human rights of rural women and sustainable development

Sustainable development and human rights both need equal opportunities in the policies. Sometimes human rights of rural women and children do not get space in programmes of sustainable development. For example in the tiger reserve forest areas, incidences of malnourishment among the women and children are more in comparison to urban area. Similarly, access to education, health facilities and transport facilities are poor. Women are working hard for cutting the fire wood and carry it on head (because of certain rules) for many kms. my concept of gender audit is not only related with the money but inclusion of women’s issues during the planning of any development project (industrial zones, rural development projects, urban infrastructure projects, excavation projects and many more),  approaches for solving the issues during process, financial budgets and it’s delivery and at last the achievements.

A long way to go..

The  picture is from one of the big fast developing industrial area, which is not far from the national capital. It would be good for policy makers to know the impact of Industrialization on these women.

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Comment by Pramod Sharma on January 12, 2023 at 20:52

If women would have been part of planning the situation could be something different…

Comment by Pramod Sharma on November 18, 2013 at 20:22

the article has given more strength to my point that the problem of malnourishment can be reduced effectively by making women's life easy.

Comment by Pramod Sharma on August 7, 2013 at 11:06

Thanks Avinash

Comment by Avinash Chaudhary on August 6, 2013 at 17:14

it is true, rural women needs more attention and they need to be made aware of the rights, like sexual and reproductive health right. I think GOVt. and civil society organisation should focus more, and ARC (Advocating Reproductive Choice ) a coalition is working for the SRHR of the Indian women.

Comment by Pramod Sharma on June 7, 2013 at 22:07

Exactly Rituu,  and every intervention needs to be audited every year to assess how these interventions benefiting women, as we do in financial audit or in environmental audit.

Sorry for bit ambitious but we have also experienced that many interventions prepared in gender sensitive manner at planning level but during  the process they missed the track..

Thanks for  providing lovely plateform



Comment by Rituu B Nanda on June 7, 2013 at 18:09

Dear Pramod, what a great learning from your experience! Thanks a lot. Thus, the government and NGOs have to keep the rural as well as gender factor in mind will designing interventions.

Warm regards,


Comment by Pramod Sharma on June 6, 2013 at 10:53

Thanks Rituu,  I am also learning, but I love to share my experiances and learning  with people so that things move on..

Malnourishment is an end result of combination of many activities and many experts see it in different ways. But most of the reasons blame to rural communities for it.  In contrasts to that wise and sensible rural people claims that many rural women are healthy in rural environment as well.   Similarly many experts blame to child marriages for it and rural communities also provide examples of healthy women in their society, who did child marriage and are healthy.   There are many other reasons of malnourishment considered by many experts including poverty, women’s low status, low education, poor health facilities and cleanliness.

Mother and child relationship is considered as a unique relationship not only in literature but in medical science and also in psychology. All think that children feel secure if they spend more time with their mothers or in motherly environment like crèche etc.)

My feeling was no different from the above reasons. But during my travel to villages from district place in the national tiger reserve area by local transport, I have experienced many unpleasant incidences (like death of a sick child in running bus, long travel by the people for minor health issues like X rays to confirm about any damage to their body, uncared children during peak agricultural season in villages) has forced me to think about it in detail.


Then I tried to do general comparisons with women in urban environment (for example, women and children have access to hospital for the treatment in almost every Kilometer in urban area. Whereas the people who are living in forest reserves, they have to go almost 40-100 km and more to only reach the hospital. Because of distance and unfamiliar places, they go in group (it means more expenses for travel, stay etc).  Now we can imagine the situation of single women in such areas.  


Similarly forest village women have less or no access to maternity nursing homes and they have very local and unsafe sort of abortion practices (I have only heard or read about it). This may keep them bothered in their young age (I feel).

Second Rural women are involved in physical hard work in daily life and in peak agriculture season they work more hours than usual. During that time their children ignored very badly. Urban women have access of crèche facility which is not present in villages.

Third Cleanliness, as we know that intensity of biodegradation activity is very high in villages. Poor housing and poor drainage is also major hurdles in prevention of diseases.   Cattles also reside with their family and cattle are carrier of germs and other microorganisms. This enhance the chances of diseases very frequently among the people specially children and women. Women broom and clean the rough but big yards in morning.  So, only constructing toilets to control the de-worming perhaps not change the situation. It needs a very holistic cleanliness plan for it.  

Fourth, Livestock care is done by village women and it is also a very tedious work and they bring fodder bundles of 25-30 kgs from long distances (3-5 kms) and in some Indian states literally cook food for animals of around 300 kgs every day. I have read somewhere about findings of small survey with rural women in Africa, that most of the women don’t like the work of livestock care and they don’t want to do it.  

Fifth, Cooking is also very tedious. Most of the rural women using firewood for cooking in the absence of other options and due to unplanned rural forests, they walk for long distances, cut it and carry it on head and walk almost 6-8 kms back home. Many times these fire woods are thorny and injured their bodies and in the absence of proper treatment they face many problems.  In urban area cooking food is easy and access to food is easy due to shops and other sources. 

Sixth, for travelling many times they have to walk around 3-5 km to catch the transport, which is also not run on time.  In urban area travelling is easy in compare to remote rural area. 

We also aware that most of the rural livelihood based on natural resources like land, rain water, forest etc. Mostly agriculture is done on inherited land and women have no rights/ or limited rights or unclear title and this makes their future unsafe so they may be bothered about this.  

In other words we can say that thousands of rural women are living life like punishment, certainly not for their deeds.

Due to above hard physical work and tedious lifestyle, their children do not get appropriate care. They do not get sufficient sleep for the development of their brain and timely food for their health. In addition to that they also don’t have facilities for checking the vitamin deficiencies and other regular medical checkups. So they eat whatever is available near to them, not according to the need of their body.

For fighting with malnourishment many approaches are adopted but I personally feel very strongly, that there is a need to work holistically to make rural women’s life easy. It doesn’t mean that rural men are doing nothing but they are working hard to earn money but their jobs are not returning well. So most of them are waiting for their chance, looking for opportunities, but yes they are stuck in-between where they can’t leave their traditional jobs and not enough skilled or knowledgeable to enter completely in new jobs. So the complete load of traditional jobs bear by the women of their households.  

State can help rural women by growing a very good grass lands in villages, they can provide land for firewood (non thorny species) near to village. Or even private sector can enter in this business with involvement of local people or self-help groups or cooperatives and can also involve MGNREGS in it.

National forests should involve some facilities for local residents like providing a very good hospitals and education centers for the kids. These local people are suffering due to protection of 15-20 tigers in national interest.

thanks once again and best regards,


Comment by Rituu B Nanda on June 5, 2013 at 13:24

Hi Pramod, thanks for your blog. I loved the photo! I had a query as I am trying to learn. You say  malnourishment is greater among women and children in rural areas as compared to cities. Why is that so?



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