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Women are considered as the rising phoenix of the modern world but the current status of women has not been at its best but is getting worse in several areas at the same time. There are a lot of social boundaries keeping women in this country from achieving their goals. Fighting all odds against themselves many women have succeeded. The injustice women have been facing from ages can be cured with the help of cutting the old customs which are no longer relevant like the idea of women being the sole bearer of all household works should be discarded.
The discrimination against women should be eradicated in order to give the same opportunities to women just like men. A famous quote by Jawaharlal Nehru exclaims,
“You can tell the condition of a nation by looking at the status of its women.”
Therefore highlighting the important role played by women in our society. The status of women depicts the social, economic and mental condition in a nation. Women have been regarded as a symbol of spirituality in our scriptures. Yet, they have been treated badly and unequally to men. Social evils such as dowry, sati-system, child marriage, and female infanticide were widely prevalent in early age. The spread of education and self-consciousness among women has led to their progress over the period. Women of today are empowered. Also, women are gaining advancements and success in each and every field.
The government has put together many schemes especially for the empowerment of women. Many seats are reserved in parliament to encourage women participation. Education of girls is made free and compulsory in government schools to encourage women to join different institutions and render their valuable services. Our armed forces have seen a rise in women enrolment, and this has not only lead to the nation’s pride but also increased women’s participation in male-oriented fields. More fields like science, media, sport, etc have also increased due to female idols in society. As rightly said by Swami Vivekanand,
“It is impossible to think about the welfare of the world unless the condition of women is improved. It is impossible for a bird to fly on only one wing.”
Even in today’s rapidly progressing Indian society woman are treated as second class citizens, still, they are ill-treated, still, they need to be saved. It is so sad that even today women have not got the place they deserve and have been fighting for since ages, the discrimination still exists. The discrimination is not only in the form of unequal wages/ salaries, same treatment at places or education but it happens in women living on a daily basis on a large scale not confined to one caste, religion, region, profession, age groups, etc. Most of this happens because of the lack of education in women and about women too.
There have always been insoluble social and cultural barriers to the education of women and access to organized schooling. Most of the females in India have been taught from a young age about how to sit ladylike, how to talk ladylike or even that women should not laugh or talk loudly, etc. In India, even young girls have been taught on how they will be married one day or how they should be carrying the work of the household, instead of teaching both boys and girls household work and values.
Women since ages have been fighting all evils, But education has helped them to achieve all this be it any time. According to the census taken in the year, 2011 literacy rate in India has been reported as 74% (Approx.) with 14% increase to that in 2001, whereas the hike is maximum for rural women at 26% in the last decade, which may be attributed to the literacy mission of the Government of India. The female literacy levels according to the Literacy Rate 2011 census are 65.46% whereas the male literacy rate is over 80%. Well, the Government is making all kinds of efforts to increase the literacy rate in India by initiating various schemes.
Despite the basic education, there are some values that are still backward and are being practiced in society. Though most of the practices are culturally inclined some of these should not be practiced in the modern days. As humans have been evolving we still need to leave some unconventional practices like discrimination on the basis of caste, religion, economic condition, gender, etc. These can be eradicated through with the help of the respected institution of education.
Education is a very important part of a woman’s life, but nowadays people in schools are preaching wrong in the name of culture and religion. Recently in a college, around 68 students were sexually harassed in the name of religion. The girls of the particular college were told to remove their underwear in order to prove that they were not menstruating. The institute’s religious norms bar women from entering the temple and kitchen area while menstruating. These alleged actions were taken by the college’s administration on the hostel rector’s complaint to the principal.
This is how culture and religion are misused in society. Wrong people get power and are worshiped. Various famous female personalities have fought evils. For example, Phoolan Devi is also known as the ‘Bandit Queen’, Born in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Phoolan Devi transcended her traumatic life to become a Member of Parliament. She was born into a poor household considered girls as a burden.
She was married off at a very young age to a man much older. Her husband committed a lot of atrocity on her, which eventually forced her to abandon her husband. She had to undergo further humiliation as she was abused at several other occasions before she decided to become a gun-wielding dacoit. She became a dangerous and dreaded dacoit before surrendering to spend 11 years in prison. After her release from prison, Phoolan decided to lead a dignified life and became a politician. However, she could not spend many years of her life as a politician as she was shot dead outside her Delhi bungalow in 2001.
Phoolan Devi wrote her autobiography with the help of Paul Rambali and Marie-Therese Cuny. Several films and documentaries have been made on her life story. Tough what she did was wrong and also served her time in prison for that too, but the societal boundaries she was tied to and the injustice she went through because she was a woman, these circumstances lead her in going against the law which was not right but specifically against the society. She sure saved a lot of women from their misery.
Since time immemorial, India is famed for its rich contribution to the field of science and mathematics. In Fact, the concept of ‘Zero’ as a number and decimal system were inventions of brilliant mathematicians of ancient India. India’s rich history is replete with examples of several great scientists who have brought immense pride to the nation. Among them, there are several women scientists who have contributed significantly to various disciplines of science. Their lives are role models for all girls who aspire to make a mark in the field of science and technology.
Anandibai Gopalrao Joshi (1865 – 1887) First Indian woman physician and the first woman to have graduated with a two-year degree in Western Medicine in the United States. She studied at the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1886; this was the first women’s medical program worldwide. Another example was Janaki Ammal (1897 – 1984), Ammal was the first Indian scientist to have received the Padma Shri Award in 1977, who went on to occupy the reputed post of the director-general of the Botanical Survey of India.
In the 1900s, Ammal took up botany, which was an unusual choice for women. She obtained an honors degree in botany from the Presidency College in 1921. These inspiring women were not all that India produced but they sure have struggled less if the societal obstruction would have been less and would have not been possible if they would have not taken a stand to educate themselves.
There are several policies and bills and laws that have been enforced by the Indian Government to improve the status of women in India. Some of these initiatives are passing of The Triple Talaq Bill as it was a huge injustice to Muslim women in India, Anti-Trafficking Bill passed Lok sabha in July 2018, The Beti Bachao Beti padhaao initiative, etc. The depiction of women in entertainment, media, and politics has been making quite the mark not only in India but all over the world. Women like Mary Kom, P.V. Sindhu, Sania Mirza, Sakshi Malik, Mithali Raj, Geeta Phogat and many more.
Impactful women like Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Deepika Padukone, Sweta Singh, Anjana Om Kashyap, etc in the field of media. These women are an inspiration for women in India and some worldwide too. These impactful women change the thinking of a lot of people who think women can not succeed or who think they are just a tool made in order to see the household work or raise children or are inferior to men. These women set an example every day just by their existence because it’s the thinking of the society which needs to be changed then only the status women in the country can change, then only women can have the same path to succeed not the harder path with the societal norms which stops them to make any or low progress.
The thinking of people that women should be abiding by the set rules and regulations of the society has created a lot of injustice for them. Like the thinking of women as a burden which should be just married off has created the practice of dowry, low literacy rate of women, killing of a female child, child marriage, etc. These problems have been evolving day by day, despite the law made against these practices.
The mentality of not treating women as equal or just keeping them as a tool has given encouragement to crimes against women like rape, dowry, dowry death, sexual harassment, child abuse, domestic violence, etc. The only way an absolute change can be brought is to raise children the right way by teaching them values.
Children from a young age should be taught how to treat everyone and everyone should be treated equally, instead of teaching just young girls how to cook both young girls and boys should be taught household work, values like both parents working equally at home should be taught. Just how brick by brick a house is built, drop by drop an ocean is filled likely value by value in every house a change can happen. This is how the status of women can be changed.
It will be uncomfortable to talk but it is necessary for the change we want to see in our society. As crime is increasing against women in this society the government is also taking steps in order to change the scenario. CCTV Cameras are being installed at a lot of places, all women stations are being built, women-driven autos and cabs are being run. Although, Indian women have to make their way through all the socialized prejudices against her, and the society yet has to support and accept the women to be equal participants in the country’s way forward.
By Sakshi Sinha,
Amity University Haryana