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Woman

Role of Women in Indian Society

Region:
BRICS
Category:
Woman
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By Veronica Mussio
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Indian Women in the past enjoyed an exalted position in the society

It is said that, the worth of a civilization can be measured by the place that it gives to women in the society. It is also true that where women are honored, there gods live.

Indian Women in the past enjoyed an exalted position in the society. They excelled in various spheres of life and enjoyed every kind of liberty to develop themselves, socially, morally and intellectually. However, the position did not remain the same for long. During Muslim and British rule, her position was eclipsed. She was deprived of a wide measure of liberty and was confined within the four walls of the house. She was thought more as a possession than a human being. She was reduced to be a play thing of man and an object to gratify his lust, whims and fancies.

The status of women in India has been subject to many great changes over the past few millennia. From equal status with men in ancient times through the low points of the medieval period, to the promotion of equal rights by many reformers, the history of women in India has been eventful. In modern India, besides women have held high offices in India including that of the President, Prime Minister, Speaker of the Lok Sabha and Leader of the Opposition, they still suffer rapes, discrimination, etc.

Very well names all over the world like Kalpana Chawla: The Indian born, who fought her way up into NASA and was the first women in space, and Indira Gandhi: The Iron Woman of India was the Prime Minister of the Nation, Beauty Queens like Aishwarya Rai and Susmita Sen, and Mother Teresa are not representative of the condition of Indian women. Kiran Majumdar Shaw is the richest Indian woman. But she still has to go a long way to achieve equal status in the minds of Indian men.

While women in the West had to fight for over a century to get some of their basic rights, like the right to vote, the Constitution of India gave women equal rights with men from the beginning. Unfortunately, women in this country are mostly unaware of their rights because of illiteracy and the oppressive tradition

The Constitution of India guarantees equality of sexes and in fact grants special favors to women. These can be found in three articles of the Constitution.

Article 14 says that the government shall not deny to any person equality before law or the equal protection of the laws. Article 15 declares that government shall not discriminate against any citizen on the ground of sex. Article 15 (3) makes a special provision enabling the State to make affirmative discriminations in favor of women. Moreover, the government can pass special laws in favor of women. Article 16 guarantees that no citizen shall be discriminated against in matters of public employment on the grounds of sex. Article 42 directs the State to make provision for ensuring just and humane conditions of work and maternity relief. Above all, the Constitution imposes a fundamental duty on every citizen through Articles 15 (A) (e) to renounce the practices derogatory to the dignity of women.

Female fetuses are aborted and baby girls killed after birth, leading to an appallingly skewed sex ratio. Many of those who survive face discrimination, prejudice, violence and neglect all their lives, as single or married women.

TrustLaw, a news service run by Thomson Reuters, has ranked India as the worst G20 country in which to be a woman. But crimes against women are rising too. At the same time, new research by economists Siwan Anderson and Debraj Ray estimates that in India, more than 2m women are missing in a given year. The economists found that roughly 12% of the missing women disappear at birth, 25% die in childhood, 18% at the reproductive ages, and 45% at older ages.

They found that women died more from "injuries" in a given year than while giving birth - injuries, they say, "appear to be indicator of violence against women"

India’s female work force participation rate is one of the lowest in the world – just 13 per cent of women do waged work, according to the World Bank. (When rural women, who do much of the unwaged agricultural labour, are included in the count, the figure is about 25 per cent, but that farm labour is rarely coupled with the rights to land or to decide on the use of earnings.) The comparable figure in China is 46 per cent, and in the developed world it is 60 per cent; India’s rate matches the most conservative states of the Persian Gulf. That work force participation rate has remained unchanged for more than 20 years, even as the economy has posted growth rates near 10 per cent for much of that time.

Another remarkable aspect of the women in India is what happens with the widows. A movie where you can appreciate this is “The Forgotten women” (2008). (Inspired by the 2006 Academy Award® nominee for Best Foreign Language film, "Water," this documentary tells the story of some of the 20 million Indian widows who are abandoned by their families and literally turned out into the streets when their husbands died. "Water" was a fictional recounting of this terrible tradition, set in 1938. "The Forgotten Woman" is true, and happening today).