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Analysis of Gender Disparity in Meghalaya by Various Types of Composite Indices

Mishra, SK (2007): Analysis of Gender Disparity in Meghalaya by Various Types of Composite Indices.

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Subjugation of women in certain spheres of life is very common in the patriarchal societies and it has a long history. In India, women have little social or economic independence. They are treated inequitably at home as much as at the workplace outside. Perhaps, it is so for the Indian society is predominantly patriarchal. However, Meghlaya, a state in North East India, presents a case different than the rest of the country at large (except Kerala and some other pockets). A very large majority of population in the state belongs to three tribes, Garo, Jaintia and Khasi, well known for their being matrilineal (and matrifocal). In this paper we investigate how women in Meghalaya perform, vis-à-vis men, in the socio-economic sphere. The investigation is based on Census of India-2001 data. Two sets of nine variables that measure socio-economic inclusion of people in development have been obtained, first for men and the second for women, and from these variables a composite index has finally been constructed. Many methods of constructing a composite index are discussed and applied on the data for obtaining loadings on the variables. Analytic methods (e.g. principal component/factor analysis) and synthetic methods (MSAR, MEFAR and MMAR) have been compared empirically. We find that the synthetic methods perform better than the analytic methods in representing the constituent variables judiciously and meaningfully.

Do matrifocal societies favour women in socio-economic sphere and help achieve gender equality? We conclude that indeed they do so. The tribes of Meghalaya whose societies are organized on matrifocal principles have obtained much greater gender equality than the societies (e.g. Hindu and Muslim) that are organized on the patriarchal principles.

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