Position Of Women In India Essay Example
Position Of Women In India Essay Example

Position Of Women In India Essay Example

Available Only on StudyHippo
  • Pages: 18 (4819 words)
  • Published: September 22, 2017
  • Type: Research Paper
View Entire Sample
Text preview

Introduction: Status and Social Position of Women

The importance of the status and social position of women should not be underestimated. As adults, women have a considerable impact on society, both as individuals who have achieved personal growth and as influencers in shaping their children's moral values. They serve as sources of inspiration to their families and set positive examples for the entire community. In the context of marriage, women are valued as their partners' closest companions and a source of motivation.

Throughout history, it has been observed that every successful man is supported by an inspiring woman who contributes to his achievements. Swami Vivekananda emphasizes that a nation cannot achieve greatness without honoring women in both the past and future. Historian Romilla Thapar highlights the diverse positions of women in the Indian sub-continent, influenced by culture, family structure, class, c


aste, property rights, and ethics. Rabindranath Tagore views women as enhancements to society. Despite living in a male-dominated society with governing moral standards and principles, women now play crucial roles and have even surpassed men in terms of intelligence and mental capacity.

The text highlights the emergence of prominent figures in today's society, such as "P.T.Usha-The Women Athlete", "Lata Mangeshkar-The Nightingale and the Singer", "Sonia Gandhi-Political", and "Klpana Chawla-The Indian Astronaut". These individuals would not have risen to prominence if India still adhered to traditional "Male-Dominated" norms. This serves as evidence that this statement remains true even in present times. The text emphasizes the crucial role women play as the foundation of families and nations. It also mentions how the Statue of Liberty, which symbolizes peace and freedom, represents a woman. Therefore, it is vital to show respec

View entire sample
Join StudyHippo to see entire essay

towards women and all forms of life.

Despite making up 50% of the world's population, women have historically faced disadvantages compared to men due to societal expectations and norms. In countries like India, for example, women are commonly seen as inferior to men and are not considered equals or competitors. Instead, they are primarily viewed as educators within society. This idea is explored in Firestone and Catlett's (1993) book "The Mother-Daughter Bond," where they highlight the important role that women play as both best friends and teachers to their children, particularly daughters. As friends, women offer invaluable support in all aspects of life.

Women play crucial roles in society, serving as best friends and supportive spouses to their husbands when married. They also excel at managing households and upholding their values and traditions as household members. Furthermore, women contribute to communities by embodying love, friendliness, inspiration, and hard work. These universal responsibilities unite women worldwide in playing vital roles across all aspects of family life.

Regardless of social class, culture, education level, or age, women in households possess expertise in handling domestic responsibilities such as semen work. However, they face mistreatment within their own homes due to India's social hierarchy. It is important to recognize that violence against women is a widespread issue in all societies.

Despite society's disapproval, violence against women is an unfortunate reality. Women endure physical, psychological, sexual, and economic abuse that violates their rights to equality, security, self-respect, and self-worth. Unfortunately, even in places where women should feel safe and loved, trusted individuals close to them can become perpetrators of fear and violence. Considering the perspectives of women from different families who tirelessly work to

improve their children's lives as well as their own and their families', it becomes evident that many women actively contribute to the development of their households. In a broader sense, they strive for the collective progress of their families, communities, and societies because a community consists of diverse families.

The often overlooked indirect effects of adult females on the progress and enhancement of their children, family, and community can be seen as those of silent leaders who selflessly work towards the improvement of others. We acknowledge adult women as the solid foundation upon which the advancement of a family and community depends. If every woman is adequately educated to effectively manage and utilize resources, regardless of differences in religion, tradition, culture, or financial status, these communities will undoubtedly prosper. However, there may be various circumstances that prevent a woman from realizing her full potential.

Various factors such as lack of support, illiteracy, lack of knowledge, lack of resources, or lack of motivation can all contribute to different issues. Crime, cruelty, and violence against women originate from the historically unequal power dynamics between men and women that have resulted in the subordination of women. In households, violence is typically perpetrated by trusted family members who hold positions of power like husbands, fathers, brothers, uncles, sons, or other relatives. It's important to note that this does not imply that women are incapable of violence; however, their actions constitute a smaller proportion of domestic violence cases. Similar incidents also occur outside the home involving male acquaintances and unknown individuals.

The felons, flagitious maltreater, and the abused are connected in various ways including emotionally, physically, biologically, through family ties, residency, and finances.

These connections frequently involve intimate partner relationships. The objective of those who perpetrate domestic violence is to establish dominance and control over their victims. Limited access to legal information, support, and protection for women are the primary factors contributing to this violence. Additionally, there is a lack of sufficient laws prohibiting violence against women and insufficient efforts by public authorities to reform existing laws or raise awareness and ensure enforcement.

The prevalence of violence is exacerbated by the lack of educational and other agencies addressing its causes and consequences. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) stresses the importance of providing special care and assistance for motherhood and childhood, ensuring equal social protection for all children regardless of their birth status. In India, the constitution guarantees women a just social order based on equality and dignity through Articles 14, 15, 39 (a)(d), and (e). However, despite these protections, women continue to experience being lured, tortured, exploited, and betrayed in the sacred land associated with Sita, Sabitri, and Damayanti. Despite constitutional guarantees and legal protection, offenses against women are increasing; domestic violence serves as one example.

Throughout history, women have played a crucial and often overlooked role in society, including Indian culture. In Indian culture specifically, women have been the backbone of both the family unit and the larger community, fulfilling vital roles such as giving birth, providing care, offering protection, and empowering others. As mothers, they play an invaluable part in advancing their nation.

The Status and Social Position of Women in India

Women in India have consistently held great significance since ancient times. They are seen as exemplars of ideal homemakers.

Indian women are known for their exceptional dignity

and composure, enabling them to handle even the most challenging situations effortlessly. They hold their families in high regard and are revered as Goddess Durga, Goddess Saraswati, Parvati, and Goddess Kali. The social standing of women in India has evolved over time and can be categorized into four main periods: Ancient Time period, Medieval Time period, Modern India Period, British-India Period, and After Independence Period.

  • Ancient Time period
  • Medieval Time period
  • Modern India Period
  • British-India Period
  • After Independence Period

The following is a brief description of each period:

Ancient Period

In ancient times in India, many scholars argue that women were highly respected. This respect can be traced back to the Vedic eras.

They enjoyed freedom, good position, and acquisition chances. In those years, women must have had certainly freedom. It appears that the Vedic women were likely comparable to modern women. Recently, some women historians have attempted different readings of the original Brahmanical Texts. On the one hand, Bibles have glorified womanhood; they have treated women as the peers of men. On the other hand, some sacred texts held women not only in disrespect but even in a positive hate.

The text presents contradictions and generalizations that can be interpreted in different ways. It states that women held a very important position in ancient Indian society, even superior to men. There is literary evidence to suggest that women's power led to the destruction of lands and powerful rulers. Elango Adigal's Sillapathigaram mentions the burning of Madurai, the capital of Pandyas, when the Pandyan ruler Nedunchezhiyan accidentally killed a woman's husband. Veda Vyasa's Mahabharata tells the story of the downfall of the Kauravas

for humiliating Queen Draupadi. Valmiki's Ramayana also recounts the defeat of Ravana when he abducted and tried to forcibly marry Sita. The large number of goddesses in ancient times was created to foster respect for women.

The highly revered Ardhanareeshwar, known as the half-man and half-woman God, was worshipped extensively. Women were permitted to have multiple husbands. For example: 1. Manu has stated that where women are honored, the Gods are pleased, but where they are dishonored, no religious ritual yields any reward. However, it is evident that the same Manu has established the concept of women's dependence when he stated that a woman must rely on her father in her childhood, on her husband in her youth, and on her sons in her old age, and no woman is fit for independence.

'Pita ' rakshathi Kaumare Bhartha rakshathi yavvane Rakshanthi Putrah Stavire, na Sthree svatantram arhati. 2. Yagnavalkya had stated that women are protected by their fathers in childhood, their husbands in youth, and their sons in old age. They possess the divine virtues bestowed upon them by Soma, the sweetness of speech given by Gandhrva, and the radiance granted by Agni to make them exceptionally attractive. Women are both goddesses ( Devata ) and enchantresses ( pramada ).

Manu states that adult females have the ability to lead astray not only the ignorant but also even the learned men and make him a slave of lust and anger. These elevated ideals about women have also been echoed in the Ramayana and Mahabharata.

Medieval Period

During Medieval India, women's age is considered to be the 'dark age' for them. This period witnessed

numerous foreign invasions, leading to a decline in women's status.

When Muslims invaded India, they brought their own civilization with them. In this civilization, women were seen as the property of their father, brother, or husband and had no personal agency. This way of thinking influenced Indians, who also started treating their own women in this manner. Additionally, Indian people wanted to protect their women from the brutal Muslim invaders. As these invaders practiced polygamy, they would select any woman they desired and keep them in harems.

In order to protect themselves, Indian adult females began using 'Purdah', a head covering that covers their body. However, this also caused a decrease in their freedom. They were restricted from moving about freely, which further damaged their status. These issues concerning women resulted in a shift in people's attitudes. Women were now viewed as burdens and were to be shielded from outsider's gaze and given extra care. On the other hand, male children were not seen as requiring such additional attention and were instead seen as capable of earning.

Therefore, a vicious cycle was initiated in which women were on the receiving end. As a result, immoral practices such as Child Marriage, Sati, Jauhar, devdasi, restrictions on widow marriage, Purdha system, and limitations on girl education emerged.


The term "Sati" pertains to the ritual of self-immolation by widows on their husband's funeral pyre. According to specific Hindu scriptures, women who participate in this rite attain direct entry into heaven; hence performing it is considered advantageous. Initially optional for women, society highly esteemed those who observed this tradition. Sati was seen as preferable to living as a widow due to the exceedingly

dire circumstances widows faced within Hindu society.

Some Bibles, such as 'Medhatiti', have a different stance on Sati, stating that it is similar to committing suicide and should be avoided.


It is a form of self-destruction similar to Sati, but on a larger scale. Jauhar was practiced in Rajput societies, where wives would self-immolate while their husbands were still alive. Jauhar also placed a strong emphasis on honor.

When Rajput women were certain they would die at the hands of their enemies, they would gather and set a large pyre ablaze while their husbands fought their final battle, known as "Shaka," against the enemy. This act demonstrated the sacredness of the women and their entire kin.


The Devadasi system is a religious practice in certain regions of southern India where women are "married" to a divinity or temple. This ritual became well-established by the tenth century A.D. Later on, the illicit sexual exploitation of Devadasis became common in certain parts of India.

Child Marriage:

In mediaeval India, child marriage was a prevalent practice where girls were married off between the ages of 8 and 10. Unfortunately, these young brides were denied access to education and were treated as mere objects. The dire state of women during this time can be understood from the words of Tulsidas in one of his shlokas, where he equates women with animals, illiterates, lower castes, and states that they should be subjected to beatings. Thus, women were forced into early marriages and treated as subhuman.

The issue of child marriage comes with additional problems such as increased birth rates, poor women's health due to repeated childbirth, and high maternal and child

mortality rates.

Restriction on Widow Remarriage:

In medieval India, the condition of widows was extremely poor. They were not treated as human beings and faced numerous restrictions. They were expected to live a religious life after their husband's death and were not allowed to participate in any celebrations. Their presence in any positive work was considered to be a bad omen. In some cases, widows' heads were also shaved.

They were not allowed to remarry. If any woman remarried, she was looked down upon by society. This inhuman treatment of widows was one of the main reasons why many women committed Sati. In medieval India, being a Hindu widow was like a curse.

Purdah System:

The Purdah system is the practice among some communities of requiring women to cover their bodies in order to hide their skin and conceal their form. It puts limitations on women's mobility, curtails their right to freely interact, and symbolizes the subordination of women.

Contrary to common belief, this text does not reflect the spiritual teachings of Hinduism or Islam. Misconceptions arise due to the ignorance and biases of spiritual leaders from both religions.

Girl Education:

In medieval India and particularly in Hindu society, girls were not given formal education. They were only taught skills related to household chores. However, the famous Indian philosopher 'Vatsyayana' stated that women were expected to be proficient in 64 arts, including cooking, spinning, weaving, medicine, and recitation, among others.

Modern India Period

During modern India, there were improvements in the status and social position of women. Many reformists in India worked towards the progress and upliftment of their fellow women.

The Begum of Bhopal rejected the 'purdha' and actively participated

in the rebellion of 1857. Several efforts were made by reformists to eradicate social stigmas from society. Sir Sayyid Ahamad Khan founded the Aligarh Muslim University to promote education among Muslims. The Widow Remarriage Act of 1856 was also significant among numerous other reforms implemented. Additionally, the education system underwent improvements.

During this period, English was introduced and several female English authors like Sarojiini Naidu and Kamala Das emerged. In modern times, women in India have been granted rights and freedoms such as freedom of expression, equality, and access to education. Women in contemporary India are now able to do the same things as men. They hold prestigious positions and are enjoying the "ladies first" policy in various fields.

However, issues like dowry, female infanticide, sex selective abortion, wellness, domestic violence, crime and atrocities still persist in society. Numerous Acts have been enacted to eradicate these problems. However, illiteracy and lack of awareness hinder Indian women from opposing these follies.

British India Period

Women's Struggle and Reforms

Despite not being on equal footing with their counterparts in the Western world, Indian women are making a determined effort to establish themselves in the men's world.

We can find examples of extraordinary courage among certain women in British India that even men may not be able to display. One such woman was Rani Lakshmi Bai of Jhansi. She was the one who humiliated British rulers with her exceptional efforts in conflict. She fought for her land, which had been unlawfully annexed by Dalhousie, the British Governor General. She was truly the leader of the rebellion in 1857.

There have been various individuals in India who

have championed the cause of women. Social reformers such as Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, Swami Vivekanand, and Swami Dayananda Saraswati have played a crucial role in restoring the rightful status of women in society.

Raja Ram Mohan Roy

Born on May 22, 1772, he was a pioneer of social reforms for women. He strongly opposed the prevailing evils of his time. Raja Ram Mohan Roy deserves credit for his significant contribution in eradicating Sati legally. Thanks to his efforts, Lord William Bentinck imposed a ban on Sati in 1829.

This jurisprudence did not pose a significant hindrance, but it had some impact on people's mentality. Ram Mohan Roy also made significant contributions to women's education. He opposed child marriage and advocated for widow remarriage. In fact, he himself married a widow, setting an example for society. Together with Dwarka Nath Tagore, he founded the Brahmo Samaj to reform Indian society and empower women.

Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar

Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, also known as Vidyasager, was widely recognized for his vast knowledge.

Testifying to his name, he was truly the epitome of knowledge. He was a leading figure in the societal reform movement of Bengal in the 19th century. He extensively studied ancient Hindu scriptures and discovered that the gender inequality prevalent in Bengal was not inherent in our ancient texts, but rather a result of political tactics to keep women subordinate to men. He vehemently advocated for women's education in Bengal and personally visited homes to convince people to send their daughters to school. Additionally, he made significant contributions in the field of widow remarriage.

He established numerous schools for girls.


Jyotirao Phule

Born on April 11, 1827 in Pune, Jyotirao Govindrao Phule was a true philanthropist. He was the first person to open a school for girls in India. He is also recognized for establishing a home for widows of the upper caste and a shelter for baby girls to protect them from female infanticide.

Swami Dayanand Saraswati

As the founder of Arya Samaj, Swami Dayanand Saraswati advocated for a return to the Vedas. He translated the Vedas from Sanskrit to Hindi so that it could be accessible to the common man and emphasized the Vedic Hindu scriptures' profound regard for women.

Mahatma Gandhi stressed the importance of equal rights for adult females in all fields and aimed to change people's mentality through his Vedic instructions. He was a societal reformist who played a crucial role in the emancipation of women in the 19th century. Thanks to Gandhi's influence, these reforms reached a wide audience and successfully liberated Indian women from practices such as 'Purdah' and other societal immoralities.

He brought them from their state of giving birth and asked them to participate in the battle for independence. According to him, women should be liberated from the slavery of the kitchen so that their true potential can be realized. He stated that household responsibilities are important for women, but should not be their only focus. Instead, they should step forward to share the responsibilities of their country. When Gandhi entered the Indian independence movement, the average lifespan of Indian women was 27 years and only 2% were educated. This demonstrates the immense challenge it was to mobilize Indian women, who were denied their

basic rights, to fight for their nation. However, thanks to his efforts, many women like Sarojini Naidu, Vijayalakshmi Pandit, Aruna Asaf Ali, Sucheta Kriplani, and Rajkumari Amrit Kaur came forward.

Gandhiji was a strong advocate for gender equality, spreading his message to a large audience. He also criticized the preference for male children over female children in Indian society. He strongly opposed child marriage and supported the idea of widows remarrying. He encouraged young people to come forward and accept young widows as their life partners. He believed that girls are capable of doing everything that boys can do and emphasized the need for providing them with opportunities to prove themselves.

It was mostly because of his efforts that Indian women were naturally granted the right to vote when India gained independence, whereas in other developed countries like England and America, women obtained this right very slowly and only after much protest.

Spread of Education

The concept of providing education to women arose during the British period. Previously, it was widely believed that since women did not need to earn their livelihood, there was no need for education for them. However, after the Bhakti Movement, the Christian Missionaries became interested in educating girls.

The Hunter Commission placed a strong emphasis on the need for female education in 1882. Prior to 1875, the institutions in Calcutta, Bombay, and Madras did not admit girls. It was only after 1882 that girls were allowed to pursue higher education. Since then, there has been consistent progress in expanding educational opportunities for females. Although the number of girls studying at different levels was initially low, there has been a significant increase in the number of

female students at every level starting from 1941 onwards.

After Independence Period

The position of adult females in modern India is paradoxical. While they have achieved a lot, they still have a long way to go. On one hand, women have reached the peak of success. On the other hand, they silently endure the violence inflicted upon them by their own family members. In modern times, women have left the safety of their homes and are now in the challenging field of life, fully equipped with their talents. They have proven themselves, but their path is still filled with barriers.

However, in India, they have yet to receive their rightful treatment. The sex ratio in India reveals that the Indian society still holds biases against females. According to the 2001 census, there are 933 females for every 1000 males in India, which is significantly lower than the global average of 990 females. Indian women face numerous challenges on a daily basis, which have become an integral part of their lives. Sadly, some women have come to accept these challenges as their fate. The main issues faced by Indian women include malnutrition, poor health, maternal mortality, lack of education, mistreatment, being overworked, lack of power, marriage-related problems such as dowry, and female infanticide/foeticide.


By and large in India, adult females are the ones who eat last and least in the whole household. So they eat whatever is left after menfolk are satiated. As a consequence, most of the time their nutrient consumption does not incorporate the nutritional value required in maintaining a healthy body. In villages, sometimes women do not get to eat the whole meal due to poverty.


UNICEF study of 1996 reveals that adult females in South Asia are not given adequate attention, leading to a higher prevalence of malnutrition among them compared to other regions. This lack of proper nutrition has two significant consequences for women. Firstly, they become anemic, and secondly, they are unable to achieve their full growth potential, perpetuating a vicious cycle of undernourishment as malnourished women are unable to give birth to healthy babies.

Impact on Health

The malnutrition experienced by women also results in poor overall health. In India, for instance, women face discrimination from birth and are not breastfed for extended periods.

In the absence of a boy, women desire to become pregnant as soon as possible, which reduces the care period for the daughter. Meanwhile, male members receive equal attention and nutrition. Women are deprived of freedom of movement, meaning they cannot go anywhere on their own and must seek permission from male family members or bring them along. Consequently, women visit doctors less frequently and are unable to prioritize their health.

Maternal Mortality

The mortality rate in India is one of the highest in the world. Since females are not given adequate attention, they suffer from malnutrition. Additionally, they are married at a young age, resulting in pregnancies at a time when their bodies are not prepared to bear the burden of childbirth.

All these consequences in complications, which may lead to gynaecological issues, which can become serious over time and ultimately result in death.

Lack of education

In India, women's education has never been given the attention it deserves. Since medieval times, women have been excluded from the field of education. Even today, in

rural areas of India, there is a prevailing belief that women only need family education. Girls are expected to fulfill domestic duties, and education takes a backseat, while it is considered important for boys.

Despite changes in urban countries, where more women are opting for higher education, a significant portion of the Indian population residing in small towns still adheres to medieval practices. These individuals view girls as burdens and are unwilling to invest money and time on their education, believing that women should be married off at the earliest opportunity. The primary reason for not sending girls to school is their poor economic condition, while another factor is the distant location of schools. In Indian society, great importance is placed on virginity and purity during marriage, resulting in apprehension towards sending girl children to schools situated far away, where they would be taught by male teachers alongside boys.

The lack of education is the underlying cause of many other problems. A mother who has not been educated cannot properly care for her children, and she is unaware of deadly diseases and their treatment, which leads to poor health for the children. Uneducated individuals are unaware of hygiene practices, and this lack of knowledge about hygiene can result in poor health for the entire family.


In India, violence against women is a common wrongdoing. Not only in remote areas but also in cities, women suffer the consequences. They are subjected to physical and mental violence.

They are the ones who work the most but are not given their due. Women are safe anywhere, neither at home nor at the workplace. An hour a woman is raped in India and

every 93 minutes a woman is burned to death due to dowry issues. There are a lot of laws such as The Hindu Marriage Act of 1955, The Hindu Succession Act of 1956, The Hindu Widow Remarriage Act of 1856, The Hindu Women Right to Property Act of 1937, The Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961, to protect women and the penalties are severe but the conviction rate of crimes, atrocities, and violence against women is very low in India.


Indian women work more than men in India but their work is hardly recognized as they mainly do unskilled work.

Their family jobs are never considered as work. Even if a woman is working in a field to help her husband, it will also not be counted as work. According to a study conducted by Mies in 1986, women in Andhra Pradesh work around 15 hours a day during the agricultural season, while men on average work for around 7-8 hours.

Lack of Power

In India, a large percentage of women lack power. They are unable to make independent decisions, not even regarding their own lives. They have to seek permission from male members for every issue.

They lack control over significant family matters and even their own marriage decisions.


In India, the family is primarily responsible for arranging marriages. The situation is particularly challenging in rural areas, where the girl is not consulted but rather instructed to marry a man chosen by her family.

They are instructed to abide by the whims and fantasies of their husbands. Going against the desires of the husband is seen as a sin. In marriage, the husband always has the

upper hand. The groom and his parents act as if they are forcing the girl to marry him and, in return, they demand a substantial dowry.


It is a grave matter.

Courts are overwhelmed with ins

Get an explanation on any task
Get unstuck with the help of our AI assistant in seconds