Human Security in the Mewat district. A feminist perspective

Scientific Essay, 2016

9 Pages




Feminist Perspective and Human Security




The transformation of gender relations since the beginning of the 20th century is one of most profound social changes in the human history. The history of human civilization is characterized by the male domination in the gender relations. Gender inequality refers the unequal distribution of social positions, status; economic benefits etc on the basis of biological differences and are unfavorable for females due to embedded socio-cultural value throughout the world in general and in India in particular. This Gender discrimination takes many forms. Many social practices seen as normal from a religious or cultural point of view (which may have deep historical roots) leave women out of the economic mainstream. These practices may have profound socio-economic consequences because they do not allow society to take advantage of the talent inherent in women. The present study investigates that how despite the legal guarantee of the liberty and equality; especially in part III of the Indian constitution through Article 14, 15 and 16 of the very basic law of country the position of women is pathetic. The data has been collected through structured questionnaire from 120 female respondents from 3 villages of Mewat district namely Hassanpur, Sheikhpur and Kalwari. The study found that violence lies in the structure of the society and has a place in the cultural practices which is well exemplified in through low sex ratio, lack in access to schooling facilities, lack of personal and political freedom, no say in decision making, forced marriages, with the few economic opportunities, lack of securing income, pressure to cover head and body with no personal choices.

Key Words: Human Security, Feminist Perspective, Mewat


“..The only true and lasting security is the one that concerns itself with the protection of people, their welfare no less than their opportunity to lead healthy and productive lives in an environment that encourages them to attain their full potential as human beings”[1]

By Wally N’ Dow

Human security is the human centered expanded security discourse, and holistic approach to the threats. According to the United Nations Human Development Report (1994) The concept of security “has for too long been interpreted narrowly: as security of territory from external aggression, or as protection of national interests in foreign policy as a global security from the threat of nuclear holocaust …Forgotten were the legitimate concern of ordinary people who sought security in their daily lives”.i The term human security was first popularized by the United Nations Development Program in the early 1990’s. It emerged in the Post-Cold war era as a way to link various humanitarian, economic and social issues in order to alleviate humanitarian, economic and social issues in order to alleviate human suffering and assure security. Human security primarily focuses on protecting people while promoting peace and assuring sustainable continuous development. It emphasis aiding individuals by using a people centered approach for resolving inequalities that affects security.ii

The new security discourse has enveloped the idea that the security of people needs to be placed ahead of other security concerns.iii The new security discourse is more focused on people rather than the state. The commission on Human security embraced this movement beyond the traditional security of the state-centric view of security. It defines human security as “protecting the vital core of all human lives in ways that enhance human freedoms and human fulfillment”.

The notion of security interpreted and reinterpreted in various context and on various objective criterion. From the traditional notion of the protection of the border to contemporary debate of right to life and personal liberty, we find an evolutionary pattern of change in epistemological understanding about the concept. The notion of Human security emerges out from this dynamism and which draw a new contour for the state and its welfarist program. The term human security is the combination of two words mainly ‘human’ and ‘security’, which means it is one of the concept of security which focuses on human beings. The United Nations Development Programme first drew global attention to the concept in its 1994 Human Development Report (HDR). Human security has been presented variously as a means of reducing the human costs of violent conflict, as a framework for providing social safety nets to people improvised and marginalized by sudden and severe economic crises.iv The UNDP has developed a very broad understanding of human security resting on the idea that security should not focus exclusively on states, territory and military questions as the individuals are at the heart of security concerns. The human development report 1994, entitled new dimensions of human security, was probably first attempt to define such a concept in a holistic way. The Asian scholar, Mahbub ul Haq described security in relation to seven dimensions reflecting almost all of the key components of human development which are as

1. Economic security (assured basic income)
2. Food security (physical and economic access to food)
3. Health security (relative freedom from disease and infection)
4. Environmental security (access to sanitary water supply, clean air and a non-degraded land system)
5. Community security (security of cultural identity)
6. Personal security (security from physical violence and threats), and
7. Political security (protection of basic human rights and freedom).v

Feminist Perspective and Human Security

From the grand theoretical perspective to micro-level analysis, the notion of Human security as a practical and desirable objective to be achieved by the state faces many challenges of the specificity of the society. Gender discrimination is one such dimension on which the notion of, One cannot talk about human security without talking about the security without talking about the security of women and gender security. The human security is not only a concern with weapons, as it is about survival with dignity, concerned for people and their welfare. As no society can ever prosper half liberated and half chained. Women security is a pre-condition for the human

Women’s security is highly at the stake at the time of War, violence and conflict, they are the worst victims and marginalized group, they suffer extremely high, they form the majority of civilian deaths, the majority of refugees, and are often the victims of cruel and degrading practices, such as rape, human trafficking, and sexual slavery, women’s security is also threatened by unequal access to resources, services and opportunities. Feminists identify other forms of gender violence during times of peace. Security is not the absence of war or violent conflict, even though this is crucial to human security, but “human beings require much more to be secure”.vii Harm against women include not only armed conflict but also domestic and intimate violence (some feminists call it ‘ordinary private violence’ that is ignored by liberal advocates of justice).viii Domestic Violence is one of the forms of threat to women. For Charlesworth, and doubt for other feminists as well, other forms of threat to women are pervasive: “For most women, danger comes from the ‘private’ realm of the family or community as much as from state. Violence against women is at epidemic levels around the world, with two-thirds of women experiencing violence during their lives, mainly at the hands of men in their family”.ix

Despite the legal guarantee of equality in socio-economic and political for both the sexes, still almost half of the population is facing violence in both latent and manifest form and more importantly it is embedded in the structures of the society. The position of women in the society can be best defined in what Amartya Sen says as ‘ unfavourable inclusion,x ’ i.e. they are placed in the society on the secondary position. An observation at some of the basic indicators itself reflect the position of women in India. In gender inequality index India ranks 135 in world with the cumulative index of 0.563. The maternal mortality ratio (death per 100,000 live birth) is still 200, while for the developed nation like Norway and Australia it is as low as 7.xi Similarly the adolescent birth rate (birth per 100 women aged 15-19) for India is 32.79 while it is as low 1.9 for Switzerland and 3.8 for Germany. Similarly the share of women in the legislature (decision making body in a democratic structure) is around 10.8 % in India, while for countries Norway, Germany and New Zealand it is more than 30%.xii Habermas consider knowledge as power .Education is considered as synonym of knowledge and in 21st century knowledge precedes the power. If we look at the population of women with at least secondary education in India (% aged 25 and above), it is around 26.6% while for the male it is 50.4%xiii. Although it is low for both the gender but it clearly reflects the dichotomy of gender basis. Similarly the participation of women in the Labour force is 28.8 % while for the male it is 80.9%. The Gender related development index female to male ratio of HDI is 0.828 %. The HDI for female is 0.519 while for male it is 0.627xiv.


This study analyses the cause and consequences of Gender based discrimination dominant palliative of which social system is impregnate with. The field study support and supplement the dimensions ever in the discussion of human security, in which embedded violence get recognized or practiced in social customs. The study is based on the field study of the Mewat district of the Haryana. For the fulfillment of the purpose of study, data has been collected through close ended questionnaire from the selected villages namely Hassanpur, Sheikhpur and Kalwari of Mewat. The sample size is of 120 female respondents (40+40+40 from each village) on the status of women assessed in context to various demographic criteria, education, work, political participation and their socio-economic condition.

As per the 2011 census, Mewat has the population of 1089263 out of which female 571162 and male 518101. In terms of literacy the district stands at the last. “A Baseline Survey of Minority Concentration Districts of India” a research study sponsored by ICSSR found that Mewat district lagged behind the All-India level in six out of eight indicators and also in two health indicators. It is the least developed district of Haryana State.


Reflection from the field suggest that among the respondents most of the respondents were homemaker and economically dependent on their spouse or any other family member. The level of education among women is not good in the villages. Out of total 120 respondents 42% of women are illiterate, 18% are only educated up to the primary level, 20 % have got their education up to the upper primary level, only 14% get secondary education, and only 6% able to pursue the higher studies. Despite the so many schemes and programmes launched by Government for girls’ education there is low female involvement in education system. There is low parental demand for education and less supply of educational services for the girls. The results of data collected have direct correlation with the facilities provided to the girls for the schooling. As we can see 66% of the female respondents are not able to get education up to the middle level.


[1] Statement by Wally N’.Dow Secretary general United Nations conference on Human Settlement (habitat ii) at the international conference on population and development Cairo, Egypt 1994, websource-

i Human Development Report, United Nations Development Program (1994), (New York: Oxford University Press), Retrieved from

ii Retrieved from

iii Axworthy, Lloyd (2001)"Human Security and Global Governance: Putting People First", Global Governance, No.7, pp. 19-23.

5 Acharya, Amitav (2001) “Human security: East Versus West”, in International Journal, Vol.56, No.3 (Summer), pp.442-460.

v UNDP Report (1994), Retrived from pg.24. website visited on

vi Haq, Khadija (1999), “Human Security for Women” & Mahbub ul-Haq, ‘Global Governance for Human Security’ in Tehranian, Majid, Worlds Apart, Human Security and Global Governance, London: I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd .Retrived from

vii Hoogensen, Gunhild and Stuvoy, Kirsti (2006, June), “Gender, Resistance and Human Security”, SAGE Publications, Vol. 37(2): 207–228, DOI: 10.1177/0967010606066436, p.219.

viii Aolain, Fionnula Ni (2009), “Women Security and the Patriarchy of Internationalized Transnational Justice” 31 Hum. Rts. Q. 1055, available at

ix Charlesworth, Hilary (2010). “Feminist Reflections on the Responsibility to Protect.” Global Responsibility to Protect 2 Volumes 2, Issue 3: pp232–249 .

x Sen Amartya , Social Exclusion: Concept Application and Scrutiny, Critical Quest Publishing, New Delhi,2004


xii ibid

xiii ibid

xiv Ibid

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Human Security in the Mewat district. A feminist perspective
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Kusum Iata (Author), 2016, Human Security in the Mewat district. A feminist perspective, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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