Contribution of Women Towards India's Growth
By Jyoti Singh
“YOU CAN TELL THE CONDITION OF A NATION BY LOOKING AT THE STATUS OF ITS WOMEN.”
According to Romila Thapar, a historian, “Within the Indian subcontinent, there have been infinite variations on the status of women diverging according to cultural malaise, family structure, class, caste, property rights, and morals.” On one hand, she is considered as fertile, patient, benevolent but on the other hand, is considered as the aggressor and represents “Shakti”.
Traditionally, in the Vedic period, the position of women was glorious on account of freedom and equality. During that period women participated in every walk of life and enjoyed liberty in every sphere. Women like Apala, Gargi, Viscera, Yamini, and Ghost stole the limelight and became front runners of the society. In Vedas and Upanishads, women were regarded as the true companion of her husband and not his property. There were no restrictions on widow remarriage and the discrimination between boy and girl hardly existed. However, in the Post Vedic Period, women suffered drastic hardships and were denied education. The birth of a girl child came to be seen as a disaster. Pre-puberty marriages came into existence. Daughters were brought up under the surveillance of her father, as the wife of her husband and as the mother of her son.
In the medieval era, the position of women further deteriorated. Women were placed under the veil and denied participation in community affairs. Social evils like child marriage, sati, female infanticide, and dowry mushroomed. The system of Devdasi and polygamy also spread widely throughout the country.
Notably, the position of women changed in the British era due to the impact of Western Socio-Cultural pattern. The social reforms movement and the nationalist movement added fuel to the fire. Women once again started to believe in themselves and their dreams.
Hillary Clinton in her 2016 concession speech said, “To all the little girls who are watching, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your dreams.”
In modern-day India, the role of women has changed drastically. Today she is not just a homemaker but a multi-tasking woman, who handles all responsibilities and fears effortlessly. Women today handle their household chores, nurture their children and ace in their professional capabilities as well. Indian society was traditionally a patriarchal one. Women had to face numerous hardships. They have seen the worst, the human eye can see. But despite all odds, Indian women have not lagged behind. They have succeeded in not one, not two but all fields there can possibly be. Women are present in all fields today. She is a doctor, an engineer, a professor, a scientist, a lawyer, a pilot, a journalist and every other possible thing there can be. Today Indian women are breaking stereotypes by being a part of the army, cab drivers, bus conductors, boxers, wrestlers and even bodybuilders. Indian women have been Presidents and Prime Ministers, foreign ambassadors and Supreme Court judges, administrators and CEOs. These women have contributed greatly not only to the development of the Indian society but also the Indian economy. Even when rural India was suffering from malnutrition, health issues, lack of education and excessive burden on agriculture, a study of the Indian government showed that more than 40% of rural women contributed directly or indirectly to uplift their families and bring about social change. In the urban areas as well, despite lack of education and other basic needs, women contributed by providing substantial labor in industries, construction, domestic and community services, etc. Beecher Stowe had rightly observed, “Women are the real architects of the society”.
Historically, as well the contribution of women in the growth and development of the country has been immense. Nobody can deny the role played by Annie Besant, Rani Lakshmi Bai, Sarojini Naidu, Indira Gandhi, Arundhati Roy, Kalpana Chawla, Kiran Bedi, and numerous such other great women. From freedom fighters to astronauts, Indian women have been there and done. The role of women in the growth and development is omnipresent and cannot be disregarded.
Also, it is rightly said that behind every successful man there is a woman. Women have not only achieved great heights themselves but have also helped men in their lives build careers and work towards their goals. Women have not only fed their husband and raised their kids but have acted as the backbone for the growth of their men, children and the women’s community as a whole. Women have backed each other up and pushed each other to newer and better places.
Thus, it is high time that we learn that only women who achieved heights are not the ones to be appreciated. But women who make our lives better and easier every day are to be thanked as well. We must thank the mother who goes through 57 Del of pain, the pain of 20 bones breaking at the same time to give birth to her child, and then makes hundreds of sacrifices to raise her child. Let’s appreciate the wife who loses her career for the sake of her family. Let’s appreciate the sister who sacrifices so that her little brother can have the bigger piece of cake. Let’s thank the maid who cleans our dishes and toilets.
Let’s thank the teacher who works hard to make our lives better. Let’s talk about the small business owners and women who work in fields. Let’s talk about all the tiny little things we don’t talk about every day because whether a woman contributes to the economy monetarily or not, she definitely contributes to the nation. One does not need to be a sportsperson or Bollywood celebrity, a scientist or Harvard graduate to contribute to the nation and make the country proud.
Believe me, every woman counts, every one of us counts.
“Feminism isn’t about making women strong. Women are already strong. It’s about changing the way the world perceives its strength. ”
- G.D Anderson