India has always been a male chauvinistic nation. Women were always considered as inferior to men and it was not considered good for women to work, or get educated. This continued for years. The condition in ancient time was deteriorated to such an extent that the birth of a female child was considered a taboo. Infanticide, Dowry death, child marriage and widow remarriage are some other examples to prove the aforementioned statement.
Status of Women in the past
The condition of women has been subject to several changes. The state of women in the past was nothing more than a mere object. It deteriorated even more in the early period. There were certain malpractices like Sati pratha, female infanticide, parda pratha etc prevalent at that time. The strong will to have a son and having a female child and considering a female child as a taboo made the status of women in the society even less.
Although it cannot be denied that women have played a great role in strengthening the dynamism of Indian Civilisation. Women have played several roles and they played an important role in shaping the society. The ancient scriptures and texts are a proof to this. The women empowerment has not always been a thing of past but some of the women from our ancient India has set forth an example of women empowerment. The Rigveda mentions about a queen ‘Vishpala’ who was a warrior. She lost one of her legs in the battlefield but continued fighting with an iron leg. In ancient India women were given freedom to choose their husband as well, and women were not considered as a burden. The ancient scriptures had a description of women like – Gargi and Matreyi who were great scholars and even defeated great saints in wisdom. Matreyi was even a scholar in metaphysics.
In the medieval period there are examples of Rani Rudrama Devi, and Chinamma who ruled for 25 years in Keladi, the latter being the ruler of Warangal. Rani Razia Sultan also handled the throne with her will power and perseverance. But though women are treated like a goddess in ancient time, the status of women declined. Ill practices against them have increased and also people started considering them as off limits or taboo. This was the major reason why there was a sharp downturn in the literacy of females in India. But also during this time some women like Rani Lakhmi Bai, Sarojini Naidu, Chand Bibi emerged as leaders and gave their immense contribution.
As aforementioned that the status of women has been a subject to massive changes and hence the upliftment in the condition was caused after the British invasion. The Britishers came up with certain Acts and Regulations that paved the way for the women empowerment in India. In this regard some of the social reformers of India like Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Vivekanand, Raja Ram Mohan Roy, and Ishwar Chand Vidyasaagar have played a great role in eradicating the practices like sati pratha, child marriage and establishing widow remarriage in India. Some of the acts introduced in the British time were- Bengal Sati Regulation, 1829, Hindu Widows’ Remarriage Act, 1856, Female Infanticide Prevention Act, 1870, and Age of Consent Act, 1891. Establishing these acts have definitely curbed the evil practices prevalent at that time, but not fully, though a string foundation of Human rights was developed till then in India.
Status of women in present and women rights
In 1950 the Constitution of India was adopted in which it was held for the first time that all men and women are equal as equality being enshrined in the constitution of India. Not only this, Article 15(3) states that the State is having the power make special laws for women and children. Seeing the status of women in India and several discrimination and practices still prevalent several Acts were also introduced. The Immoral Traffic Prevention Act, 1956, Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, Protection Of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005, Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act 2013 etc. These Acts not only empowered women but has also helped women for fighting for their rights. Women in turn have played a significant role in modern India. Now there is barely any profession that is untouched by women. From law to management, from being a pilot to handling big MNC’s women have made their contribution on every field.
As rightly said “when you educate a boy you educate a person but when you educate a girl you educate a nation.” Today women all around have proved this fact. From being a mere housewife to handling dynamic work pace, women have also been a dynamic multitasking individual. They have created a niche for themselves even in those spheres which used to male dominated once. Be it Indra Nooyi being the CEO of Pepsico, or Avni Chaturvedi being the first women fighter pilot, Fatima Bibi from being the first female Supreme Court judge of India, Mary Kom , Durga Banaerjee and many more are creating examples on a daily basis.
There has been a constant increase in number of female entrepreneurs in India. India ranks 87 out of 144 countries on the Global Gender Index Gap, as per the report which compares the data across four parameters: Health, education, political empowerment, and economic participation and parity. And this rise has taken place because of the active participation of women. Swati Piramal a known name in pharmaceutical has campaigned for a new drug recently and has highlighted the importance of scientific innovation, along with her Kiran Mazmudar Shaw founder of Biocon and a pronounced leader has eminently contributed towards research, innovation and health care and for such exceptional contributions she has been awarded several awards too.
Vinita Bali a well known name in the corporate sector has given her immense share by quadrupling the company’s revenue by to 989 million USD to 488 Million USD, she was also the only woman who has been a part of United Nations Committee created for scaling up the nutrition all across the globe. There are many more such names due to which India can now be proud of for them playing tremendously big roles not only as mother or daughters but also as leaders thereby contributing in the development.
Women though nowadays are awaken about their rights and are greatly contributing towards the development of India and themselves. 21st century has been a period of women empowerment and feminism, there is no denying in the fact but there is still a lot more to be done n this regard. Still in some areas in India, Women Empowerment is a myth as the rights and Acts are still in books and have not reached where they are meant to. Also the women’s employment in the labour market even with such rapid urbanisation is too low which needs to be more. A study conducted by McKinsey stated that India could increase its GDP by 16% to 60% just by enabling women to participate in the economy on the same footing as men. We must encourage more and more women to step out and be a part of the developed India. And in turn we must ensure that we are creating a safe workplace for her so that we can ensure her dignity and safety. We must not underestimate the true potential of a women, China and USA’s are powerful because of equal participation of both men and women, me must not forget “Woman means not weakling, but wonder – woman means not obscene, but obelisk – woman means not mate, but martyr – woman means not anger, but action – woman means not naivety, but nerve.
Edited by Pragash Boopal
Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje