Women’s Welfare In India
India has been a country that has deep rooted cultural wisdom and values that have been handed down from century’s old civilization. Women have always been venerated as gods. Unbelievable but true that Indian religion has several thousands of female deities representing various facets of nature and energies in the cosmos. Women are given the highest position and looked upon as the reincarnation of Universal mother who has created and nurtured our universe and nature. History talks of a kingdom and community that has followed matriarchal system where the head of the family has been the mother and the property has been passed on from the mother to the daughters. The kingdom of kerala was ruled by women rulers for a long period.
However, the previous centuries saw the society going astray and women’s condition had become deplorable. Practices based on caste, untouchability, bonded labor were some of the banes of society that corrupted the value based culture of the Indian society. Then came the British rule and India’s fight for independence. Women played a very major role in the country’s fight for freedom.
Women were the worst sufferers through the ages in Hindu societies. Social customs and traditions denied formal education to women. Child marriages and dowry system brought about unprecedented tragedy and deaths of women from the economically poor families. Strict social customs and rules laid down by the local administration at the village level ensured women stayed behind the scenes and confined to kitchen. In most cases she had no access to health care or nutrition. Female infanticide was and continues to be in vogue even today. Domestic violence, sexual violence and abuse by the husbands has killed several thousands of women over the years. Sexual abuse of women by the men of higher castes and atrocities on women showed the poor plight of women in those times.
Since the time of Indian independence, social reformers and government have done a lot to improve the status of women through various means. Legal policy framework is in place with regard to the property inheritance rights of women, with regard to legal recourse and action against abuse and demand for dowry etc. Apart from enforcing strict laws, government has also ensured primary health care network across all villages in the country thus bringing health care access to women in the rural areas.
Today, the status of women in the Indian cities has improved considerably. Women are able to educate themselves and gain employment and economic freedom. Their role and equation in the family has changed. The rural India too has been fast changing. Micro finance made available to rural women and training and providing platform to boost cottage industries etc has made it possible for rural women to become economically independent.
There are many stories of women in the entire village getting together and forcing the liquor shops to shut down and ensuring that their men stay away from liquor. Government policy today ensures that women are represented in every administration unit at village level and have a say in the matters of the village administration. Policies and programs for girl child education is providing free food, free books and free education to girls across the country.
A lot has been done and a lot needs to be done before the country can show up as a leader for other developing countries to follow in terms of women’s welfare and health.
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