In the ancient India, once women were thought in high esteem and were given not only the position, but due regards in the Vedas and the Upanishads as a mother (maata) or goddess (Devi). And then started the practice of polygamy which deteriorated the status of woman followed by the medieval period, where purda system, dowry and sati came into existence. Thereafter, with the passage of time, the status of woman was lowered. As we were progressing in science and technology, we were progressing in practicing the female foeticide too. This led to a drop in the sex ratio. According to the census 2001, the sex ratio in India was 927 females to 1,000 males.In many parts of India, women are still considered as an economic liability, even thought they might have been contributing in number of ways to the society. Even at homes, working as a housewife is not dignified and respected (homemaker is a job too). Crime rates are increasing at an alarming rate that puts a big question on the humanity. How can one human do harm to other human? Who has given a right as such to the superiors? Domestic Violence, Rape, Sexual Exploitation, molestation, eve-teasing, forced prostitution, sexual harassment etc. are a daily news today and it’s too tragic that it gets the global attention as well. The statistics says, in every 42 minutes there is a sexual harassment occurring, every 43 minutes, a women is kidnapped, every 93 minutes, a women is burnt for dowry, every 26 minutes a women is molested and every 34 minutes, a rape take place.
One of the major reasons as to why women must suffer from the very childhood is the illogical demand of a male heir for the family. In some places, girls are not even allowed to see this world, if it is known that she is a girl. And for this too the mother is blamed knowing the science that it is father who is responsible for the child being girl.
Other major reasons that can be highlighted with reference to India include huge dowry, continued financial support to a girl child, poverty, domestic violence, farming as a major job for poor and the caste system. This disparity is visible through a different working environment for women, unequal wages, undignified treatment, sexual harassment, higher working hours, engagement in harmful industries, occupational hazards, working roughly twice as many hours as men and a nearly 27 percentage of women are accounted by unpaid activities.
Lack of education in women has lead to poor literacy leading to gender gap in literacy rate and no higher education. Discriminative socialization process is another aspect of inequality towards women which leads to customary practices, more involvement in household activities only (boys not allowed), restricted to play , isolation, separation in schools and public places and restrictions to move freely. Detrimental cultural practices like after marriage husbands dominating the family , dominance from In-laws family , members , never or rarely considered for any decision making, limitations in continuing relationships with brothers , sisters , relatives, child or early marriage, patriarchal attitudes and not able to continue girl or boy friendship after marriage are also contributing factor to the inequality.
In Governance this inequality is visible, after over sixty years of independence women are still exploited , the 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments have provided 33 percent reservation for women in the Panchayati Raj System ,Panchayat and Parliament totally 790 seats by filling 6.6-8.4 percentage , women Reservation bill delayed, cast disparity and the men domination in administration.
Strategies for advancement of women should be higher literacy, more formal education, greater employment opportunity. In education it needs to be reducing primary and secondary dropout of female child. In post literacy, the basic literacy skills at speaking, reading, and writing and problem solving shall be imparted. Women learners should educate their children which further enhances social advancement. In job opportunities there shall be reservation or expenditure or provision of services or special provisions. In governance all rights and all legal measures should be available for women’s protection and support. Human rights education , know how to take control of their circumstance , help to achieve their own goals, helping themselves, enhancing their quality of life and motivating for lobbying or advocacy are also enablers for their advancement. Collaborators such as NGO, INGOs, NPOs, SHGs, CBOs , policy makers, local leaders , information disseminators ,health care providers , teachers and family members should help in the social advancement of women.
Perhaps, to sum up we can at least dream of a society in the course of future who does not treat people of different gender differently.