Indian woman in transition: Change in the society or Challenge before  Society!? or Both

More on Portrayal of Women in Social World

A Thematic Backdrop

 Human life is valuable as it has ability to realize himself/ herself. In this ways he is different than the other creatures. But is this realization is right for all? Hindu society emphasis for the self realization but are women have same opportunities? Gender bias is universal but in India it is different in the sense that since Vedic era status of woman in Indian society is defined on the bases of the relations, she is expected to carry and maintain. She can be a Goddess but can’t be an individual. Her all claims to be a human is judged as per her performances as sister, mother, daughter and wife.  She has no natural right to claim for all those rights that are there for an individual. That would empower her for enlightenment. The obvious result is that all her rights are automatically suspended. As on all those grounds on bases of which she is claiming for enlightenment is not accepted by the society. But it is undoubtedly a fractional truth. The place of woman occupied Indian society is mystifying. Situation of woman is not same in all sections of India. A research work is needed to be done in this area. We have to come out from the Vedic impressions of the society. Now this is the age known more for democratic setups, where perfect match between the social, economic and political system is mandatory & even essential for the smooth running of the entire scheme of democracy. We have to redefine our social values and principles that can match to the new adoptions. Democracy is in style because of its foundation that it is providing a lane for the enlightenment without any discriminations of man and woman.     Constitutional Frameworks and woman enlightenment:
Right to equality is more western in nature, where both man and woman have same and equal rights of claims against the state and society. For the proper claims one need for proper framework and desire to claim. About the first one, need is realized by the constituent assembly and given us a constitution that is providing equal rights to all including woman in one stroke. As both man and woman have equal political, social and economic rights.  India as state can be taken as an example of the ideal state as it has recognized the feminist ideologies even before feminist movement which starts in 70s. Enlightenment for which feminist are claiming for are more political, social and economical awakening of woman than the spiritual.  In Indian constitution equality of status is not only given but also guaranteed, under the custody of Supreme Court. There is bulk of articles that indicates for the equal treatment in the society. Some of them are as follows-
   The Constitution of India guarantees to all Indian women equality (Article 14), no discrimination by the State (Article 15(1)), equality of opportunity (Article 16), equal pay for equal work (Article 39(d)). In addition, it allows special provisions to be made by the State in favor of women and children (Article 15(3)), renounces practices derogatory to the dignity of women (Article 51(A) (e)), and also allows for provisions to be made by the State for securing just and humane conditions of work and for maternity relief. (Article42).
Above all article became assured promises when it is guaranteed by the constitution and protected by the judiciary. All it intended for enlightenment of man as well as woman.  Let’s have a look on some of the ideas behind article and reality of the promises as consequences.    

 What happened to the promises-




Idea encourage woman for active participation


Woman is now comparatively active but the real fruit is enjoyed by those woman who have strong political family belongs. Only few are the exceptions.

Political assurances & real participation  would change the attitude of the traditional society towards woman    

Woman  empowered does not make desired change in the society as even after positive assurances ultimate power of decision making is in the hand of male & even with all efforts he is the only head of the family. There is no actual sharing in social status.

Idea Economic equalities like equal pay for equal work would make woman more confident that would make a hidden pressure on society to listen her argument

Economic equalities cannot be found in all sub societies. Attitude of ignorance & illiteracy is the biggest obstacle in the way.



One of the facts is that there is not much problems with the constitutional arrangements but much hindrance is coming from the other side that is the desire of the society and the wishes of a woman as the part of society. That makes two societies in one nation.  One society is a place where woman empowerment is happing and moving to enlightenment. Process of such transition is so fast that, that sometimes it’s making imbalance in the society.  On the other side there is a sect of the society where such enlightenment is not permissible  at all. Both sides have different problems that need to be addressed differently.
Traditional values in modern society: struggle of a awaken woman It is very much clear that the demand for self rule was a demand for social change. Social change means equal status to all. Indian constitution guarantees against all discriminations under Fundamental Rights part III and Directive Principles of State Policy part IV. That is undoubtedly a mile stone through which objectives of equalities can be achieved. Indian constitution is leading path of the enlightenment for all. For which Indian society is more curious about. It is significant to make it clear that the meaning of enlightenment is taken not as the spiritual enlightenment but it is as political and economic awareness. In the same context it is found that the situation of woman in India is not same in all sections. Major change is found after political and economic empowerment. In some sects of the society woman is actually enjoying almost equal status. India may not be as a whole, but the symptoms of changes can be found, particularly in the metros. As per the survey done by Sonalde B. Desai,Amaresh Dubey,Brij Lal Joshi,Mitali Sen,Abusaleh Sharif,Reeve Vanneman in 2010 Under the sponsorship of Oxford University; Human development in India: challenges for a society in transition. It was found by the team that the Indian society is passing through the process of transition which is not as a whole. Some of the finding of the team is as follows-
  • In India gender inequalities have different dimensions, documenting these inequalities does not mean that all woman are downtrodden.
  • Majority of woman had capacity to interact with the interviewers.
  • Situation of women is improved due to the western education system.
  • One bitter fact is that a woman is still bitten up by the husband, even for very small matters like going outside without permission of husband.
  A massive change is found after the liberalized education system. Women now know about their rights and are ready to fight for them. But the challenge is that is that is Indian male dominate society prepared for such a sudden change where they would happily allow a woman to have an equal share from the cake
It is a new fact that the new technology and education system is enlightened woman. it creates more complex relations in society. Earlier a woman was known just after her husband or her father but now the scenario is changed, she is more than just a wife and mother. It actually gives birth to new undefined challenges. New political and economic system gives labor to new ideological conflicts that are not only creating the tensions in man, woman relations but its shows the generation differences of traditional values and modern values. It is not only the variation of ideas but it is a difference of cultures. Few of such differences can be understood by the following table-

Traditional beliefs

Modern beliefs

Argument in favor  of traditional culture

Argument in favor of modern culture

  • Economic capabilities are the parameter of the social status and as man has mental and physical capabilities  of  
  • earning, which is a basic need of a family , he is should and would get a special status in the society than a woman ,not expected to the household things which need less mental abilities
  • Man has more mental strength to understand political complexities which can be hardly understood by woman


  • As per the masculine principle there is always supremacy of a man over woman. which is decided and designed by almighty

Man and woman both have equal
capacitates and   responsibilities so both are supposed to share equal works even in house hold matters.








Nature has given all equal strengths  to both male and female. Which need to understand with true sprite



Biological difference between man and woman are natural. Both have same rights to be respected for their different identities.

It is a value which has been maintain from the Vedic age. Woman is lower in the capacities so they should not try to compare themselves with the  man







Politics is the area of man, woman empowerment in this field will create imbalance in family structure. Nature has divided functions between man and woman that cant be challenged

As man is like seeds and woman is like seeds, while seeds are necessary the nature of fruits depends upon the nature and type of seeds so man is supposed to receive more respect than the woman *

Modern age is the age of democracy where equal status
Is admired and accepted as the basic principle. Capacities cant be generalized on the bases of sexual differences. As being a human being a woman must have all rights to awaken and to be aware. So that she can have equal status in the society.




Political ability is mental ability that is equally there in woman as well.
A perfect management would not make a problems but it would make a woman true companion of man


Science has proved that to produce a child health and nature of man and woman is equally important. A good seed cannot grow in bad field.



Although some of the persuasive arguments are given by the modern world in favor of woman enlightenment, still there are some bitter facts of the conformist society like India-
  • Break in the family structure- woman awareness is challenging the existing structures of the family where man is supposed to take care of economic needs and woman has to do the household things. Such traditional scheme of work distribution is seriously challenged by the women as they are now earning and sometimes earning more than her husband. Women want equal contribution in households as they sharing equally in the earning responsibilities. It is something for which a man never be agreed upon easily.
  • Increase in man unemployment- The equal and sometimes reserved opportunities to woman are creating serious unemployment problems among males.
  •  Compromising child care- In the name of woman awareness child up bring is compromised as they are finding now less for the children.
  • Sailing on two boats is increasing mental and physical stress among women.      
  • Awareness is not seems as productive as it was predicted. Woman is now became a market material than an individual.
Finding negative realties is creating uncertainty in the minds of the reader. It can digest only with a verity that India has close society system. That is the reason it is not easy to find the real picture of the society. Some time it is found that facts are not those that were find by the hard laborious researches.                                                                 
Struggle of a civilized society for woman awakening:
There is no doubt that India is a country of diversities, such diversities are not only in the culture but also in the consequences. In some of the sub societies educating means empowerment of woman, in some there is no difference at all, and in some it is having a negative impact on family structure. Why so? Outcome of education depends on the receivers. In India as it is accepted above that social structure and order is different so same results cannot be find even after all honest and equal attempts. The place of woman occupied Indian society is mystifying. Situation of woman is not same in all sections of India. Major chance is found after political and economic empowerment. Still it can’t be taken as the collective change and enlightenment. Many societies and sub societies seem fail to provide social dues to the woman with the same constitutional frame work. It is so because desire for enlightenment not has been noticed woman. ( that is making task more difficult. It can be understood through following headings-
  • Woman themselves are not responding to the new setups, that makes all efforts one sided
  • Socialization of woman has done in such a way that she can’t even think for the status that a man is having in the family.
  • She has to face not only the developmental issues but has to deal with the gender issues as well. That breaks them completely.
  • Her religious beliefs and men set traditions makes her more complex to understand, in one hand she knows wrongs are happening but is not ready to raise her voice.
  • There is a major doubt that if conservative society has accepted the supremacy of the constitution to the existing family structure. 
  • Woman work in the households goes uncounted in the society which is not actually realized and defended by woman.
It can be add as conclusion that the enlightenment of woman is a long process that needs tolerance and planning. We need to shape her personality in a way so that she can to grasp the opportunities. That can be only done through education.  Change is happing in India but in the shape of challenge, that need to be understand in the same way and address accordingly


References –

  1. Ruth Complon Browner “ Modern woman modernizing men: The changing mission of three professionals, Canada, UBC press,  2002
  2. Indra Deva Shrirama “ Society & Culture in India: Their dynamics through the ages, Jaipur and Delhi, Rawat publications,1999
  3. Robert K. Metorn,  “ Manifest and Latent Function”, Social Theory and Social Structure, New York, The Free prees 1968
  4. Sumit Sarkar, Tanika Sarkar “Woman and Social Reforms in modern India, A Reader Indiana USA, Indiana University Press 2008
  5. Hajira Kumar, Jaimon Uarghess, Woman Empowerment, Issues, Challenges and Strategies ;A Source Book, New Delhi, Regency Publications      



Deepti Acharya, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Faculty of Arts, The Maharaja Sayajirao University Baroda, Vadodara