Dr. Capuzza Explains the Confinement and Discrimination Indian Women Face

April 06, 2010


A passion for women's rights brought Dr. Jamie Capuzza '85, professor of communication at Mount Union College, to research the movement in India.

Capuzza received the opportunity to explore the lives of women in India and interact with them first-hand. She shared her story and research during the Faculty Lecture on Wednesday, February 28.

The U.S. Education Foundation in India sponsored the six week seminar in the summer of 2005. Throughout the six week tour, the group visited nine cities plus many villages. The goal of the seminar was to define the role and status of women in India.

'For every woman that has a Ph.D. or sits on parliament, there are tens of thousands of women who don't know their most basic rights,' said Capuzza of Indian women. 'The status of women in India is both rising and falling simultaneously.'

Women in India make up a mere quarter of the workforce and face constant wage discrimination. Nearly half of Indian women can not read or write and 60% of the children that are not attending school are female.

Dr. Capuzza also spoke of the Indian goddess Shakti. Shakti is the underlying power of the divine and the personification of God's female aspect. The power of this goddess, though, does not translate into power for women in everyday life.

'The lives of many of India's women are not valued enough to justify having a baby in the hospital,' said Capuzza.

Due to the assumptions that males are assets to the families and females are liabilities, females are often either aborted due to their sex or killed as infants. The decisions of the children's lives are made by either the husband of the women or the woman's mother-in-law, not the child's mother.

Indian government has decided to take a stand against the inhumane killings and passed a law in 1994 to stop this type of murder, but according to Capuzza only one doctor has been prosecuted for these actions. In order to help deter this behavior, government agencies have posted signs on clinics throughout the country stating that it is illegal to kill a child due to his or her sex.

Capuzza said, 'Girls are fed less and much less likely to be taken to receive medical help.'

The woman's movement has been evolving since 1829. There is now an enforced law requiring 33% of local government positions be held by women. The movement still has far to go, but the fact that these statistics are being recorded shows progress has been made.

'The government, which obviously has very limited resources, is trying to fund key initiatives aimed at helping woman; this means more money is being spent towards the efforts,' said Capuzza.

Each year a member of the Mount Union faculty is selected to give a special lecture relating interesting or important developments in his or her own field or exploring matters of general concern to the faculty.

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