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Indian Culture/Unmarried Indian women

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Question
Hello,

In India, an unmarried woman is not looked at well by Indian society. Also unmarried males too.

But any woman in India who is over 30 years old and is not married is seen as a horrible person, or possible mental problems.

However in countries such as Europe, Australia, Canada, United States, this is normal. Many women in their 30s and 40s have never been married or never had a boyfriend, and this is seen as normal. Those countries are mainly career oriented sometimes view a woman's education and career as more important than family.

Also those same countries have extremely high divorce rates so many people are very scared to get married at all because if a divorce does happen, they will lose half of their income and possible custody of their children. People choose to simply live together without marriage instead.

IN FACT, currently in the United States, the population of unmarried people is more than married people. (Only considering adults in this) Majority of adults in US are not married, both male and female. And lots don't want to, or have been widowed or divorced and were very unhappy and don't want to do it again. Completely different mentality.

A beautiful, smart, successful 45 year old woman who has never been married, no children, and does not have a boyfriend is seen as normal in America as long as she has a good job/education. No one has a problem with it since she has a successful income and lifestyle.

But in India those same unmarried women would be called horrible names. A girl without a husband (or boyfriend) is considered a threat to society and a loser and a failure at life. Even if she is a doctor or lawyer or professor. Without a husband and children she is a nobody in most parts of India.

Why is this?

(Not just India, also Africa, Mexico, Middle East, Pakistan is similar mentality towards unmarried females)

Thank you!

Answer
Hi,

Gender roles are created over thousands of years and evolve according to social norms. The difference lies in economic growth and development and thus the change in thinking and believing. Parts of Africa, Mexico, Middle East, Pakistan, India are either under developed or developing.  The main concern of a vast majority of population in the above is finding 2 square meals a day and having a healthy life. The growth of feminism and women empowerment went hand in hand with economic growth of certain nations. The nations who were traditionally fundamentalist and orthodox, did not allow as much freedom to women. Check this out for objective facts : http://hdr.undp.org/en/reports/

By 2050, women will make up 47 percent of the workforce in the United States -- up from 30 percent in 1950. Another reason why they have rights and are allowed certain freedoms which are unheard of in these under developed or poor nations. Most societies in these parts of the world are patriarchal - cultures are based on a traditional hierarchy in which women must show deference to males.

Things and outlooks are changing gradually especially in Urban Areas. Education has been an important factor in bringing about this change. When a woman is allowed to pursue an education and then a career, she is likely to marry late. When the large populace is educated, they start perceiving the importance of gender equality and women get more say in the household. No longer is an 30+ Indian woman perceived as threat or of doubtful character in cities here. But since a family is the key unit of societal growth in India, it's not very common for people to accept singles - whether men or women.  Yes, certain biases have been accentuated by the media. Check this for change that is happening : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_in_Asia  

Regards,

Vani  

Indian Culture

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Vani

Expertise

I can handle any query related to the history, tradition, folklore, culture, people, places of India in Asia. Am particularly interested in education at all levels - school, college, university.

Experience

4 decades in a country with 5000 years of history, that speaks 1600 dialects, and has a population of 1.2 billion.

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BA (Psychology), MBA

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