Indian Muslim Women's Education and Employment in the Context of Modernization, Religious Discrimination and Disadvantage, and the Rise of Hindu Fundamentalism and Muslim Identity Politics

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Research on Muslim women in India has increased in recent years, but remains sparse. The few existing studies rarely examine the interplay of religion and gender on Muslim women, nor do they investigate the historical influences shaping Muslim women's lives. Using the National Sample Survey (NSS), this dissertation seeks to make a unique contribution to the literature by examining Muslim women's educational enrollment and wage employment in the context of three historical forces: modernization, religious discrimination and disadvantage, and the rise of Hindu fundamentalism and Muslim identity politics.

 We find that modernization has played an important role in increasing school enrollment for children ages 12 to 15.  Modernizing forces have also influenced employment in India, modestly increasing wage employment.  While Muslims have benefited from modernizing forces, they continue to face discrimination and disadvantage in the educational system and labor market; therefore they have lower levels of school enrollment and slightly lower engagement in wage employment compared to non-scheduled caste Hindus.  There is also evidence that the rise of Hindu fundamentalism has had a negative impact on Muslim enrollment and wage employment over time, however these effects appear greater for Muslim enrollment compared to Muslim wage employment.  Evidence suggests that enrollment for Muslims above the poverty line may have been more affected by Hindu fundamentalism relative to poorer Muslims from 1983 to 1987; however, wealthier and poorer Muslims appear similarly affected by Hindu fundamentalism after 1987. Contrary to expectations, results suggest that poorer Muslim's wage employment is more affected by the rise of Hindu fundamentalism relative to wealthier Muslims.  As expected, the interplay of religion and gender has affected Muslim women's enrollment and wage employment.  Specifically, they experience lower levels of enrollment and wage employment compared to Muslim men and Hindu men and women.  Muslim women have been further affected by the rise of Hindu fundamentalism and Muslim identity politics in both enrollment and wage employment.  However, it appears that these factors have been relatively more detrimental to Muslim women's wage employment compared to their enrollment.