The Sociology and Social Work Association and Socius, Applied Sociology Students Collective organised the Annual Sociology Lecture Series. The fourth lecture of this series was on the topic ‘Revisiting the Woman Question from a Gender Economics Perspective’ and was delivered by Dr Vibhuti Patel, a renowned academician, researcher and social thinker who has extensively contributed to the field of gender economics.
The introductory note was delivered by Neha Ashar of I MA Applied Sociology.
Dr Vibhuti Patel’s lecture gave a comprehensive overview of gender economics in the Indian context. The main focus of the lecture was on the impact and issues faced by women in the economy.
Dr Patel discussed the gender perspective and its three approaches - Women in Development, Women and Development, Gender and Development, and how they have panned out in India. She also briefly discussed the importance of having an intersectional approach in dealing with the ‘woman’ question in gender economics. She also offered a critique of the conventional development indicators, which she stated has “bypassed women and enhanced the gender gap”.
She discussed the socioeconomic and political bases of the disadvantageous position of women in the current economic systems. Insightful examples like - how the nutrition of women is affected by the practice of women eating after the rest of the household made the situation more apparent to the audience. She also discussed the importance of political participation of women and how there are economic bases to customary and family laws. Thus the position of women in the economy is affected by factors that are not apparent as completely economic.
The woman question was also discussed with regard to economic theory. Dr Patel discussed gender bias in theories of value, distribution, and population. An example is the Nobel Laureate Gary Backer’s model of ‘competing interests’ which has been criticised by women’s studies scholars as sexist and as merely promoting the status quo.
The next topic discussed was measures that have made women more visible in statistics and data systems. Dr Patel briefly discussed the Gender Development Index and the Gender Empowerment Measure.
Dr Patel also presented HDI-related figures related to women.
The final part of her lecture was dedicated to discussing current issues and experiences of women during the COVID-19 pandemic, ways to achieve gender mainstreaming and the role it can play in attaining SDG goals.
The lecture was followed by a question and answer session. The vote of thanks was proposed by Tina Dsouza from I MA Applied Sociology.