Main Article Content
Despite the prevalence of gender inequality in developing countries like India, little attention has been paid on the process of gender norm acquisition among its population. This study thus, addresses the gap by exploring formation of gender attitude among women (specifically about their appropriate roles and their rights as well as legitimacy of domestic violence) taking religious affiliation and other possible determinants into account. Data was obtained and analyzed from a population-based survey among 500 young married women (18-30 years), Hindu and Muslim, in rural North-Dinajpur district of West Bengal, India. The results indicated a fairly patriarchal view of gender relations whereby respondents supported traditional division of roles between men and women, inequitable attitude towards girls and justified wife beating on various grounds irrespective of religious affiliation. However, the Muslim women had somewhat more non-egalitarian attitude. We found that higher autonomy among the respondents’ mothers (decision making and mobility) led to more egalitarian gender attitude whereas adverse experiences like witnessing parental violence during childhood led to more traditional attitude. Indicators of women’s empowerment such as higher age at marriage, higher education, mass media exposure and engagement in income generating activities were pacifiers in the development of non-egalitarian gender attitudes. Policy implications of the findings are also presented and discussed.
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