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Marriage, Family, and the Emerging Question of Gender Equality in Indian Society: Looking for Possible Pastoral Ways to Foster Healthy Families

* <(><<)>p>Our aim in this dissertation has been to formul ate possible theological and pastoral responses to <(>&<)>uml;the challenges contemporary marital and family li fe in India are confronted with when it comes to t he question of gender equality. By way of conclusi on, we give an overview of our study, and summariz e the major findings and conclusions we have deriv ed from it.<(><<)>br />1. An Overview of the Dissertatio n<(><<)>br />We developed this study in three chapters.= <(>&<)>uml; The first chapter was devoted to the gender proble matic seen fro <(>&<)>uml;research question here has been double: does the<(>&<)>uml; Indian family setting have a direct impact on gend er injustices and, vice versa, how does gender rel ated issues affect the contemporary family setting ? As a preliminary step of our study, in the first <(>&<)>uml;section of this chapter, we discussed the dynamic <(>&<)>uml;nature of gender. The roles of gender differ on t he basis of the context of a particular culture an d society. Due to the deep rooted patriarchal sett ing, gender stereotypes restrict the role of women <(>&<)>uml;to the domestic sphere. This results in the domin ation of men over women. This causes for different <(>&<)>uml;mal-practices such as the giving of dowry, female <(>&<)>uml;feticide and infanticide, discrimination and viol ence against women both inside and outside the dom estic realm of the family. Further, we have examin ed the <(>&<)>ldquo;social construction of gender<(>&<)>rdquo; . We found that women strive to go beyond gender s tereotypes through their participation and contrib utions in the socio-political, economical and educ ational fields. In the second section, our study e xplored the historical records of inequality, as w ell as the efforts made to generate more gender eq uality. The emergence of several reform movements<(>&<)>uml; and national organisations during the British peri od and after independence, as well some concrete s tate legislations contributed gradually to create<(>&<)>uml; awareness of the unequal situation in India and to <(>&<)>uml;fight the most obvious injustices. E.g. the India n Constitution is very significant in its affirmat ion of equality for all people, irrespective of ge nder. Nevertheless, despite all these efforts, gender inequality still continues as a result of soci o-political, economic and cultural factors. For in stance, women's lack of control over their e conomic situation forces them to depend on the mal e family members. If they have access to the publi c realm by engaging in paid labour, they remain su bject to the rules of a male society. The final pa rt examined whether the Indian family system is a= <(>&<)>uml; contributing factor for the existence of gender in equality. Gene unjust structures for women. It is<(>&<)>uml; already in the family that male children get prefe rence over girls which results in sex selection, f emale infanticide, and a great disparity in the se x ratio.<(><<)>br />In short, the patriarchal setting is <(>&<)>uml;a major factor to continue gender inequality in m arriage and the family in India. While different a uthors, governmental and non-government organizati ons, and policies suggest empowerment of women as<(>&<)>uml; the only remedy, we find this to be a narrow and o ne-sided approach which will not provide the requi red result, i.e. gender equality. Hence, we assume <(>&<)>uml;that it would be more effective if both men and w omen would be involved in implementing remedial me asures. Thus we ask: what do we need to do in the<(>&<)>uml; family to bring about gender equality and how far<(>&<)>uml; can the Catholic Church in India support both wome n and men to do so?<(><<)>br />In the second chapter, we <(>&<)>uml;analysed this question by discussing some of JPII 's writings and the relevant documents of FA BC and CBCI. In the first part, our examination of <(>&<)>uml;MD, FC, and LW was done under three sections resp ectively. In the first section, we analysed MD in<(>&<)>uml; which JPII highlighted the concept of Imago Dei. H e argued for the dignity of women and the equality <(>&<)>uml;of both women and men in Church and society. Furt her, he condemned the mentality of superiority-sub mission created by patriarchy in marital and famil ial relationships. JPII strongly affirms the relev ance of equal responsibility in fatherhood an= d mot herhood. He also invites the couples to behave as<(>&<)>uml; mutual gif the second section, we have explored the significance and the inherent necessity of a fr iendly nature of sharing the domestic responsibili ties in fostering a genuine healthy relationship b etween man/father/husband and woman/mother/wife. T his became obvious from our analysis of FC. JPII c riticizes patriarchy and gender stereotyping, whic h generate a master-slave mentality in marriage an d family. Further, he emphasizes motherhood as an<(>&<)>uml; essential part of fostering the dignity of women.<(>&<)>uml; In the final part, we discussed JPII's appea l for the participation of women in the public sph ere. In his LW, he focuses in particular on the <(>&<)>l dquo;genius of women<(>&<)>rdquo;. Further, he strongly<(>&<)>uml; affirms the nature of marriage and family as a nec essity for fostering mutual and complementary gend er relations. In brief, Pope John Paul II strongly <(>&<)>uml;advocates equality in marital and familial relati onships. But the missing aspect is practical recom mendations and suggestions to accomplish this ende avour. Moreover, too much emphasis on female empow erment seems to minimise the due role of men in st riving for equality.= <(><<)>br />In the next section we f ound that the documents of FABC and CBCI of the Church on m arriage and family. In the first section, we exami ned some of the practical suggestions and action p lans given by the FABC to affirm gender equality i n Asia/India. For example, creating gender sensiti vity through marriage preparation and catechism cl asses can make a difference also in the Indian pat riarchal settings. Further, our examination of the <(>&<)>uml;FABC documents explored the urge to dispense with <(>&<)>uml;the stereotyping of gender roles of woman/mother/ wife in the family. However, the role of man/fathe r/husband is not explicitly detailed. Since we foc used on the Indian context in particular, we furth er examined how the CBCI dealt with gender issues. <(>&<)>uml;In the second section we exposed the CBCI's <(>&<)>uml;special contribution to a gender equal society th rough their <(>&<)>ldquo;Gender Policy<(>&<)>rdquo;. Gender ju stice was highlighted to enable the Church and soc iety to follow the egalitarian message of Jesus. H owever, concrete examples for creating gender awareness are lacking in the CBCI documents. In additi on, in congruence with the FABC, the explicit role s of man/father/husband in strengthening gender eq uality in marriage and family are missing in the C BCI documents.<(>= <<)>br />In the third and final chapter <(>&<)>uml;we examined what are the p and family challenges<(>&<)>uml; generated by gender related issues.<(>= <<)>br />The final <(>&<)>uml;chapter proposed an 'integral synchronised<(>&< llenges of gender equality in the marital and fami lial relationships in India. This chapter was divi ded into two parts. In the first part we examined<(>&<)>uml; Don Browning's contribution of an <(>&<)>ldquo;equ al regard<(>&<)>rdquo; relationship between the sexes an d the model of <(>&<)>ldquo;family democracy<(>&<)>rdquo; prop osed by Bonnie Miller-McLemore. In the first secti on, while reflecting on equal regard marriage, we<(>&<)>uml; highlighted the importance of fatherhood of men in <(>&<)>uml;the family being conceived as servanthood. We als o saw that involvement of both women and men in do mestic and public spheres is most likely to enhanc e a gender equal mentality and practice. Miller-Mc Lemore's model of<(>&<)>ldquo;family democracy<(>&<)>rdq uo; appeared as appealing also for an Indian conte xt. Mutuality and sharing of responsibilities as e ssential parts of <(>&<)>ldquo;family democracy= <(>&<)>rdquo; a re biblically and theologically grounded and lend<(>&<)>uml; pastoral mission plan. We considered these for <(>&<)>uml;further research because they were not specifical ly found in the vision of Miller-McLemore. In the<(>&<)>uml; second part, we found that Brita Gill-Austern<(>&<)>rsqu o;s <(>&<)>ldquo;pedagogy of a good teacher= <(>&<)>rdquo; seeme d to be an effective medium for the creation of ge nder e Kochurani Abraham's analyses of the doubl e victimization of women through <(>&<)>ldquo;gendered s paces<(>&<)>rdquo; and Pushpa Joseph's <(>&<)>ldquo;capa bilities approach<(>&<)>rdquo; also proved promising as<(>&<)>uml; supportive elements in our arguments for fostering <(>&<)>uml;gender equality. Finally, we suggested <(>&<)>ldquo;gen der empowerment<(>&<)>rdquo; in the hope that it would be a novel approach to the emerging question of gen der equality in India. In this context, Basic Eccl esial Community, Kudumbasree, Janasree, and Self-H elp Group are mentioned as some of the effective g overnmental and non-governmental organizations to<(>&<)>uml; accomplish the suggested purpose gradually.<(><<)>/p>
Date:1 Oct 2008 →  23 Sep 2013
Keywords:India, Gender equality
Project type:PhD project