Though we frequently get the opportunity to celebrate evolution, independence and innovation for and by women at The Story Exchange, we must also acknowledge the reality that many women throughout the world still face struggles simply because of their gender.
A study conducted and authored by New York University graduate student Abigail Weitzman revealed that accomplished, independent women in India are more likely to become victims of domestic violence than women who are more subservient.
Her findings, which were published in the journal “Population and Development Review,” showed that women who were more educated than their husbands were 1.4 times more likely to suffer violence at the hands of their partners, 1.54 times more likely to suffer frequent violence and 1.36 times more likely to suffer severe violence (in comparison to women who had not achieved the same level of education as their spouses).
Weitzman reached her conclusion by analyzing data specific to women that was collected in 2005 and 2006 through India’s National Family Health Survey.
In an interview with Reuters, she said that she was not surprised by her findings.
“I became interested in this research because of theories that suggested that women who resist gender norms often face consequences for that resistance,” she said. “Before I started researching this topic in India, I was researching in Latin America. My interest is not unique to India, but more about emerging markets and places where women are really beginning to enter the labour market full-force.”
Payal Gandhi Hoon, founder and coach at Tamarai, touched upon the patriarchal norms of Indian society as she urged women there to view themselves as able, intelligent people in a recent article for The Story Exchange.
“The need of the hour is for a woman to change her self-perception,” she wrote. “That means she must challenge her own belief system and conditioning, so that she can recognize her true worth. Once she can do that, it will be so much easier to seek what is required to make a business.”
Rather than discourage women from pursing their dreams, Weitzman suggested the creation and implementation of support programs that encourage women to seek protection from violence while still working toward accomplishing their goals.
“We should be supplementing those efforts with additional efforts to protect women as we move towards change,” she said. “So I suggest making psychological counseling available or increasing the number of domestic violence shelters, especially in urban locations where micro-credit programs or vocational programs are concentrated.”