Breaking Gender Stereotypes
At the dawn of the 21st century, we experience women working in various fields like teaching, law, nursing, science and technology, and many other fields. This became possible to a major extent by the courage, boldness, and confidence the women have in themselves that, they are in no way lesser than men. They overthrew all kinds of stereotypes that held them behind men and now they are excelling in every field.
Evolution of Women
There are various phases where women are treated differently in the history of India and the world. During ancient times, women were treated like goddesses and were given all privileges equal to men but this changed very soon with the onset of the Vedic period. During the Vedic period, women lost most of their forgoing rights. Women were kept confined to domestic work, family monitoring, and bringing up the child. They were not allowed to pursue higher education and were treated as inferiors as compared to men.
Atrocities faced by women
In ancient times, it was believed that women bring bad luck and they aren’t the true successors of the family, only men were given the status of successors and this even continues till date in some parts of the country. As a result of this, a girl child was murdered after birth or at whatever stage the gender is identified. The girl child was considered a burden due to dowry issues, it’s considered that girls are only consumers and boys were the actual producers. All these factors collectively led to the abortion of a female fetus before birth
Child marriage was another big problem, a girl used to face in the olden days. It was at a very young age that a girl used to get married and sent to their in-law’s home to serve them. It was very early for her to cope with all the responsibilities of marriage and take care of all the domestic work alone. Even it was very early for her mental and physical health to carry and raise a child. There were many cases where women died due to early pregnancy.
Lack of Education facilities and rights
Women were not allowed to school and higher educational institutions like Universities. They were educated only to a certain extent so that they can chant mantras and be able to teach their children about moral values. Due to this women became slaves of men for their daily living and they never had proper knowledge.
No right to inherit father’s or husband’s property
Women in ancient times were completely men dependent on their finance. This was because they were not officially given the land or property of their father or husband. After the death of the father in the family, all the property he owned was equally distributed to his sons and nothing was given to his daughters and mother.
It was considered that women were only supposed to do certain jobs like nursing, but women nowadays broke all such stereotypes and entered all realms and did their best. It was believed that girls aren’t good at maths and science but women like Shakuntala Devi, Madam Curie, Maryam Mirzakhani, and many other great women proved these stereotypes wrong and crossed them easily. Women rose their voices and started for asking their rights and equality and this opened up many new opportunities for them. One such lady who rose like a Phoenix and broke all such stereotypes was Indira Gandhi.
Indira Priyadharshini Gandhi was the first lady prime minister of India and the only lady prime minister of India to date. She was known for her dynamic nature and bold decisions and she was never afraid of anyone else and always raised her voice against oppression and carved her name with gold in the history of India.
Sarojini Naidu alias “The Nightingale of India” was a very firm politician and freedom fighter who actively participated in the National movement for Independence. Her poems raised a feeling of nationality among the natives and encouraged them to participate in the national movement. She accompanied Mahatma Gandhi in the famous Salt Satyagraha salt march from Dandi to Sabarmati ashram. Sarojini Naidu was also the first lady president of the Indian National Congress.
Question 1: Write about Sati pratha.
Sati was a very harsh practice carried out in India. According to this practice, the women who choose to jump into the holy fire during their husband’s funeral were considered sacred and loyal, and those who didn’t were considered selfish and cheaters. Women were not allowed to marry again after the death of their husbands and they were forced to follow certain rules for the rest of their lives like wearing white clothes and not wearing bindi or tilak, staying away from family parties or festivals. Windows were considered bad luck and evil.
Question 2: Elaborate on the saying”When you educate a woman, you educate a whole family”.
“When you educate a woman, you educate a whole family”… goes the age-old saying, which is true because when a woman is educated she will not be treating her son and daughter differently and will take necessary actions for the education of her children equally and we all know that a mother is the first teacher of the child and if this mother is educated, it helps the child to grow into a good human being with all-round development.
Question 3: Mention a few women who broke stereotypes and changed their lives.
- Kalpana Chawla : She was the 1st Indian astronaut to enter space.
- Jhansi Rani Laxmibai: Rani Laxmibai was a young and dynamic queen of Jhansi who fought single-handed with the British against the Doctrine of Lapse.
- Madame Curie: Madame Curie was the 1st woman to win a Nobel prize for her works on radioactivity.
Question 4: How did the prevailing stereotypes affect women?
The prevailing stereotypes affect women in many ways and a few among them are listed below:
- They were not allowed to undergo higher education.
- They were not given the right to inherit their father’s or husband’s property.
- They were considered inferior and given less importance.
- They were not involved in the decision-making process.
Question 5: List a few laws enforced by the Government of India for Women’s Empowerment?
Laws enforced by the Government of India for Women’s Empowerment:
- The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976.
- The Commission of Sati Prevention,1987.
- The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006.
- The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961.