“Women are the real architects of society.” – Harriet Beecher Stowe
“A woman is the full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture and transform.”
– Diane Mariechild
Women enjoyed equal status with men in ancient days. As per the studies it is well-known that women are educated in the early Vedic period. It is also revealed that women in Vedic period enjoyed equal status and it was gradually declined with the smrithis and Islamic invasion. Child marriages were encouraged in sixth century.
The status of women declined more in the medieval period. Sati and child marries became common in some communities. Purdha and Devadasi systems were wide spread at that moment. Inspite of above conditions some exemplary women like Razia Sultana, Chand Bibi, Mirabai, Akka Mahadevi, Rami Janabai and Lal ded became popular for their initiatives in social justice.
The status of women has been changed in the modern world. But she is suffering from many constraints as compared to ancient women. Modern women have proven themselves. There are many problems which women in India have to go through everyday. These problems have become a part of life of Indian women and some of them have accepted them as their fate.
The major problems Indian women facing are as follows:
1. Malnutrition: Most of the Indian women suffering from malnutrition appeared in rural areas. In villages, sometimes women do not get to eat the whole meal due to poverty. The UNICEF report clearly states that the women of South Asia are not given proper care, which results in higher level of malnutrition as compared to other parts of the world. Lack of nutrition leads to anemia and under growth in many women.
2. Maternal Mortality: The mortality rate in India is more than in the other parts of the world. As females are not given proper attention, it results in the malnutrition and then they are married at an early age which leads to pregnancies at younger age when their body is not ready to bear the burden of a child. All these result in serious genealogical problems and may also lead to death in some cases.
3. Illiteracy: Since the Medieval period to modern days, Indian women are excluded from the education system. Girls are supposed to fulfill domestic duties and education becomes secondary for them whereas it is considered to be important for boys. But the scenario has changed with changing situations and majority of the girls are opting for higher education. The situation has been changed in urban areas but rural areas are still facing illiteracy due to scarcity of schools.
4. Violence: Violence against women is a remarkable evil in India. Irrespective of place, women in rural and urban areas are suffering from physical and mental violence, while women in urban areas are suffering more than the women in rural areas. Women is being abused at home and work place also. The government initiated many laws such as The Hindu Marriage Act of 1955, The Hindu Succession Act of 1956, The Hindu Widow Remarriage Act of 1856, The Hindu Women Right to Property Act of 1937, The Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961 to protect women in India.
5. Overwork: Indian women works more than men but their work is hardly recognized as they mainly do unskilled work. Their household chores is never counted as a work. If a woman is working in a field to help her husband it will also be not counted as a work.
6. Dowry: Dowry is the major issue which Indian women is facing. Courts are flooded with cases related to death due to dowry harassment by husband and in laws.
7. Female infanticide: As women were supposed to be and in some areas of India are still considered to be curse by some strata of society their birth was taken as a burden. So in past times they were killed as soon as they were born. Today with the help of technology, the sex of the unborn baby is determined and if it is a girl child, it is aborted down.
8. Divorce: Divorce rate in India is not so high compared to western countries but it does not mean that marriages are more successful here. The reason behind low level of divorce rate is that it is looked down by the society. It is regarded as the sign of failure of marriage, especially of women.
Due to globalization and liberalization so many changes have been taken place in the modern women’s life. Women play vital roles in every part of modern society.
1. Mother Teresa
She is the pioneer and legendary peacemaker. She is well known for her tireless efforts to gain worldwide peace. She has received many awards for her priceless contributions like Pope John XXIII Peace Prize and the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 and donated the award prize money to the poor people in Calcutta.
2. Kiran Bedi
Kiran Bedi was perhaps the first person who broke the myth that women cannot be police officers. Her dedication to reform the police system in India won her the Ramon Magsaysay Award.
3. Sonia Gandhi
She is one of the successful political leaders of Indian politics. Sonia Gandhi is known for her charisma and personality. She is still continuing the legacy of the renowned Gandhi family with her political vision.
4. Aishwarya Rai Bachhan
Aishwarya Rai Bachhan occupies a unique place in Bollywood. Her journey of success started right from wining the most coveted title of Miss World to the most prestigious Padmashree.
5. Sania Mirza
Sania Mirza has made India proud in the tennis platform by her skills and tenacity.
6. Shahnaz Hussain
She is popular for her herbal beauty treatments all over the world offering stunning results.
7. Ritu Kumar
Ritu Kumar got a great place with her unique dresses and creations in fashion market across the globe.
1. Indira Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of Pepsi
Chairman and CEO of Pepsi Company. She is ranked among world’s 100 most powerful women. Nooyi joined PepsiCo in 1994 and was named president and CFO in 2001. Nooyi has directed the company’s global strategy for more than a decade and led PepsiCo’s restructuring. She is awarded with Padma Bhushan in the year 2007.
2. Chanda Kochhar, MD and CEO of ICICI Bank
She is the Managing Director (MD) and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of ICICI Bank from May 2009 for a period of five years. She also heads the Corporate Centre of ICICI Bank. Kochhar is honoured with Padma Bhushan Award, the third highest civilian honour by the Government of India for the year 2010 for her services to banking.
3. Neelam Dhawan, MD Hewlett-Packard, India
Neelam Dhawan, the Indian women entrepreneur, was the managing director and the head of Microsoft India and the company’s marketing sales and operations from 2005-08. She has worked in top IT Companies like HCL, IBM and is currently the MD at HP.
4. Dr Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Chairman and Managing Director, Biocon Limited
Kiran is one of the leading Indian Enterprenuers. In 1978, she joined Biocon Biochemicals Limited, of Cork, Ireland as a Trainee Manager. She has received many awards in recognition of her contributions to biotechnology.
5. Kalpana Morparia, CEO, JP MORGAN & CO
Ms. Morparia serves as Chief Executive Officer of J.P. Morgan, India, and is a member of J.P. Morgan’s Asia Pacific Executive Committee. She was named one of “The 50 Most Powerful Women in International Business” by Fortune magazine in 2008.
6. Priya Paul, President of The park hotels
Priya Paul, President of The Park Hotels and the director of the Apeejay Surrendra Group. Priya is also Vice-President, the Hotel Association of India, and a founder member of World Travel Tourism Council (Asia chapter). Priya Paul received with Padma Sri Award by Govt of India on eve of the Republic Day, January 2012.