The status of women in India has been subject to many great changes over the past few millennia

.[2][3] From equal status with men in ancient times[4]through the low points of the medieval period,[5] to the promotion of equal rights by many reformers, the history of women in India has been eventful. In modern India, women have adorned high offices in India including that of the President, Prime minister, Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Leader of Opposition, etc. The current President of India is a woman.

Historical practices Traditions among some communities such as sati, jauhar, and devadasi have been banned and are largely defunct in modern India. However, some cases of these practices are still found in remote parts of India. The purdah is still practised by Indian women among some communities, and child marriage remains prevalent despite it being an illegal practice, especially under current Indian laws. Sati Sati is an old, largely defunct custom, among some communities in which the widow was immolated alive on her husband's funeral pyre. Although the act was supposed to be a voluntary on the widow's part, it is believed to have been sometimes forced on the widow. It was abolished by the British in 1829. There have been around forty reported cases of sati since independence.[17] In 1987, the Roop Kanwar case of Rajasthan led to The Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act.[18] Jauhar Jauhar refers to the practice of the voluntary immolation of all the wives and daughters of defeated warriors, in order to avoid capture and consequent molestation by the enemy. The practice was followed by the wives of defeated Rajput rulers, who are known to place a high premium on honour. Purdah Purdah is the practice among some communities of requiring women to cover their bodies so as to cover their skin and conceal their form. It imposes restrictions on the

contrary to common belief. Orissa.D. renounces practices derogatory to the dignity of women (Article 51(A) (e)). equal pay for equal work (Article 39(d)). and female literacy. It does not reflect the religious teachings of either Hinduism or Islam. The acquittal of policemen accused of raping a young girl Mathura in a police station. Independent India Women in India now participate in all activities such as education.[23] The Constitution of India guarantees to all Indian women equality (Article 14).sports. etc. in which women are "married" to a deity or temple. Since alcoholism is often associated with violence against women in India. the illegitimate sexual exploitation of the devadasi's became a norm in some parts of India. and forced the Government to amend the Evidence Act. gender bias. women health. it curtails their right to interact freely and it is a symbol of the subordination of women. Himachal Pradesh.[25] many women groups launched anti-liquor campaigns in Andhra Pradesh. science and technology. it allows special provisions to be made by the State in favour of women and children (Article 15(3)). equality of opportunity (Article 16).mobility of women. One of the first national level issues that brought the women's groups together was the Mathura rape case. (Article 42).[24] The feminist activism in India picked up momentum during later 1970s.[5] Indira Gandhi. The protests were widely covered in the national media. media. art and culture. service sectors.[24] Female activists united over issues such as female infanticide. and also allows for provisions to be made by the State for securing just and humane conditions of work and for maternity relief. the Criminal Procedure Code and the Indian Penal Code and introduce the category of custodial rape. led to a wide-scale protests in 1979±1980. politics.[24] Many Indian Muslim women . although misconception has occurred due to the ignorance and prejudices of religious leaders of both faiths. no discrimination by the State (Article 15(1)). In addition.[citation needed] Devadasis Devadasi is a religious practice in some parts of southern India. Haryana. Madhya Pradesh and other states. The ritual was well established by the 10th century A.[19] In the later period. who served as Prime Minister of India for an aggregate period of fifteen years is the world's longest serving woman Prime Minister.

Imrana was raped by her father-in-law. the female literacy rate in India is lower than the male literacy rate[37]. However.[27] In 2010 March 9. Rajyasabha passed Women's Reservation Bill. grants from foreign donor agencies enabled the formation of new women-oriented NGOs. Many women have emerged as leaders of local movements. The pronouncement of some Muslim clerics that Imrana should marry her father-in-law led to widespread protests and finally Imrana's father-in-law was given a prison term of 10 years. ensuring 33% reservation to women in Parliament and state legislative bodies. Medha Patkar of the Narmada Bachao Andolan.[28] Education and economic development According to 1992-93 figures.have questioned the fundamental leaders' interpretation of women's rights under the Shariat law and have criticized the triple talaq system. only 9.[36] [edit]Education Though it is gradually rising.[15] In 1990s.2% of the households in India were female-headed. The Government of India declared 2001 as the Year of Women's Empowerment (Swashakti). According to majority of the scholars. far fewer girls are enrolled in the schools.[24] . one day after International Women's day. For example.[15] The National Policy For The Empowerment Of Women came was passed in 2001. The verdict was welcomed by many women's groups and the All India Muslim Personal Law Board. Compared to boys. the major factor behind the improved social and economic status of women in Kerala is literacy. approximately 35% of the households below the poverty line were found to be femaleheaded. the case of a Muslim rape victim called Imrana was highlighted in the media.[24]According to the National Sample Survey Data of 1997. Self-help groups and NGOs such as Self Employed Women's Association (SEWA) have played a major role in women's rights in India.[26] In 2006. and many of them drop out. only the states of Kerala and Mizoram have approached universal female literacy rates.

there are far fewer women in the paid workforce than there are men. women .[24] Due to weak enforcement of laws protecting them. According to a 1991 World Bank report.[24] However. women's average contribution is estimated at 55% to 66% of the total labour. However.12 million were exclusively for girls.[citation needed] As of 2000.42 million children. about 0.[38] [edit]Workforce participation Contrary to the common perception. In rural India. According to a 1998 report by U. the chief barrier to female education in India are inadequate school facilities (such as sanitary facilities). shortage of female teachers and gender bias in curriculum (majority of the female characters being depicted as weak and helpless). Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw.S. run India's second-largest bank.[41] [edit]Land and property rights In most Indian families .[36] In overall farm production.[39] The National data collection agencies accept the fact that there is a serious under-estimation of women's contribution as workers.[36] One of the most famous female business success stories is the Shri Mahila Griha Udyog Lijjat Papad. women accounted for 94% of total employment in dairy production in India. women do not own any property in their own names. position at the work place. agriculture and allied industrial sectors employ as much as 89.5% of the total female labour. a large percent of women in India work.3 million NFE centres were catering to about 7. They are at par with their male counter parts in terms of wages. who started Biocon . Women constitute 51% of the total employed in forest-based small-scale enterprises. ICICI of India's first biotech companies. out of which about 0. In urban India Women have impressive number in the workforce. Lalita Gupte and Kalpana Morparia (both were the only businesswomen in India who made the list of the Forbes World's Most Powerful Women). and do not get a share of parental property. about 40% of the centres in states and 10% of the centres in UTs are exclusively reserved for females.[citation needed] In urban India. In 2006. was rated India's richest woman. Department of Commerce. As an example at software industry 30% of the workforce is female[40]. in rural India girls continue to be less educated than the boys. girls are nearly at par with the boys in terms of education.Under Non-Formal Education programme (NFE).

many cases were not registered with the police due to the social stigma attached to rape and molestation cases.[24] Earlier.[42] In fact. drew up a draft law called the Christian Marriage and Matrimonial Causes Bill. who alleged that the court was interfering in their personal law. when it comes to land and property rights.[43] In 1986.[15] [edit]Crimes against women Police records show high incidence of crimes against women in India. Hence. married daughters.[24] [edit]Sexual harassment Half of the total number of crimes against women reported in 1990 related to molestation and harassment at the workplace. the decision was vociferously opposed by fundamentalist Muslim leaders. The Union Government subsequently passed the Muslim Women's (Protection of Rights Upon Divorce) Act. the sons had an independent share in the ancestral property. now women in have been provided the same status as that of men.[44] Similarly. all the churches. a father could effectively disinherit a daughter by renouncing his share of the ancestral property. Sikhs and Jains) gave women rights to inheritance. However. some of the laws discriminate against women. while the daughters' shares were based on the share received by their father. The National Crime Records Bureau reported in 1998 that the growth rate of crimes against women would be higher than the population growth rate by 2010. The Hindu personal laws of mid-1956s (applied to Hindus. had no residential rights in the ancestral home. After amendment of Hindu laws in 2005. the Christian women have struggled over years for equal rights of divorce and succession. an old divorced Muslim woman was eligible for maintenance money.[24] Eve teasing is a euphemism used for sexual harassment or molestation of women by men. jointly with women's organisations. the Supreme Court of India ruled that Shah Bano. Buddhists. the government has still not amended the relevant laws. Many activists blame the rising incidents of sexual harassment . Official statistics show that there has been a dramatic increase in the number of reported crimes against women. However. even those facing marital harassment. However.continue to have little access to land and property. In 1994. Additionally. but the son will continue to have a share in his own right.

In the past. paintings. and at least a dozen die each day in 'kitchen fires' thought to be intentional.000 women die each year because of dowry deaths. the child widows were condemned to a life of great agony. numerous such cases were reported. it is still a common practice. In 1997.[49] . Amongst the urban educated. Dowry death. Historically. in a landmark judgement. writings. young girls would live with their parents till they reached puberty. The Court also laid down detailed guidelines for prevention and redressal of grievances. living in isolation. shaving heads. the Supreme Court of India took a strong stand against sexual harassment of women in the workplace. a signed list of presents given at the time of the marriage to the bride and the bridegroom should be maintained. and Dowry law in India In 1961. The list should contain a brief description of each present.[47] According to these rules. many cases of dowry-related domestic violence. such rules are hardly enforced.[22] Although child marriage was outlawed in 1860. The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act was passed[45] to prohibit indecent representation of women through advertisements or in publications.against women on the influence of "Western culture". [edit]Child marriage Child marriage has been traditionally prevalent in India and continues to this day. the name of whoever has given the present and his/her relationship to the person. However. However. A 1997 report[48] claimed that at least 5. figures or in any other manner. suicides and murders have been reported. the Dowry Prohibition (maintenance of lists of presents to the bride and bridegroom) rules were framed. The National Commission for Women subsequently elaborated these guidelines into a Code of Conduct for employers. The term for this is "bride burning" and is criticized within India itself. the Government of India passed the Dowry Prohibition Act. In 1987. its approximate value.[46] making the dowry demands in wedding arrangements illegal. such dowry abuse has reduced considerably. In the 1980s. and shunned by the society.[24] [edit]Dowry Main articles: Dowry.[39] In 1985.

that the highly masculine sex ratio in India can be attributed to female infanticides and sex-selective abortions. due to incidents of these tests being used to get rid of unwanted female children before birth. All medical tests that can be used to determine the sex of the child have been banned in India. [edit]Trafficking The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act was passed in 1956. 2005 came into force on October 26.[24] . [edit]Other concerns Health The average female life expectancy today in India is low compared to many countries. but it has shown gradual improvement over the years. the girls and women face nutritional discrimination within the family. [edit]Domestic violence The incidents of domestic violence are higher among the lower Socio-Economic Classes (SECs).[50] The report also showed that 40% of the world's child marriages occur in India. 2006. especially rural ones.[24] Tribal societies in India have a less masculine sex ratio than all other caste groups. These women are either forced into prostitution. 47% of India's women aged 20±24 were married before the legal age of 18. Female infanticide (killing of girl infants) is still prevalent in some rural areas. and are anaemic and malnourished.[citation needed] The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act. In many families. domestic work or child labour.[52] However many cases of trafficking of young girls and women have been reported. This. literacy and health facilities.According to UNICEF¶s ³State of the World¶s Children-2009´ report. with 56% in rural areas.[24] The abuse of the dowry tradition has been one of the main reasons for sex-selective abortions and female infanticides in India.[51] [edit]Female infanticides and sex selective abortions Main article: Sex-selective abortion and infanticide India has a highly masculine sex ratio. the chief reason being that many women die before reaching adulthood.[24] It is therefore suggested by many experts. in spite of the fact that tribal communities have far lower levels of income.

A study by the Centre for Economic and Social Studies in Hyderabad found that child marriage has declined among project participants. Over 40. WOMEN EMPOWERMENT is the ability of women to exercise full control over one¶s actions. with female sterilisation accounting for almost 95% of all sterilisations. these schools have outperformed other public schools in .The maternal mortality in India is the second highest in the world.[36] Family planning The average woman in rural areas of India has little or no control over her reproductivity. particularly women in rural areas.000 girls are now enrolled in these schools. Women. This division of labour was and is still in a few parts of the country one of the major reason because of which certain evils took birth in our society child marriage. female infanticide. the revenue administration and NGOs. legally and politically. economically. The public health system emphasises permanent methods like sterilisation. Sterilization accounts for more than 75% of total contraception. These rules have empowered them socially. In the past. They were expected to be bound to the house. women trafficking.[24] According to UNDP Human Development Report (1997). In a bid to reduce child labour. The government has passed many laws so as to empower the women.[15] Only 42% of births in the country are supervised by health professionals. Groups have also started campaigns against the trafficking of women and girl children with the support of police. new residential schools have been set up in six districts to provide quality education to girl child labourers. or long-term methods like IUDs that do not need follow-up. while men went out and worked. women were treated as mere house-makers. do not have access to safe and self-controlled methods of contraception. Most women deliver with help from women in the family who often lack the skills and resources to save the mother's life if it is in danger. Not only the government but various non-governmental organisations have done a lot so as to improve the status of woman in our society. Child marriages have also been stopped. According to an impact evaluation. 88% of pregnant women (age 15-49) were found to be suffering from anaemia.

They have unequal access to basic health resources and lack adequate counselling.terms of regular attendance. Meanwhile. In this system. Empowerment would become more relevant when women are actually treated as equal to men. In recent years many steps have been taken so as to increase the participation of women in the political system. Their decisions are often over-ruled by the government machinery. a woman needs to be physically healthy in order to work equally. as the men wield all authority. This division of labour that a women is supposed to do only household chores and the men are the only one who can earn a living for the family. women should be better educated .3 per cent in 2005-2006. HIV infection and other sexually transmitted diseases. Adjustments have to be made in traditional gender specific performance of tasks. The result is an increasing risk of unwanted and early pregnancies. It is also necessary to sensitise the other sex towards women. leading to a fall in the drop out rate from 14. All this shows that the process of gender equality and women's empowerment still has a long way to go and may even have become more difficult in the recent years. better informed ± only then can take rational decisions. Further. has to be removed. The Jogini system in Andhra Pradesh is another social evil that requires to be eliminated. Further. This is sadly lacking in a majority of women especially in the rural areas. There are many elected women representatives at the village council level. Then there are also other problems like domestic violence. However their power is restricted.8 per cent in 2001 to 4. there is thePanchayati Raj system. It is important to usher changes in the societal attitudes and perceptions with regard to the role of women in different spheres of life. . women are forced to leave their houses and follow the temple concubine system. where women have been given representation as a sign of political empowerment. academic results and facilities provided to students. The Women's reservation policy bill is however a very sad story as it is repeatedly being scuttled in parliament.

Oppression and atrocities on women are still rampant. shudra. pashu. have not been completely eradicated but have seen a downfall. Women Empowerment . Tulsidas' verse from Ramayana 'Dhol. child marriage and the like.There is no doubt that the status of women has improved a lot. Yet a large number of women are either ill equipped or not in a position to propel themselves out of their traditionally unsatisfactory socio-economic conditions. Thus. a clear vision is needed to remove the obstacles to the path of women's emancipation both from the government and women themselves. This process has been further accelerated with some sections of women becoming increasingly self-conscious of their discrimination in several areas of family and public life. The most common explanation of 'women's empowerment' is the ability to exercise full control over one's actions.A reality or Myth The Government of India had ushered in the new millennium by declaring the year 2001 as 'Women's Empowerment Year' to focus on a vision 'where women are equal partners like men'. uneducated and insufficiently trained. The Constitution of India grants equality to women in various fields of life. They are also in a position to mobilize themselves on issues that can affect their overall position. The latest news items regarding violence committed against women reveal that women's position has worsened. Evil practices such as the purdah system. religious affiliation and class. The last decades have witnessed some basic changes in the status and role of women in our society. nari ye sub nindan ke adhikari' highlights the discrimination and deep-rooted gender bias which still exists in all sectors on the basis of caste. janwar. community. There has been shift in policy approaches from the concept of 'welfare' in the seventies to 'development' in the eighties and now to 'empowerment' in the nineties. They are poor. Efforts should be directed towards all round development of each and every section of Indian women by giving them their due share. Patriarchy continues to be embedded in . They are often absorbed in the struggle to sustain the family physically and emotionally and as a rule are discouraged from taking interest in affairs outside home.

women must be provided with health care facilities. Statistics show that there is still a very high preference for a male child in states like UP. A woman needs to be physically healthy so that she is able to take challenges of equality. economic and social backwardness. Adjustments have to be made in traditional gender specific performance of tasks. The greatest challenge is to recognize the obstacles that stand in the way of their right to good health. Punjab etc. But it is sadly lacking in a majority of women especially in the rural areas. community and the society. Female infanticide continues to be common. The male to female ratio is very high in these states. Domestic violence is also widespread and is also associated with dowry. Balika samrudhi yojana and another two thousand projects reveal that little has been done or achieved through these programmes. Swayamsidha. Leaving a meager number of urban and sub-urban women. They have unequal access to basic health resources and lack adequate counseling. Streeshakti. Yet it is precisely livelihood in agriculture that has tended to become more . better informed and can take rational decisions. in household farms or as wageworkers. It is also necessary to sensitize the other sex towards women. The result is an increasing risk of unwanted and early pregnancies. It is important to usher in changes in societal attitudes and perceptions with regard to the role of women in different spheres of life. denying a majority of women the choice to decide on how they live. Women make up 52% of our country's population. Most of the women work in agricultural sector either as workers. It is important to educate the women. The need of the hour is to improve female literacy as education holds the key to development. alert and aware of their equal status in the society. To be useful to the family. The discrepancy in the ideology and practice of the empowerment policy of women in India constitutes its continued social.the social system in many parts of India. MP. HIV infection and other sexually transmitted diseases. Empowerment would not hold any meaning unless they are made strong. A review of government's various programmes for women empowerment such as Swashakti. Indian women are still crying for social justice. Hence there can be no progress unless their needs and interests are fully met. Empowerment would become more relevant if women are educated. Policies should be framed to bring them into the mainstream of society. The over-riding importance of community in a patriarchal sense ensures that women rarely have an independent say in community issues.

The Women's reservation policy bill is however a very sad story as it is repeatedly being scuttled in parliament. It is crucial to train and give real power to these women leaders so that they can catalyst change in their villages regarding women. They are exploited at various levels. To make a positive change basic infrastructure should be provided in every village and city. however. Expenditure on food subsidy and better provisions for public distribution services directly affects the lives of women and girl children in terms of adequate nutrition. To begin with. providing safe drinking water supply and better sanitation not only directly improved the lives and health of women but also reduces their workload in terms of provisioning and ensuring such facilities. women have been given representation as a sign of political empowerment. It can also lead to access to a wider range of goods and services plus a better access to health facilities. In recent years there have been explicit moves to increase women's political participation. as it the men who wield all the authority. The patterns of . The increase in gender disparity in wages in the urban areas is also quite marked as it results from the employment of women in different and lower paying activities. They should be provided with proper wages and work at par with men so that their status can be elevated in society. targeted schemes tend to have only limited impact when the basic thrust of development is not reaching an average woman.volatile and insecure in recent years and women cultivators have therefore been negatively affected. Improved transport connecting villages with each other and with towns can also directly improve living conditions as well as unpaid labour time spent in transporting household items. Their decisions are often over-ruled by the government machinery. The main reason for the contradiction is that. An access to affordable cooking fuel reduces the need to travel long distances in search of fuel wood. making her life more fragile and vulnerable. However their power is restricted. as women do not receive appropriate wages for their labour. All this shows that the process of gender equality and women's empowerment still has a long way to go and may even have become more difficult in the recent years. In the Panchayati Raj system. There are many elected women representatives at the village council level. There is also significant amount of unpaid or non-marketed labor within the household. The government's policies for alleviating poverty have failed to produce any desirable results.

There is no doubt about the fact that development of women has always been the central focus of planning since Independence. Also credit policies reduce the flow of credit to small-scale enterprises thus reducing the employment opportunities for women. There is a need to have women-friendly economic policies that can enhance their social and economic position and make them self-reliant.NGOs Delhi network of 7 women's organistions based in Delhi and works together with them on common issues. NAME OF SOME ORGANISATION WHICH HELPS IN WOMEN EMPOWERMENT  Joint Women's Programme .NGOs Delhi National Council of Women In India Centre for Women's Development Studies Committee on the Portrayal of Women in the Media \ Institute of Social Studies Trust The YWCA of India .resource mobilization by government also have significant effects on women that are usually not recognized. once again these tend to affect women more. A clear vision is needed to remove the obstacles to the path of women's emancipation both from the government and women themselves. Efforts should be directed towards all round development of each and every section of Indian women by giving them their due share. This is not only because the consumption of such items may be curtailed but also because the provisioning of such items is frequently considered to be the responsibility of the women of the household. When taxes are regressive and fall disproportionately on items of mass consumption. Empowerment is a major step in this direction but it has to be seen in a relational context. National Commission of Women All India Coordinating Forum of the Adivasi/Indigenous Peoples (AICAIP) .

Training and Nutrition Awareness (CHETNA) Centre for Social Justice: Feminist Support Group. Single Women's Organisation: Networking Organisation.Diverse Women for Diversity Women's Foundation Centre for Social Research Centre for Women's Development Studies Saheli: A Women's Organisation Sakhi: Lesbian Organisation Kali for Women (Feminist Publisher) Centre for Women's Studies and Development Rajasthan Social Work and Research Centre: Network for Self-reliance of the rural poor SEWA (women and work) Center for Health Education. Women's Studies Research Centre Women and Media Group .

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