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Martha Alter Chen (ed). Widows in India: Social Neglect and Public Action.

Martha Alter Chen (ed). Widows in India: Social Neglect and Public Action. New Delhi: Sage Publications, 1998. 455 Pages. Hardbound. Indian Rs 495.00.

The total number of widows in India is extremely large, about 8 percent of the female population. Among them almost 50 percent are above 50 years of age. Very little is known about their living conditions as hardly any literature or public debate or social policy has focussed on them. This volume is attempts to provide a better understanding of the social and economic conditions of widows, of widowhood as a social problem, and to promote public action in their support.

The first three contributions in Part I explore the dominant ideological construction of widowhood in India as well as the variations in local customary norms regarding widowhood. The next two chapters in Part II cover the demographics of widowhood, relating widowhood to mortality and aging. In the next four parts, four key areas for public policy and action in favour of widows are discussed. These include property rights, social security, employment, and social identity. These areas are explained with the help of case studies, as well as illustrative histories of individual widows. The contributors highlight how law and institutionalised gender inequality combine to restrict the human, physical, and financial resources available to widows, thus making them socially and economically vulnerable. Government and non-governmental efforts to rehabilitate widows are also discussed. This is a pioneering contribution in gender studies.

* By Afia Malik, Research Economist, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, Islamabad, except where noted otherwise.
COPYRIGHT 1998 Reproduced with permission of the Publications Division, Pakistan Institute of Development Economies, Islamabad, Pakistan.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1998 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Shorter Notices *
Author:Malik, Afia
Publication:Pakistan Development Review
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jun 22, 1998
Previous Article:Prayag Mehta. Psychological Strategy for Alternative Human Development: India's Performance Since Independence.
Next Article:Aslam M. Chaudhary and Abdul Hamid. Human Resource Development and Management in Pakistan.

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