Shramshakti (1988): Report of the National Commission on self employed women and women in the informal sector||
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Communication is the foundation of all organized group activities. Throughout history, different channels of communication have been powerful instruments for transmitting values, moulding beliefs and attitudes and changing life styles. Conversely, changes in the socio-economic structure have also affected the form and content of communication media.
2. A truly democratic set-up presupposes two things: first, that the information generated is freely available to all and second, that the flow of information is not merely from the top to the bottom, but also the other way round. Without this free, two-way exchange of information, communication media cannot be effective agents of change.
3. Women in Indian society have traditionally had a very marginal role in the process of communication. Their opportunities for collecting information were generally restricted to meetings at the well temple or market place. Control of communication media, be it printed or otherwise, has been vested in men. Therefore, the images of women projected by men are according to their perceptions and their desire to retain women in the background to serve the needs of men and play a secondary role. Women have been almost totally powerless to correct the many false images of them perpetuated by the media.
4. In the twentieth century, communications technology has made tremendous strides. It is now theoretically possible to reach the remotest corners of the earth. In reality, however, the poorer sectors not only do not have access to this modern technology, they are by and large totally ignored by it. Many are still dependent on information upon religious heads and local leaders controlling the economic resources and having political clout. The few token references to them made in the formal media are generally biased and ill-informed.
5. This is especially true of poor women. They continue to be heavily dependent on men for information and their own lives and problems are given little recognition by both the local community and the media.
A recent publication of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) states that "Of all the hours worked throughout the world, women contribute about two-thirds women in rural areas grow at least 50 per cent of the world's food. They work in all aspects of cultivation, including planting, thrashing, weeding, applying fertilizer and harvesting in some regions they market what they grow. Many of them provide the main or only support for the family. However, this reality is not reflected by the communication network systems.
6. The Indian Government has yet to come up with a well-formulated national communications policy. The Seventh Plan document claims that "The major thrust of the plan relating to mass media will be to raise the level of people's consciousness and enrich their cultural and social life and make them better informed citizens. It will assist in stepping up the pace of development of programmes and sensitize the people towards national and international events of importance". However, the plan does not clearly spell out how this can be achieved. On the 24th May, 1987, it was announced that a long-term national media policy had been finalized by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry. However, to date, no policy announcement has been made.
7. In the absence of a meaningful communications policy, both the public and the private sector media continue to be governed by commercial norms, giving no visibility to poor labouring women thereby depriving them the opportunity of being brought into the mainstream of national life and having access to information.
8. Here the Communication Media examined include the mass media viz print media. radio, television and cinema, advertisements, theatre, folklore and other forms of traditional media, educational media viz text-books used in the formal system and primers used in adult education schemes, communication, methods of grass-roots organizations as well as the DAVP and the role of government functionaries as communicators.
The Print Media
9. The role of the print media as the watch-dog of social consciousness has been reiterated time and again 2, 3, 4. The images of women and work constructed in the print media, the information disseminated on various issues and development programmes are vital not only in changing societal attitudes to women but also in ensuring that women are made aware of various developmental schemes formulated for their benefit.
The Indian Press
10. A brief survey of the Indian print media reveals that at the end of 1984 the total number of newspapers was 21, 784. Among them, 1, 609 were dailies, 111 tri/bi- weeklies 6, 469 weeklies and 13,565 other periodicals. Given the low literacy rates in India the outreach of the Indian Press is necessarily low but in spite of this we cannot deny its significant role in formulating public opinion. The total circulation of newspapers/periodicals as on 31st December 1984 was 6, 11 47000 copies as compared to 5, 53, 91, 000 copies in 1983—an increase of 104 per cent.
11. In 1984, the majority of newspapers in all languages, except Sanskrit and Kashmiri, were owned by individuals. These "individual owned newspapers" had the largest share in circulation i e, 36.6 per cent. This means that the Indian print media is largely controlled by the private sector and the basic motive of profit and marketability pre-determines its policy orientation and news coverage.
12. As a private sector, concern, the print media depends heavily on the corporate world and the advertising agencies, which exercise financial control through advertising revenue. The ownership of most big publishing houses and advertising agencies, notwithstanding a few token females, is almost totally in male hands. This imbalance is not unique to the media, but is the manifestation of deep-rooted socio-economic deprivation based on gender.
13. At the same time it is heartening to note a newly emergent trend over the last decade—the growing number of women journalists editors, sub-editors and reporters who are sensitive to women's issues. The overall impact of the women's decade and campaigns by activists against atrocities, have helped to focus public attention on women's issues.
Considering these facts, the Commission was interested in examining:
The mainstream print media covering issues related to poor women, the issues left out and the perception of women's roles while presenting information on women and work
14. In order to gauge the treatment given by the mainstream print media to the problems and lives of women of this sector, it was decided to undertake three very small studies on the English and Hindi print media. These two languages were chosen because the out reach of the English print media transcends regional barriers, while Hindi is not only the national language but has the distinction of being used in the largest number of newspapers and periodicals published Studies from the South have not been included due to shortage of time. The sample selection was not very large, but as the content analysis was in-depth, the findings are likely to be applicable to the mainstream.
15. For the study of the English media it was decided to monitor all the 1987 issues of the Sunday Observer newspaper published from Bombay and all the 1987 issues of Femina and Eve's Weekly magazines. The study of the Hindi Press covered two of the most popular women's journals—Grihashobha, a monthly magazine, and the fortnightly magazine Manorama Five 1986 issues and four 1987 issues of Grihashobha were monitored, together with seven issues of Manorama..
Women's Issues Covered
16. Over the last two decades, due to the constant campaigns of women's groups and the overall impact of the women's decade, there has been a steady increase of serious coverage on women's issues. This is also because women themselves are becoming increasingly articulate and vocal Issues such as violence, dowry and sexual harassment, which were at one time dismissed as the problems of individual women, are being seen within socio-political structural context. The result is that there is an awareness in the print media that women wish to discuss problems such as gender insubordination, social and sexual exploitation, legal disabilities and wage discrimination
Work Participation of Women in Agriculture
17. The women's decade has focussed on invisibility of poor women and has made an attempt to correct the picture. In 1975, at the start of the Women's International Year, a journalist analysed 150 reports in a village series going back to 1969 it was found that concern for agriculture predominated, but only five references were made to women's work in agriculture. Her report on women's work in agriculture and cattle rearing contrasted starkly with the absence of such references, in agricultural reports in the media.
Her report brought about a marked change in the attitude of the Press to women's work participation in agriculture. Interestingly, the impetus for this came from the Government, with the publication in 1975 of a special issue of Indian farming, on women in agriculture. This Government initiative was taken a good 10 years before the Food and Agriculture Organization adopted this as the theme for World Food Day in 1985.
Coverage of Special Problems of Women
18. The media coverage on drought, for instance, did not just focus on the general problems faced by all rural people, but specifically pin-pointed the extra work burdens on women responsible for the fuel and water supply of the household. Similarly, a review of the Bhopal gas tragedy mentioned the specific medical and occupational problems of poor women and the organizations seeking to help them.
19. Several articles highlighted and questioned gender discrimination in various professions such as the media, civil service and judiciary. In an article entitled 'Have Women Taken Over?' a woman journalist pointed out, that despite being more visible in journalism today, prejudices against women persist. In another article, two women I A S officers drew attention to the gender discrimination which exists in the upper echelons of the Civil Service.
20. Women's political participation and the fact that there are proportionately too few women in Parliament, was pointed out in the print media, also highlighted was the fact that the percentage of women voters has steadily increased until they are now a force to be reckoned with.
Issues Pertaining to Women's Legal Rights
21. Three Supreme Court decisions with positive implications on the status of women, which received favourable treatment by the Press include. The right of women in the Syrian Christian community to inherit paternal property, the responsibility of women with independent means of maintaining their parents, and the maintenance granted to Muslim married women under 125 Cr. Penal Code.
The Problem of Women Working in the Organized Sector
22. The Press has shown itself to be discerning in dealing with any blatant discriminatory practices brought to its notice. For example, while it welcomed the Supreme Court judgement on the wage discrimination case won under the Equal Remuneration Act by Audrey D'Costa, a stenographer, it also pointed out that the contradictions in the interpretation of this law while the stenographer won her case under the Equal Remuneration Act, an Air hostess, while challenging, her service conditions, lost her case.
23. The unfavourable service conditions of Telephone Operators got media-attention after the incident when a Minister did not get his call through. Likewise, the exploitative conditions under which the bar girls of Bombay worked was brought to the notice of the Press only after a Minister raided a bar. The Press also brought out the plight of 1, 500 bar maids, who would be unemployed if the Government attempted to rescue them by enforcing Section 33 (3) of the Shops and Establishment Act of 1948, according to the lawyer appearing on behalf of
the bar girls, this would be a violation of Article 21 of the Constitution which grants the right of livelihood.
24. Prostitution has always had sensational news value, but a shift in attitude was noticed in the positive coverage given to issues such as the attempt made by prostitutes to organize themselves. The article entitled 'Prostitutes Unite to Fight Hoodlums' covered the work of Mahila Sangathana an organisation in the red light areas of Calcutta which attempts to protect these women from hoodlums. Another article 'A Day in the Life of a Social Worker in Kamathipura described plans to set up a mobile creche in the red light areas of Bombay for prostitutes children, to suit the working hours of the mothers.
25. Dowry and bride burning are issues that have received extensive coverage. A special report was made on the decision of the Kewal Oswal community to boycott the conjugal family of a dowry victim who died in Dahisar on April 2, 1987.
26. Women's Organised Action frequently succeed in getting a forum in the Press Attempts by women's groups to draw attention to the misuse of amniocentesis tests to abort female foetuses and their call for a ban on High Dosage E P drugs at a pubic hearing organised in Bombay by the Drug Controller of India under the injunction of the Supreme Court, was widely covered in the Press.
27. Similarly, efforts by Women's groups to stop the glorification of sati, the five day Asian Women's Conference on 'Women, Religion and Family Law' at Bombay, and the celebration of March 8 (International Women's Day) were given extensive coverage in the Press.
28. Apart from depicting women's problems, there were also articles on their achievements in non-traditional fields. For example, a report on a police station in Kerala staffed entirely by women, and portrayal of women elected to a cooperative board in the Nipani Wadgaon village in Maharashtra, by a predominantly male electorate. The latter reported that the women's group won the election because the villagers were fed up with the functioning of the previous (male) cooperative boards. There were also profiles of an activist journalist, who won a prestigious journalism award, a woman who became the youngest director of the PTI and political activist.
Although coverage of poor women was very rare, we did come across profiles of two Adivasi women Smt Sonabai—an Adivasi painter—and Kanta Bahar Tyagi—a social worker.
Biases in Presentation
29. In all fairness to the Press, it must be admitted that there is greater coverage on women's issues over the last few years. The effort, however, has by no means been exhaustive the issues which have received coverage are still largely those that affect the urban elitist sections of society.
30. By and large, sensational and sexcentric articles on women, predominate especially if the issue develops into a political crisis and has ail the elements of potboiler.
The sati incident was sensationalised by the entire Press. In one of our sample papers, sati was covered only on September 20 although the incident occurred on September 4, and very soon, the issue dwindled into smaller follow-up news reports. The paper did not comment on the loopholes in the Sati Bill and the whole issue was soon dismissed as a 'non-issue'. The Hindi print media tended to merely rehash what had already been published, and did not attempt any critical analysis.
31. Similarly, the virginity test conducted on the Raipur nurses was sensationalised and received a lot of news space. It was covered in three issues of our sample and in- one issue was given full page coverage. The virginity tests conducted on the nurses as a criteria for employment in the Government hospital is crucial in highlighting the vulnerable and low status conditions under which nurses work in India, but by stressing on the sensational aspects, this issue and the blatant gender discrimination was side-tracked.
Ambivalent Attitude of the Press to Women's Issues
32. By and large, there is a lack of deep perspective or even ideological position in the paper, resulting in contradictory coverage.
33. Crimes against women receive a lot of coverage, but are usually sensationalised with headlines such as 'Minor raped in K.E.M. Hospital.'
34. There is an attempt in the print media to maintain the status quo and counteract good articles on women with negative ideas and images. For example, an article on harassment of women may be subsequently trivialised by a light-hearted account on 'eve teasing' highlighted by a cartoon.
35. Sometimes, reactionary and fundamentalist statements which help to subvert women's rights and cloud crucial issues get prominence. After the Sati incidents, for example, reactionary statements by fundamentalist religious leaders were given prominence without any editorial effort to contradict them.
36. Patriarchal values and journalistic irresponsibility occasionally emerges. For instance, one of the issues carried the results of a so-called nation-wide readership survey (carried through a coupon in the periodical) on the question of amniocentesis. According to the magazine, 65 per cent of the readers are for amniocentesis and only 35 per cent consider it immoral. The editorial also says that 26 per cent of those who oppose amniocentesis, are unmarried and 'therefore do not know the difference between a son and daughter'. The article concludes by saying 'In this age of small families, when abortion has been legalized and is morally acceptable, amniocentesis should also be. The majority of readers—also favours it'. Twenty cotton saries have been awarded for 20 coupons received.'
Sexist Attitudes Towards Women's Achievement
37. Rarely is full credit given to women who achieve leadership position. The subtle suggestion is that women owe their leadership positions to social or political links with men. For instance, while portraying Sharmila Barit, the first woman to become the Director of the PTI, it is suggested that she owes her leadership position to the fact that she is the daughter of the proprietor of a successful newspaper.
38. Likewise while describing the women who have been elected to the leadership posts of a cooperative board, the implication is that these women did not succeed on their own initiative, but due to behind-the-scenes male jugglery and string-pulling.
Invisibility of Women's Work
39. By and large, there is rarely any focus on women's issues, even when articles
ostensibly cover traditional women's crafts. An article on Ghathu for instance (the embroidered Himachal kerchief used by labour women in H.P.) talks only of the history and craftsmanship, and does no mention the weavers and their lives.
Distortions of Women's Images
40. Vimal Balasubramanyan, an activist journalist, feels that the media frequently 'distorts the feminist viewpoint and also seeks to cash in on it, sensing that the new ideas of women's liberation do invoke a good readers' response and that being a vehicle for progressive ideas, enhances the media's own image and the image of its controller'.
41. Columns devoted to gossip and light reading generally denigrate the image of women. Gossip snippets have sexual innuendoes and only further, succeed in objectifying women.
Issues Left Out
42. The above glimpse of the Indian Press, makes it clear that the one important change in the past 10-15 years is the greater visibility of women's issues notwithstanding the survival of old stereotypes and sexist imagery. Almost without exception, there is a relatively greater coverage of women's issues in established dailies and magazines in the form of news stories, investigative reports, features, special columns and articles. Despite this, there is a glaring absence of coverage on women in the unorganized sector, these women only make the news if they are raped or molested by people in power. Vital issues like their work, the occupational health hazards they face are rarely discussed. For instance, the eyesight problems of women 'chikan' workers of Lucknow who work in dingy dimly lit rooms; or the health problems of women bidi and tobacco workers. As contract labourers, these women are exploited by the contractors. But being in a vulnerable position and poorly paid, they can rarely protest. As one women piecerate worker in the unorganized sector of the garment industry said "we are forced to give our children opium as they would otherwise interfere with our work"5. This kind of exploitation and the silent desperation in their lives are rarely treated as newsworthy.
43. Laws relating to labour, such as the Minimum Wage Act. 1948 are rarely covered. Likewise, Government welfare schemes for rural development rarely receive the necessary exposure, so that at least through word of mouth, information may trickle down from one literate person to another. The overall picture which emerges is that newspapers show a singular lack of concern for labouring women. Their plight, poverty and invisibility hardly seem newsworthy matters. Even when media attention is given to the women in this sector, they are just incidental to the story. For instance, while reporting on the bank official's action on raiding the house of a poor widow in order to recover bank loans, the accent is on the high-handedness of the officials rather than the plight of the poor women.
44. The subversive; power wielded by commercial considerations needs special mention. Journals and newspapers depend heavily on advertising in order to reach out to the readers at a reasonable cost. As the print media is heavily propped up by the corporate world through advertising revenue, commercial considerations dominate.
45. Advertisements in the papers are increasingly becoming high-pressured with excellent lay-outs and visuals. In a randomly selected issue of one of the newspapers in English it was found that 30.65 per cent of the space was utilised for advertisements. The portrayal of women in the advertisements reinforces stereotypes and creates the impression of women as mere sex objects. In one of our studies, it was found that the total number of
advertisements was 1.194 which means that the average number of advertisements per issue was 24.39. Out of this, an average of 12 advertisements were in colour, occupying half to quarter page space. The advertisements covered a wide range of consumer items including McDowells Whisky, cigarettes, toilet soaps, detergents. They are aimed at creating 'wants' in the reader and promoting a consumer culture, in which poor people have no place. Super discounts and fabulous sales are constantly announced to boost the sales of consumer products, creating a feeling of inadequacy among the lower income groups.
46. Advertisements use beautiful women to sell products as diverse as soap, cooking oil, bed sheets, towels and even motor bikes. If the aim of the advertisement is to provide information about a product, women are not required to decorate them. Such advertisements only objectify women.
47. When we recall that the total number of advertisements in one of our samples, is 1,195 which means that each issue of our sample carries an average of 24.39 advertisements with an average of 12 in colour, we find that women's issues have to compete for space with other regular features. Similarly, among the two magazines that have been scanned for a year, one maintained an advertisement quota of 50 per cent space, and whenever the tally went up. the number of pages devoted to editorial content was reduced. The other magazines of the same genre maintained an advertisement quota of 20 per cent. The result is that even serious. well written articles on women are juxtaposed with colourful, well laid out advertisements that carry negative and stereotyped portrayals of women. Thus while the editorial content decries the sexist portrayal of women, the same magazines carry sexist advertisements without a murmur.
48. The portrayal of work in advertisement is both sex-linked and stereotyped. Women are shown only in nurturing roles or in what may consider extensions of such roles, such as nurses and teachers. Not only are poor women in the unorganised sector ignored advertisements, perhaps because they do not have the purchasing power to constitute a potential market but are wrongly represented with misleading references made about their work. For example, the advertisement for Sintex Loft Tanks and certain brands of detergent imply that maid servants will stop grumbling and start smiling with the introduction of their product. Perhaps, their poverty and lack of purchasing power put them beyond the pale of corporate, concern.
Images of Women
49. Most advertisements address women as housewives, excited by their new purchases. A family is projected as woman's only source of happiness and identity and she must constantly use newer and newer consumer products to fulfil herself as a wife and mother. Advertisements of Sanifresh toilet cleaner, Harpic and Maggie Noodles to name a few fill this bill.
50. Women in the unorganised sector, if and when they are portrayed, are presented as stereotyped grumbling maid servants in spotless shining kitchens. In another situation because of the use of a certain detergent the housewife is able to do the work herself and need not depend on the maid servant. The emerging image is that of the maid servant as a quarrelsome and easily dispensible entity, being patronised by the mistress who showers her with useful gadgets.
51. In short, advertisement encourages a consumer culture wherein women are stereotyped as house wifes whose only source of happiness is serving the family.
52. Even this brief survey of the print media reveals, 1) singular lack of concern for
labouring women, especially rural women, their lifestyles, perceptions, problems and organisations. The media still tends to ignore women's economic role.
53. When women's issues are taken up by the English press it covers those issues which could concern the urban reading public. By and large, there is an ambivalent attitude towards women. Sensational news on women gets considerable coverage Sati the virginity test scandal, sexual harassment got coverage more because of their sensational nature than due to any real concern for women. Often, there is a contradiction between two articles in the same issue.
54. Women's issues quickly disappear from the public eye, as it is assumed that the reading public are not really interested in them. While the press gleefully follows every minor political development in Delhi and the fortunes of the Indian cricket team, there is rarely any serious follow up women's issues.
55. When women's problems are discussed, the focus is on urban middle class women. For instance, articles on how women's legal status can be improved, discuss laws relating to property, employment, marriage and divorce, which are referred vis-a-vis the urban, educated women.
56. Advertising helps to rigidity role models and create a consumer culture, where self fulfilment is only achieved by buying newer and newer consumer products.
57. In the process of constructing these images, advertisements help to buttress middle class norms, maintain the status quo and increase the invisibility of the women in the unorganized sector. Women are led to consider work as a temporary phase in their lives until family finances improve, but not as an activity which needs real commitment. At the same time, the stereotyped images of women are reinforced. The overall picture which emerges is a singular lack of concern, for the poor women of our target group, their plight and poverty.
58. To sum up with the words of Vimla Balasubramanian "Despite their coverage on women's issues, the mass circulation glossies have no overall editorial perspectives nor a committed ethical stand on women's questions." Like a consumer product, the mass media opts for a 'mix' that sells; where women are concerned, exclusively sexist fare. Now there is an added component—because the women's question is "in".
59. There is no doubt that there are concrete limitations regarding the print media as an instrument of social change. Still, the media can play a crucial role by sensitively depicting the problems of poor women, which can create a positive public opinion about the women in the unorganised sector and help to set in motion the wheels of progress.
60. In a country like India, with an oral tradition that goes back 2000 years, audio-visual media such as the radio, cinema and TV have a deep impact on the people. 'The outreach of the radio outstrips other systems of communication. Its importance in our country should be considered proportionately higher. Radio programmes are radiated from 170 transmitter, of which 131 are medium wave, covering 90.30 per cent of the population and spread over 79.81 per cent of the country's area. TV, on the other hand, which has also emerged as an extensive national network through 185 transmission stations, has an estimated outreach of only 70 per cent of the population. Thus, though TV seems to have outstripped the radio, in reality, the radio is still the only source of entertainment and information for the vast majority of people. particularly in rural areas.
61. All India Radio is entirely owned by the Central Government. Its broadcasting network consisted of six radio stations in 1947. Now there are 71 stations including three Vividh Bharati commercial centres at Chandigarh, Kanpur and Vadodara.
There are relaying centres at Alleppey and Ajmer, in addition, there are two auxiliary centres at Bhubaneshwar and Shantiniketan. These cover all the important cultural and linguistic regions of the country.
62. Commercial radio broadcasting was introduced on 1st November 1967. Advertisements are accepted in any language, as tape recorded slots of 7, 10, 15, 20 and 30 seconds duration. Sponsored programmes have been introduced from May 1970. From April 1, 1982 commercials have been introduced on a limited experimental scale on the primary channel. Since January 25, 1985, this has been expanded to include sports and sponsored programmes on rural and women's issues.
Programmes for women
63. Special programmes for women were started in 1940. Today, all stations of AIR broadcast programmes for women two to three times in regional languages and at times in dialects too. Some stations like Bombay, broadcast 50 minute programmes in English for working women (implying thus that only women who know English work). Women's programmes form 1.4 per cent of the total broadcasting time. Though women's issues can be discussed in other programmes too, this is rarely done, and therefore this specific time, generally in the afternoon, is described as 'purdah hour'. A cursory glance at the content of about an hour's slot for women's programmes suggests that about 60 per cent of the contents are entertainment-oriented, including songs, plays, skits, etc. and only 20 per cent each on awareness generation and dissemination.
64. One of the important problems faced by unprotected women workers in the unorganized sector is the lack of access to information about government schemes for their benefit, like credit facilities, employment opportunities, legal protection and medical benefits.
65. The Commission was interested in examining how effectively the information provided by the radio reach the target groups, what has been the perception of women's role in the target group in the programmes and what are the barriers in communications.
66. All India Radio/Delhi broadcasts information relating to credit facilities employment opportunities, legal relief, medical benefits etc. for our target group in various programmes-such as Manila Karyakram, a programme for urban women, Grameen Mahilaon ke liye (Programme for rural workers), Swasthya Charcha—(health). Gram Sansar (composite programmes for rural audience).
67. This report is based on findings of the members of the Commission during their field visits and substantiated by a survey of the audience research unit titled "a Survey of Information needs of women workers in the Unorganized Sector" and by referring to critiques of the radio by various women's groups.
68. The study conducted by the audience research unit was limited to the Delhi station of the AIR. There is an urgent need to undertake similar studies from other broadcasting stations as well, but the shortage of time precluded us from achieving this objective.6
69. In order to find out the listening habits and assess the utility of the programmes through purposive sampling, about two hundred interviews were conducted in areas near Mehrauli, Trilokpuri, Nandnagri and Uttamnagar.
70. About 30 per cent of the respondents were engaged in construction work, 24, per cent of them worked in quarries, 20 per cent in mining, 15 per cent as domestic servants and about 11 per cent were self-employed sellers on the road side.
71. The points highlighted in the study conducted by the audience research unit are that the out reach of the radio was only 44 per cent of our target group, out of which only 10 per cent were frequent listeners.
Most of the women did not own radio sets. The peak listening time was in the evening and at night. To most of the respondents, the radio was primarily for entertainment. About 57 per cent could not recollect listening to programmes on developmental issues.
72. Women who had received no benefits from the Government's developmental programmes, were sceptical of its use as a source of information.
73. An evaluation of the programmes recorded in various studies points out that by and large, issues relating to women are slotted for the special women's hour, popularly known as Purdah hour', even though such issues may also be focussed on in the general programmes. This mode of structuring women's issues and slotting them into an exclusively feminine hour presumes that the message of equality, the need for changing customs and values, and issues such as domestic violence and rape concern only women, men have no need to change. Sometimes, male participants are included in the discussion panel to provide a different perspective, but often the end result is that traditional values get indirectly reinforced In a discussion on rape, for instance, with a male psychiatrist in the panel, the whole exercise was turned into a discussion on the psychology of the rapist and in a way, the act was condoned. There is also a tendency to talk down to women and to limit programmes literally to household interests, including nutrition and child care.
74. While there is a broad division of urban women into housewives and working women, middle class women remain the target group. In the absence of any positive direction, the objectives of information and entertainment are interpreted differently by the various producers. Often, in order to play safe, the focus is limited to the so-called exclusively feminine spheres such as Ikebana flower arrangement, mother craft, health, etc.
75. The introduction of sponsored programmes in the women's programme has trivialized the entire purpose of consciousness raising, and the skits and plays reinforce negative stereotypes of women, emphasising, family-centered roles. Informative topics are effectively sidelined as the main focus of interest is entertainment.
76. Women are taught to acquire marginal economic independence through knitting, sewing, making jams and jellies. No attempt is made even to suggest to women that they could train in non-traditional occupations by opting for careers as plumbers, electricians or skilled masons rather than unskilled labourers in construction work.
77. Women are provided beauty tips but no advice is given to women unhappy in their marital home on how they could take recourse to law. Advice is given on how to be a good wife and a good mother by making adjustments within the family situation. Advice on child care telling the women in the target group to keep children indoors etc, invited sarcastic comments such as "as if children will stay indoors ". The radio 'entertainment' consists of sentimental songs, skits and plays. The women in rural areas are also fed with the same stereotypes. Without considering their specific problems, health measures generally concentrate on family planning without being followed up by extension workers or health visitors.
78. There is a rapid expansion of commercialization and since 1935, advertisements and sponsored programmes are accepted on rural programmes and women's programmes. This implies that despite All India Radio's avowed aim of raising social awareness and to stimulate and "inform the national consciousness in regard to the status and problems of women," the kind of advertisements shown creates contradictory images of women, that only reinforce stereotypes.
An analysis of radio advertisements indicates the following:
1. The dominant image of a women is a housewife and mother washing clothes with 'Plus washing soap' or 'Nirma washing soap'. The Plus washing soap advertisement implies that "there is some special joy derived from washing clothes with Plus." Similarly, we find the Surf advertisement addresses women with the very familiar Lalitaji who is so shrewd that she prefers the long term benefits of using Surf compared to the use of cheaper brands. Women are heard lovingly feeding their families with Array Shrikhand or a certain aurvedic tonic. To treat house hold concerns as primarily feminine concerns, is to yet again reinforce stereotypes. For instance, the magazine "Women's Era" advertised on radio its cookery special issue with the slogan build your personality, build your home.' Does this mean that it is only through cooking that a woman can build her personality? Further, advertisements which cover a wide range of consumer articles are made more attractive with lucrative gifts. Fortunately, as the advertisement code specifically bans advertisements of cigarettes and tobacco products, these advertisements were missing.
2. Advertisements depict an ostenatious life-style and generate an expanding desire for luxury items. As seen, in the other media, they sell consumer dreams which the majority in a poor country like India cannot hope to realise. This generates frustration and some studies have linked the increasing incidence of dowry demand, dowry murders in urban lower middle class families to the consumer culture promoted through advertisements.
3. The spots and sponsored programmes broadcast on rural programmes and women's programmes are continuing of the consumers point of view recommended to the Verghese Commission 1978 where the consumer groups contended "What the items currently advertised through commercial broadcasts were elitist and could, over a period of time, build up unfulfilled aspirations and false needs. The broadcast media were agents of social change and should not abandon educational role."
4. Women in the target group are largely invisible in the advertisements, skits and plays. Their lack of purchasing power again puts them beyond the interests of advertisers and as such, the advertisements rarely address them. In skits and plays the stereotyped image of the maid servant seen in other audio-visual media, persists.
Hurdles in the effective reach
79. During their tours to various States, Commission members identified major communication barriers which prevented women from receiving the information relayed on the radio and taking advantage of it. As the most of the women workers work almost 12 to 14 hours a day, they do not get time to listen to the radio. However, some maid servants do listen to music on the radio even during the day time. As expressed by some women, "We are here only to earn bread. We work the whole day and do not find time to listen to the radio. In any case, who has a radio? It is not meant for us. Very rarely, we may listen to folk songs on the radio at a neighbour's house."
80. Secondly, the language used on AIR is sophisticated and too difficult for ordinary people. As men and women construction worker said: "We do not understand the language."
The Concept of Radio as entertainment
81. Radio plays an important role in entertainment; music and particularly film songs, provide entertainment to the tired working population who cannot afford a TV. When asked why they listen to the radio, the most frequent response cited was, "We listen for recreation,
not for information. Thus its role is perceived only as providing entertainment and not discrimination of information. So the informative programmes are never popular and do not get an audience. This is substantiated by a study which showed that 57 per cent have time. For example, during peak farming seasons, the men frequently carry the set in the fields.
No availability of radio sets for women's use/lack of access to radio sets
82. Unfortunately, even radios are not easily accessible to women. The exclusive appropriation of the set by the menfolk in the family for their own use. During cricket matches, for instance, it is a common sight in big cities to see men and boys listening to the commentary on transistors. This probably means the women in the families are deprived of access to radio programmes. Similarly, in rural areas, the set is kept in the baithak which in the outer apartment reserved for men; further, being portable, many men carry it with them, thus depriving women of listening even if they have time. For example, during peak farming seasons, the men frequently carry the set into the fields. During the commission's tour, village mahila mandals asked for transistor sets. A transistor is a status symbol in the village, and often it is an item given in dowry.
83. The reach of the radio to our group is only 44 per cent. Most of them do not own sets and during the commission's tour, village mahila mandals asked for transistor sets and 57 per cent did not recall listening to programmes on developmental issues and were sceptical about the information given in these programmes.
84. Sponsored programmes and advertisements project contradictory images of women. In fact, radio, which is a vast and under-utilised instrument of consciousness raising has been reduced to a mere hand-maid of the film industry; the film songs for instance, encourage the listeners to make it a point to view the films.
85. Women's programmes are of an uneven quality, depending on the biases and prejudices of the programmes. By introducing sponsored programmes in the women's hours, educative consciousness raising talks are juxtaposed with skits that reinforce stereotyped role models of women. This effectively sidelines the message of the educational programmes.
86. An important point noted during the field trips was that whenever relevant information was given, women made special efforts to listen. For instance, in the border states, women were keen to know about the movement of the army. Similarly, health information is also appreciated by listeners.
87. T.V. as a system of communication was introduced in 1959, expressly to promote development and education in a developing country. The low literacy level in the country makes the vast majority of Indians specially dependant, on oral and visual systems of communication. This makes television more relevant in the Indian context.
88. Before we examine the projection of our target group on T.V., a brief look at the spread of the medium will provide a context to our subsequent discussion.
89. Though initially the T.V. transmission was confined to a few big cities and for a very limited time, today T.V. begins with breakfast T.V. programmes in the morning and on week ends transmits for practically the whole day. In 1987, there were 221 transmitters in the country. Doordarshan now covers 97 per cent of the area and nearly 70 per cent of the population.
Television programming could be divided into four categories:
(1) The Hindi feature film and film-based programmes like "Chaya Geet" categorised by Doordarshan as super 'A' with a viewership of more than 70 per cent.
She participates actively in dissemination of information.
(2) Various plays, news telecasts, sports events and sponsored programmes classified as 'A' with a viewership of between 50 to 70 per cent.
(3) English serials, youth programmes etc. classified as 'B' with a viewership of between 30 per cent to 50 per cent.
(4) Rural programmes like Amchi Manse and programmes for industrial workers classified as 'C' with a viewership below 30 per cent. As pointed out by the Joshi Committee "There is an exploitation of the female form to titillate and by their socially insensitive approach simply trivialise and debase the effort" (report of the working group on soft ware for Doordarshan vol. 1, 1985.P.141). Since then, if there has been any change, it has been for the worse; there is even more reinforcement of partiarchal values and reactionary beliefs. Serials, such as 'Ramayana', some of the episodes of serials 'Stri' and 'Shakti', or superstitious beliefs propagated through 'Honi Anhoni' are a few examples of serials which specifically denigrate the status of women.
90. In this context, it is obvious that poor women will not be Doordarshan's target audience. Even if they are, they do not always have access to television. The needs and problems of self employed women do not seem to be known to T.V. programme producers.
The report on the projection of poor women is based on.
91. Women of the target group featured on all sample days, but their presence was limited to only 50 of the 255 programmes which fell within the sample. Sectoral programmes catering to farmers women, youth and children respectively featured poor women only seven times, though the number of such programmes in the sample was 33.
92. Of the four women's programmes where poor women featured, three were for rural
women. In these three programmes, issues raised related to laws relating to work, seasonal employment, hours of work, wages for equal work. Employment Guarantee Scheme, women in farming operations, women and health care facilities, and housewifes as beneficiaries of the welfare scheme. The programmes for urban women health with adult education were introduced by visuals showing women pounding rice, pulling carts, cultivating and working in anganwadis. The three programmes for farmers all featured poor women as cultivators and seasonal labour.
93. Enrichment programmes such as 'Ek Hi Uppay' on sanitation and Jalaraband featured women of the target group as painters, leather workers, basket weavers, fisherfolk, head-loaders, spinners and printers. Their special problems were highlighted Out of 47 news bulletins, women featured in 19. They were generally featured as beneficiaries of welfare programmes.
94. The fiction and entertainment programmes featured poor women as housewife. Very rarely were they shown engaged in non domestic work. Sometimes they were shown as domestic servants. Working women in the unorganized sector, are featured less frequently and when they are featured, they are shown in the least skilled jobs—farm labourers, head loaders, etc.
95. The women were generally seen as beneficiaries of welfare programmes and not as workers. The welfare orientation was especially sharp when poor women were featured in news bulletins, where the focus is on government initiated welfare schemes. As the media perceives women only as passive beneficiaries, the programmes for farmers are rarely addressed to women, although both men & women work in agriculture
96. There were, however, many programmes which could have discussed the position and the problems of poor rural women, but which failed to do so. Discussions on the Eradi Tribunal Award, as well as programmes for youth and children, both rural and urban, are examples of programmes which could have incorporated women's problems Women's programmes which dealt with women entrepreneurs referred to urban industrialists. The Telgu programme on status of women focussed entirely on urban middle class women Though a disjunction was noted between women's actual lives and media representation, poor women were not mentioned.
The invisibility persists
97. Strong efforts have been made by concerned individual producers and experimental groups. For instance, Bhadke bale che zindagi (Life is in flames) is a four part serial which investigated a case of death by burning and also included serials dealing with women's economic and social status. Similarly, a few other programmes made an effort to profile a 'bidi' worker or a maid servant, but by and large the self employed women are invisible and distortions persist.
98. Another problem noticed is the urban bias In the sample of 255 programmes, an overwhelming majority, 230 of them, were urban-based, that is, the issues addressed related to urban areas and were discussed by urban experts. It is clear that the women's output is heavily weighted in favour of the urban middle and elite classes. With the exception of one or two programmes, the welfare-orientation of the state towards the target group women is marked.
99. Sponsored serials such as Buniyad and Khandan of yester years and women-centred serials such as Zindagi, Shakti and Stri rarely project the problems of poor women in serials like 'Nukkad' where an attempt is made to portray the life of the poor women have a subsidiary role.
100. Since TV thrives on advertisements and sponsored programmes (with the new rates introduced in 1987) the erstwhile objective of education or information through television is now relegated to the back seat. The saleability of a programme is the major criteria. Advertisement often address women in their traditional role as purchasers or emphasise an artificial ideal of feminity in which there is no place for poor women. Women are stereotyped as housewives, mothers or wives whose wisdom revolves around knowledge of hair oils and tonics, ever-ready to take care of the husband and children when they return from work, school or play. The woman as a temptress is also used in the sale of clothes. As consumers, women are shown buying soaps, detergents, cosmetics or processed food. These projections are oriented to middle and upper classes of society and yet again, poor women are invisible.
101. Welfare programmes aimed ostensibly at knowledge generating promote the view of the poor as ignorant of welfare schemes and unwilling or slow in taking advantage of them. They are held to be the authors of their plight, rather than victims of distorted development. For instance, the short presented on minimum age of marriage or spacing of children, specifically address the poor.
102. Poor women and their struggles are invisible on television. Where such women are projected, emphasis is on their domestic and maternal roles, they are consumers and not producers. The medium does not enable viewers to appreciate the genesis of their poverty. Instead it sponsors the welfare approach.
Poor women's access to television
103. According to official estimates the television covers 70 per cent of population yet in reality poor women lack access to this medium. A Doordarshan study made in 1981 which covered mostly the urban areas and privately owned sets, reported that nearly 46 per cent of adult viewers were women. But it is obvious that social restrictions on going out and the burden of household chores prove to be the main factors preventing women in our target group from going out and viewing television in community centres.
104. Another study examined T.V. viewing habits, message retention and portrayal of women of our target group in certain specific programmes which make them visible in the period under study. The programmes telecast by Delhi Doordarshan were monitored. Some of the specific programmes which focussed on women were: 1. Anganwadi—an interview with Shanti Devi from Gurgaon (HR) who makes and sells chullahs in rural areas. 2. News—carried reports on sericulture as a vocation for the production of handloom cloth, carpet making as a family business in Arunachal Pradesh and pottery making. 3. A play depicted the problems faced by domestic workers. 4. A discussion on water management included the water problems of women in the non-formal sector. 5. A family planning quickie on spacing children.
105. These items formed part of the total programme and their duration ranged from 30 seconds to 3 minutes approximately.
106. Several others who focussed on poor women; for example, the feature 'Sach Ki Parchain' (an investigative programme) which focussed on urban development and housing schemes, included interviews with women belonging to the informal sector. Similarly, a programme on water management and various news items also focussed on poor women; a short film on proper spacing was essentially aimed at educating working class women; a play, 'Badalte Rishte' explored the world of a domestic servant, and the problems she faces in deciding for herself what work she will do; 'Giddh', a feature film, portrayed the problems faced by women labourers, but with some degree of glamourisation. However, it successfully highlighted the vicious social cycle which surrounds these women and trapped and the difficulties they face emerging from it; and lastly 'A face in the Crowd' shown in the morning
transmission highlighted the living conditions of people belonging to the informal sector and efforts at their improvement by a voluntary social worker.
107. Unfortunately, access to TV is not as easy as is often assumed. For example, there was no electricity in one slum and in the other slum, there was electricity but not a single. TV set In a colony of 400 huts only one hut owned a set. Some of the children of this slum watched TV with their neighbours in the resettlement colonies, especially feature films on Sundays and sometimes, Chitrahar. But the most of women of the slum, especially those who work as artisans or domestics, were too busy during the transmission timings, none of them expressed any desire or interest in watching television. "Even if we go to someone's house to watch T V nobody would like to have us as guests every day or every week", they said, these women occasionally snatched a few glimpses of TV from a distance while cooking in the kitchen or while sweeping the floor or standing near the door in their employers' homes.
108. The Anganwadi workers working in slums owned TV sets and watched serials, feature films, Chitrahar and programmes between 8.00 p m and 9.30 p m, but they could not recall any of the items mentioned earlier. The messages given in the short films were retained and were appreciated by them. Some of them even recited these messages
109. Women in the villages—potters, sweepers, vegetable sellers—never watched any TV programmes and those who did watch habitually lacked message retention and usually only watched the entertainment programmes. For example, Dhanti Devi, a potter had a T V set in her house, but the women of the house watched only the feature film, Chitrahaar and some serials. A serial like "Swayamsiddha" could not sustain their interest. The TV set was switched off after 9.30 p m only the men watched the news.
110. The woman were not aware about programmes, like 'Anganwadi' and Ghar Bahar. However, on being informed about the timing of Anganwadi, they said, "that is our kitchen time, we cannot watch T V then ".
111. None of the sweepers in this village owned a T V set and unlike other villages, their low caste forbade them from entering their neighbours' houses to watch T V. In any case, most of them claimed to be too tired at the end of the day to rush through their household work and find time to watch TV.
112. The findings of the various studies and the observations made by the Joshi Committee on Software, confirm the invisibility of poor women TV the medium which is supposed to educate and inform, has very little information about the actual condition of poor women, or about schemes available for then. Furthermore, the prevalent welfare approach that colours most programmes projects them as passive beneficiaries, incapable of thinking and bettering their lot.
113. Doordarshan repeatedly portrays women as house-bound engaged in home making, entirely dependent for their existence and fulfilment on their husbands and children. The struggle that women are waging for economic and political autonomy, legal rights and identity is almost completely ignored. On the other hand, certain upper class life styles are glamourised and a consumerism is encouraged, especially through advertisements. The concept of a job as a transitory phase in a woman's life leads to mystifying their role as housewives.
114. The indifference to poor and rural women extends to women viewers. There is a complete indifference to the problems of this sector Agriculture cycle, seasonal variations,
daily pattern of work are rarely considered while scheduling programmes for these women. Finally, unless the community television viewing facilities are provided, the objective of reaching out to the majority of women will only remain a pipe dream.
115. Despite the popularity of the small screen and the video, cinema still remains the cheapest and most sought after mode of entertainment for the vast majority of Indians.10
116. The film industry has invested capital of Rs, 720 million and employs over 210 thousand persons. On an average around 850 thousand viewers visit the country's estimated 12, 701 theatres every day. India produces the largest number of films in the world. In 1986 alone, 840 films were produced.
117. Big money being the base of this industry, these are no governing ethics whereby producers and financiers are motivated to impart messages for healthy socio-economic development. The prime concerns of commercial cinema are profit and entertainment. In the process, traditional values are reinforced and gender stereotypes promoted.
Notions About work in Mainstream Films
118. Work is an undeveloped theme in Hindi cinema. There are hardly any film dealing with problems, struggles, or achievements that are work-or even vocation related. The Hindi cinema is pre-occupied with glamourizing women as sex symbols and portraying work and poverty as transitory and unfortunate phases in a woman's life. There is hardly any space for the harsh, back-breaking, poorly paid, reality of most working women. The work life of these women when portrayed exists only as an adjunct to the prevalent themes of violence and sex. Although, there are a few notable exceptions, there is an overall failure to engage work seriously as a theme.
119. Secondly, although the vast majority of Indian people live in rural areas, an overwhelmingly large proportion of Hindi films have an urban setting. Rural women's work, be it fetching water or washing clothes, is prettified and fomanticised. The prime focus is on sexual harassment and on making the poor woman a vehicle of a rich man's fantasies.
120. In recent years, a few films have depicted a woman's profession as an ordinary part of her life, but as a rule, women in Hindi films, no matter which section of society they belong to, work only when their families have fallen on evil days. Thus though, she be a capable bread-winner, the woman is shown as conscious of her aberrant status.
121. Thus the employed woman in general is viewed with ambivalence. The hostility towards her may be masked as pity so long as her earning is perceived as a mere extension of her role as a provider of services to the family. Non-domestic work is depicted as 'unfeminine' and in competition with men. This is noticeable in films like Jeevan Dhara and Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyon ata hai. In Agreement the heroine's success as a business woman is linked to her insistance on dominance over her husband and refusal to bear children and her gradual conversion towards the end. Case studies revealed that poverty, besides being a permanent plight, was hardly ever glamourous. The Hindi films not only fosters an abhorence amongst working women for the work they do, but also create a yearning for acquisition of middle class values instead of inspiring them to fight oppression and strive for better conditions in their immediate working relationships. This leads to escapism and churns dreams that can never be materialised.
The Notion of Poverty
122. Most women working in the unorganized sector in India are poor and deprived.
Therefore, the depiction of these women will invariably be influenced by the notion of poverty intrinsic to the Hindi film.
123. Most Hindi films are set in a north Indian, urban, upper middle class milieu. If the setting is rural, their protagonists are big landowners or plantation owners, or occasionally middle peasants. But even if they are shown as middle class, their life-style is usually unrealistically glamrous.
124. Very few Hindi films focus on the lives of poor people as the primary subject matter. Usually the protagonist is shown starting life as a poor person, with certain typical middle class poverty attributes in terms of dress, mannerisms and values; poverty is, therefore, more a verbalised, than a visualised condition. It is presented as an aberration a—mishap that has fallen on an individual family and therefore, by definition, a condition which must, sooner or later, be overcome. As long as this temporary condition lasts, it provides an opportunity for the protagonist to berate the rich, extol the virtues of the poor and express socialistic sentiments. Eventually, the middle class protagonist returns from poverty to middle class; the viewer's involvement is thus, with the particular fortunes of this family or individual, which is hardly typical of most families in real life. The viewer does not have to grapple with the real face of poverty in our society; poor sanitation, overcrowding, squalid living conditions and scarcities of various kinds.
125. Depicting poverty as a temporary condition also means that the protagonist family has little or nothing to do with other poor people in any continuing way. A community, if present, little is, more than a faceless backdrop, and as soon the poverty phase is over, the poor vanish from the scene altogether.
126. In one sense, poverty is external to the hero's being. This is most clearly signified by his clothes. The hero's transition from a childhood spent in poverty to middle class adulthood is conveyed through the shabby, short-clad child by fashionable, trouser-clad, young man. Questions like how the poor child acquired an education, for example, are rarely posed or answered.
127. In another sense, however, poverty is depicted as a moral, rather than a material, condition. Going through poverty is one way of establishing one's credentials as somehow morally superior to the villain in particular, and to other upper class people in general.
128. This notion, recurrent in Hindi films, has links with the compensation motif of fairytales and fables. However, it is disturbing to note that over the last two decades, there is a trend in Hindi films showing effect of poverty on the protagonist not as an increase in compassion or identification with the poor but rather in a fierce, ruthless competitiveness in climbing the social ladder. This kind of rags-to-riches hero mouths pseudo-socialist rhetoric but behaves like a ruffian, this earlier deprivation lends everything a stamp of respectability.
129. In this scenario, the poor woman can either be a sentimentalised victim (usually the hero's mother) whose sacrifices sour him on in his self—aggrandising career; or most frequently, the destined wife of the hero. In this latter role, she climbs the social ladder by marrying him and leaves her low grade employment behind for housewifery, even as he replaces his low status job with a high status one.
130. The poor woman is, at one level, the vehicle for the upper class man's sexual fantasy as an easily available woman and, at another level, a vehicle for the maximum amount of sentimentalising over poverty. She is the victim par excellence, she suffers not just because she is poor but also as wife, sister or mother, sacrificing herself for the male.
131. That reality is near-invisible to most film makers is also indicated by the fact that although a majority of labouring women in India work in agriculture—as hired labour or on family farms and a large proportion in home-based work—these women and their work are
almost never seen on the screen.
132. It is no coincidence that poor women most frequently appear on the screen in roles where they directly service the middle class—domestic servants and entertainers. The urban unorganized sector is relatively more visible in films. They are those and who come in contact with the middle class residential area, such as vendors of various kinds. This too indicates how pointedly the Hindi film focusses on the sphere and concerns of the urban middle and urban classes.
The Notion of the Employed Woman
133. The poor working woman stands at the nexus of two notions that of poverty and that of the employed woman. The woman employed in any kind of remunerative work is viewed with deep ambivalence, and often hostility, overt or covert, in the Hindi film. Of late, a few films have seriously depicted women with independent professions but this is still rare.
134. In the case of the poor woman, economic necessity appears more clearly as the reason for her going out to work, so she is most often perceived as a pitiable victim. But as she is not a domesticated, secluded wife and mother, she represents a potential threat to the middle class domestic set up and so must be chastised. The rape/seduction/death which is too frequently her doom, is a convenient means of making her a martyr, an icon for middle class breast beating and simultaneously, of disposing of the threat she represents.
135. At one end of the spectrum is the unorganised woman worker, as a 'pure' victim untainted by any sign of rebellion or competitiveness. This is signalled by her being a mother—of sons—and usually a widow or deserted wife.
136. As a mother, her existence is devoted to the well being of her sons. If she has any tenuous links with a community, these are served as the film progresses, so that the image of the lone woman facing the big bad world is heightened. Similarly, in Deewar, a link is initially established between the injustice suffered by the community as a whole and by the particular family whose fortune the film follows. However, the link is quickly snapped and the struggle turns into individual vendetta.
137. It is noteworthy that the dehumanising working conditions are not brought into focus. None of the other labourers, men, women or children, are shown feeling any strain. The wrongs of womanhood only provide a pretext for the film maker to indulge in gory violence between men and sentimental family reunions. In this scenario, work is only a symbol of her plight, and not a material reality at all.
138. The younger poor woman, on the other hand, begins her life as a maid servant. At one end of the spectrum, the maid-servant is merely an adjunct whose presence establishes the protagonist's status. She is herself a nonentity. The strenous, routine, uncertain part of her work never becomes visible. A second role commonly allotted to the maid-servant is that of comic relief. The third kind of portrayal, where the maid-servant graduates to being a wife, also hardly provides any scope of depicting her work life. The controlling idea here is that the faithful female servant is best equipped to become a wife because the essence of wifehood is unswerving loyalty and self abnegating service. Here the depiction has very little to do with her actual work.
139. As authors mention very aptly, "since work scarcely figures as a reality of the poor women, it matters little whether she is a prostitute, a dancing girl or a domestic servant " As a servant she dances, as a dancing girl, she serves.
140. From the mid seventies, a spate of Amithab starrers developed the trend of gutsy,
enterprising young women from the unorganized sector (Yangewati in Sindhy) being picked up and groomed for wifehood. Having spirited occupational roles, however, were shown not to be suitable for serious work.
141. A very important aspect of 'work' in the films is that manual work is a transitory phase in the life of the protogonist and with marriage all the misery ends. For poor women, in reality, this rarely happens, as most of them continue to work at strenous jobs even when they are pregnant and till they die.
Depiction of Prostitutes
142. Almost every film has a cabaret sequence. Whenever the dancing girl becomes a heroine, she is presented not as a real worker or earner, but wholly through a moral lens with no seeming concern for such mundane matters as money. Prostitutes are usually presented as miserable in their profession and yearning to escape into marriage. Most unrealistically, the brothels are shown as glittering and glamorous places, visited only by the affluent.
143. The fact is that the majority of prostitutes and dancing girls in India today are poor working women who face the same problems as other women in the unorganized sector. They lack unionisation, legal protection of any kind and medical care, and are forced to endure, low income unhygienic work conditions and harassment by the police, in addition to the social stigma and ostracisation and the burden of illegality that is unique in their work sector. None of this emerges in the Hindi film. Exceptions to this general trend have been Mandi and Hamidabai ki Kothi. Mandi in some ways has been an exception where many women have to continue as prostitutes at the end of the film and are not provided the attractive option of marriage.
Problems at work
144. The only problem at work for women in the unorganized sector that Hindi film takes definite cognizance of, is sexual harassment. This only strengthens the myth that sexual molestation is the inevitable lot of every working woman, especially if she is very poor. Film makers tend to obscure the other, more routine harshness of working conditions and injustices like unequal and less than minimum wages. This type of depiction also subtly conveys the message that it is safer to retain at home than go out to work.
145. In these films, the viewer is told next to nothing about the women's own perception of, or response to, the sexual advances. The dominant tendency seems to be to present poor women as dumb, pitiable victims. No effort is made to show whatever limited efforts are made by these women to resist such overtures. In films like Paar and Chakra, attempts have been made to portray the plight of the poor women, though the latter film does not portray women as workers. Mirch Masala, rather loud in colourful dresses, is an exception in depicting resistance.
146. The tendency of the Hindi film to stereotype the poor working woman and to evade any realistic portrayal of her life or work has been pointed out through these examples. Since film makers by and large, avoid explorations of experience in all its complexity even in their own class, it is only natural that they rely more heavily on stereotypes when dealing with a section of society from which they distanced. Subsequently, we will notice that even now wave films have not made any remarkable breakthrough in exploration of human complexity.
147. This most popular of the media has not only failed to depict the life and problems of the target group, but on many occasions has trivalised them. Until the overall male-dominated
value structure and blatant commercial motive of making as big a profit as possible, looking at woman more as an appendage and not as in individual, get further strengthened while depicting poor women. But women will continue to be looked at merely as appendages until the overall male dominated value structure of society changes and as long as profit remains the moving force behind cinema. In this context, to expect films to give development message or disseminate information which could empower women, is a pipe dream.
Education and Women in the Unorganised Sector
148. The main objective of including education as a component of communication was to gauge the image of women that the education system is projecting. Does the younger generation know about the innumerable varieties of income generating activities which poor women are engaged in? Do they have any idea of the dismal conditions in which these women are living and working? Do they know that these women work not out of choice but for the survival of the family? The Commission felt that these and similar questions need to be answered to provide direction for the future.
149. Unlike in communication, the education policy has explicity declared that "education would be used as a strategy for achieving a basic change in the status of women. The national education system would (i) play a positive interventionist role in the empowerment of women (ii) contribute towards development of new values through redesigned curricula and text-books" (National Policy on education 1986, p. 106).
150. The policy further states that every educational institution should, by 1995, take up active programmes of women's development built around a study and awareness of the women's predominant, and for promotion of communication and organization among women".12
It is too early to say whether this policy will be implemented or not .
Educational and Women in the Unorganized Sector
151. In the present section, two major dimensions of education have been considered as far as women in the unorganized sector are concerned.
152. In the formal system, particularly at the school level, an effort has been made to assess the visibility and projection of target women in textbooks and through examination of the curriculum. Recognising the elitist overt-ones of our education system, it was deemed necessary to know how poor women are projected.
153. Visibility in non-formal education programmes was studied through evaluation of Adult Education primers. Here, the exercise has two objectives. Firstly, it was necessary to know how the target women were depicted in these primers—what kind of visibility did they have compared to the formal education system? Secondly, it was also felt that as the adult learners largely come from the lower middle class and poorer sections of the society, efforts made to make them aware of their problems should be examined. Are they provided with options to change the dire conditions of their life? Are they empowered to face their problems? These and similar questions are sought to be answered through studying these primers.
Projection in the formal education system
154. Earlier studies have clearly indicated that whether they are for English, Mathematics or Social Sciences, textbooks can, through the use of characters and symbols in certain situations, become a powerful medium for the perpetuation of stereotypes and role models. Girl for example, are rarely portrayed in roles associated with economic activity. While this is the fate of women in general, in terms of visibility, the projection of poor women is bould to be much less.
155. In Gujarat, the State Board of School Textbooks is the sole publisher of textbooks, which are prepared by experts. For the present study, the sample comprised of Gujarati medium textbooks of Std. X—common stream. Std. X is the final year of school, at the end of which students take the Secondary School Certificate examination.13 Gujarati medium and Common Strearr, textbooks were chosen since there were more students in these streams than in the science subjects and English medium streams.
156. In the books concerning the teaching of languages, the number of words referring to self employed women were noted. The intention was also to look at the way in which these references are made and to find out if these are positive.
157. In the books on social sciences, general science and arithmetic, reference to self employed women were noted. In all these, the language used, the space given and the number of references were considered important.
158. The findings of the study are extremely disappointing and frustrating. In the English Reader, where there are 307 references to men and 96 references to women, there are only two references to poor working women. One is of a village woman going to a centre to spin an amber charkha', and the other of a maid servant in a rich household.
159. In a Gujarati textbook of 162 pages, or of 122 references to males and 65 references to females, there is not a single reference to self employed woman. Even in the grammar book where references to employment have been made, our target women have no place. Similarly, in a Hindi reader of 124 pages, where 115 references are made to men and only four to women, there is no reference to poor women. Since the writers are mostly from upper castes and urban setting, they may not be aware of issues concerning self employed women.
160. Social studies textbooks comprising of history, the Indian constitution, civics and geography, can boast of only four references to self employed women. These are while narrating the effect of the Industrial Revolution in India; in the Constitution, reference is made to the directive policy in providing equal wages for equal work to both men and women. While elaborating on Gandhian thought, reference is made to the fact that Gandhiji discovered the spinning wheel from a woman. The next sentence is that spinning wheel began to be used in poorer homes. But in geography, there is no reference to women.
161. In the Geography textbook in the chapters on scientists and astronauts, there is no reference to women. In the section on the impact of climate on people, a favourable climate and cheap labour were mentioned on two pre-conditions for tea-leaves plucking. Another mention on women is made while discussing the demographic situation. Here also, no comment is made with regard to the adverse sex-ratio. Thus, in a textbook of 203 pages, there is only one reference to poor women.
162. The textbook on Human Science surprisingly has no reference to the target group while discussing environment, diseases, needs etc. The same story is repeated about the textbook on arithmetic. In the exercises given, there are 75 references to men, 12 to women, and none to self employed poor women.
163. Thus, after scanning textbooks of seven subjects and browsing through about 1200 pages, we come across six references to poor women. Even these do not review women
sympathetically. On the contrary, it is suggested that female labour is useful because it is available cheap. Instead of making readers aware of the plight of these women, they are mostly invisible and when visible treated perfunctorily.
164. The picture emerging in the non-formal system appears to be no better. The spread of literacy has been an important programme since independence. Though between 1951 and 1981, the percentage of literacy improved from 16.67 per cent to 36.37 per cent, in absolute numbers illiterate persons have increased during this period from 300 million to 437 million. Women comprise 57 per cent of the illiterate population and they mostly belong to the lower economic strata.
165. The National Policy on Education (NEP) accepted in 1986, envisages that adult education would be a means for reducing economic, social and gender disparities. Previous experiences have brought out, as mentioned in the NPE document, that programmes of literacy can become meaningful only when they come alongwith a package comprising practical information and skills relevant to the day-to-day needs of learners. NPE would, therefore, inter-alia, lay emphasis on skill development and creation of awareness among the learners of the national goals of developmental programmes and liberation from oppression. In the NPE document it has also been mentioned that special literacy primers and other reading material will be developed to enable learners to understand their rights and responsibilities.14
Adult education primers
166. Considering the fact that self-employed women constitute a cross-section of workers, their educational needs were identified as those pertaining to their self related to their work and to information on their rights as workers. Accordingly, certain criteria were adopted to evaluate the content of the primers. 15
In addition to performing hard labour, she is motivated to learn.
i) awareness regarding the recognition of the work of self-employed women in poverty stricken groups.
ii) awareness regarding Government and voluntary action towards their well-being.
iii) focusing their attention to self-perception, engineering thereby the desired level of self-assertion and eventually leading to becoming decision-makers.
iv) nurturing a desire for physical well-being, including health, nutritional needs for self and family.
v) developing communication skills and the added emphasis on reading, writing and numeracy.
vi) realization of the importance of collectivity by learning organizational skills related with their world of work.
vii) awareness generation building around the socio-economic reality with the perception of the possibility to change it.
On the basis of the aforesaid criteria, a tool for evaluation of the readers (Primers) was developed.
167. Alongwith the tool for evaluation a tool of instruction was also prepared as it was decided to evaluate adult education primers in almost all languages and the question of translating books in Hindi or English could not be even thought of considering the limited time and resources.
168. All the agencies involved in development of adult education material, such as the State Resource Centre, University Departments of Adult and Continuing Education and others involved, have been approached Norms have been laid down by the Directorate of Adult Education and by and large, they are followed Materials that have been considered is of all fourteen languages.
The following limitations may be noted:
1. Primers have, in general, a support provision with either manual for instructors or teachers' guides. These guides provide illustrations and also some descriptive material for the instructors to resort to, for explanatory purposes or for value orientation.
2. The material is available in the languages cited as above, but time being short, oral translation by interpreters and on-the-spot evaluation by the evaluator was done
3. The books were not of the same numbers and size for the all languages
4. In Hindi, materials were available from Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Rajasthan, Delhi and Himachal Pradesh. Besides, the materials as available from the Literacy House were quite pre-ponderant.
169. The following table indicates the distribution of criteria in various language primers.
|Total Number of languages||14|
|Sample size total||171|
|Criteria Number 1||45||26.01|
|Criteria Number 2||59||34.01|
|Criteria Number 3||10||5.7|
|Criteria Number 4||170||98.2|
|Criteria Number 5||173||100|
|Criteria Number 6||10||5.7|
|Criteria Number 7||7||36.1|
170. Obviously, the evaluation on the whole is weakest at Criteria Number 3 and 6.
It suggests that no effort has so far been made in the adult education materials in generating 'awareness and focusing the attention of the learners to a self perception' whereby they could deliberately attempt to become decision-makers. It is not very clear whether these learners are expected to be decision-makers, either. Also, collectivity has not been thought of as a good starter for making these women conscious of themselves. This is possible because most of the materials are not developed considering the specific needs of women per se. Secondly, it is very useful to note that criteria number 1, 2, and 7 did not get a positive reflection from the sample on the whole. Obviously, recognition of their work in the unorganized sector is not clearly manifested. Government and voluntary action is nowhere being fed into their perception through these materials and finally, no design is suggested for a model of awareness building. Individual authors' consciousness is discernible where a sentence gets introduced like "Rashida bahut kaam karti hai" or "Jaya Ko Kaam Ka Poora Paisa nahin milta hai".
171. In Oriya primers, there were frequent references to the life-styles of tribal women. But it is in the Tamil books that the self-employment of women, from vegetable vendors to fisher women working in the fields and head loading, figures prominently.
172. Typically, the books describe the women preparing the family budget accounting for sale proceeds; one of them describes the status of women as marginal worker and the author is satisfied by the projection. These books are not only those which have been developed by adult education agencies, they include some materials from 'Working Women's Forum' for instructor or organizer preparation. However, it should not be out of place to mention that Tamil Nadu achieved an international award for its effort towards education of adult women.
173. A primer for legal literacy for working women has been written in Hindi. But again, the focus is on the organized sector. Otherwise, Hindi and Urdu materials project women as mothers and housewives, without giving importance to them even in this role. Statements like 'Women is the pride of the house' and 'mother is a goddess', abound in the literacy manuals. The health and nutritional component of these primers is generally from the point of view of child rearing, rather than from the point of view of the work done by the women at home, Identification of different productive activities is poor. Fetching water and collecting fuel and fodder are mentioned very casually, without any reference to their being productive activities. Even women's work in agriculture, encouraged by some of the farmer's primers is not highlighted as 'self-employment'.
174. The variables in self-employment situations are generally available from the language books from the South and North East. Sericulture, tea plantation and collection of sea-shells are some of the activities mentioned alongwith working on handlooms and on handicrafts.
175. Deepayatan's teaching manual in Hindi highlighted the art forms of Bihari women. Obviously, as these activities are being projected on the macro-level, the perception of the writers of these books is improving. The limitation of vocabulary learnt in reading and writing poses a cumulative challenge to the authors.
176. While most of the material is quite rich in giving health and nutrition information only tangential reference is made to the women's work. as already observed in the previous pages.
177. The findings have been quite revealing. Though unlike in the informal system of education, self employed women are not invisible in the primers, yet they do not sufficiently
project women's work with adequate emphasis. The middle-class notion of woman as a housewife, involved in household chores which are her bounden duties, continues to be reflected even where the working class is the audience. The evaluation suggests that if the message of self worth was to be given and learners be provided with more information on options available, much more concerned effort at material production by sensitive writers, will have to be done.
Role of Government Functionaries in Information Dissemination
179. One of the lynch pins in the entire communication process is the dissemination of information of the various Government schemes by the Government functionaries.16
The constant complaint in connection with the Government schemes has been that apart from the fact that there are very few programmes for women, and whatever limited programmes that exist have not been formulated with women's participation, they hardly reach the group for whom they are meant. For instance, the recent directive in IRDP is to cover 30 per cent women beneficiaries, but hardly 15 per cent have been covered. It was also observed by the Commission members during their tours that in most of the places, women were ignorant about these schemes. Surprisingly in some States, even the local level Government Officials were ignorant about the directive.
180. The success and failure of development plans and programmes therefore, depends upon access to development communication, the channels utilized to provide access to such information, back-up services provided to concretize information and awareness into actual development gains and an upward movement of grassroot level feedback into policy and programme formulation process.
181. The moot point is whether all these requirements are fulfilled in the present scheme of implementation. Do the various agencies have an information system which ensures speedy and undistorted flow of information? Besides, using some of the evaluative reports and notes from the field reports, findings of two specially conducted studies have also been used here. One study has been in village near Delhi, and the other in South Gujarat. The latter attempted to contact the Government officials starting from District level to Gram Sevak, to find out what are the schemes available for women and what are the channels through which the information is disseminated.
Developmental Programmes Available
182. As the programmes for women have been handled by various departments, it has been a Herculean task to make an inventory of all the programmes. The development programmes at the Centre have been of three categories: Economic Development Programmes, Social Development Programmes and Special Programmes for Women's Development. In all there are about 40 programmes.
183. It is now increasingly realized that apart from an integrated package of development inputs, a Development Information Dissemination System (DIDS), suited to the socio-cultural conditions of the target groups, is very critical. Mere provision of development programmes does not necessarily ensure equal participation capabilities among the target groups. So far, DIDS-has played a negligible role.
Under-utilization of Multi Media
184. A large number of development programmes have relied on print material (including leaflets, posters, brochures and other documents) and field publicity devices. The report of the Parliamentary Committee to probe into the communication gap found that the
bulk of the publicity budgets on anti-poverty programmes, for instance was spent of printed literature ignoring the fact of widespread illiteracy in the country. Many studies have pointed out that the lack of access to development information is just one step in a chain or deprivation which also includes lack of available support service and follow up efforts. Advertisements are given about the loans available but when approached, forms are not available and there is no one to explain the complicated form; thus the credibility of the Government is seriously in question.
185. Though the television and radio can be powerful media to disseminate information, in the context of mass poverty their use is limited.
186. As reported, excepting in the case of children's education (72%) and health (36%), awareness concerning other sectors of development was reported by very few women.
187. The media utilization in the two villages shows greater access to Radio. Television is available in fewer homes but newspapers are available in the least number of homes while the Radio at least seemed to expose them to ideas in women's development, television seemed in both the villages, to be primarily a medium of entertainment. Curiously enough, Krishi Darshan was listed as one of the popular programmes in Bindapur Village.
188. The time of the programme and access to radio/T.V. (since it was found that only men switched on the T.V.) seem to be factors for non-utilization of these media by women.
189. The use of other non-electronic media, particularly puppets, street plays, folk tales and other such traditional means of reaching out to the community seem hardly to be availed of. These have been mainly used by the grassroot organizations or sometimes by Extension Departments of Universities.
190. Another significant limitation of the development Agency's inability to reach out to the poor is due to their non-recognition of stratified heterogeneous rural social structure. The gram pradhan, for instance, coming from the upper castes or dominant political or economic group does not view alleviation of poverty as a serious concern and messages given through intermediary castes is not taken well by upper caste women.
191. Similarly, gender bias is not absent among the functionaries. They too consider women as inferior. The gram sevak who has to be constantly in touch with both the Government and the people, has been, by and large insensitive to the problems of women and will not go out of his way to reach out to them.
192. We have also been informed that the information about programmes is conveyed, at weekly meetings at the District/Taluka level. The Talatis, Sarpanchs and such other officials have in turn to give the message to the villagers, but the information hardly reaches the poor, lower caste women. The villagers, particularly women, need help in filling the complicated forms and have to rely on the Sarpanch. Many incidents have been reported when these officials have thrown away the forms. In a male dominated society, these officials do not oblige women immediately, and often, they have to make repeated trips, not always possible for a poor woman. In the end, she abandons the idea of taking any help.
193. Older uneducated, widows (above 35 years) residing in nuclear families and those belonging to farming occupations had low levels of awareness. On the other hand, educated married women between 18-35 years, residing in joint families and those belonging to agricultural labourers families and living in urbanised villages had high levels of awareness.
194. In the TRYSEM Programmes, though the avowed objective is to encourage the imparting of non-traditional skills to women, in reality this does not happen, largely because of gender-linked work divisions In one of the districts of Gujarat, it was reported that in 1986-87
where about 55-TRYSEM courses were provided, the number of boys was 1, 200 while that of girls was only 180. Further many girls were not given entrance to non-traditional courses like developing agricultural skills or carpentry.
195. Women seem to receive much of their information through mate members of the family or neighbours. Development communication is thus taking place in family zones, or at best extended neighbourhood zones. The organized associations like the ones represented by the Village Pradhan or the Extension Workers representing a development programme have very little to contribute to development awareness. This is only possible if and when the Government official is sensitive and would like to reach to this sector. The reaching out strategy can also succeed when certain new structures are created to facilitate the. process as was done in Rajasthan. The appointment of Sathins who are important opinion makers, has developed credibility, respect and self-confidence. But the BDO and Panchayat are suspicious and somewhat envious of the Pracheta as she ranks close to them in power.
196. India is a vast and varied country and it is difficult to generalise from a few studies. However, there are a few features of communication which have been surfacing even in limited coverage.
197. Firstly, unless a concerted effort is made by development functionaries, information is not likely to reach those for whom it is meant. In the normal bureaucratic situation, and in the overall atmosphere of apathy, political wirepulling and corruption, it is unrealistic to expect a sarpanch or a gramsevak or a PHC worker to take special pains to reach out to poor women to make them aware of the developmental schemes available to them. Therefore, they rely on the print media which is normally useful, but radio could be used if more imaginative ways of disseminating information are devised.
198. Secondly, the stratified social structure has to be accepted and therefore, efforts must be made to reach out to different strata through different means.
199. Thirdly, the possibility of bringing women within developmental visibility seems to rest in arbitrating family-based or neighbourhood-based communication. The patriarchal society considers men as the right persons to be informed about the programmes. Having larger mobility and exposure, they come to know about the programmes much earlier and if they are favourable to particular programme, women will find it easier to avail of the schemes. Therefore, men have to be not only given information but they have to be pressed into relaying this to their women. The moot point here is whether there is sufficient communication between husband and wife, between older men and younger women. Moreover, if the men are not convinced, they may not communicate the message. In short, unless special efforts are made to reach out to the poor women, the informal channels are not likely to deliver the goods.
Self Employed Women and Alternate Structures
200. The mainstream media—T.V. broadcasting, cinema or advertising have been indifferent to problems of the target women and even when projected, they are shown in a distorted or romanticised manner. Very few evidences could be cited where their hardships, working conditions, insecurity of work or miserable earnings have been portrayed with sensitivity and concern.
201. The formal system of education which is expected to create awareness among the students and generate social change, has also ignored the problems of poor women. So also, while the objective of adult education programmes is to provide skills to women of the
deprived sections and also empower them to improve their conditions, the limited review of the materials used in the adult education classes, indicates that we have miles to go to achieve this objective.
202. Similarly, though there are quite a few programmes which are meant to help poor women, little is in actual fact done to reach out to these women. Though it has been decided that 30 per cent of the beneficiaries of IRDP should be women, hardly 12 per cent are in fact, women. Thus, the development functionaries have not been able to encompass poor women.
203. In this situation of indifference towards the women of the unorganized sector, efforts are being made to create alternate structures in the media and in organizations which to some extent try to make these women visible, make them aware of the opportunities available, and provide access to resources.
204. Alternate media is a continuous process and not an end in itself. In contrast to mainstream media it is loosely knit, lateral and less hierarchical in structure. Alternate media comes into existence when the mainstream media does not respond to the needs of the deprived people. For example it is not enough that the hardships and disabilities of poor women get highlighted, but it is also necessary to look upon them not as beneficiaries from a welfare point of view, but as persons with a democratic right of survival.
Alternate Print Media
205. We have noted that, by and large, women have been ignored or treated as sex objects. Attempts have been made by freelance journalists, activists, academicians and concerned staff to counteract these features.
206. In the last three years, journals like Economic and Political Weekly have started to bring out special numbers on women, twice a year; Seminar occasionally brings out focussed number on any burning issues, for example, Sati.
207. However, there are limits to working within the system, hence alternate journals, newsletters, pamphlets etc. are brought out. Further, with the growth of the women's movement in the late '70s, many feminist groups have realized the need for their own pieces. 'Manushi' occupies a very significant place in alternate print media. The media had so far been ignoring rural women's problems and their capacity to resist. It was further realized that it was necessary to understand and identify the issues around which women in different parts of the country were beginning to struggle, and to devise action by which they could be strengthened and supported. Manushi, for the last ten years, has been continuing to focus attention on poor women's issues.
208. Ansuya (a journal run by SEWA), Baija (a Marathi journal specifically concentrating on poor women), Apni Azadi Ke Liye, Awas Aurat Ki, Nari Mukti and other journals in regional languages have raised feminist issues, discussed the problems of poor women, and shown that poor illiterate women are capable of launching a creative struggle against injustice.
209. Some research organizations also produce journals and newsletters wherein information about women in the unorganized sector is disseminated and for the first time, attention has been drawn to the oppressive conditions of life of these women, as well as the fact of female-headed families.
Parallel Electronic Media
210. The importance of video as an alternate media has been greatly realised in recent years. Many grass root organizations, academic; institutions and individuals are using video
cassettes to provide information to make the viewers aware of their rights and opportunities SEWA Video, health groups like CHETNA, CENDIT (Centre for the Development of Instructional Technology), ASTHA, St Xaviers communications group, are a few illustrative names which are involved in producing theme-based purposeful video programmes which could be shown to groups. Of course, the cost of the equipment, non-availability of power and other such constraints notwithstanding, video can be an effective medium for communications.
New Wave Films
211. The new wave films, unlike commercial formula films, have been trying to portray the problems of the working class and the rural poor more sensitively. For example, in the late seventies, Ankur, Akrosh, Manthan, Subah, Paar and Uski Roti, made poor women more visible.
212. But though these films are quite sensitive and realistic, they also fall in the trap of stereotyping the labouring woman. As Madhu and Ruth mention "In all these films, the viewer is told next to nothing about the woman's own perception of, or response to, the sexual advances". This tendency to present the poor, working women as literally and metaphorically dumb, reinforces the notion of her as a pitiable victim who would be a wife and a mother rather than a worker if the world were rightly and justly organized. 18
213. A mention should also be made of some of the feminists who have been involved in film making. The Marathi film 'Bai' needs to be specially highlighted Based on the life history of a dalit mother and daughter, this film has been used by women's groups to generate discussion on women's status and the trials of poor women.
214. Theatre is a traditional medium and folk theatre, mime, street plays, jatras etc have always been acceptable modes of entertainment and a vehicle for dissemination of information, ideas and values. Today, despite the invasion of cinema and other electronic audio visual devices, theatre continues to be a powerful medium.
215. Feminist groups have to an extent used street plays in mobilizing women and penetrating the middle class fortress of values and pipe dreams. The Play Om Swaha is an important landmark in the development of street plays. Similarly, a Bombay-based group produced a marathi play called Mulgi Zali ho (a daughter is born), which has been translated into a number of languages.
216. Traditional folk media are also widely used by grassroot organizations to establish a direct link with the people.19 Folk tunes with new lyrics that either expose gender discrimination or depict the plight of women, have been effectively used in mobilizing women generating awareness and warming up group meetings.
217. The existing folk songs generally reinforce the stereotype image of women Girls are expected to perform household chores as well as other agricultural activities. Adjustment and submissiveness are the dominant values in these songs.
218. One of the studies, experimented with modifying the content of the songs and evaluating their acceptance or rejection. For example, song which emphasised the importance of educating boys, was changed to emphasise the education of girls before they get married. Another song not only stressed the importance of education for girls but also spoke of the joy and pride of the grandparents about their beloved grand-daughter's success. Acceptance was found to be higher in the case of young, educated, unmarried girls. The older group showed great resistance, because of social pressure they had experienced.
219. Similarly, a study from Tamil Nadu is on effectiveness of the use of selected Folk Arts on Urban Adult Learners. 'Kummi' a folk dance is used to convey the message on child care, nutrition, family welfare, health and sanitation.
220. A significant gain was noticed in awareness and understanding through the use of these folk media.
Grassroots Organizations and Communication Experiments
221. Voluntary agencies have traditionally been working for the weaker sections of both rural and urban areas. However, the deprived sections of the society are too often treated as poor unfortunates who need to be raised from their down-trodden conditions by compassionate good Samaritans. This is not to suggest that the protagonists of the welfare' approach have not been sensitive to the problems of the poor, or that they are not sincere. A basic difference between the new grassroots organizations and the earlier voluntary organizations is in their approach and objectives.
222. It is further observed that the problems of women of the unorganized sector have not attracted much attention from the mainstream organizations. Even organizations like Lijjat Papad or Mahila Mandals which give work to poor women share, the same attitude to workers in terms of wages, working conditions and security of job as other employers. Therefore, we propose to take illustrations of a few grassroot organizations which have tried different methods of organising the women and evolved a few techniques of reaching out.
223. The emergence of grassroot organizations, particularly in the seventies, was the result of disillusionment with Government programmes for the poor, apathy of the academic community towards grassroot problems, and indifference of political parties to women's issues. As U. Kalpagam avers, "It cannot be denied that the post-1975 period also witnessed a general proliferation of autonomous women's organizations, some nurtured and aided by foreign donor agencies. But there is no doubt that the alienation of the poor women from mainstream politics, administration and development is the cause for the proliferation of women's organisations. Their existence outside the framework of party politics is an indictment of the parties' insensitivities" (U. Kalpagam P. 3). The genre in which they have been working emphasises popular participation, non-hierarchical structures, flexibility and building up women's self-confidence and strength.
Models of Grassroot Organisations
224. Research and development organisations like Centre for Women's Development Studies (CWDS) and Research Centre for Women's Studies (SNDT University) have been involved in working for the rural poor women. Their work includes teaching, research and action relating to women.
225. The CWDS has consciously opted for the role of catalyst in promoting research, action and policy debates in women's development issues. Time and again, there has been a transformation in the perspective, values and involvement, even the sense of identity of scholars, who subsequently begin to get involved in assisting the women to collectively work out solutions for their problems, using at this stage their own specific equipment, i.e., access to information of various kinds.20 CWDS has used camps as an instrument for mobilization, consciousness raising identity expansion and training in new activities, responsibilities and skills. The major site of work is Bankura District in West Bengal. It also look up important activities like organizing workshops for Middle Level Administrators and Grassroot workers, to make the former particularly aware of the problems of poor women.
226. Similarly, the SNDT Women's University, through the Research Centre of
Women's Studies launched a rural development programme in Balsar district, Gujarat, with the specific aim of playing the role of a catalyst and an intermediary between the Government and poor women. It took up training programmes and also assisted in organizing poor women, with a view to providing academic inputs and thus not only making education relevant but also helping to build up strength and confidence among deprived women.
227. Voluntary organizations working with women in the informal sector have taken upon themselves the task of making these women's work visible. Before organizations like SEWA, Working Women's Forum (WWF), Annapurna and others came up, there was hardly any recognition of the contribution of these women to family survival and to the national economy.
228. Annapurna is a grassroots organization started in 1972 for a group of working women, involved in preparing meals (Khanavalis) for workers living alone in Bombay.21 The main problem that these women faced was the high rate of interest charged by the local grocer when they bought provisions on credit.
229. Initially, the women were reluctant to form a group to get bank loans, primarily on account of fears of forming any type of relationship with the bank structures, as well as fear of regular Government inspections. They also feared of having to pay taxes as well having to adopt family planning compulsorily. All these fears were instilled in them by the local moneylenders/traders by floating rumours about problems involved in taking institutional loan. After much persuasion 14 women formed a group and were given loans by Bank of Baroda. Annapurna has now grown to cover 21 areas and can boost of having helped over 10, 000 women to get loans through DRI schemes.
230. A different model of a grassroots organization is SPARC (Society for Promotion of Area Resource Centres) which has been founded with the express purpose of working with the poorest women in Bombay city. It has been primarily working with slum women and pavement dwellers.
231. SPARC has evolved with the collaboration of some 600 women and uses an innovative approach to get information on housing and land use. It was revealed that unless the women themselves take an interest in housing policies, credit sources etc., they would be made use of by vested interests.
232. As Srilatha Batliwala writes, "Participants are fully aware that it may not result in their getting a better place to live in immediately. What they have gained is a confidence, an expertise, a sense of hope and determination, a refusal to given in to lethargy and fatalism.24
233. The Pune Molkarin Sanghatana is an organization of domestic workers without any political affiliation. It was founded in February 14, 1980 after a continuous agitation of domestic workers who had united spontaneously into a 700 strong band to protest against the harassment of a maid by her employer.22 A ten-day spontaneous strike of housemaids followed this incident and gave birth to the Molkarin Sanghatana. The events that followed also make a telling comment on how empowerment of women can be achieved through organizations.
234. During the agitation the Molkarins formulated their terms for better working condition and wages. Along with immediate demands, certain proposals for long term policy for domestic workers were also chalked out.
235. But the isolated and scattered nature of domestic work makes it very difficult to enforce any of these demands. Inspite of this, Molkarin Sanghatana, which presently has a membership of 1, 000 out of a total of 30 thousand housemaids around Pune, has been able to successfully secure gains in wages and also get the demand for a bonus.
236. Another model of grassroot work is based on specific interest issue. Chetna in
Ahmedabad for instance, has been more concerned with training health and nutrition workers. It is also concerned with awareness generation, particularly in health issues.
237. Similarly, CENDIT as mentioned earlier, concentrates on producing audo-visuals to generate awareness about the plight of women Mobile Creches organization's main concerns are health care and the education of children of migrant workers. 23
238. The Tilonia experiment of SWRC started in 1972, is one more illustration of efforts at initiating community participation in problem identification and problem solving. It evolved structures which facilitated information dissemination and community participation.
239. A remarkable Government model among the rural poor is the Women's Development Programme (WDP) in Rajasthan. Here, the Prachetas and Sathins working as community workers at block and at village levels have been local women. Much thought out efforts respectively goes into their training and making them aware of the problems of women, which has resulted in bureaucrats working with vision and concern in a few districts at least. Also, the Nutrition Programmes of Government in Tamil Nadu has developed effective communications at the grassroots level.
240. India is a vast country, hence a variety of efforts by individuals and groups has been made to reach out to poor women, to bring them together, and to make them aware of their conditions. All these are flexible and diverse models, yet two specific features come out sharply. Most of them do not look at women from a welfare point of view, or want them to depend upon the organizers. Instead, they aim at creating confidence and skills so that the women may themselves take over the responsibility. Most of them try innovative devices to get the participation of poor women. Their objective is not merely to provide information about availability of resources, but to also initiate the important process of building up self-confidence and increasing social awareness.
Communication Techniques Used by the Grassroot Organizations
241. It is quite clear that when the objective is to get maximum participation of women. generate flow of information from them to the policy makers and finally make them capable of running the organization, the techniques have to be more flexible, involving, innovative and participatory Information has not merely to be conveyed but also generated.
242. The most common technique of achieving this is oral Meeting women (person to person contact), talking to them, building up mutual trust. Efforts are made to build up the credibility of the workers of the organization and initiate the process of involving the poor women in various programmes.
243. The use of posters, flash cards, slogans and exhibitions has been another method of communication. Special exhibitions organized around specific themes, helps in generating awareness. Some groups use puppets for communicating. A very creative and yet interesting use is made of role plays and drama, particularly during workshops.
244. About 100 anganwadi workers took part in the training programme for anganwadi workers in Dalman block of Rai Bareli district in U P. The entire workshop was organized in such a way as to get the maximum initiative and participation of women in the collection of riddles, rhymes, songs and games.
245. Sathins hold 'jajam' meetings regularly to discuss their problems. They use plays in training to communicate the meaning of development, the functioning of certain kinds of cooperatives and the nexus that deprives the rural poor. A story about a struggle for minimum and equal wages for men and women was transformed into a play which showed the various operations, digging, relaying, carrying—involved in the work. This made the lives and struggles of women elsewhere in India, part of their own collective memory.
246. Holding shibirs", 'sammelans' of their members is the most common method used by these organisations. In short, when the objective is to reach the target group, various devices can be used.
247. This section delineated the role of alternate structures in communication. Committed individuals and groups are leaving no stone unturned to get the message to the concerned persons. For them, the poor women are not invisible nor are they looked upon from any political motive. The problem facing alternate media or organizations is how best to communicate and how effectively to bring about solidarity.
Inspite of their efforts, these grassroot organizations face quite a few problems.
These organizations are few, compared to the vast number of poor women. Hence they have their own small areas of operation, and are not able to encompass larger regions.
The creation and use of alternate media needs not only creative and innovative insights, but also commitment to work with poor women.
248. The alternate media will not be able to generate awareness by themselves. Special efforts to interpret serials, films and slide shows have to be made, by playing an interventionist role.
249. Even the best of the intentions to generate an atmosphere of equality cannot be easily overcome, the thousands of years of social distance perpetrated by caste, class, community and gender differences. For example, a Brahmin woman communicator is able to get across to many other women, but if the communicator is a Harijan, she is debarred from upper caste homes. Similarly, age and martial status are also significant variables influencing communication.
250. The cost involved in using the media or organizing meetings frequently has also to be considered.
251. Similarly the poor woman has so little free time, that frequent and lengthy meetings may not always be possible. These are some of the limitations, of course, it would not be wrong to say that if alternate structures were not available, there would have been little communication with these target women, at all.
252. The foregoing review has in various ways indicated that the mainstream media, the educational system and the policy makers have hardly considered the contribution of overwhelmingly large numbers of women in the unorganised sector. The fact that these women are often the sole bread-winner for whom work is not a transient phenomenon in their life but a permanent necessity is ignored. Hard back-breaking hours of toil are caricaturised into colourful, seemingly effortless tasks. The working woman is depicted through a distorting mirror. Maid servants are always grumbling, demanding, gossiping, fisher women are always quarrelsome and sexy, a construction worker with heavy load on her head transforms into a smiling and scantily-dressed woman. For advertisers, machines and gadgets are considered to liberate women (How many women can afford them is a moot question) from grumbling maid servants and not from house-work Images, especially visual ones, influence people both at a conscious and subconscious level. Because they reflect a distorted and biased perception of reality, such images create and also reinforce a reality which in turn feeds the image.
253. Further, the reality of severe exploitation of poor self-employed Women by the middlemen (which has been time and again pointed out by numerous studies), bureaucratic cobwebs of rules and conditions, harassment by municipal authorities and police in the name
of law and order, are not depicted by the media. The entire notion of women's work as shown by the electronic or print media, suggests that she is doing a wifely/daughterly/motherly duty when she is working. That the work which she does is contributing significantly to the survival of the family is a fact that rarely surfaces.
254. The prevalent 'welfare' approach of the policy makers considers poor women as targets and beneficiaries, but not as participants in the development process. Development communication believes that information is not an unilateral phenomenon, but a two-way process, it also stresses that they have not to be talked to in a benevolent manner, but instead their experiences have to be considered while formulating programmes and strategies.
255. One of the important findings of the review of communication agencies, has been that though radio has been effective as a supplier of information, much of the actual information transmission is done through inter-personal communication, where family members, village elders and opinion leaders play a crucial role. Some of the studies have also shown that in a society where oral communication is still predominant, the caste barriers, or norms regarding husband wife relationships become serious constraints to access to information. The upper castes having more access to powers that be, do not transmit the same to lower caste women, in a situation where, for centuries, male family members are told that women should only be told whatever it is worth their knowing, it is difficult to expect them to transfer all information, with regard to say, milk prices in the cooperative or TYRSEM programmes of training in non-traditional skills, to women. Selectivity in information transfer is a likely outcome.
256. On the other hand, it has been noticed that whenever a concerted effort is made to reach out to the poor women, the results have been positive. As mentioned in the tour report of the Commission it has been mentioned during the country wide tour, that whenever women have been organised into a worker's union or cooperative society or Mahila Mandal or have had some interaction with some development project, they seem to have a better idea of their rights as well as about the laws that existed to protect them In Rajasthan for instance, where the women's development project is working, there is a marked difference in the knowledge about agriculture extension work. They even know the hazards of zinc pollution from the zinc plant which is destroying their crops and their health.
257. But grass-roots organisations are not always success stories. A woman may help her puppeteer husband in stitching, organizing, etc, but she will not travel with him for performances. Women puppeteers, initially have to bear the criticism of the community. Further, the available communication is not always of information on aids and facilities available, but it is also often protest communication where slogans, posters, exhibitions and songs convey the message of protesting against oppression and exploitation. Hence, grass-root organisations become threats to the status quo, and treated like a Jaw and order problem.
258. Finally, it has to be noted that communication takes place in a society which is based on private ownerships of the means of production, with profit as a motive of production and saleability as a major criterion of the worth of any product. In this context, poor women's access to information may not immediately lead to an improvement of their conditions of life, nor will their realistic portrayal society sensitive to their problems. However, visibility is the first step towards awareness and action.
259. Identification of the forms of communication which help interaction, reveals that both mainstream and informal forms of communication play an effective role in image-building, information transfer. However, due to illiteracy and poverty, cinema and Television are considered luxury items, newspapers and journals are of very little use, and hence
communication is only effective through informal networks and oral channels.
260. In the context of these findings, the following recommendations are made
(1) Working women in the unorganised sector ought to be looked upon as workers and not merely as performing wifely or daughterly duties. Their being major earners and producers and not merely consumers ought to be projected. Unless they are perceived as workers, their rights will not be recognised.
(2) The imperative need today is to formulate a clear communication policy stating its objectives, how it plans to achieve its objectives, and what is the time period and institutional structures in which the objectives are to be realized.
For all Media
(1) All the groups which are concerned with the media and/or connected with planning and dissemination should structurally integrate the participation of socially aware persons into their work. This will enable the planning group to be aware of the gender perspective and to women's issues. The media monitoring unit should try to help the media to orient themselves to the interest, concerns and development of women in the unorganised sector.
(2) Frequent workshops may be organised for media persons focusing generally on women's problems, and specifically on the problems of women in the unorganised sector. Further, such workshops should also publicize the successful communication experiments carried out in the media, so as to help others in developing and using such strategies.
This would further help in looking at the poor women not as mere objects to be acted upon, but equal partners in creatively disseminating information.
(3) Innovative efforts to communicate should be encouraged. If possible, some percentage allocation may be reserved for such experiments, so that efforts are not hampered by lack of funds.
(4) Considering the context of poverty and unemployment the over-emphasis on electronic media ought to be discouraged Instead, other forms of interactions such as fairs, shibirs, health camps, jathas can be organized.
(5) All the media channels, both public sector and private, sector, should take serious note of the Seventh Plan directive that themes which glamorise conspicuous consumption should not be projected. Advertisements displaying women as sex symbols and using them for sales promotion, should be seriously dealt with. It is not enough to control pornography through legislative enactments, it is equally necessary not to convey sex-linked division of labour or female stereotypes More vigorous policy implementation is called for.
(6) The public sector media should make deliberate attempts to not only project the problems of poor women, but should make sure that their work conveys neither conflicting role models nor derogatory references to women's work.
(7) To improve content and coverage, coordinated efforts for increased interaction between NGOs, women's social action groups, research organizations, institutes of mass communication and media personnel be developed. There is a need to evolve a network to monitor the projection of women and evolve a code of ethics with regard to the presentation of women in the media.
Recommendation for Print Media
(1) It is recommended that more coverage be given to poor women's lives and their problems. Care must be taken to avoid sexist biases in the news coverage A more sensitive sympathetic reporting is called for with regard to this category of women.
(2) A well-defined and adequately funded programme of encouraging the publication of data, problems, schemes to help women and also to make them aware of their rights, ought to be printed in regional languages in a readable style. The use of sophisticated concepts and complicated presentations ought to be avoided.
Recommendations for Radio and Doordarshan
(1) While accepting the fact that television is resorting to sponsored programmes, commercial cinema songs and interviews and largely mainstream films which reinforce stereo-types of women, it is recommended that more vigilance be applied in selecting programmes. Often, seemingly 'women-oriented' programmes are in reality dubious interpretations of the women's question.
(2) Video can be used as a consciousness raising tool by telecasting simple programmes which give useful information and guidelines. Further, appreciating the power of songs sung in traditional tunes but having feminist content. Doordarshan should collaborate with activists in collecting such songs and prepare video cassettes to be played in the programmes like Ghar Bahar, Krishi Darshan, etc.
(3) Women's programmes ought not to be treated as 'Purdah Hour', either by Doordarshan or by radio Information about problems of women in the unorganised sector is necessary for both men and women.
(4) The findings of the Commission during its tours observed that radio is more popular than television with women and comparatively more easily accessible. However, it is very necessary to reschedule the programme timings. Only those women who are not working can listen to the radio in the afternoon. Most of the women workers would prefer relevant programmes late in the evening.
(5) In view of the proposed expansion of television and radio, efforts must be made to include poor women in planning. More community sets must be made available and more group viewing be facilitated, so that these women get the benefit of reaching to the media.
(6) Given the hierarchy of programmes in the present Doordarshan and radio structures. It is recommended that the depiction of problems of vast majority be given higher priority. Further, more facilities should be accorded to make programmes which are not unimaginative and studio bound.
(7) Village Mahila Mandals should be provided with a transistor set and tape recorder, for their own use. Producers largely belong to the middle and upper classes and have limited notions of the problems of their target audience. They need to be made aware of these women and their problems, so as to portray them sensitively. Also, women themselves should be encouraged and trained to use the equipments to make their own programmes. 59
Recommendations for Cinema
(1) It is very frustrating to note that commercial cinema does not project self-employed women realistically. On the contrary, it gives a false idea about their lives and never considers work as a necessity for women. Depiction of poverty is used more as a spring board to sentimentalize the role of the hero or the mother. Rape scenes are included for utilating the audience rather than to depict the vulnerability of these women. It is recommended that metre strict control on the production of such films be used. Dehumanizing portrayals must be condemned.
(2) Regional language films have, on quite a few occasions, depicted the problems of poor women sympathetically and with understanding. Such films should be dubbed in Hindi and other languages so that the message may reach a wider audience
(3) innovative film producers should be given special encouragement, not merely for producing but also helping in distribution.
Recommendations for Department of Audio Visual Publicity (DAVP)
(1) DAVP's poor performance is very sad Doordarshan's posters exhibitions and short films are not generally imaginative, they are very directly diadectic, and condescending, they suggest that poor men and women are foolish and have to be constantly given advice. It is recommended that more sensitivity be exhibited in conveying messages, whether it is of Family Planning or of the use of mechanised equipment in agriculture or of the age of marriage.
(2) Field publicity devices have to be used judiciously in a society where most of the population is illiterate. Experience in legal literacy has shown that print materials can be used for para-legal workers or extension workers but not for the dissemination of information to rural masses.
(3) In order to be effective, the Development Information Dissemination system should take following steps:
(4) A total training/orientation/re-training plan should be formulated for each development programme for women and wherever possible, for a common cluster of development programmes for women, incorporation therein the hierarchy of functionaries, diverse groups of beneficiaries/participants, and training methodologies with the specific objective of developing knowledge, attitudes and practice of various development programmes for women. Networking among governmental and non-governmental organisations and educational institutions should be made part of the training plan, with a view to making optimum use of existing resources. Combined training programmes at the block level, comprising of local officials in the development programme representatives of non-governmental organizations, village level functionaries, and people's representatives at the village level would be helpful in creating a climate for better utilization of communication channels for development programmes. The training programmes should include, among other aspects, an element of desensitization of biases against the poor.
(5) A well-coordinated communication strategy could be evolved by an integrated group, comprising of Block level extension officials, bank officials, health officials and District Rural Development Agency officials for use of oral, visual and audiovisual methods of communication for development programmes.
(6) The use of communication media in aid of a process of raising community participation for that matter, participation by self-employed women, in development programmes could be viewed in terms wider than mere information dissemination exercises. Most development programmes which visualize the poor self-employed women as the potential beneficiary, or one of the intended target groups, would need to accord a broader orientation to communication support systems. Communication support systems for the development programmes must reach the intended beneficiaries in terms of their own communication matrix and in a manner which provides a comprehensive effect, access to information, skills in using the information, and, ability to articulate feedback. This may ultimately make the policy formulation processes much more meaningful.
Recommendations for Education System (both Formal and Informal)
(1) In order to implement the spirit of the new Education Policy, the textbooks and curricula will need complete overhauling. The invisibility of the women of the unorganised sector in text-books is a sad commentary on our education system. It is strongly recommended that text-books be rewritten so as to eliminate invisibility of women and sexism
in the portrayal of their lives.
(2) Adult education primers which are meant to be utilized primarily by poor women. need to be rewritten, as they do not in any way project the issues faced by these women nor do they generate self-confidence or courage.
Recommendations with Regard to Government Functionaries
(1) The findings point out that dissemination of information from the Government to the people is highly unsatisfactory. Not only is the top down approach counter-productive, but many a times the functionaries are unaware of the work and problems of women in the unorganised sector. It is recommended therefore that more interface situations with the activists and the women in unorganised sector be organised. Just as steps were taken to include women's views in the training for officials, officers, from the collector down to the gram sevak, must be exposed to the real situation of poor women and, their needs.
(2) Reaching out to women cannot be an automatic process. But it has been found that whenever efforts have been made, the message does reach. Implementation is always difficult and we recommend therefore that, considering the social set up in rural areas, efforts must be made to involve gram sevikas and mukhya sevikas in the task of reaching out to women.
Recommendations for Grassroot Organisations
(1) Considering the effectiveness of the grassroot organizations in reaching poor women, more support both financial and in facility, should be given to these organizations.
(2) The jatra, kriti, mahila mela should be encouraged as forms and communication where women not only get exposure, but also forum for self-expression.
(3) It has been found that the use of multi-media has been functional. Hence it is recommended that groups be encouraged to use both folk and highly sophisticated electronic media. The creative use of puppets, story telling, songs with new content, role plays and all other devices of participatory functioning be used and also documented, both in print and visual forms so that other groups may learn from the experience. In a poor country like ours, it would be wasteful expenditure for every group to start on a clean slate. Replication and emulation must be encouraged. This is not to deny the role of regional specificities. The detailed write up of the processes involved in participatory training prepared, for instance, by the Institute of Development Studies, Rajasthan is very useful. This should be provided in regional languages so that they could reach out to more women.
(4) Though alternative structures have been more effective in their understanding. reaching out and getting the participation of poor women, they are just a few drops in an ocean of invisibility. Hence it is recommended that wherever possible, mainstream media and organisations be used. This would not only be helpful in wider coverage but will hopefully bridge the gap between the two.
(5) To get a more authentic picture of the exposure and use of the media, more research needs to be done on audience, readers and viewers.