Guild of Service - India - By Meera Khanna for Presentation : The Voiceless Millions of Widows in India - Focus on Rights of Widows within the CEDAW Framework


Ø      Some 6.9% of women in India are widows.

Ø      Every fourth household in India has a widow.

Ø      45 million women are widows. The numbers are only increasing due to armed conflicts, natural disasters, communal riots and the traditional marriage patterns.

Ø      Only 28% of widows are eligible for pension; only 11% actually receive it.

Ø      40 million widows are without pension


In India, as in many parts of South Asia  widowhood is viewed not as a period in the life cycle of a woman, but as a personal and social aberration, to be devoutly wished away. This attitude to a great extent governs the social, cultural and even economic implications of widowhood. In the Indian psyche, there is acceptance of the inevitability of death, but the natural inevitability of the death of a spouse (husband) is often glossed over. This inherent contradiction motivates the cultural non-acceptance of widowhood. In a society totally governed for centuries by patriarchy, discrimination on the basis of sex exists in almost every political, economic social and legal institution. In such a situation the Indian widow is triply discriminated against, as a woman, as a widow and as a poor widowed woman.

The principle of equality and non discrimination which reflects the spirit of CEDAW is really the touchstone of the Indian Constitution. Article 14 of the Constitution of India states that: “The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.” Article 15 prohibits discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, and place of birth or any of them. But the noble spirit of the Constitution is ignored, contravened, contradicted and forgotten in the actual implementation of laws and policies. The Preamble to the Convention for Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women underpins the responsibility of the signatory nations to eliminate this violation of human rights by the phrase “inadmissibility of discrimination” This implies that a constitutional affirmation of the principle of non discrimination does not suffice. Governments have to take proactive role in ending discrimination.

Obligations breached by State Parties with specific reference to widowhood

Article 2 b:  To adopt appropriate legislative and other measures, including sanctions where appropriate, prohibiting all discrimination against women.

Move towards non discrimination

Ownership/control of assets, namely property is the greatest protection for widows from deprivation and the consequent discrimination. Even though the property rights of Indian women have grown better with advance of time, they are far from totally equal and fair. There is much that remains in Indian women’s property rights that can be struck down as unconstitutional and certainly not in keeping with the spirit of “Non discrimination” As a wife the woman is maintained by her husband, but as a widow she is left totally at the mercy  of a patriarchal family or  a maze of confusing laws which she neither understands nor can take advantage of. Compounding the misery is the fact that the laws are skewed against her assertion of right as a widow.

·        Traditionally a woman in a joint Hindu family, had a right to sustenance, but the control and ownership of property did not vest in her. In a patrilineal system, a woman, was not given a birth right in the family property like a son.

·         By the Acts of 1937, 1956 daughters and widows can inherit the self acquired property and the husband’s share in the joint family property as Class I heirs after son, daughter.

·        Further the Amendments to the Hindu Succession Act in 2005 bring male and female rights in agricultural land on par for all states, overriding any inconsistent state laws. This can potentially benefit millions of women dependent on agriculture for survival.

·         The 2005 act makes all daughters, including married ones, coparceners in joint family property with the same birthrights as sons to shares and to seek partition .The 1956 Hindu Succession Act had distinguished between separate property and joint family property.

·        The 2005 amendments give all daughters (including those married) the same rights as sons to reside in or seek partition of the parental dwelling house.

·         The legislation removes a discriminatory section which barred certain widows from inheriting the deceased's property, if they had remarried.

Gaps that emphasize discrimination

By the amendments, daughters will now get a share equal to that of sons at the time of the notional partition, just before the death of the father, and an equal share of the father's separate share. However, the position of the widow vis-à-vis the coparcenary stays the same

·        The amendments do not curtail the right of any heir to claim partition of a dwelling house till the settlement of widowed mother’s rights in case the deceased male is intestate. This is further example of the insensitivity of the law makers to the plight of widows. On the death of a man, the heirs immediately clamor for partition of the property including the dwelling house. In such a situation the widow is often left homeless, or dependent on the son. Even though by the law of the land she can claim maintenance from her children, in actuality, she prefers to suffer in silence since she had neither the money nor the knowledge or the support to get into a legal wrangle

·        The Christian widow’s right is not an exclusive right and gets curtailed as the other heirs step in. Only if the intestate has left none who are of kindred to him, the whole of his property would belong to his widow. Where the intestate has left a widow and any lineal descendants, one third of his property devolves to his widow and the remaining two thirds go to his lineal descendants. If he has left no lineal descendents but has left persons who are kindred to him, one half of his property devolves to his widow and the remaining half goes to those who are of kindred to him.

·         In Islam the share of the wife is one-quarter in the absence of a child or agnatic grandchild and one-eighth in the presence of a child or agnatic grandchild. Two or more wives share equally in this prescribed share. Sharia has placed two restrictions on the testator. Firstly, to whom he can bequeath his estate and secondly, the amount that he can bequeath. The majority view is that a bequest in excess of one-third of the net estate is invalid unless consented to by the legal heirs as is a bequest in favour of a legal heir.

Despite the rather egalitarian law of inheritance as stipulated by the Sharia, the condition of widows in predominantly Muslim countries like Pakistan or Bangladesh is no different. In any patriarchal society, women are second class citizens and widows third class. Added to this is the inaccessibility to the resources of education to legal services, to material resources etc. Legal reforms so far have not been adequate to give all Indian women a right to property on the same terms as men.  Even where law has given a right, conventions and practices do not recognize them. There is no single body of property rights of Indian women. The property rights of the Indian woman get determined depending on which religion and religious school she follows, if she is married or unmarried, which part of the country she comes from, if she is a tribal or non-tribal and so on. Ironically, what unifies them is the fact that cutting across all those divisions, the property rights of the Indian women are immune from Constitutional protection; the various property rights could be, as they indeed are in several ways, discriminatory and arbitrary, notwithstanding the Constitutional guarantee.

Article 2c:  To establish legal protection of the rights of women on an equal basis with men and to ensure through competent national tribunals and other public institutions the effective protection of women against any act of discrimination

Cultural discrimination of tribal widows

Between 1987 and 2003, 2556 women were killed after being branded as witches. Witch hunting has been reported in many states of North and Central India and in Nepal. The peculiar thing about the violence is that, the most victims are widows, aged women and mainly women who are unprotected and closely related to the accusers. The Property right of tribal women is the root cause of this horrifying custom. The Santhal is the tribal community, which awards property rights even to widows. This very right becomes their death warrant. In many cases the widow who owns land is asked to give up her right by the husband’s family. When refused they bribe the village healer to brand her as a witch. Often the village panchayat is a silent and helpless spectator.

It is very depressing that in India, only a handful of states have laws against witch-hunting. Because of lack of laws that specifically targets this practice, the people involved with witch hunting are booked under article 323 of the Indian Penal Code. This means that the law now equates the crime of witch hunting with crimes where a person tries to voluntary cause hurt like slapping or physically abusing somebody. Under this law, the maximum punishment for this offense is a jail term up to one year and a fine of 1,000 rupees.


There is a specific law “the prevention of witch practices Act (2001) but this ordinance also comes with a package of drawbacks as the punishment for witch killing is nominal. According to the sections 3, 4, 5 & 6 of the Act, a person who identifies witches can be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend 3 months or with fine of Rs. 1000. Any person who commits such heinous crime would be punished merely with imprisonment for 6 month or with fine of Rs. 2000 or both.  The law has failed to make any impact on culprits as it is seldom practiced and conviction rate for crimes related to witch hunting is as low as 2%.


It is very evident that there is very little effective legislation on a crime that is only rising with the paucity of available tribal lands. The enforcement machinery is inept to convict a complete family, or a village that abets and aids witch hunting. The rather sanguine approach of the Government under pins the discrimination that happens to tribal widows.


Article 2 f.To take all appropriate measures, including legislation, to modify or abolish existing laws, regulations, customs and practices which constitute discrimination against women.


Absence of a Uniform Civil Code

Due to the geo-political nature of the country, various cultures and religions flourished in the country and as a result, we have various personal laws in place. Women have equality of status under the country's Constitution. However, many anomalies remain under different personal laws. Despite the Hindus Succession Act and its Amendments, widows do not have the same right as the sons. This is in keeping with the principles of patriarchy. Similarly the Christian widow is discriminated against in inheriting the husband’s property and it is always less than the lineal heir. Unless specifically mentioned in the will the heirs can ask for partitioning of property including the dwelling house thus dispossessing the widow of a roof over her head. Personal laws that govern many minorities in India is also subject to the vagaries of interpretation which given the gender bias in India is likely to discriminate against the women.

Despite The Supreme Court having talked time and again about having a uniform civil code as per Article 44 of the Constitution of India the government has been singularly reluctant to address the issues of minority women's rights. The  efforts to conceptualize a common civil code have been largely unsuccessful since there  have  been attempts to  impose Hindu law in the name of a Uniform Code and to ignore even the positive aspects of Personal Laws of other communities. There are various ambiguities within the Hindu laws itself. Therefore, there is a real need to evaluate and revaluate the Hindu code itself along with the Christian and Muslim personal laws so that they are in consonance with the constitution and other codified laws like IPC, Cr.P.C. etc. Whenever there is a talk of formulating a Uniform Civil Code in the country, some minority fundamentalist organizations come together protesting that it poses a threat to their religious identity


Despite the secular nature of India and the Indian courts citing by and large the national secular character of the state as justifying the insistence on the right of women to equality, personal law is a barrier to intervention. The politics of vote bank takes precedence over the Government’s commitment to a common civil code. In the meanwhile women particularly widows face discrimination on property matters in the name of cultural and religious freedom.     


Article 5: States Parties shall take all appropriate measures:

To modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women, with a view to achieving the elimination of prejudices and customary and all other practices which are based on the idea of the inferiority or the superiority of either of the sexes or on stereotyped roles for men and women

India’s Reservation to Article 5a

Even though India ratified the CEDAW in 1993, it made a declaration on its reservations on Article 5(a) and 16(i) in conformity with its policy of non-interference in the "personal affairs" of any community without its initiative and consent. Assuming that this position is valid, the flip side is the general understanding of “community” is limited, confining itself to the notion of male leadership only.  Gender identity is based on the behavior patterns imposed on women and men by culture and religion. In a traditional patriarchal society like India there is institutionalized domination of women by men, and of women’s exclusion from the dynamics of power. Very often cultural patterns of conduct, are at variance with the human rights culture and the maintenance of the status quo patriarchal norms  conflict with  gender equality. Many of the practices defended in the name of culture that impinge on human rights are gender specific; they preserve patriarchy at the expense of women’s rights. In the context of widowhood forced marriage as child brides (resulting in early widowhood) paying to acquire husbands for daughters through the dowry (resulting in depriving widows of any share in the natal property) patriarchal inheritance systems in which daughters inherit less

than sons and the widows’ right to property is at variance with customary law, marriage arrangements allowing the husband control over land, finances, (leaving the widow with very little knowledge or resources to assert her right) witch-hunting; compulsory restrictive dress codes, diet code and behavior code that institutionalize the ostracism and discrimination of widows. The most harmful cultural practice is the stereotyping of widows that serves to underpin their victimized status.


To comprehend this there is the need to understand the cultural customs of the dominant Hindu society in India. In the Hindu society a widow was physically alive but socially dead. The Hindu patriarchy assigns only a secondary role to a woman. In the Hindu ethos the woman with her husband performs rituals and begets sons. This is her social identity and for both, her husband’s presence is imperative. Without the husband a woman has no social or religious identity.   In this role of a wife is rooted the attitude towards a widow.  The widow’s social death stems from her alienation from reproduction and sexuality; following the death of her husband. Even though the widow had no social identity she continued to be part of society. So there was the need to place her on the margins of society and institutionalize her marginality and this social marginalization was emphasized by obvious symbols. 


From this emerges the pattern of ostracism of widows in India and may parts of South Asia, particularly in Nepal. There is a dress code     (widows are expected to wear white and shun all colored garment and jewellery) a diet code (they are pressurized to adopt a vegetarian diet, avoid garlic, onions etc) a behavior code (restricted movement, not to be actively seen seeking male company, a psychological pressure to lead an actively religious life) This restrictive life is further worsened by the systematic ostracism that widows face. They are discouraged from attending social functions and are considered to be inauspicious. Their very presence can lead to misfortunes. Widows belonging to the minority religions are not as systematically marginalized as Hindu widows. But it is to be noted that prevalent customs often get adopted, particularly when it can translate into control of women’s rights.

Skewed property laws, the inability to put a common law regarding inheritance makes the Government responsible for the discrimination that widow’s face in India Further the Government has no proactive strategy in place for a change in the social mind sets either through legislation or education.. It is horrifying to note that some religious leaders support the retrogressive principles of widow discrimination. Media continues to stereotype the Indian widow as emaciated victim at the mercy of her male relatives, thus validating the already existing social ostracism. On the principle of “non interference in individual culture” the Government of India turns a blind eye to the prevalent customs and traditions of widow discrimination. There is the need for a truly participative debate on the issue to educate, to inform and to change prevailing mindsets. By adhering to the principle of non interference in cultural norms, and by expressing reservations to Article 5a of the Convention, the Government of India fails in its responsibility to uphold the human right to a life of dignity for widows. The Government of India puts the onus of change in prevailing cultural norms on community intervention. This is a near impossibility in patriarchal societies where discrimination of women is the accepted norm.

 Without a transformation of religious/cultural patriarchy by a decree of the constitutional system, women cannot gain full equality.


Article 16 2

 The betrothal and the marriage of a child shall have no legal effect, and all necessary action, including legislation, shall be taken to specify a minimum age for marriage and to make the registration of marriages in an official registry compulsory.


India’s Declaration under Article 16 2       

 The same logic, more or less, of non interference in individual cultures has been extended to India's declaration under Article 16(ii). This CEDAW Article stipulates that child marriage will have no legal affect and mandates and enjoins state parties to make the registration of marriages in an official register compulsory.


The Indian government's stand is that in principle it supports fully the compulsory registration of marriages, but to implement it is not "practical in a vast country like India with its variety of customs, religions and level of illiteracy". Child marriages at best can be regulated, not banned. India's latest position, as articulated in the 37th session of the CEDAW committee, continued to be the same making it obvious that there is a  discrepancy between the constitutional provisions of equality and the prevalence of unequal and gender-biased customary practices.


Despite a law stipulating child marriages, on the day of Akha Teej, children as young as 5 are married off in the state f Rajasthan in India. The Enforcement machinery as been unable to eradicated the practice mainly because of the ignorance of the long term harm and the inherent human right violation that the practice entails. The inability of the government to ensure that marriages are registered reinforces the deprivation faced by widows. Absence of registration of marriage affects women more than men. Property inheritance is often denied due to lack of proof of marriage. Registration of marriage is essential for joint registration of property. So it becomes a further tool in the hands of patriarchal forces to deprive widows of their rights. The Government of India’s inability to ensure registration of marriages speaks very poorly for the capabilities of the enforcement machinery. Local elected bodies (the panchayat) can be made legally responsible for marriage registration. Effective dissemination of information can further reinforce the need for registration. An expressed inability does not absolve the Government of its responsibility to prevent discrimination practiced against women and widows.


Inadequate action by State Parties on the Obligations with specific reference to widowhood

Inadequate measures on the part of the Government, non implementation of policies, ineffective programs invariably affect the poor. Since poverty has a feminine face, women are most affected. In this category widows are the most vulnerable so consequently the South Asian Governments’ inadequate policies affect widows most. But there are certain inadequacies that deprive widows even more and these need to be highlighted.

 Article 10 (e) The same opportunities for access to programmes of continuing education, including adult and functional literacy programmes, particulary those aimed at reducing, at the earliest possible time, any gap in education existing between men and women

 The literacy rate for women in India has shown significant improvement between 1991 and 2001;a growth of 14.8% to show a literacy rate of 54.1% for women.. But despite the gains, disparities in terms of gender, rural and urban women exist. For example of the 304 illiterates in India 192 million are women. Despite this the allocation for adult literacy is only 0.2 % of the education budget. This is the only large scale non formal education program for poor rural and marginalized women but receives very little priority. The full realization of rights is possible only by competent assertion of rights. This is not possible for the large number of widows who are not literate to access the legal aid or programs for the poor. Illiteracy often puts the widow at the mercy of male relatives who in turn take advantage of her thus further reinforcing the widows’ deprivation

Article 11

1. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the field of employment in order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, the same rights, in particular:

(e) The right to social security, particularly in cases of retirement, unemployment, sickness, invalidity and old age and other incapacity to work, as well as the right to paid leave.

Only 28 percent of the widows in India are eligible for pensions, and of that number, less than 11 percent actually receive the payments to which they're entitled. Some states in India have instated the destitute widows’ pension. A widow is considered destitute if she is without any regular income or source of income and if she has no relations of 20 years of age or above, particularly a son, or a grandson or if she had not remarried. Widows without any relatives and who do not own land or a house worth Rs 1,000, who do not have any form of regular employment, or who do not have supportive relations are also treated as destitute. A destitute widow needing assistance is required to apply on a prescribed form to the tehsildar (revenue-cum-administrative officer in charge of a cluster of villages) of the taluk (cluster of villages) in which she resides. The enquiry is conducted by the revenue staff in the village in the presence of the pensioners, village officers and other elderly persons. After sanction by the tehsildar, the pension amounts are dispatched by postal money order. Payments are generally made not later than the second week of every month.

The success of the scheme in reality falls woefully short of expectations. Firstly the application forms are not easily available at the Panchayat offices or if they are, then the concerned officer gives it as a kind of favor. Secondly the forms are not user friendly. The widow is required to furnish proof of age, authentication by the prescribed authority etc. Foe the average illiterate widow, this is a Herculean task. Thirdly the forms are to be submitted at the taluk offices, which is difficult and often impossible for poor widows living far away.  Follow up requires a couple of more visits. Fourthly verification of the forms is a lengthy process. Most widows do not have birth certificates to prove their age. Often the widow has to pay private doctors to get a certificate. This is an added expense. Fifthly there is a great deal of arbitrariness in the assessment whether a widow is truly destitute or not. For example if a widow has an adult son or grandson living then the application can be summarily rejected without taking into consideration the fact that the son may not be supporting her. Finally after all the effort the pension obtained is grossly inadequate. It is now Rs. 200 ie about 2 dollars a month.

The Government of India has to make a comprehensive and uniform pension schemes for widows. The procedure has to be made user friendly keeping ground realities in mind.

Article 14:

1. States Parties shall take into account the particular problems faced by rural women and the significant roles which rural women play in the economic survival of their families, including their work in the non-monetized sectors of the economy, and shall take all appropriate measures to ensure the application of the provisions of the present Convention to women in rural areas. (No data available particulary on rural widows)

 2. Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in rural areas in order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, that they participate in and benefit from rural development and, in particular, shall ensure to such women the right

Plight of the rural widows:

According to the National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme introduced by the Government of India, one adult per BPL household is guaranteed 100 days of work. This immediately is skewed against the widows who are living in a household but not necessarily being supported by the male members. The assumption is that as a widow she is heading a household. This need not be correct. The widow could be living in her marital/natal home. In such a situation she is not liable to be allowed to avail the scheme. The widow like all rural, under privileged women is the victim of a corrupt system, the former more so by virtue of her vulnerability. All those who are eligible to work under the scheme have to register with the village panchayat (the lowest elected body). The panchayat will make enquiries verify and then will issue a job card. Knowing how male dominated panchayats treat the unorganized poor particularly the women, the widow is immediately at a disadvantage. Like many schemes of the Government the spirit is willing but the implementation is weak. This is a structural weakness which will have to be rectified. In the meanwhile widows continue to be on the lowest rung of the vulnerability scale.


Farmer Suicides

 More than 20,000 farmers in India have ended their lives since 1997.This is the most horrifying crisis of survival of the Indian farmers. The crushing burden f debt is quoted as the single most important reason for the mass suicides. Two factors have transformed agriculture from a positive economy into a negative economy for peasants: the rising of costs of production and the falling prices of farm commodities. Both these factors are rooted in the policies of trade liberalization and corporate globalization.

In 1998, the World Bank’s structural adjustment policies to which India was party forced the economy to open up its seed sector to global corporations which changed the input economy overnight. Farm saved seeds/subsidized seeds were replaced by corporate seeds, which were expensive, needed fertilizers and pesticides and cannot be saved. As a result, poor peasants have to buy new seeds for every planting season and what was traditionally a free resource, available by putting aside a small portion of the crop, becomes a commodity. This new expense increases poverty and leads to indebtness.There is also a shift from biodiversity to monoculture in agriculture. The district of Warangal in Andhra Pradesh used to grow diverse legumes, millets, and oilseeds. Now the imposition of cotton monocultures has led to the loss of the wealth of farmer’s breeding and nature’s evolution. Monocultures and uniformity increase the risk of crop failure, as diverse seeds adapted to diverse to eco-systems are replaced by the rushed introduction of uniform and often untested seeds into the market. When Bt Cotton was introduced in 2002, the farmers lost 1 billion rupees due to crop failure. Instead of 1,500 kilos per acre as promised the harvest was as low as 200 kilos per acre. Instead of incomes of 10,000 rupees an acre, farmers ran into losses of 6,400 rupees an acre. The region in India with the highest level of farmers suicides is the Vidharbha region in Maharashtra — 4000 suicides per year, 10 per day. This is also the region with the highest acreage of Bt cotton.

The second pressure Indian farmers are facing is the dramatic fall in prices of farm produce as a result of the WTO’s free trade policies. The WTO rules for trade in agriculture are, in essence, rules for dumping. They have allowed wealthy countries to increase agribusiness subsidies while preventing other countries from protecting their farmers from artificially cheap imported produce.

The Government of India has failed to insulate the farmers from the impact of globalization. Added to this is the decreasing investment of the Government into the agricultural sector thus squeezing subsidies and agricultural loans. The end result ar the large number of farmer widows. They have no clear titled right to the land. They are already under a crushing debt. The male earning member is dead leaving behind children who need to be clothed fed and educated. For all this the widow is financially, emotionally and educationally ill equipped. The Government has been making ex gratia payment, but this dole will not help the widow. The approach from welfare has to change to empowerment, so that the widows are supported to till their land, the debts to be waived, their land rights to be recognized. Above all the Government has to address the root cause of such mass suicides. Till then the numbers of rural widow will keep increasing.

Inadequate data on widows

The differing forms that violence against widows takes are known. Yet there is astonishingly very little data available. The fact that they do not appear in statistics is: “not attributable solely to technical difficulties, it reflects, above all the lack of interest and consideration from which they suffer, as a result of which they do not yet enjoy the fundamental right to be included correctly in censuses.”

Another reason is the myth that widows are taken care of by the familial households and so the deprivations of widows are well hidden in economic and social statistics.   Since the poorest segment of a population is usually comprised of female-headed households, it is probable that households headed by widows face greater economic hardships than most.  Regrettably, for most countries, the lack of income data desegregated by headship and marital status prevents the direct documentation of the economic vulnerability of widow-headed households. Without adequate data it will be impossible to underscore the economic, social and political vulnerabilities of widows. The UN must itself promote the collection of data by conventional and alternative methods. CEDAW should ask member governments to respond to the questions in its Guide to Reporting under the Convention etc. on issues relevant to widows

Need for comprehensive reporting procedures that are transparent, and inclusive

 Article 18

1. States Parties undertake to submit to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, for consideration by the Committee, a report on the legislative, judicial, administrative or other measures which they have adopted to give effect to the provisions of the present Convention and on the progress made in this respect:

(a) Within one year after the entry into force for the State concerned;

(b) Thereafter at least every four years and further whenever the Committee so requests.

2. Reports may indicate factors and difficulties affecting the degree of fulfillment of obligations under the present Convention.


The present reporting procedure ensures that State Parties submit a detailed report on the progress made and adherence to the articles of the convention. Governments tend to focus on policies that exist on paper but gloss over ground realities. The NGO report focuses on grass root reality without amplifying the road blocks. A correct assessment would be a combination of both. Perhaps there is need to put a process in place by which Governments and civil society can give a holistic report. It seems like an ambitious plan. But the need of the hour is a verified and correct assessment to ensure that the articles of the Convention are adhered to. A correct assessment only can lead to the complete and actual realization of women’s equality and freedom from all forms of discrimination.



(Meera Khanna is a free lance writer and social activist. She has been voluntarily associated with the Guild of Service and looks after the NGO’s interventions in the conflict affected state of Jammu and Kashmir. Her area of interest and work is the empowerment of marginalized women. Most of her writings are on gender issues.