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University of Pittsburgh

Publication Date

Spring 2016

Program Name

India: Sustainable Development and Social Change

Abstract

Since its 2003 village electrification scheme, the state of Gujarat has been acclaimed for providing rural households with 24-hour access and farmers with uninterrupted 8-hour power supply. The Government of India has emphasized goals of providing electricity for all of its citizens yet has been unable to address glaring discrepancies across the country. For those in rural areas, which is approximately 60-70 percent of India’s population, a varying degree of connection exists plagued by frequent outages, transmission losses, unreliable billing practices, and poor infrastructure maintenance. Gujarat has been reported to have overcome these obstacles with its bifurcation of electricity feeders, providing quality electricity access to 100 percent of its villages in just a few years.

With the focus of these rural electrification efforts to increase the number of people with access, this paper looks to understand what it means for the women of these households to gain access. Amongst recipients, women are expected to benefit greatly as the primary bearers of household drudgery and work. Through the Gujarat-based rural women’s empowerment organization ANANDI, this study utilized both qualitative and quantitative interviews and surveys to understand how rural women from the Sihor and Umrala blocks of Gujarat engage with electrification and to what extent they perceive its impacts. In doing so, this study is not representative of all rural women yet it provides initial insight into how electricity represents a critical element of their day-to-day lives while traditional power hierarchies remain prevalent even in electricity usage.

Disciplines

Asian Studies | Community-Based Research | Family, Life Course, and Society | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Growth and Development | Other Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Women's Studies | Work, Economy and Organizations

 

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