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Identity of ‘Single Woman’ in India: A Narrative of Exclusion and Striving for Empowerment

Author Affiliations

  • 1 Department of Political Science, Women’s Christian College, Kolkata (Affiliated to University of Calcutta), West Bengal, India

Int. Res. J. Social Sci., Volume 5, Issue (10), Pages 1-5, October,14 (2016)


With the onslaught of Globalization, identity of a person in India, which for long was defined mostly in terms of ascribed status (caste, religious community etc) are undergoing rapid transformation, as people are now enjoying the scope of choosing their identity as per their preferences, a phenomenon quite noticeable in case of Indian Women. Noble laurate Amartya Sen’s assertion that people in a democracy should have the freedom to choose their identity almost seems to be a reality now in India. In a society where identity of a woman is defined in terms her relationship with her men folk, the data revealed by the 2011 Census that in India now, more than 3.6 crore or 7.4 per cent of women are having single status single seems astonishing as well as revealing of paradigmatic shift in Indian society. However, most single women, particularly in rural areas, are single due to breakdown of marriages and consequently face dispossession and insecurity whereas number of women single by choice, having access to education and employment, mostly in the cities, is also rising. Some prominent female politicians of India find their single status an advantage as they are projected as disinterested individuals sacrificing the bliss of conjugal life at the altar of public duty. Whereas the market is responding to the needs of the well--heeled single women by offering sops like special tour packages, the state is still lagging behind to ensure specific welfare and security measures for single women. National Forum for Single Women’s Rights has been relentlessly trying to draw attention to exclusion faced by single women as even today, they are socially ostracized and forcefully deprived of economic rights. Based on rudimentary primary data and mostly secondary sources, I propose to undertake a normative study of the exclusion faced by single women as well as their striving for empowerment through constant engagement with state and society. The significance of the study lies in the fact that it explores some of the most fundamental premise of a democracy, freedom of choice, freedom to lead life according to one’s own preferences, and to the critical issue of women’s empowerment and probs how effectively they are being pursued in India. My objective is to highlight the constraints that jeopardize particularly single women’s urge to live with honour and dignity and my purpose is also to suggest ways of overcoming obstacles and reaching the goal of freedom and fulfillment for these women. The study unravels an upcoming area of research as in a country rapidly undergoing transformation, where remnants of a feudal, patriarchal social matrix is still desperately trying to maintain its stranglehold on the lives of women whose situation are different from the bulk of their clan and where a swiftly globalizing economy and concomitantly modernizing society are opening new vistas of opportunities for these women, securing the identity of single women and their capacity building will be of seminal importance in coming days.


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