In the present-day India, the status of women in the society is paradoxical. On one hand, in the Hindu religion, there are Goddesses that are worshiped by men; on the contrary, some wives are battered because they did not provide enough dowries. Women victimization by political figures and families, abduction, and female infanticide is rife in India. Nevertheless, compared to women’s status in the other countries, such as Japan, Indian women enjoy more equal status socially, politically, and economically today (Gillian).
Women in India have played numerous roles in the society that are shaped by gender. These roles range from looking after homes, washing, cooking, raising children, and working in the fields. Women constitute approximately 50% of the Indian population according to the 1991 census.
SOCIETAL POSITION OF AN INDIAN WOMAN
It’s a common belief that women are frail and weak creatures. Concerning physical characteristics, a woman is seen as a small and delicate human being, as compared to the thickly built man. However, man easily forgets that a woman plays the role that he cannot play; the role of a mother. From a biological point of view, a man and a woman are created with equal IQ. Man is emotional and aggressive, while a woman is more tolerant, strong in perseverance and conviction. Nevertheless, a woman globally plays a secondary role only.
The societal position of a woman is no exception. Women in India are glorified in puranas and epics for their service to men. Service here ranges from the father in-law to grand children. The Indian society even subscribe to the opinion that a woman gets salvation through selfless devotion to serving her husband. The status of an Indian woman has gone through many changes for the last millennium. In the ancient times it is believed that women and men in India had equal rights (Kumar). The Independence and Constitution in India also enshrined for equal rights of men and women. However, in the present, there is a great differential in the rights of men and women in India. This can be attributed to the customs and traditions that have existed in India for centuries, high number of illiteracy among Indian women and ignorance of their rights, the economic system, and theory of karma, the patriarchal society with domination of men in all sectors.
The role of women in India has been documented in various scripts, and these roles stem from their cultural practices. They are supposed to be always in service of their husbands. Traditional Indian kingdoms had traditions, like Nagarvadhu, which meant ‘bride of the city’, and it was a ceremony whereby the women competed for coveted titles. The role of women in the Indian society has been fueled by religion, economic, and social aspects. Women have all along been confined and restricted to certain roles by tradition. In the Medieval Period, young girls were married off; the society introduced a ban on remarriages. With time the role of women excelled in other fields, such as education, politics, literature, and also education. In line with this and with the changing times, the campaign for equality among men and women was intensified. Women advocated that their roles must be change to include roles, such as leading congregations, leading religious ceremonies, being army leaders, having equality in marriage, being included in management of religious affairs of their denominations, and some women advocated for an end to discrimination of their fellow women by the males (Mehta).
The role of women is also being influenced by global practices. There has been a change in the role of women, which has been as a result of campaign for equal rights and freedom. This has led to the role of women, including the breadwinner in most Indian families. It has been influenced by the contact of Indians with the British. Mahatma Gandhi encouraged women to participate in freedom movements that would see their roles changed, and, therefore, he was very instrumental in changing the roles of women in the Indian society. The Indians had to respect the status of women by abolishing early marriages of the girl-child, having to educate the women in order to remove ignorance among the women, empowering the women financially to save them from economic slavery, and letting them make their own independent decisions. The Western culture is also influencing the changing roles of the Indian women. This is through copying the western culture by Indian women, such as improved health care, increased employment opportunities for the women, and educating them so that they can be in the same platform with the men. The Indian women are also striving to fight the cache system, just as the Western women did, to change the traditional roles played by each sex.
The Indian Constitution has also helped them great in the process of changing their roles. The Constitution provides equal rights for men and women without discrimination on any state with equal pay for equal work done by their male counterparts. The Indian Constitution also provides for statutes to be made in favor of women and children. It has provisions that are against derogatory practices that undermines the dignity of women in the society. The Constitution also provides for statutes that ensure a humane working environment for women, and it also secures maternity relief for all working pregnant mothers.
The international media and the Indian media have been very instrumental in changing the role of women in the Indian society. The media has been used to raise the plight of women in the Indian society. This is by bringing the women together to fight for their rights, just as it happened in the 1970, when a soldier was acquitted for raping a girl in a police station. The media highlighted the case, and it brought women together to fight for their rights (Moss).