Rural UP Women Want to Work & Are Going to Beauty Parlours: Survey


A survey of around 5,000 women was carried out across 25 of the state’s 75 districts by Gaon Connection. Image used for representational purpose.
A survey of around 5,000 women was carried out across 25 of the state’s 75 districts by Gaon Connection. Image used for representational purpose.(Photo: iStock)

Rural UP Women Want to Work & Are Going to Beauty Parlours: Survey

The biggest ever survey of rural women in Uttar Pradesh, India’s largest state, has shown the cascading rise of their aspirations – 56% want a career, 67% want to study further, at least 5% visit a beauty parlour regularly, and at least 10% watch news on television.

The survey of 5,000 women was carried out across 25 of the state’s 75 districts by Gaon Connection, India’s biggest rural media platform. The margin of error was 1.39% at 95% of confidence level.

While the survey indicates rising ambitions of rural women and their desire to change their lives for the better, severe challenges remain. Some 67% say they have to take permission from their husband or father before stepping out of their homes. Another 15% said they could leave homes, but only when accompanied by someone. And if you thought dowry was going away, think again: 81% said they know their parents will have to pay a dowry at the time of their wedding.

47% Women Have Visited a Beauty Parlour At Least Once

The research was quantitative in nature. Data collection happened across 350 of the state’s 820 blocks (administrative units) over 25 days through a questionnaire, said Ankita Tiwari of the Gaon Connection Insight Team, who conducted the survey. She says,

The main purpose of our study was to collect information on aspirations, freedom, and awareness levels regarding career choices, sanitation and television viewing habits of rural women in Uttar Pradesh.
Ankita Tiwari, Gaon Connection Insight Team
(Photo: Gaon Connection)

The women were between age 15 and age 45. Despite the restrictions around leaving home alone, about 50% women know how to ride a bicycle. Another 6% said they were either learning to ride or wanted to.

Of the women surveyed, 47% said they had visited a beauty parlour at least once in their lifetime, About 5% said they go to the parlour regularly. Beauty parlours are mushrooming in rural India, and going there serves the desire to look beautiful but also symbolises growing  independence within their conservative society.
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1 in 10 Women in Rural UP Watch TV News

Some 73% women watch television in rural Uttar Pradesh. Of these, 39% watch it at dinner time or at their leisure in the evening and more than 40% watch TV serials. But an unexpected finding was that one in 10 women – 10% – watch TV for the news.

At least 80% rural women were concerned about the financial condition of their household. When asked what they were satisfied with the most, out of the four – financial condition, social status, health and family life – most of them said they were satisfied with their family life.
(Photo: Gaon Connection)

Among married women, 80% said that their parents gave dowry at the time of their marriage, and 81% of unmarried girls said they knew their parents would have to pay a dowry to get their daughters married.

Uttar Pradesh is one of the key states falling behind in the targets for the Swachh Bharat Mission, one of the key programmes of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. However, the Gaon Connection survey showed that awareness around cleanliness was high. Around 79% of respondents said they wash their hands with soap after defecation.

(Photo: Gaon Connection)
Some 53 % of the respondents said that they used soap for washing their hands before taking their meals, while 41 % mentioned that they use only water. About 2/3rd of the women surveyed said that they used toilets for defecation. However, these two responses were shrugged off by the surveyors as it seemed influenced by factors such as self and social esteem, family pressure and embarrassment in front of the surveyor.

But “it shows that the rural women are aware of the importance of washing their hands,” said Tiwari of the Gaon Connection Insight Team.

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