I’d seen very few women up until today, and had started to wonder where half the population were, when I met Madhuri Kalal and crew filming on location at the hotel. Madhuri reports for Kashmiri News and she told me about “Hello Kitty” parties where women hang-out. Though I don’t think they’re generally absent from public spaces because they’re too busy partying.
I expect life is anything but a party for all but a privileged few. On building sites the labouring work looks to be women’s work. And although things have moved on since wives were kept in “gilded cages”, observing from behind a veil or a screen, as the harem did in the Hawa Mahal.
Their absence from the funeral the other day and in general, makes me think the equality agenda has a way to go.
“The strength of tradition means that women have a particularly tough time in rural areas. Literacy stood at 67% in 2011 (males 81%, females 53%, a massive rise from 18% in 1961 and 39% in 1991), although it’s still the third-lowest in India, while the gender gap remains India’s widest.” – Lonely Planet on Rajasthan (Jaipur is in Rajasthan)
Perhaps a country’s status and influence on the world stage should depend upon its laws and cultural practices regarding women, e.g. revising the international charter of human rights to specifically address sexism (if it doesn’t already) and more vigorously pursuing an equality agenda. That said, it again begs the question of how to instigate mass social change in large, rural, traditional populaces with low levels of literacy. Might Jeremy Clarkson… 🙂
I’m liking Jaipur. Its old bazaar doesn’t look to have changed much over the centuries, and is a wonderfully vibrant place full of women gaily going about their business, clad in bright, colourful saris. One can’t be indifferent toward India, it overwhelms the senses and challenges much of what we take for granted. It can also be hard work, so this evening it was good to meet Chris and Fiona from Kent to play and swap travellers’ tales in Estuary English.