & Norris, P. (2003). Rising tide: Gender equality and cultural change around the world. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. International Labor Organization. (2010). LABORSTA. Retrieved from http://laborsta.ilo.org/
  52. Jain, D., & Banerjee, N. (Eds.). (1985). Tyranny of the household: Investigative essays on women’s work. Delhi, India: Shakti Books.Google Scholar
  53. Jeffrey, P., & Basu, A. (Eds.). (1998). Appropriating gender: Women’s activism and politicized religion in South Asia. New York, NY: Routledge.Google Scholar
  54. Jejeebhoy, S. J., & Sathar, Z. A. (2001). Women’s autonomy in India and Pakistan: The influence of religion and region. Population and Development Review, 27, 687–712.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Kabeer, N. (1991). The quest for national identity: Women, Islam and the state in Bangladesh. In D. Kandiyoti (Ed.), Women, Islam and the State (pp. 115–143). Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press.Google Scholar
  56. Kabeer, N. (1999). The conditions and consequences of choice: Reflections on measurement of women’s empowerment (UNRISD Discussion Paper No. 108). Geneva, Switzerland: United Nations Research Institute for Social Development.Google Scholar
  57. Kandiyoti, D. (1988). Bargaining with patriarchy. Gender and Society, 2, 274–290.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Kariapper, A. S. (2009). Walking a tightrope: Women and veiling in the United Kingdom. London, UK: Women Living Under Muslim Laws.Google Scholar
  59. Killan, C. (2006). North African women in France: Gender, culture and identity. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  60. Klasen, S., & Wink, C. (2003). “Missing women”: Revisiting the debate. Feminist Economics, 9(2/3), 263–299.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Korteweg, A. C. (2008). The Sharia debate in Ontario: Gender, Islam, and representations of Muslim women’s agency. Gender and Society, 22, 434–453.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Kuhn, R. (2010). Routes to low mortality in poor countries revisited. Population and Development Review, 36, 655–692.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Lateef, S. (1990). Muslim women in India: Political and private realities, 1890s–1980s. New Delhi, India: Kali for Women.Google Scholar
  64. Liechty, M. (2003). Suitably modern: Making middle class culture in a new consumer society. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  65. MacLeod, A. E. (1992). Hegemonic relations and gender resistance: The new veiling as accommodating protest in Cairo. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 17, 533–557.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Mahmood, S. (2001). Rehearsed spontaneity and the conventionality of ritual: Disciplines of “Salat.” American Ethnologist, 28, 827–853.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Malhotra, A., Schuler, S. R., & Boender, C. (2002). Measuring women’s empowerment as a variable in international development (Background paper prepared for the World Bank workshop in Poverty and Gender: New Perspectives). Washington, DC: World Bank.Google Scholar
  68. Mandelbaum, D. G. (1988). Women’s seclusion and men’s honor: Sex roles in North India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press.Google Scholar
  69. Mani, L. (1990). Contentious traditions: The debate on Sati in colonial India. In K. Sangari & S. Vaid (Eds.), Recasting women: Essays in Indian colonial history (pp. 88–123). New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
  70. Mankekar, P. (1997). “To whom does Ameena belong?” Towards a feminist analysis of childhood and nationhood in contemporary India. Feminist Review, 56, 26–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Mann, E. A. (1994). Education, money and the role of women in maintaining minority identity. In Z. Hasan (Ed.), Forging identities: Gender, communities and the state in India (pp. 130–168). Boulder, CO: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  72. Mason, K. O. (1986). The status of women: Conceptual and methodological issues in demographic studies. Sociological Forum, 1, 284–300.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Mason, K. O. (1995). Gender and demographic change: What do we know? Liege, Belgium: International Union for Scientific Study of Population.Google Scholar
  74. McQuillan, K. (2004). When does religion influence fertility? Population and Development Review, 30, 25–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Meer, N., Dwyer, C., & Modood, T. (2010). Embodying nationhood? Conceptions of British national identity, citizenship, and gender in the “veil affair.” The Sociological Review, 58, 84–111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Moallem, M. (2005). Between warrior brother and veiled sister: Islamic fundamentalism and the politics of patriarchy in Iran. Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  77. Moghadam, V. M. (1994). Women and identity politics in a theoretical and comparative perspective. In V. M. Moghadam (Ed.), Identity politics and women: Cultural reassertions and feminisms in international perspective (pp. 3–26). Boulder, CO: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  78. Moghadam, V. M. (2002). Islamic feminism and its discontents: Toward a resolution of the debate. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 27, 1135–1171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Mohanty, C. T. (1991). Under Western eyes: Feminist scholarship and colonial discourses. In C. T. Mohanty, A. Russo, & L. Torres (Eds.), Third world women and politics of feminism (pp. 51–80). Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  80. Morgan, S. P., Sharon, S., Smith, H. L., & Mason, K. O. (2002). Muslim and non-Muslim differences in female autonomy and fertility: Evidence from four Asian countries. Population and Development Review, 28, 515–537.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Mosley, W. H., & Chen, L. C. (1984). An analytical framework for the study of child survival in developing countries. Population and Development Review, 10(Suppl.), 25–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Narayan, D. (Ed.). (2006). Measuring empowerment: Cross-disciplinary perspectives. New Delhi, India: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  83. National Academy. (1997). Reproductive health in developing countries: Expanding dimensions, building solutions. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.Google Scholar
  84. National Sample Survey Organization. (2006). Employment and unemployment situation in India, 2004–05 (Report No. 515, Part-I). New Delhi, India: Government of India.Google Scholar
  85. Outlook India. (2006, October 29). Naachne gane wali aurat [A woman who sings and dances]. Retrieved from http://www.outlookindia.com/printarticle.aspx?232969
  86. Papanek, H. (1979). Family status production: The “work” and “non-work” of women. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 4, 775–781.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. Pathak, Z., & Rajan, R. S. (1989). Shahbano. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 14, 558–582.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. Presser, H. B., & Sen, G. (2000). Women’s empowerment and demographic processes: Moving beyond Cairo. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  89. Rastogi, S. (2007). Indian Muslim women’s education and employment in the context of modernization, religious discrimination and disadvantage, and the rise of Hindu fundamentalism and Muslim identity politics. Unpublished manuscript, Department of Sociology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD.Google Scholar
  90. Ray, R., & Korteweg, A. C. (1999). Women’s movements in the third world: Identity, mobilization, and autonomy. Annual Review of Sociology, 25, 47–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  91. Read, J.’N. G., & Bartkowski, J. P. (2000). To veil or not to veil? A case study of identity negotiation among Muslim women in Austin, Texas. Gender and Society, 14, 395–417.Google Scholar
  92. Ridgeway, C. L., & Smith-Lovin, L. (1999). The gender system and interaction. Annual Review of Sociology, 25, 191–216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  93. Riley, N. (1997). Gender, power and population change. Population Bulletin, 52(1), 1–48.Google Scholar
  94. Robinson, R. (2010). Boundary battles: Muslim women and community identity in the aftermath of violence. Women's Studies International Forum, 33, 365–373.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  95. Sarkar, T. (2002). Semiotics of terror: Muslim children and women in Hindu Rashtra. Economic and Political Weekly, 37, 2872–2876.Google Scholar
  96. Sarkar, T., & Butalia, U. (Eds.). (1995). Women and right-wing movements: Indian experiences. London, UK: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  97. Sathar, Z., & Desai, S. (2000). Class and gender in rural Pakistan: Differentials in economic activity. In B. García (Ed.), Women, poverty, and demographic change (pp. 175–192). Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  98. Schein, L. (1999). Performing modernity. Cultural Anthropology, 14, 361–395.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  99. Sharma, U. (1980). Women, work and property in North-West India. New York, NY: Tavistock.Google Scholar
  100. Shirazi, F. (2001). The veil unveiled. Gainsville, FL: University of Florida Press.Google Scholar
  101. Siapno, J. A. (2002). Gender, Islam, nationalism and the state in Aceh: The paradox of power, co-option and resistance. New York, NY: Routledge Curzon.Google Scholar
  102. Spierings, N., Smits, J., & Verloo, M. (2009). On the compatibility of Islam and gender equality: Effects of modernization, state Islamization, and democracy on women’s labor market participation in 45 Muslim countries. Social Indicators Research, 90, 503–522.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  103. Srinivas, M. N. (1977). The changing position of Indian women. Man, 12, 221–238.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  104. Sunder Rajan, R. (2000). Women between community and state: Some implications of the uniform civil code debates in India. Social Text, 65(4), 55–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  105. van Wichelen, S. (2010). Religion, politics and gender in Indonesia: Disputing the Muslim body. New York, NY: Routledge.Google Scholar
  106. Wadley, S. S. (1994). Struggling with destiny in Karimpur, 1925–1984. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  107. West, C. (1996). Goffman in feminist perspective. Sociological Perspectives, 39, 353–369.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  108. West, C., & Fenstermaker, S. (1995). Doing difference. Gender and Society, 9, 8–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  109. West, C., & Zimmerman, D. H. (1987). Doing gender. Gender and Society, 1, 125–151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  110. World Bank. (2008). Whispers to voices: Gender and social transformation in Bangladesh (Bangladesh Development Series Paper No. 22). Washington, DC: World Bank.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Population Association of America 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of MarylandCollege ParkUSA
  2. 2.National Council of Applied Economic ResearchNew DelhiIndia
  3. 3.ICF InternationalRockvilleUSA

Personalised recommendations