Female headed households, aspects of poverty, and sustainable rural development in India, with particular reference to the state of West Bengal

Vecchio, Nerina, 1964- (1996). Female headed households, aspects of poverty, and sustainable rural development in India, with particular reference to the state of West Bengal Master's Thesis, School of Economics, The University of Queensland.

       
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Author Vecchio, Nerina, 1964-
Thesis Title Female headed households, aspects of poverty, and sustainable rural development in India, with particular reference to the state of West Bengal
School, Centre or Institute School of Economics
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 1996
Thesis type Master's Thesis
Total pages 201
Language eng
Subjects 14 Economics
Formatted abstract This research project examines the status of female headed households (FHHs) in rural India, aspects of their poverty and the implications of those for sustainable rural development with particular reference to the state of West Bengal. The assumption that FHHs dominate the poorer section of the community and have less access to resources than others are tested. We also access the effectiveness of development programs ie. trickle down approach and particpatory approach to achieve sustainable development. Armed with this information we define the poor and identify appropriate poverty alleviation programs.

Although female headed households (FHHs) are growing at an alarming rate and are the most marginalised and poverty prone section of the rural community, research in this area is thin. FHHs constitute a significant proportion of the population in India. By census estimates these households constitute about 10% of all households in the country. We found in tribal areas the concentration of FHHs ranged between 45% and 65%.

The study uncovers and documents data and information previously unavailable or overlooked. Research is extensively based on field work in five villages in rural West Bengal. One village comprising mostly of female headed households, is a unique case study. The other four villages are mixed with both male and female headed households, but an alarming proportion of these households are female headed.

Cultural, social and economic influences limit women's access to resources. Therefore this study incorporates a sociological aspect gravely lacking in economic studies. Our findings reveal females, particularly those from FHHs, bear the majority of burdens and in times of economic hardship suffer most. They are more likely to face legal, social, political and financial discrimination outside the home compared to women from MHHs. They have less customary property rights but greater freedom of movement and speech, and opportunities for paid employment. Females from MHHs are more likely to be inhibited in economic status by customs and taboos within the home, but they have greater access to support networks.

Furthermore we discovered that the benefits of government development programs have not reached the remote study areas. The trickle down approach has not worked. However participatory approach to sustainable development, focusing strongly on women's development, active in the Rangabelia region, appears to have been successful in lifting the economic status of women in general and FHHs in particular.
Keyword West Bengal (India) -- Economic conditions.
Poverty -- India -- West Bengal.
Women heads of households -- India -- West Bengal.
Additional Notes Variant title: Female headed households, poverty, and sustainable rural development

 
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