Saturday, 11 April 2015

Rupa Rani - An Inspiration for Women Empowerment

Empowering Women to Turn Entrepreneurs

Fifteen years back, a chunk of wax changed the life of Rupa Rani. Inside her, she built a place where she melted her worries and renewed her spring that has not dried up even today. Having been confronted by a polylemma, which had advantages and assurances, disadvantages as well as dangers, she walked the path of patience aided by her husband. And now, she is changing lives of many small time women entrepreneurs through the slow but sure prospect of empowerment.
With the launch of  Confederation of Women Entrepreneurs (COWE),  later this month, set up by a group of women who moved away from Association of Lady Entrepreneurs of Andhra Pradesh (ALEAP), Rupa Rani, the founder chairperson of the Karnataka chapter is excited.
“When I was making candles, I was not aware of the potential it had if marketed properly. Patience played a key role and slowly I became a member of Karnataka State Women’s Development Corporation Ltd and a member of Association of Women Entrepreneurs of Karnataka. I then started imparting training on candle making and started a unit in Whitefield. Later I started teaching housewives at a hobby centre on Commercial Street,” she says.
Having trained more than 2000 women, she slowly moved to counselling women on empowerment and became associated with the Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FKCCI), where she is the vice chairperson of the women’s wing, today.
“Many women entrepreneurs are not aware of the numerous schemes that are available for their uplift. Through COWE, we want them to know of these schemes. We are closely associated with the National Small Industries Corporation Limited and Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises as well as other organisations through which we provide all the assistance required by women entrepreneurs,” she says.
She has been leaving no stone unturned to ensure that women with skills are elevated. She is planning to sign an MoU with FKCCI during the launch of COWE’s Karnataka chapter and utilise their schemes to help women. “We also have an MoU with Karnataka Small Scale Industries Association. We want to put all related associations under one roof so that women are exposed to a wide array of opportunities,” she says.
Rupa is also planning a tie-up with Central Food Technological Research Institute so that food products which are home-made can be scientifically tested. “We also help them in food licensing and other necessary regulations. We have tied-up with Federation of Indian Micro and Small & Medium Enterprises as well as few banks for funding,” she says.
Her plan does not just end at hand holding, but there is enough entrepreneurial counselling to understand the woman and her abilities. There is training in terms of marketing,  branding, registration, VAT registrations, sales tax  that are provided to the women. “COWE also takes two delegations for exposure visits to other countries, especially to attend trade fairs. Visvesvaraya Trade Promotion Centre funds the trip and they also have schemes which we can use. Women who are taken on these trips need to have an import export certificate,” she says.
Currently there are 15 members in Bangalore urban who are all mid-level entrepreneurs. “We have 150 rural members in Karnataka. But we are not going aggressive on memberships because we want to first launch it and then plan ahead,” she says.
COWE has about 500 members in Hyderabad. They have a chapter in Delhi and after the Bangalore launch, they will move to Chennai and Jaipur. “We are also looking at Kerala and Madhya Pradesh,” she says.
Rupa is now planning for international partners also. She is also looking at setting up incubator centres in all districts of the state. “These centres can train women on making sanitary napkins as well as binding of books, etc. Through government schemes, women can easily run these units,” she says. 
To become a member
Ordinary member: Eligibility is for individuals, firms, partnership companies and corporations. The fee is `1,500 per annum plus `100 registration fee
Life Members: Eligibility is same as ordinary member. The fee is `10,000 plus `100 as registration fee.

Women's Empowerment Centre launched in Bengaluru

Women's Empowerment Centre launched in Bengaluru

BANGALORE: Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar on Tuesday inaugurated a unique "Women's Empowerment Centre" in Bengaluru. The centre, opened at Malleshwaram, in heart of the city, is being operated by the Karnataka State Open University (KSOU), a pioneer in distance education. It is expected to enroll over 25,000 women for a variety of courses being offered at the Centre.
Speaking on the occasion Shettar said with special focus on women, the Centre will go a long way in helping working women and others in similar condition to achieve their academic aspirations. Officials with the KSOU said the Centre will focus on women's safety, better sanitation, varied educational choices, fitness/well being and finally employment opportunities. Face to Face program, KG to PG concept and dedicated impetus to female child and her life are added features at the Centre, said a senior official from the University.
Noted professors from the University along with educational dignitaries participated in the program.
Planning for this centre started about four years ago and the facility is spread across 50,000 square feet of additional infrastructure including Classrooms, Computer Laboratories, Open areas and open auditorium, Restrooms, Dining Hall with subsidized rates, nutritious food, Teachers rooms, Library, Meeting Halls. Existing students of about 2,400 in strength have also been accommodated.

Women Empowerment in India -A Brief Discussion

Women Empowerment in India

A Brief Discussion Dhruba Hazarika Duliajan College, 
Dept. of Sociology, Assam, India E-mail: 


Women empowerment is a debatable subject. At earlier time they were getting equal status with men. But they had faced some difficulties during post-Vedic and epic ages. Many a time they were treated as slave. From early twenty century(national movement) their statuses have been changed slowly and gradually. In this regard, we my mentioned the name of the British people. After then, independence of India, the constitutional makers and national leaders strongly demand equal social position of women with men. Today we have seen the women occupied the respectable positions in all walks of the fields. Yet, they have not absolutely free some discrimination and harassment of the society. A few number of women have been able to establish their potentialities. Therefore, each and every should be careful to promote the women statuses.


Women constitute almost 50% of the world’s population but India has shown disproportionate sex ratio whereby female’s population has been comparatively lower than males. As far as their social status is concerned, they are not treated as equal to men in all the places. In the Western societies, the women have got equal right and status with men in all walks of life. But gender disabilities and discrimination are found in India even today. The paradoxical situation has such that she was sometimes concerned as Goddess and at other times merely as slave.

Women in India 

Now the women in India enjoy a unique status of equality with the men as per constitutional and legal provision. But the Indian women have come a long way to achieve the present positions. First, gender inequality in India can be traced back to the historic days of Mahabharata when Draupadi was put on the dice by her husband 200 Dhruba Hazarika as a commodity. History is a witness that women was made to dance both in private and public places to please the man. Secondly, in Indian society, a female was always dependent on male members of the family even last few years ago. Thirdly, a female was not allow to speak with loud voice in the presence of elder members of her inlaws. In the family, every faults had gone to her and responsible. Forth, as a widow her dependence on a male members of the family still more increase. In many social activities she is not permitted to mix with other members of the family. Other hand, she has very little share in political, social and economic life of the society. The early twenty century, it was rise of the National Movement under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi who was in favor of removing all the disabilities of women. At the same time, Raja Ram Mohan Rai, Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar and various other social reformers laid stress on women’s education, prevention of child marriage, withdrawals of evil practice of sati, removal of polygamy etc. The National Movement and various reform movements paved the way for their liberations from the social evils and religious taboos. In this context, we may write about the Act of Sati (abolish) 1829, Hindu Widow Remarriage Act’ 1856, the Child Restriction Act, 1929, Women Property Right Act, 1937 etc. After independence of India, the constitution makers and the national leaders recognized the equal social position of women with men. The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 has determined the age for marriage, provided for monogamy and guardianship of the mother and permitted the dissolution of marriage under specific circumstances. Under the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956, an unmarried women, widow or divorce of sound mind can also take child in adoption. Similarly, the Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961 says that any person who gives, takes, or abets the giving or taking of dowry shall be punished with imprisonment, which may extend to six months or fine up to Rs.5000/ or with both. The Constitution of India guarantees equality of sexes and in fact grants special favors to women. These can be found in three articles of the constitution. Article 14 says that the government shall not deny to any person equality before law or equal protection of the law. Article 15 declares that government shall not discriminate against any citizen on the ground of sex. Article 15 (3) makes a special provision enabling the state to make affirmative discriminations in favor of women. Article 42 directs the state to make provision for ensuring just and human conditions of work and maternity relief. Above all, the constitution regards a fundamental duty on every citizen through Articles 15 (A), (E) to renounce the practices derogatory to the dignity of women.

Empowerment of women in India 

The concept of empowerment flows from the power. It is vesting where it does not exist or exist inadequately. Empowerment of women would mean equipping women to be economically independent, self-reliant, have positive esteem to enable them to face any difficult situation and they should be able to participate in development activities. The empowered women should be able to participate in the process of decision making. In India, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD- 1985) and the National Commission for Women(NCW) have been worked to Women Empowerment in India: A Brief Discussion 201 safeguard the rights and legal entitlement of women. The 73rd &74th Amendments (1993) to the constitution of India have provided some special powers to women that for reservation of seats(33%), whereas the report HRD as March2002, shows that the legislatures with the highest percentage of women are, Sweeden 42.7%, Denmark 38%, Findland 36% and Iceland 34.9%. In India ‘’The New Panchayati Raj ‘’ is the part of the effort to empower women at least at the village level. The government of India has ratified various international conventions and human rights instruments committing to secure equal rights to women. These are CEDAW (1993), the Mexico Plan of Action (1975), the Nairobi Forward Looking Strategies (!985), the Beijing Declaration as well as the platform for Action (1995) and other such instruments. The year of 2001 was observed as the year of women’s empowerment. During the year, a landmark document has been adopted, ‘ the National Policy for the empowerment of women.’ For the beneficiaries of the women, the government has been adopted different schemes and programs i.e. the National Credit Fund for Women (1993), Food and Nutrition Board (FNB), Information and Mass Education (IMF) etc. The most positive development last few years has been the growing involvement of women in the Panchayati Raj institutions. There are many elected women representatives at the village council level. At present all over India, there are total 20, 56, 882 laces Gaon panchayat members, out of this women members is 8, 38, 244 (40.48%), while total Anchalik panchayat members is 1, 09, 324, out of this women members is 47, 455, (40.41%) and total Zila porisod members is 11, 708, out of this women members is 4, 923 (42.05%). At the central and state levels too women are progressively making a difference. Today we have seen women chief ministers, women president, different political parties leader, well establish businessmen etc. The most notable amongst these are Mrs.protiva Devi Singh Patil, Shila Dexit, Mayawati, Sonia Gandhi, Binda karat, Nazma Heptulla, Indira Nuye (pepsi-co), BJP leader Susma Soraj, railway minister Momta Benarji, ‘Narmada Basao’ leader Medhapatekar, Indiand Iron Woman, EX-prime minister Idira Gandhi etc. Women are also involving in human development issues of child rearing, education, health, and gender parity. Many of them have gone into the making and marketing of a range of cottage products-pickles, tailoring, embroidery etc. The economic empowerment of women is being regarded these days as a sine-quo-non of progress for a country; hence, the issue of economic empowerment of women is of paramount importance to political thinkers, social thinkers and reformers.

Reasons for the empowerment of women

 Today we have noticed different Acts and Schemes of the central government as well as state government to empower the women of India. But in India women are discriminated and marginalized at every level of the society whether it is social participation, political participation, economic participation, access to education, and also reproductive healthcare. Women are found to be economically very poor all over the India. A few women are engaged in services and other activities. So, they need economic power to stand on their own legs on per with men. Other hand, it has been 202 Dhruba Hazarika observed that women are found to be less literate than men. According to 2001 census, rate of literacy among men in India is found to be 76% whereas it is only 54% among women. Thus, increasing education among women is of very important in empowering them. It has also noticed that some of women are too weak to work. They consume less food but work more. Therefore, from the health point of view, women folk who are to be weaker are to be made stronger. Another problems is that workplace harassment of women. There are so many cases of rape, kidnapping of girl, dowry harassment, and so on. For these reasons, they require empowerment of all kinds in order to protect themselves and to secure their purity and dignity. To sum up, women empowerment can not be possible unless women come with and help to self-empower themselves. There is a need to formulate reducing feminized poverty, promoting education of women, and prevention and elimination of violence against women. 

Notable Indian women

Notable Indian women

Savitribai Phule was a social reformer. Along with her husband, Mahatma Jotiba Phule, she played an important role in improving women's rights in India during British Rule. Savitribai was the first female teacher of the first women's school in India and also considered to be the pioneer of modern Marathi poetry. In 1852 she opened a school for Untouchable caste girls.
Arts and entertainment
Singers and vocalists such as M.S. SubbulakshmiGangubai HangalLata MangeshkarAsha Bhosle and others are widely revered in India. Anjolie Ela Menon is a famous painter.
Although in general the women's sports scenario in India is not very good, some Indian women have made notable achievements in the field. Some famous female sportspersons in Indian include P. T. Usha (athletics), J. J. Shobha (athletics), Kunjarani Devi (weightlifting), Diana Edulji (cricket), Saina Nehwal(badminton), Koneru Hampi (chess) and Sania Mirza (tennis). Female Olympic medalists from India include weightlifter Karnam Malleswari (bronze, 2000), Saina Nehwal (bronze, 2012), and boxer Mary Kom (bronze, 2012).
Through the Panchayat Raj institutions, over a million women have actively entered political life in India.[54] As per the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendment Acts, all local elected bodies reserve one-third of their seats for women. Although the percentages of women in various levels of political activity has risen considerably, women are still under-represented in governance and decisionmaking positions.[31]
Many women writers are prominent in Indian literature as poets and story writers, such as Sarojini Naidu, Kamala SurayyaShobha DeArundhati Roy, and Anita DesaiSarojini Naidu is called the nightingale of India. Arundhati Roy won the Booker Prize (Man Booker Prize) for her novel The God of Small Things.
Government Servants
Indian Railways: Surekha Yadav, Samata Kumari, Preeti Kumari, C.V.Thilagavathi, S.Satyavathi, Matrubhoomi - MMTS Ladies Special Driver, Mumtaz Kazi.

Crimes against women

Crimes against women

Further information: Violence against women in India

The map shows the comparative rate of violence against women in Indian states and union territories in 2012. Crime rate data per 100,000 women in this map is the broadest definition of crime against women under Indian law. It includes rape, sexual assault, insult to modesty, kidnapping, abduction, cruelty by intimate partner or relatives, trafficking, persecution for dowry, dowry deaths, indecency, and all other crimes listed in Indian Penal Code.[58][59]
Police records in India show a high incidence of crimes against women. The National Crime Records Bureau reported in 1998 that by 2010 growth in the rate of crimes against women would exceed the population growth rate.[31] Earlier, many crimes against women were not reported to police due to the social stigma attached to rape and molestation. Official statistics show a dramatic increase in the number of reported crimes against women.[31]

Acid throwing

A Thomas Reuters Foundation survey [60] says that India is the fourth most dangerous place in the world for women to live in.[61] Women belonging to any class, caste, creed or religion can be victims of this cruel form of violence and disfigurement, a premeditated crime intended to kill or maim permanently and act as a lesson to put a woman in her place. In India, acid attacks on women[62] who dared to refuse a man's proposal of marriage or asked for a divorce [63] are a form of revenge. Acid is cheap, easily available, and the quickest way to destroy a woman's life. The number of acid attacks have been rising.[64]

Child marriage

Child marriage has been traditionally prevalent in India and continues to this day. Historically, child brides would live with their parents until they reached puberty. In the past, child widows were condemned to a life of great agony, shaved heads, living in isolation, and being shunned by society.[29] Although child marriage was outlawed in 1860, it is still a common practice.[65]
According to UNICEF’s “State of the World’s Children-2009” report, 47% of India's women aged 20–24 were married before the legal age of 18, rising to 56% in rural areas.[66] The report also showed that 40% of the world's child marriages occur in India.[67]

Domestic violence

Domestic violence in India is endemic.[68] Around 70% of women in India are victims of domestic violence, according to Renuka Chowdhury, former Union minister for Women and Child Development.[69]
The National Crime Records Bureau reveal that a crime against a woman is committed every three minutes, a woman is raped every 29 minutes, a dowry death occurs every 77 minutes, and one case of cruelty committed by either the husband or relative of the husband occurs every nine minutes.[70] This occurs despite the fact that women in India are legally protected from domestic abuse under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act.[70]
In India, domestic violence toward women is considered as any type of abuse that can be considered a threat; it can also be physical, psychological, or sexual abuse to any current or former partner.[71] Domestic violence is not handled as a crime or complaint, it is seen more as a private or family matter.[72] In determining the category of a complaint, it is based on caste, class, religious bias and race which also determines whether action is to be taken or not.[73] Many studies have reported about the prevalence of the violence and have taken a criminal-justice approach, but most woman refuse to report it.[74] These women are guaranteed constitutional justice, dignity and equality but continue to refuse based on their sociocultural contexts. [75] As the women refuse to speak of the violence and find help, they are also not receiving the proper treatment. [76]


A map of the Indian dowry death rate per 100,000 people, 2012.
In 1961, the Government of India passed the Dowry Prohibition Act,[77] making dowry demands in wedding arrangements illegal. However, many cases of dowry-related domestic violence, suicides and murders have been reported. In the 1980s, numerous such cases were reported.[50]
In 1985, the Dowry Prohibition (maintenance of lists of presents to the bride and bridegroom) Rules were framed.[78] According to these rules, a signed list should be maintained of presents given at the time of the marriage to the bride and the bridegroom. The list should contain a brief description of each present, its approximate value, the name of who has given the present, and relationship to the recipient. However, such rules are rarely enforced.
A 1997 report claimed that each year at least 5,000 women in India die dowry-related deaths, and at least a dozen die each day in 'kitchen fires' thought to be intentional.[79]The term for this is "bride burning" and is criticized within India itself. Amongst the urban educated, such dowry abuse has reduced considerably[citation needed].

Female infanticide and sex-selective abortion

In India, the male-female sex ratio is skewed dramatically in favour of males, the chief reason being the high number of females who die before reaching adulthood.[31] Tribal societies in India have a less skewed sex ratio than other caste groups. This is in spite of the fact that tribal communities have far lower income levels, lower literacy rates, and less adequate health facilities.[31] Many experts suggest the higher number of males in India can be attributed to female infanticides and sex-selective abortions.
Ultrasound scanning constitutes a major leap forward in providing for the care of mother and baby, and with scanners becoming portable, these advantages have spread to rural populations. However, ultrasound scans often reveal the sex of the baby, allowing pregnant women to decide to abort female foetuses and try again later for a male child. This practice is usually considered the main reason for the change in the ratio of male to female children being born.[80]
In 1994 the Indian government passed a law forbidding women or their families from asking about the sex of the baby after an ultrasound scan (or any other test which would yield that information) and also expressly forbade doctors or any other persons from providing that information. In practice this law (like the law forbidding dowries) is widely ignored, and levels of abortion on female foetuses remain high and the sex ratio at birth keeps getting more skewed. [81]
Female infanticide (killing of girl infants) is still prevalent in some rural areas.[31] Sometimes this is infanticide by neglect, for example families may not spend money on critical medicines or withhold care from a sick girl.
Continuing abuse of the dowry tradition has been one of the main reasons for sex-selective abortions and female infanticides in India.


Main article: Rape in India
Rape in India has been described by Radha Kumar as one of India's most common crimes against women[82] and by the UN’s human-rights chief as a “national problem”.[83] In the 1980s, women's rights groups lobbied for marital rape to be declared unlawful, as until 1983, the criminal law (amendment) act stated that "sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under fifteen years of age is not rape". Marital rape is still not a criminal offence.[82] While per-capita reported incidents are quite low compared to other countries, even developed countries,[84][85] a new case is reported every 20 minutes.[86][87]
New Delhi has the highest rate of rape-reports among Indian cities.[88] Sources show that rape cases in India have doubled between 1990 and 2008.[89][90]

Sexual harassment

Main article: Eve teasing
Eve teasing is a euphemism used for sexual harassment or molestation of women by men. Many activists blame the rising incidents of sexual harassment against women on the influence of "Western culture". In 1987, The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act was passed[91] to prohibit indecent representation of women through advertisements or in publications, writings, paintings or in any other manner.
Of the total number of crimes against women reported in 1990, half related to molestation and harassment in the workplace.[31] In 1997, in a landmark judgement[ambiguous], the Supreme Court of India took a strong stand against sexual harassment of women in the workplace. The Court also laid down detailed guidelines for prevention and redressal of grievances. The National Commission for Women subsequently elaborated these guidelines into a Code of Conduct for employers.[31] In 2013 India's top court investigated on a law graduate's allegation that she was sexually harassed by a recently retired Supreme Court judge.[92]Recently, The Sexual Harassment ofWomenat Workplace ( Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 came into force on Dec 2013, to prevent Harassment of women at workplace.


The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act was passed in 1956.[93] However many cases of trafficking of young girls and women have been reported. These women are either forced into prostitution, domestic work or child labour.

Legal status


  1. Guardians & Wards Act, 1890[94]
  2. Indian Penal Code, 1860
  3. Christian Marriage Act, 1872
  4. Indian Evidence Act, 1872[95]
  5. Married Women's Property Act, 1874
  6. Workmen's compensation Act, 1923
  7. Indian Successions Act, 1925
  8. Immoral Traffic (prevention) Act, 1956
  9. Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961[96]
  10. Commission of Sati(Prevention) Act, 1987
  11. Cinematograph Act, 1952
  12. Births, Deaths & Marriages Registration Act, 1886
  13. Minimum Wages Act, 1948
  14. Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012
  15. Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929
  16. Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application,1937
  17. Indecent Representation of Women(Prevention) Act,1986
  18. ସSpecial Marriage Act)[97]
  19. Hindu Marriage Act, 1955
  20. Hindu Successions Act, 1956
  21. Foreign Marriage Act, 1969
  22. Family Courts Act, 1984
  23. Maternity Benefit Act,1861
  24. Hindu Adoption & Maintenance ACT,1956
  25. Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973
  26. Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act,1971
  27. National Commission for Women Act, 1990
  28. Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act, 199)
  29. Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005
  30. Sexual Harassment of Women at Work Place (Prevention, Prohibition & Redressal) Act, 2013[98]
  31. Indian Divorce Act, 1969
  32. Equal Remuneration Act, 1976
  33. Hindu Widows Remarriage Act, 1856
  34. Muslim women (protection of rights on divorce) Act, 1986
Numerous legal protections have been bestowed on India at the national level since colonial times. However, widespread lack of enforcement has led to violation of laws related to women's status with impunity.

Other concerns

Social opinions

Main article: Sexism in India
In the wake of several brutal rape attacks in the capital city of Delhi, debates held in other cities revealed that men believed women who dressed provocatively deserved to get raped; many of the correspondents stated women incited men to rape them.[99][100]


Main article: Women's health in India
The average female life expectancy today in India is low compared to many countries, but it has shown gradual improvement over the years. In many families, especially rural ones, girls and women face nutritional discrimination within the family, and are anaemic and malnourished.[31]
The maternal mortality in India is the 56th highest in the world.[101] 42% of births in the country are supervised in Medical Institution. In rural areas, most of women deliver with the help of women in the family, contradictory to the fact that the unprofessional or unskilled deliverer lacks the knowledge about pregnancy.[31]

Family planning

The average woman living in a rural area in India has little or no control over becoming pregnant. Women, particularly women in rural areas, do not have access to safe and self-controlled methods of contraception. The public health system emphasises permanent methods like sterilisation, or long-term methods like IUDs that do not need follow-up. Sterilization accounts for more than 75% of total contraception, with female sterilisation accounting for almost 95% of all sterilisations.[31]

Sex ratios

India has a highly skewed sex ratio, which is attributed to sex-selective abortion and female infanticide affecting approximately one million female babies per year.[102]In, 2011, government stated India was missing three million girls and there are now 48 less girls per 1,000 boys.[103] Despite this, the government has taken further steps to improve the ratio, and the ratio is reported to have been improved in recent years.[104]


Further information: Sanitation in India
In rural areas, schools have been reported to have gained the improved sanitation facility.[105] Given the existing socio-cultural norms and situation of sanitation in schools, girl students are forced not to relieve themselves in the open unlike boys.[106] Lack of facilities in home forces women to wait for the night to relieve themselves and avoid being seen by others.[107]
In 2011 a "Right to Pee" (as called by the media) campaign began in Mumbai, India's largest city.[108] Women, but not men, have to pay to urinate in Mumbai, despite regulations against this practice. Women have also been sexually assaulted while urinating in fields.[108] Thus, activists have collected more than 50,000 signatures supporting their demands that the local government stop charging women to urinate, build more toilets, keep them clean, provide sanitary napkins and a trash can, and hire female attendants.[108] In response, city officials have agreed to build hundreds of public toilets for women in Mumbai, and some local legislators are now promising to build toilets for women in every one of their districts.[108]

Women in India

Women in India

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Women in India
Pratibha Devisingh Patil was the 12thPresident of the Republic of India and first woman to hold the office.[1]
Gender Inequality Index
Value0.610 (2012)
Maternal mortality(per 100,000)200 (2008)
Women in parliament10.9% (2012)
Females over 25 withsecondary education26.6% (2010)
Women in labour force29.0% (2011)
Global Gender Gap Index[2]
Value0.6551 (2013)
Rank101st out of 136
The status of women in India has been subject to many great changes over the past few millennia.[3][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 held high offices in India including that of the PresidentPrime MinisterSpeaker of the Lok Sabha and Leader of the Opposition.
As of 2011, the Speaker of the Lok Sabha and the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha (Lower House of the parliament) were women. However, women in India continue to face atrocities such as rapeacid throwing, dowry killings, and the forced prostitution of young girls.[6][7][8]


Ancient India

According to scholars, women in ancient India enjoyed equal status with men in all aspects of life.[9] Works by ancient Indian grammarians such as Patanjali and Katyayana suggest that women were educated in the early Vedic period.[10][11] Rigvedic verses suggest that women married at a mature age and were probably free to select their own husbands.[12] Scriptures such as the Rig Veda and Upanishads mention several women sages and seers, notably Gargiand Maitreyi.[13]
There are very few texts specifically dealing with the role of women[14] an important exception is the Stri Dharma Paddhati of Tryambakayajvan, an official at Thanjavur c. 1730. The text compiles strictures on women's behaviour dating back to the Apastamba sutra (c. 4th century BCE).[15] The opening verse goes:
mukhyo dharmaH smr^tiShu vihito bhartr^shushruShANam hi :
women are enjoined to be of service to their husbands.
Some kingdoms in ancient India had traditions such as nagarvadhu ("bride of the city"). Women competed to win the coveted title of nagarvadhuAmrapali is the most famous example of a nagarvadhu.
According to studies, women enjoyed equal status and rights during the early Vedic period.[16] However in approximately 500 B.C., the status of women began to decline, and with the Islamic invasion of Babur and the Mughal empire and Christianity later worsened women's freedom and rights.[5]
Although reform movements such as Jainism allowed women to be admitted to religious orders, by and large women in India faced confinement and restrictions.[16] The practice of child marriages is believed to have started around the sixth century.[17]

Medieval period

Krishna at Goddesss Radharani's feet.
Indian women's position in society further deteriorated during the medieval period,[5][9] when child marriages and a ban on remarriage by widows became part of social life in some communities in India. The Muslim conquest in the Indian subcontinent brought purdah to Indian society. Among the Rajputs of Rajasthan, the Jauhar was practised. In some parts of India, some of Devadasis were sexually exploited. Polygamy was practised among Hindu Kshatriya rulers for some political reasons.[17] In many Muslim families, women were restricted to Zenana areas of the house.
In spite of these conditions, women often became prominent in the fields of politics, literature, education and religion.[5]Razia Sultana became the only woman monarch to have ever ruled Delhi. The Gond queen Durgavati ruled for fifteen years before losing her life in a battle with Mughal emperor Akbar's general Asaf Khan in 1564. Chand Bibi defendedAhmednagar against the powerful Mughal forces of Akbar in the 1590s. Jehangir's wife Nur Jehan effectively wielded imperial power, and was recognized as the real power behind the Mughal throne. The Mughal princesses Jahanara and Zebunnissa were well-known poets, and also influenced the ruling powers. Shivaji's mother, Jijabai, was queen regent because of her ability as a warrior and an administrator. In South India, many women administered villages, towns, and divisions, and ushered in new social and religious institutions.[17]
The Bhakti movements tried to restore women's status and questioned certain forms of oppression.[16] Mirabai, a female saint-poet, was one of the most important Bhakti movement figures. Other female saint-poets from this period includedAkka Mahadevi, Rami Janabai and Lal Ded. Bhakti sects within Hinduism such as the Mahanubhav, Varkari and many others were principle movements within the Hindu fold openly advocating social justice and equality between men and women.
Immediately following the Bhakti movements, Guru Nanak, the first Guru of Sikhs, preached equality between men and women. He advocated that women be allowed to lead religious assemblies; to lead congregational hymn singing calledKirtan or Bhajan; to become members of religious management committees; to lead armies on the battlefield; to have equality in marriage, and to have equality in Amrit (Baptism). Other Sikh Gurus also preached the same, but their practices were often regarded to be a breach of women rights.

Historical practices

Traditions such as Sati, Jauhar, and Devadasi among some communities have been banned and are largely defunct in modern India. However, some instances of these practices are still found in remote parts of India. The purdah is still practiced by Indian women in some communities. Child marriage remains common in rural areas, although it is illegal under current Indian law.
Sati is an old, almost completely 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 voluntary on the widow's part, its practice is forbidden by the Hindu scriptures in Kali yuga, the current age.[18] After the foreign invasions of Indian subcontinent, this practice started to mark its presence, as women were often raped or kidnapped by the foreign forces.[19] It was abolished by the British in 1829. There have been around forty reported cases of sati since independence.[20] In 1987, the Roop Kanwar case in Rajasthan led to The Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act.[21]
Jauhar refers to the practice of voluntary immolation by 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. Evidently such practice took place during the Islamic invasions of India.[22]
Purdah is the practice among some Muslim communities requiring women to cover themselves so as to conceal their faces and form from males. It imposes restrictions on the mobility of women, curtails their right to interact freely.[citation needed]
Devadasi is often misunderstood as religious practice. It was practised in southern India, in which women were "married" to a deity or temple. The ritual was well-established by the 10th century A.D.[23] By 1988, the practice was outlawed in the country.[24]

British rule

European scholars observed in the 19th century that Hindu women are "naturally chaste" and "more virtuous" than other women.[25] During the British Raj, many reformers such as Ram Mohan RoyIshwar Chandra Vidyasagar and Jyotirao Phule fought for the betterment of women. Peary Charan Sarkar, a former student of Hindu College, Calcutta and a member of "Young Bengal", set up the first free school for girls in India in 1847 in Barasat, a suburb of Calcutta (later the school was named Kalikrishna Girls' High School).
While this might suggest that there was no positive British contribution during the Raj era, that is not entirely the case. Missionaries' wives such as Martha Mault née Mead and her daughter Eliza Caldwell née Mault are rightly remembered for pioneering the education and training of girls in south India. This practice was initially met with local resistance, as it flew in the face of tradition. Raja Rammohan Roy's efforts led to the abolition of Sati under Governor-General William Cavendish-Bentinck in 1829. Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar's crusade for improvement in the situation of widows led to the Widow Remarriage Act of 1856. Many women reformers such as Pandita Ramabai also helped the cause of women.
Kittur Chennamma, queen of the princely state Kittur in Karnataka,[26] led an armed rebellion against the British in response to the Doctrine of lapseAbbakka Rani, queen of coastal Karnataka, led the defence against invading European armies, notably the Portuguese in the 16th century. Rani Lakshmi Bai, the Queen of Jhansi, led the Indian Rebellion of 1857 against the British. She is now widely considered as a national hero. Begum Hazrat Mahal, the co-ruler of Awadh, was another ruler who led the revolt of 1857. She refused deals with the British and later retreated to Nepal. The Begums of Bhopal were also considered notable female rulers during this period. They did not observe purdah and were trained in martial arts.
Chandramukhi BasuKadambini Ganguly and Anandi Gopal Joshi were some of the earliest Indian women to obtain a degree.
In 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 in Pune in 1927, it became a major organisation in the movement for social change.[16][27] In 1929, the Child Marriage Restraint Act was passed, stipulating fourteen as the minimum age of marriage for a girl.[16][28][full citation needed] 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 child widows.[29]
Women played an important part in India's independence struggle. Some famous freedom fighters include Bhikaji Cama, Dr. Annie BesantPritilata Waddedar,Vijayalakshmi PanditRajkumari Amrit KaurAruna Asaf AliSucheta Kriplani and Kasturba Gandhi. Other notable names include Muthulakshmi Reddy and Durgabai Deshmukh. The Rani of Jhansi Regiment of Subhas Chandra Bose's Indian National Army consisted entirely of women, including Captain Lakshmi SahgalSarojini Naidu, a poet and freedom fighter, was the first Indian woman to become President of the Indian National Congress and the first woman to become the governor of a state in India.

Independent India

Female Safety Index per state according to the Tata Strategic Management Group. Light green indicates greatest safety; yellow, medium safety and light red, least safety.
Women in India now participate fully in areas such as education, sports, politics, media, art and culture, service sectors, science and technology, etc.[5] 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.[30]
The Constitution of India guarantees to all Indian women equality (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 (Article 51(A) (e)), and also allows for provisions to be made by the State for securing just and humane conditions of work and for maternity relief. (Article 42).[31]
Feminist activism in India gained momentum in the late 1970s. One of the first national-level issues that brought women's groups together was the Mathura rape case. The acquittal of policemen accused of raping a young girl Mathura in a police station led to country-wide protests in 1979-1980. The protests, widely covered by the national media, forced the Government to amend the Evidence Act, the Criminal Procedure Code, and the Indian Penal Code; and created a new offence, custodial rape.[31] Female activists also united over issues such as female infanticide, gender bias, women's health, women's safety, and women's literacy.
Since alcoholism is often associated with violence against women in India,[32] many women groups launched anti-liquor campaigns in Andhra PradeshHimachal PradeshHaryanaOdishaMadhya Pradesh and other states.[31] Many Indian Muslim women have questioned the fundamental leaders' interpretation of women's rights under the Shariat law and have criticized thetriple talaq system.[16]
In 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 the advancement of women's rights in India. Many women have emerged as leaders of local movements; for example, Medha Patkar of the Narmada Bachao Andolan.
The Government of India declared 2001 as the Year of Women's Empowerment (Swashakti).[16] The National Policy For The Empowerment Of Women came was passed in 2001.[33]
In 2006, the case of Imrana, a Muslim rape victim, was highlighted by the media. Imrana was raped by her father-in-law. 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 sentenced to 10 years in prison. The verdict was welcomed by many women's groups and the All India Muslim Personal Law Board.[34]
According to a report by Thomson Reuters, India is the "fourth most dangerous country" in the world for women,[35][36] India was also noted as the worst country for women among the G20 countries,[37] however, this report has faced criticism for its inaccuracy.[38] In 9 March 2010, one day after International Women's day, Rajya Sabha passed the Women's Reservation Bill requiring that 33% of seats in India's Parliament and state legislative bodies be reserved for women.[39]


The steady change in the position of women can be highlighted by looking at what has been achieved by women in the country:


Women in Tamil Nadu.
sari (a long piece of fabric wound around the body) and salwar kameez are worn by women all over India. A bindi is part of a woman's make-up. Despite common belief, the bindi on the forehead does not signify marital status; however, the Sindoor does.[45]
Rangoli (or Kolam) is a traditional art very popular among Indian women.

Education and economic development

According to 1992-93 figures, only 9.2% of the households in India were headed by females. However, approximately 35% of the households below the poverty line were found to be headed by females.[46]


Further information: Education in India
Though it is gradually increasing, the female literacy rate in India is less than the male literacy rate.[47] Far fewer girls than boys are enrolled in school, and many girls drop out.[31] In urban India, girls are nearly on a par with boys in terms of education. However, in rural India girls continue to be less well-educated than boys. According to the National Sample Survey Data of 1997, only the states of Kerala and Mizoram have approached universal female literacy. According to scholars, the major factor behind improvements in the social and economic status of women in Kerala is literacy.[31]
Under the Non-Formal Education programme (NFE), about 40% of the NFE centres in states and 10% of the centres in UTs are exclusively reserved for females. As of 2000, about 300,000 NFE centres were catering to about 7.42 million children. About 120,000 NFE centres were exclusively for girls.[48]
According to a 1998 report by the U.S. Department of Commerce, the chief barriers to female education in India are inadequate school facilities (such as sanitary facilities), shortage of female teachers and gender bias in the curriculum (female characters being depicted as weak and helpless).[49]

Workforce participation

Women at work carrying new bricks, Puri, Orissa.
Contrary to common perception, a large percentage of women in India work.[50] National data collection agencies accept that statistics seriously understate women's contribution as workers.[31] However, there are far fewer women than men in the paid workforce. In urban India, women participate in the workforce in impressive numbers. For example, in the software industry 30% of the workforce is female.[51] In the workplace women enjoy parity with their male counterparts in terms of wages and roles.
In rural India in the agriculture and allied industrial sectors, females account for as much as 89.5% of the labour force.[46]In overall farm production, women's average contribution is estimated at 55% to 66% of the total labour. According to a 1991 World Bank report, women accounted for 94% of total employment in dairy production in India. Women constitute 51% of the total employed in forest-based small-scale enterprises.[46]
One of the most famous female business success stories is the Shri Mahila Griha Udyog Lijjat Papad. In 2006, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, who founded Biocon, one of India's first biotech companies, was rated India's richest woman. Lalita D. Gupte and Kalpana Morparia were the only businesswomen in India who made the list of the Forbes World's Most Powerful Women in 2006. Gupte ran ICICI Bank, India's second-largest bank, until October 2006 [52] and Morparia is CEO of JP Morgan India.[53]

Land and property rights

In most Indian families, women do not own any property in their own names, and do not get a share of parental property.[31] Due to weak enforcement of laws protecting them, women continue to have little access to land and property.[54] In fact, some of the laws discriminate against women, when it comes to land and property rights.[55]
The Hindu personal laws of 1956 (applying to Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains) gave women rights to inheritances. However, sons had an independent share in the ancestral property, while the daughters' shares were based on the share received by their father. Hence, a father could effectively disinherit a daughter by renouncing his share of the ancestral property, but a son would continue to have a share in his own right. Additionally, married daughters, even those facing marital harassment, had no residential rights in the ancestral home. Thanks to amendment of the Hindu laws in 2005, women now have the same status as men.[56]
In 1986, the Supreme Court of India ruled that Shah Bano, an elderly divorced Muslim woman, was eligible for maintenance money. However, the decision was vociferously opposed by fundamentalist Muslim leaders, who alleged that the court was interfering in their personal law. The Union Government subsequently passed the Muslim Women's (Protection of Rights Upon Divorce) Act.[57]
Similarly, Christian women have struggled over years for equal rights in divorce and succession. In 1994, all churches, jointly with women's organisations, drew up a draft law called the Christian Marriage and Matrimonial Causes Bill. However, the government has still not amended the relevant laws.[16]