Millennium Post

Has status of women really changed?

‘Tere maathe pe ye aanchal bahut hi khub hai lekin, tu iss aanchal se ek parcham banaa leti to accha tha.’

Majaz Lakhnavi has rightly conveyed the vulnerable, subservient status of women in the society in the above couplet where he says that the cloth covering her head is traditional and culturally valuable but if she would have made of flag out of it i.e. dispelled the courage and strength in securing her position in a male-oriented society, things would have been different.
The status of women has always been a matter of concern. The patriarchal  nature of society has hampered their freedom and curbed their talents and has looked down upon them with disdainful contempt, reducing their status to a mere plaything of men’s whims. Joseph Conrad has rightly said, ‘Being a woman is a terribly difficult task, since it consists principally in dealing with men’. Women have been subjugated to all kinds of tortures, exploitations since time immemorial in the form of sati pratha, dowry system, purdah system, widow, remarriage etc. In the era of modernisation, Indian women have re-captured their lost identity. With co-education, women have cast off an age old inferiority complex and have marched side by side with menfolk. They are now aware of their rights and their position in the social milieu and are making substantial contribution by scaling the ladders of social advancement with zeal and dynamism. However it is to be noted that whatever whiff of emanicipation has been enjoyed by women of higher social strata, those belonging to lower strata are still untouched by the winds of change and are still in the grip of poverty, superstition and slavery. The question that lies unanswered despite the freedom, social advancement and equal opportunities is – Has the status of women really changed?

Even in the 21st century many working women are still subjected to immense pressure to shoulder the dual roles of a housewife and a working women. The gender discrimination still prevails  in the mindsets of people who are unable to digest the progress of women. Women are subjugated to humiliation, sexually assault, abduction, rape, and harassment at their homes, work places and even in public places. With such incidents recurring  everyday, women are neither safe inside the womb nor outside. The practice of female infanticide is one of the gnawing question that remains unsolved and needs to be tackled.

There is a need for radical change in the mindset of the society. The conservative chauvinistic attitude of the males shall have to give way to liberalism and men must be roped in to initiate social and political changes.

The author is Assistant Professor at Zakir Hussain College, Delhi University
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