and traditional patterns of life have relegated women to a position of
insignificance. Women suffer this discrimination in silence. They are subjected
to exploitation both in the house and in the society. They are the victims of
violence like female foeticide, infanticide, child marriage, dowry, purdah,
sati slavery. The birth of a daughter is considered as bad luck. A growing girl
child is considered as a burden for the family. A female child at the tender
age is subjected to sexual exploitation. The married woman is subjected to
myriad forms of violence of varying proportions.
the enactment of a plethora of laws, the status of women has not improved. The
home has become the least safe place for women, whereas it has become the safest
place for men to commit violence against women. It is unfortunate that even
after 71 years of Independence, the position of women has not changed. Even
though the Constitution of India affords equality of status and opportunity to
all its citizens, Indian womanhood is still tied up by the rusted chains of
religious customs and traditions. According to the statistics in 2001 Census
the female sex ratio is 933:1000. This reflects society’s preference for a male
child and an Indication of the low status accorded to women. Domestic Violence
is a serious and important matter but is not given any importance. Women are
individuals who have their own identity. A clear legislation is to curb the
domestic violence in the need of the hour.
Key Words: Society, Social Status, Marginalized,
development history of the evolution of society’s scrutiny of primitive
society, Men and Women also the wealth of food in search they are working
equally. So that’s the difference, however, was in distress. Nuts, tubers,
fruits piled make the women involved, Hunting, the men involved in the
acquisition of honey. The woman was on the responsibility to protect children. So, woman is not responsible for the
hunt. Due to the robust nature of the boundaries of the women did not even let
the external things. But the distress is not going to be the difference.
evolution of society in their respective communities, culture, traditions,
values, adjustments, will also appear in ceremonial affairs. Still gods are
found in the world of agriculture. For example: Yellamma, Maisamma, Uppalamma
etc. Even in today’s society women of the village gods.
today woman are most marginalized sections of Indian Society various social and
economic indicators provide the evidence of inequalities and vulnerabilities of
women in all sectors economic, social,
demographic, health, nutrition, etc. The rising incidence of crime and violence
against women are indicators of a decline in the respect of women in society.
To study the historical
background of status of women in India.
To know the historical
practices in India.
To explore the guarantees
provided by the Constitution of India to all women in India.
To find out the
conclusions and suggestions for above discussion.
The methodology of the present research work
is based on doctrinal study. The relevant
data has secondary sources. For the
present study the researcher Secondary source has collected through published
books, journals, periodicals, reports and along with this unpublished research
status of women in India:
The status of a woman in the society
is normally determined by societal practices and customs. In this light the
author has discussed the phenomenon of the status of women in the phases of
the Vedic period women participated in all the fields like men and took active
part in every sphere of human life.
During that period woman enjoyed a fair amount of freedom and equality
with men. Women studied in Gurukul and
enjoyed equality in learning The Vedas.
Women in Post-Vedic Period: In the Post-Vedic period, from 1500 BC to 500
AD, the status of woman suffered a setback when various restrictions were put
on woman’s rights and privileges by Manu.
The role of women got restricted to the four walls of their home. During 500 BC to 500 AD which can be
approximated to the period of early Smiritis, the epics of The Ramayana and The
Mahabharata and the early The Puranas, the Upanaya rights for girls were
completely abandoned. The male
law-givers bound freedom of women in deed and speech, society became
polygamous, polyandry disappeared except in some rare cases like polyandry
practiced by Draupadi the Mahabharata.
During the Puranic and Epic period, there was reduction of the age of
marriage of girls, deprivation of women in various areas.
Women in Medieval Period:
medieval period saw the women being oppressed in the feudal social order and
patriarchal families. Women lost the
right of education and they could worship only through priest. The system of
dowry had taken a positive root of great magnitude from about 13th
and 14th Century AD, with an alarming position in Rajasthan.
Women in Mughal and British Period: The
Mughal period and the subsequent advent of the British period were marked for
general practice of killing baby girls, condemnation of widow, polygamy and
system of Devadasis in different parts of India. Injustice on women folk was echoed by Dada Bhai Naroiji, Swami
Dayanand Saraswati, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, Lokmanya Tilak, Aurobindo and
Mahatma Gandhi. Widow re-marriage was
advocated by Raja Ram Mohan Roy and his Brahmo Samaj. His work was further developed by persons
like Ranade and Karve in Maharashtra.
The 19th Century brought a new era and crucial role was
played by some outstanding women like Annie Besant, sister Nivedita, Sarojini
Naidu, Sucheta Kripalani, Durgabai Deshmukh, Kasturba Gandhi, Vijayalakshmi
Pandit, and many more. Christian
Missionaries in Bombay started the first school for girls in 1824.
Women in Islamic Society: The
Holy Quran makes it clear that woman has rights similar to those of man but yet
man is a degree above woman. The Holy
prophet gave a definite status to the woman in the society, as a wife, as a
mother, as a daughter and as a sister.
He made a ceiling to the number of wives one could have and specific
conditions were laid down for contracting a plural marriage.
Women in Christianity:
Her status and role were conferred by Yahweh himself, to be companion and wife
to man and mother of all the living things of the world. Her role increased her status in the
society. Polygamy was a legal fact. A man could have any number of wives and a
harem. Later, the Talmud fixed the
number of four wives for an ordinary man and eighteen for the King. These were abuses which later were made
Women in Sikhism:
The Sikh doctrine brought revolutionary change in the status of woman and they
fully participated in ‘Sangat’ and ‘Pangat’ established by Guru Nanak. The practice of Sati has been condemned. The purdah, veiling of woman’s face, was
eradicated. The practice of female
infanticide is forbidden.
Women in Jainism:
Atma has no division of male or female.
Woman in particular has a unique position as Jana Matha, the woman who
gives birth to Thirthankara, the Jain deity.
She has the highest position as the Mother of Nature. History is full of names of Jain women who
did a lot for their society and religion.
It is stated in Mahapurana that woman has the same rights as man, to get
educated, take up jobs and so on. Vrishabha
Deva, the first Thirthankara, is said to have imparted knowledge of language
and mathematics to his daughters first and only then to his sons. He taught the
Jain alphabets to his daughter Brahmi, thus the famous Brahmilipi is named
in Buddhism: The establishment of the Order of
Buddhist nuns gave women an opportunity for spiritual practice and
enfoldment. Women’s role as mother
commanded veneration, but society generally expected her to give birth to a son,
so that he could perform rituals for the salvation of his ancestors. This fear always remained with the
women. If all goes well, the wife is
called the ‘Comrade supreme’. Number of
devoted couples is mentioned in the Palicanon.
The most ordeal pair preferred by Buddha was Nakula-Pita and
Nakula-Mata. There are examples of women
scholars in Buddhism like Sangamithra who with their scholarship and wisdom
Rudramma Devi succeeded her father
to the Kakatiya throne at the age of 14, assuming the title Rani (Queen)
and the name Rudradeva. Though, she assumed full sovereignty in
1262-63 AD, she was not the crowned queen until 1269, which was when her father
died. Her nomination and accession to the throne was not entirely accepted;
indeed, some people had turned against Ganapatideva even during his lifetime
because of his decision to appoint a woman as his heiress. On her accession
some nobles who were unwilling to submit to a woman’s authority, took up arms
However, no other evidence is available
to prove the existence of her step-brothers. Even if it is believed that some
intransigent nobles and close relations rebelled against her authority,
the Kayastha Chief Jannigedeva and his younger brothers, Tripurari
and Ambadeva, Recherla Prasaditya and Reddy Chiefs such as Gona
Gannaya were firmly loyal to the queen, esposed her cause and helped her to
defeat the rebels. The important people
in her life were Shivadesikulu, a minister who served the dynasty and
Annamambikadevi, who was the wife of Gona Gannaa Reddy.
spite of these conditions, some women excelled in the fields of politics,
literature, education and religion. Razia Sultana became the only woman monarch
to have ever ruled Delhi. The Gond queen Durgavati had ruled for fifteen years,
before she lost her life in a battle with Mughal emperor Akbar’s general Asaf
Khan in 1564. Chand Bibi defended Ahamednagar against the mighty Mughal forces
of Akbar in 1590s. Jahangir’s wife Nur Jehan effectively wielded imperial power
and was recognized as the real force behind the Mughal throne. The Mughal
princesses Jahanara and Zebunnissa were well-known poets and also influenced
the ruling administration Shivaji’s mother; Jijabai was deputed as queen
regent, because of her ability as a warrior and an administrator. In many South
Indian women administered villages, towns, divisions and heralded social and
Indian woman’s position in the society further deteriorated during the medieval
period when Sati, Child marriages and a ban on Widow Re-marriages became part
of social life in India. The Muslim conquest in the Indian subcontinent brought
the purdah practice in the Indian society. Among the Rajputs of Rajasthan, the
Jauhar was practiced. In some parts of India, the Devadasis or the temple women
were sexually exploited. Polygamy was widely practiced especially among Hindu
Kshatriya rulers. In many Muslim families, Women were restricted to Zenana areas.
Bhakti movement tried to restore women’s status and questioned some of the
forms of oppression. Mirabai, a female saint-poet, was one of the most
important Bhakti movement figures. Some other female saint-poets from this
period include Akka Mahadevi, Rami Janabai and Lal Dev. Bhakti sects within
Hinduism such as the Mahanubhav, Varkari and many others were principle
movements within the Hindu fold to openly advocate social justice and equality
between men and women.
such as Sati, Jauhar and Devadasi have been largely defunct in modern India.
However, some cases of these practices are still found in remote parts of
Sati: Sati is an old,
largely defunct custom, 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 forced on the widow. It was abolished by the
British in 1829. There have been around forty reported cases of Sati since
independence. In 1987, the Roop Kanwar case of Rajasthan led to the Commission
of Sati (Prevention) Act.
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.
is the practice of requiring women to cover their bodies so as to cover their
skin and conceal their form. It imposes restrictions on the mobility of women,
it curtails their right to interact freely and it is a symbol of the
subordination of women. It does not reflect the religious teachings of either
Hinduism or Islam, contrary to common belief although misconception has
occurred due to the ignorance and prejudices of religious leaders of both
was a religious practice in some parts of southern India, in which women are ‘married’
to a deity or temple. The ritual was well established by the 10th
century A.D. In the later period, the illegitimate sexual exploitation of the
Devadasi’s became a norm in some parts of India.
British Peroid: European
scholars observed in the 19th century that Hindu women were
‘naturally chaste’ and ‘more virtuous’ than other women. During the British
Raj, many reformers such as Ram Mohan Roy, Ishwara Chandra Vidyasagar, Jyotirao
Phule etc. fought for the upliftment of women. While this list might suggest
that there was no positive British contribution during the era, that was not
entirely so, since missionaries’ wives like Martha Mault nee Mead and her
daughter Eliza Caldwell nee Maultar rightly remembered for pioneering the
education and training of girls in south India a practice that initially met
with local resistance, as it flew in the face of tradition. Raja Rammohan Roy’s
efforts led to the abolition of the Sati practice under Governor-General
William Cavendish-Bentinck in 1829. Ishwara Chandra Vidyasagar’s crusade for
the improvement in condition of widows led to the Widow Remarriage Act, 1856.
Many women reformers such as Pandit Ramabai also helped the cause of women
1917, the first women’s delegation met the Secretary of State to demand women’s
political rights, supported by the Indian National Congress. The All India
Women’s Education Conference was held at Pune in 1927. In 1929, the Child
Marriage Restraint Act was passed, stipulating fourteen as the minimum age of
marriage for a girl through the efforts of Mahomed Ali Jinnah. Though, Mahatma
Gandhi himself married at the age of thirteen, he later urged people to boycott
child marriages and called upon young men to marry the child widows.
played an important part in India’s independence struggle. Some of the famous
freedom fighters include Bhikaji Cama, Dr. Annie Besant, Pritilata Waddedar,
Vijay Lakshmi Pandit, Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, Arum Asaf Ali, Sucheta Kriplani and
Kasturba Gandhi. Other notable names include Muthulakshmi Reddy, Durgabai
Deshmukh etc. The Rani of Jhansi Regiment of Subhash Chandra Bose’s Indian
National Army consisted entirely of women including Captain Lakshmi Sahgal.
Sarojini Naidu is a distinguished poet and a freedom fighter; she was the first
Indian woman to become the president of Indian National Congress and Governor
of Uthar Pradesh.
in Indian now participate in all activities such as education, politics, media,
art and culture, service sectors, science and technology, etc. Smt. Indira
Gandhi, who served as Prime Minister of India for an aggregate period of
fifteen years is the world’s longest serving woman Prime Minister.
The Constitution of India guarantees to all
the women in India, equality before law (Article, 14), no discrimination by the
State (Article, 15(1), equality of opportunity (Article, 16) and equal pay for
equal work (Article, 39(d). In addition, it allows special provisions to be
made by the state in favour of women and children Article 15(3) renounces
practices derogatory to the dignity of women by the state for securing just and
humane conditions work and for maternity relief (Article 42).
feminist activism in India picked up momentum during later 1970s. One of the
first national level issues that brought the women’s groups together was the
Mathura rape case. The acquittal of policemen accused of raping a young girl of
Mathura in a police station, led to a wide-scale protests in 1979-1980. The
protests were widely covered in the national media and forced the Government to
amend the Evidence Act, the Criminal Produce Code and the Indian Penal Code and
introduce the category of custodial rape. Female activists united over issues
such as female infanticide, gender bias, women health and female literacy.
alcoholism is often associated with violence against women in India; many women
groups launched anti-liquor campaigns in Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh,
Haryana, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and other States. Many Indian Muslim women
questioned the fundamental leaders’ interpretation of women rights under the
Sharit law and criticized the triple Talaq system.
1990s, grants from foreign donor agencies enabled the formation of new
women-oriented NGOs. Self-Help Groups and NGOs such as Self Employed Women’s
Association (SEWA) have played a major role in women’s rights in India. Many
women emerged as leaders of local movements. For example, Medha Patkar
initiated the Narmada Bachao Andolan.
Government of India declared 2001 as the Year of Women’s Empowerment
(Swashakti). The National Policy of Empowerment of Women has set certain
clear-cut goals and objectives. The policy aims at upliftment, development and
empowerment in socio-economic and politico-cultural aspects, by creating in
them awareness on various issues in relation to their empowerment.
specific objective of National Policy is particularly rural folk working on
empowerment of women in India. The
National policy for empowerment of women envisaged introduction of a gender
perspective in the budgeting process as an operational strategy. A few laws and
legislations are enforced strictly for effective and proper implementation of
the women of India have been exposed to greater insecurity, poverty,
illiteracy, unhealthy living conditions, backwardness, corruption,
criminalization and mate dominance in most of the field. They have been
affected by lack of opportunities and facilities owing to innate
discriminations prevalent in the society. It is unfortunate that in spite of
the existence of so many laws majority of women are being deprived of their
rights and benefits and their security are Jeopardy and the offences against women
in various fields are on the rise.
campaigns, seminars, debates should be conducted and the knowledge regarding
their legal rights and nature of problem faced them, need to invite suggestions
for the effective implementations to empower the status of women. The central
government, state government and the NGO’s through the radio and TV programmes
should educate the people about the importance of status of women. The
violation of rights of women cannot be eliminated from society unless society
refuses it. The hegemony of men should be changed without changing the
patriarchal culture; it is not possible to change the social status of women in
India. Girls should be given an opportunity to stand their own.