Decision Making Power Among Married and Unmarried Women

The present study is undertaken to analyse the Decision-Making Power among married and unmarried women. Scale regarding ‘Decision Making Power among Women’ constructed by Jan (2004) was used on 100 women, selected through multi-stage sampling method. The paper reveals that there is no significant differences between married and unmarried women regarding their decision making power. However, highly significant differences are observed, between married and unmarried women, related to their empowerment. Women generally possess low decision making power and are mainly dependent on masculine and/or familial decision making.

Women play a crucial role in the economic welfare of the family. Women perform different tasks depending on their Socio-economic structure, number of people in the family, the nature of professions they are involved in and many other factors (Reddy and Narayan 1987). Decisions made in home management ranges in importance from major once in a lifetime. For example, choice of a marriage partner is indeed an important decision and not to be taken lightly, but it is only in fairy tales that they live happily ever after (Knoll 1973).

In the upper income groups, the type of home and the duties of women may vary greatly in the conservative or traditional home and in the modern home (Megha 1990). The authoritarian character of the traditional joint family entails decision making powers concentrated, in the position of the eldest male members (Rao 1982). Women are traditionally less involved in decision making at all levels. Their important role is not recognised and, therefore, still not accepted in decision-making.

The share of women in community decision-making structure is still very low and their participation is mostly stressed by political parties, more as elements of their own publicity and proof of democratisation, than as a real interest and need. For example, only 3 per cent women are members of political parties. They are also less active in professional associations and bodies (Slovenia 1998). Without the active participation of women and incorporation of women’s perspectives at all levels of decision making, the goals of equality development and peace cannot be achieved (Karl 1995).

Review of Literature Lancuster (1965) conducted study on ten wives who had not attended college. Several women expressed or gave evidence of uncertainty in relation to their decision making. Families are more likely to report satisfactory than unsatisfactory decisions. This may be due to pride to accepting the consequences with good grace, to rationalization of the alternative chosen or to the fact that people frequently make new decisions to offset the unpleasant consequences of the unsatisfactory decision. According to Mumtaz (1982) there are various family matters on which men generally take decisions.

Women are quite often not even consulted. This is because of the feeling among men that women are incapable of expressing their decisions, due to illiteracy among them. It would mean if women are educated they would acquire the capacity to participate in decision making. Singh (1992) conducted a study on modernity and decision making in upbringing of the children, and the study revealed that 69. 5 per cent of the respondents of all categories expressed that both husband and wife should take decisions on this matter. No respondent perceived that wife only should be a decision maker in giving education to the children.

It 44 was found that 90. 8 per cent of the respondents were in high level of modernity, 74. 0 per cent of the respondents in the medium level of modernity and only 20. 3 per cent of the respondents were in low level of modernity considered that husband and wife both have to take decisions regarding the education of the children. Malkit (1998) conducted study on decision making power among women, related to social obligations, which include decisions regarding age at marriage, mate selection, dowry. Expenditure on marriage and education of children also showed relatively high role of women.

Dowry was more or less a female domain with 78. 3 per cent, women having high role in it, followed by decisions related to age at marriage of son or daughter. Roth (2001) in his study found that wives tend to under-report their household decision-making power. In couples with both partners educated and in couples in which women work for pay, both partners were significantly more likely to report that both of them participate in the final decisions than was the case in couples without education or in which the wife did not work for pay.

Decision-making power of women as measured in this study was significantly related to the household having a plan for what to do in case of a maternal emergency, but was not associated with place of childbirth or with having a postpartum checkup. Lait and Rehmat (2001) in their study examined whether men’s and women’s retirement have a differential impact on several aspects of marital life, i. e. power relations (as reflected in decision-making), spousal resources, division of household tasks, and quality of marriage. There was evidence of change in decision-making patterns about spending time and carrying out feminine and general tasks.

It was also found that men’s retirement has a different impact than women’s retirement on decisions about household affairs and performance of feminine tasks. Marieke (2001) argued in his study that perception of social support were based in part in the structural conditions of individual marital arrangements, specifically household decision of labour and decision making.

Objectives of the Study The study is undertaken with following objectives: -To study the decision making power among women as per their marital status. -To assess women’s control on their fertility. -To evaluate the level of decision making process among women in the maters concerning their children. -To observe women’s empowerment through their decision making power. Rationale of Study Women play a great role in over all development and progress of the nation.

But their participation in different fields either directly or indirectly are still behind in many aspects. In most cases, women are considered inferior to men, and their life is restricted within the four walls of the house. For taking any decision, less power is given to women, as they have the right to take decisions regarding various items, as that of the men. So, in order to make women aware about their influence on society, nation and for attaining their respectable status within the family, the present study was undertaken.

Rights should be given to women, to make decisions regarding various aspects in the family and society. Thus, the present study is under taken to highlight the areas where women lag behind in their decision making power. The study was conducted in 2007, on 100 women in Jammu and Kashmir. Among these women, 50 were married and 50 were unmarried. Among married women, 25 were illiterate and 25 women were literate. Same was the case among unmarried women. The study was based on primary data. Multistage sampling method was used for the study.

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