ROLE OF WOMEN IN SOCIETY
In times past, women were confined to household works such as cleaning, cooking, doing laundry and raising children. They were not allowed to get involved in political, legal, economic or social affairs. Up until mid the 20th century, the society was largely patriarchal as men played the role of the breadwinner in the family while women struggled for gender equality. Over the span of decades, however, women's conditions have considerably improved. So, what brought upon this change?
During periods of war, women were drafted into the labor market to undertake work that was previously restricted only to men. While their husbands, sons, fathers and brothers were off fighting in the wars, women had to earn their own livelihood. However, following the wars, they invariably lost their jobs and had to return to the domestic scene. The changing role of women in society was a result of this work that they did during the war. Women had tasted something akin to independence during this time and they were unwilling to let go of it. Early in 1932, a young woman named Amelia Earhart was the first aviatrix to fly solo across the Atlantic. Her inspirational story also encouraged many women to push boundaries.
The rights women enjoy today are the rights women in the past fought for diligently. Compared to the past few decades or so, women have relatively improvised their lifestyle. Now, women hold a reputable position in the society. They are present in civil, defense, judicial, business and corporate sectors and often hold higher positions than their male counterparts. While there is no doubt that modern women have it better in terms of education, employment and political involvement, they are still discriminated against.
The constant harassment women face in their workplace or houses, whether sexual or emotional, stands as a testament to this. Females were often considered physically and emotionally weak, and this misconception had paved the way for centuries of suffering at the hands of men.
In the United States, which is now touted as the Leader of the Free World, July of 1848 saw Elizabeth Cady Stanton penned down the words “All men and women are created equal” on the “Declaration of sentiments and resolutions” - the sister equivalent of the “Declaration of Independence”- which dealt with woman's rights exclusively. One hundred and seventy years have passed since, and yet, society seems unwilling to accept this simple notion.
The Indian government has aimed for gender equality by passing the Sarda Act, Dowry Prohibition Act, among other, and has set up the Ministry of Women and Child Development. However, the Indian society still binds women to draconian gender norms and degrades her value. They often seem to forget that women are just as important to the development of society as men.
For centuries, men have taken center-stage, basking in the spotlight, while conveniently forgetting the women behind the scenes who worked hard for them to stand on it. A woman is an equal part of society and is not meant to be overshadowed by men. They are a man's companion, not their property. In the makings of a great state or country, a woman's contribution can never be overlooked.
Hence I urge every woman to stand strong. Fight for equal rights. Never feel inferior to anyone. Establish your identity in the society. Before a mother, sister, daughter or wife, you are first and foremost, a woman. A woman without whom the world is incomplete and without whom life cannot be possible.