The status of women in India is believed to have achieved equality under our constitution but the truth is that women are still suffering as various male-dominated traditions still prevail in this country. Did you know that the regional average score of the country’s equality is said to be just 55? Yes, we have tried our best to fill in the gaps but that is the real status of women in India in the 21st century!
Jawaharlal Nehru once explained how easy it is to tell the condition of a Nation just by looking at the status of its women. Today, women in India earn just 64% of their male counterparts – and that too, if they have the freedom to work. Let’s be honest, women in many parts of India are still fighting for that freedom, every single day.
So, what is the status of women in India compared to its history? How can we improve the economic and social indicators for women in India? What are the issues poor women in India face today?
Discrimination Against Women
India is a country where people pity a woman if she gives birth to a female child. It is an unimaginable thought to me how a female child is discriminated against right from the time of her birth. Though “prenatal sex discrimination” has been banned and is now considered a criminal offense, many Indian families are either unaware of it or don’t even bother to follow the law. This is one law that is literally impossible to enforce in Indian society.
Social strata too have a crucial role to play with respect to discrimination against women. This discrimination starts even before birth and is continued as the girl grows from being an infant to a teenager and an adult. Did you know that in rural parts of India, women continue to lag behind in education compared to boys? The political data also shows that a larger number of girls drop out of schools compared to boys. However, on the positive side, in urban India, data shows that girls are more on par with boys.
Indian women also have to deal with other problems like inadequate school facilities, gender bias, and more. Published reports show that literacy rates of women continue to remain low – a trend somewhat mirrored globally in many parts of the world.
While technology has helped make lives better for Indian women, there is still a long way to go. Selective abortions have become something so contagious that it cannot be banned, no action can be taken against them. About 10 to 11 million abortions take place every year and about 20,000 women die due to complications annually. The status of women in India is sometimes, abysmal.
Discrimination as an Infant or Child
Discrimination of a female infant leading to female foeticide and abandonment is quite high. As a child, it is shown in the form of insufficient care given to the child, with respect to food and education which consequently leads to malnutrition (anemia and low weight) which further becomes a cause for risky pregnancies, complications in childbearing, and deaths.
The undeniable power of patriarchy leads to a decrease in the number of girls per 1000 children. Not a lot of women are allowed to make it to the university. However, the search for justice is increasing day by day.
Status of Women in India and The Tradition of Dowry
Though taking dowry was prohibited and named illegal in 1961, the law hardly has any enforcement or effect on Indians. Dowry practices still prevail in almost every marriage. Every religion and culture – from all states and nearly every caste – follow the age-old tradition of dowry. It is considered to provide financial security for the newlywed couple. We however know that that’s not the case
Marriage is the bridge between two families but the terms of dowry often make this pious relationship unbearable. Studies show with increasing population, the conditions get worse. Unless this evil practice loses its root in our culture, women’s situation won’t get any better.
Customs and Traditions Play a Vital Role in Molding a Woman.
Work and women? Forget it. Though the Constitution of India has granted equal rights for men and women, factually, it would never come into action after being overshadowed by the male-dominated traditions which consider woman as a liability. It is crystal clear that gender inequality still prevails in our society even when we are in the 21st century. Statistics show that the rate of employment is lower in the case of women, a contributing factor for the current status of women in India.
Primarily, a woman is still considered to be dependent on her husband or father financially and emotionally. A woman is considered incapable of earning money and is expected to stick to things that she is more capable of doing like household chores although, in today’s society, women are playing both the roles – that of a working woman and a housewife.
Yet, a woman is never considered an asset to the family.
Status of Women in India after Marriage.
Marriage might be the beginning of a new journey but a married woman in India is seen and treated more like a property handed to the husband who is responsible for the happiness, support, health, and pride of her parents. As we discussed before, there are some traditions that are against the law, traditions that reduce the status of women in India, the same traditions that are still under practice. Women are often looked down upon as a sexual object. Reports say that domestic violence towards women of any age is like a cultural practice now.
Always under the constant vigilance of in-laws, no contact with anyone, and no privacy, the status of women in India remains a concern. Many aren’t able to work in an office because of societal pressure, and many are also kept out of land and property rights – inheritances that are rightly theirs.
Women in India are hardly given the freedom to express their views, as any disagreement leads to disgrace to her and her relatives, which further leads to negligence and disregard by both her parents and in-laws. For every 10 girls in India, 7 are harassed by their relatives for dowry and forced to live on their terms. Making a woman feel degraded represents only an inhumane and degraded mentality.
The Other Issues of Young Women in other Asian Countries like India
Unfortunately, there are thousands of deaths of women due to dowry harassment, and cases of attempted dowry death. The Constitution of India has implemented laws of punishment for dowry death as a mere 7 years term instead of life imprisonment or a death sentence. India’s legal system has policies to implement the laws but in reality, the voluntary participation of women is rare.
This itself is crystal clear proof of lack of help and discrimination against women. The situation is the same for both urban and rural India. Irrespective of the inequality and discrimination women in India face today we still don’t lack examples of women empowerment in all areas, be it science or politics.
How do We Ensure Indians Leave Behind These Practices?
India remains a land of traditions and customs. Unless cultures and traditions evolve to accept new practices, the position of women in India isn’t going to get better. Unless the point of view of people changes, nothing will change. An increase in the number of women participation in national and international politics, business, and other jobs or services can empower women truly and lift their level in society.
The government has to come up with a special policy that will allow women to study higher. Study shows, the rate of university goer women decreases a lot as compared to the rate of school goers. More support group has to be created to whom women can open up to. After all, a woman is a human first. Giving open access to all fields of society to everyone irrespective of gender has to be a part of our culture.