Women’s Progress in India

Table of Content

The steady change in their position can be highlighted by looking at what has been achieved by women in the country: 1848: Jyotirao Phule, along with his wife Savitribai Phule, opened a school for girls in Pune, India. Savitribai Phule became the first woman teacher in India. 1879: John Elliot Drinkwater Bethune established the Bethune School in 1849, which developed into the Bethune College in 1879, thus becoming the first women’s college in India. 1883: Chandramukhi Basu and Kadambini Ganguly became the first female graduates of India and the British Empire. 886: Kadambini Ganguly and Anandi Gopal Joshi became the first women from India to be trained in Western medicine. 1905: Suzanne RD Tata becomes the first Indian woman to drive a car. [42] 1916:

The first women’s university, SNDT Women’s University, was founded on 2 June 1916 by the social reformer Dhondo Keshav Karve with just five students. 1917: Annie Besant became the first female president of the Indian National Congress. 1919: For her distinguished social service, Pandita Ramabai became the first Indian woman to be awarded the Kaisar-i-Hind Medal by the British Raj. 925: Sarojini Naidu became the first Indian born female president of the Indian National Congress. 1927: The All India Women’s Conference was founded. 1944: Asima Chatterjee became the first Indian woman to be conferred the Doctorate of Science by an Indian university. 1947:

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On 15 August 1947, following independence, Sarojini Naidu became the governor of the United Provinces, and in the process became India’s first woman governor. 1951: Prem Mathur of the Deccan Airways becomes the first Indian woman commercial pilot. 953: Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit became the first woman (and first Indian) president of the United Nations General Assembly 1959: Anna Chandy becomes the first Indian woman judge of a High Court (Kerala High Court)[43] 1963: Sucheta Kriplani became the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, the first woman to hold that position in any Indian state. 1966: Captain Durga Banerjee becomes the first Indian woman pilot of the state airline, Indian Airlines. 1966: Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay wins Ramon Magsaysay award for community leadership. 966: Indira Gandhi becomes the first woman Prime Minister of India 1970:

Kamaljit Sandhu becomes the first Indian woman to win a Gold in the Asian Games 1972: Kiran Bedi becomes the first female recruit to join the Indian Police Service. [44] 1979: Mother Teresa wins the Nobel Peace Prize, becoming the first Indian female citizen to do so. 1984: On 23 May, Bachendri Pal became the first Indian woman to climb Mount Everest. 1989: Justice M. Fathima Beevi becomes the first woman judge of the Supreme Court of India. [45] 1997: Kalpana Chawla becomes the first India-born woman to go into space. 46] 1992: Priya Jhingan becomes the first lady cadet to join the Indian Army (later commissioned on 6 March 1993)[47] 1994: Harita Kaur Deol becomes the first Indian woman pilot in the Indian Air Force (IAF), on a solo flight. 2000: Karnam Malleswari became the first Indian woman to win an Olympic medal (bronze medal in the 2000 Summer Olympics at Sydney). 2002:

Lakshmi Sahgal became the first Indian woman to run for the post of President of India. 2004: Punita Arora became the first woman in the Indian Army to don the highest rank of Lieutenant General. 2007: Pratibha Patil becomes the first woman President of India. 009: Meira Kumar became the first woman Speaker of Lok Sabha, the lower house in Indian Parliament. Crimes against women Police records in India show a high incidence of crimes against women. The National Crime Records Bureau reported in 1998 that by 2010 growth in the rate of crimes against women would exceed the population growth rate. [37] Earlier, many crimes against women were not reported to police due to the social stigma attached to rape and molestation. Official statistics show a dramatic increase in the number of reported crimes against women. [37] Acid Throwing

A Thomas Reuters Foundation survey [60] says that India is the fourth most dangerous place in the world for women to live in. [61] Women belonging to any class, caste, creed or religion can be victims of this cruel form of violence and disfigurement, a premeditated crime intended to kill or maim permanently and act as a lesson to put a woman in her place. In India, acid attacks on women[62] who dared to refuse a man’s proposal of marriage or asked for a divorce [63] are a form of revenge. Acid is cheap, easily available, and the quickest way to destroy a woman’s life. The number of acid attacks have been rising. 64] Child marriage Child marriage has been traditionally prevalent in India and continues to this day.

Historically, child brides would live with their parents until they reached puberty. In the past, child widows were condemned to a life of great agony, shaved heads, living in isolation, and being shunned by society. [35] Although child marriage was outlawed in 1860, it is still a common practice. [65] According to UNICEF’s “State of the World’s Children-2009” report, 47% of India’s women aged 20–24 were married before the legal age of 18, rising to 56% in rural areas. 66] The report also showed that 40% of the world’s child marriages occur in India. [67] Domestic violence Main article: Domestic violence in India The number of incidents of domestic violence is higher among the lower Socio-Economic Classes (SECs). [citation needed] The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 came into force on 26 October 2006. See also: Outline of domestic violence Dowry Main articles: Dowry, Dowry death, and Dowry law in India In 1961, the Government of India passed the Dowry Prohibition Act,[68] making dowry demands in wedding arrangements illegal.

However, many cases of dowry-related domestic violence, suicides and murders have been reported. In the 1980s, numerous such cases were reported. [52] In 1985, the Dowry Prohibition (maintenance of lists of presents to the bride and bridegroom) Rules were framed. [69] According to these rules, a signed list should be maintained of presents given at the time of the marriage to the bride and the bridegroom. The list should contain a brief description of each present, its approximate value, the name of who has given the present, and relationship to the recipient. However, such rules are rarely enforced.

A 1997 report claimed that each year at least 5,000 women in India die dowry-related deaths, and at least a dozen die each day in ‘kitchen fires’ thought to be intentional. [70] The term for this is “bride burning” and is criticized within India itself. Amongst the urban educated, such dowry abuse has reduced considerably. Female infanticide and sex-selective abortion Main article: Sex-selective abortion and infanticide In India, the male-female sex ratio is skewed dramatically in favour of males, the chief reason being the high number of females who die before reaching adulthood. 37] Tribal societies in India have a less skewed sex ratio than other caste groups. This is in spite of the fact that tribal communities have far lower income levels, lower literacy rates, and less adequate health facilities. [37] Many experts suggest the higher number of males in India can be attributed to female infanticides and sex-selective abortions. Ultrasound scanning constitutes a major leap forward in providing for the care of mother and baby, and with scanners becoming portable, these advantages have spread to rural populations.

However, ultrasound scans often reveal the sex of the baby, allowing pregnant women to decide to abort female foetuses and try again later for a male child. This practice is usually considered the main reason for the change in the ratio of male to female children being born. In 1994 the Indian government passed a law forbidding women or their families from asking about the sex of the baby after an ultrasound scan (or any other test which would yield that information) and also expressly forbade doctors or any other persons from providing that information.

However, in practice this law (like the law forbidding dowries) is widely ignored, and levels of abortion on female foetuses remain high and the sex ratio at birth keeps getting more skewed. [71] Female infanticide (killing of girl infants) is still prevalent in some rural areas. [37] Sometimes this is infanticide by neglect, for example families may not spend money on critical medicines or withhold care from a sick girl. Continuing abuse of the dowry tradition has been one of the main reasons for sex-selective abortions and female infanticides in India. Rape Main article: Rape in India

Rape in India has been described by Radha Kumar as one of India’s most common crimes against women[72] and by the UN’s human-rights chief as a “national problem”. [73] In the 1980s, women’s rights groups lobbied for marital rape to be declared unlawful, as until 1983, the criminal law (amendment) act stated that “sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under fifteen years of age is not rape”. Marital rape is still not a criminal offence. [72]

While per-capita reported incidents are quite low compared to other countries, even developed countries,[74][75] a new case is reported every 20 minutes. 76][77] New Delhi has the highest rate of rape-reports among Indian cities. [78] Sources show that rape cases in India have doubled between 1990 and 2008. [79] According to the National Crime Records Bureau, 24,206 rape cases were registered in India in 2011, although experts agree that the cases of unreported sexual assault is higher. [80] Sexual harassment Eve teasing is a euphemism used for sexual harassment or molestation of women by men. Many activists blame the rising incidents of sexual harassment against women on the influence of “Western culture”.

In 1987, The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act was passed[81] to prohibit indecent representation of women through advertisements or in publications, writings, paintings or in any other manner. Of the total number of crimes against women reported in 1990, half related to molestation and harassment in the workplace. [37] In 1997, in a landmark judgement[ambiguous], the Supreme Court of India took a strong stand against sexual harassment of women in the workplace. The Court also laid down detailed guidelines for prevention and redressal of grievances.

The National Commission for Women subsequently elaborated these guidelines into a Code of Conduct for employers. [37] Trafficking The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act was passed in 1956. [82] However many cases of trafficking of young girls and women have been reported. These women are either forced into prostitution, domestic work or child labour. Justice system In 2013 India’s top court investigated on a law graduate’s allegation that she was sexually harassed by a recently retired Supreme Court judge. [83] Other concerns Social opinions

In the wake of several brutal rape attacks in the capital city of Delhi, debates held in other cities revealed that men believed women who dressed provocatively deserved to get raped; many of the correspondents stated women incited men to rape them. [84][85] Health Main article: Women’s health in India The average female life expectancy today in India is low compared to many countries, but it has shown gradual improvement over the years. In many families, especially rural ones, girls and women face nutritional discrimination within the family, and are anaemic and malnourished. 37] The maternal mortality in India is the 56th highest in the world. [86]

42% of births in the country are supervised in Medical Institution. In rural areas, most of women deliver with the help of women in the family, contradictory to the fact that unprofessional or unskilled deliverer lacks the knowledge about pregnancy. [37] Eve teasing Eve teasing is a euphemism used in India and sometimes Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal[87][88] for public sexual harassment, street harassment or molestation of women by men, with Eve being a reference to the biblical Eve. 89] Family planning The average woman living in a rural area in India has little or no control over becoming pregnant. Women, particularly women in rural areas, do not have access to safe and self-controlled methods of contraception. The public health system emphasises permanent methods like sterilisation, or long-term methods like IUDs that do not need follow-up. Sterilization accounts for more than 75% of total contraception, with female sterilisation accounting for almost 95% of all sterilisations. [37] Sex ratios

India has a highly skewed sex ratio, which is attributed to sex-selective abortion and female infanticide affecting approximately one million female babies per year. [90] In, 2011, government stated India was missing three million girls and there are now 48 less girls per 1,000 boys. [91] Despite this, the government has taken further steps to improve the ration, and the ration is reported to have been improved in recent years. [92] Sanitation In 2011 a “Right to Pee” (as called by the media) campaign began in Mumbai, India’s largest city. [93] Women, but not men, have to pay to urinate in Mumbai, despite regulations against this practice.

Women have also been sexually assaulted while urinating in fields. [93] Thus, activists have collected more than 50,000 signatures supporting their demands that the local government stop charging women to urinate, build more toilets, keep them clean, provide sanitary napkins and a trash can, and hire female attendants. [93] In response, city officials have agreed to build hundreds of public toilets for women in Mumbai, and some local legislators are now promising to build toilets for women in every one of their districts. [93] Notable Indian women See also: Category:Indian women and List of Indian film actresses Education

Savitribai Phule was a social reformer. Along with her husband, Mahatma Jotiba Phule, she played an important role in improving women’s rights in India during British Rule. Savitribai was the first female teacher of the first women’s school in India and also considered to be the pioneer of modern Marathi poetry. In 1852 she opened a school for Untouchable caste girls. Arts and entertainment Singers and vocalists such as M. S. Subbulakshmi, Gangubai Hangal, Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle and others are widely revered in India. Anjolie Ela Menon is a famous painter. Sports

Although in general the women’s sports scenario in India is not very good, some Indian women have made notable achievements in the field. Some famous female sportspersons in Indian include P. T. Usha (athletics), J. J. Shobha (athletics), Kunjarani Devi (weightlifting), Diana Edulji (cricket), Saina Nehwal (badminton), Koneru Hampi (chess) and Sania Mirza (tennis). Female Olympic medalists from India include weightlifter Karnam Malleswari (bronze, 2000), Saina Nehwal (bronze, 2012), and boxer Mary Kom (bronze, 2012).

Politics Through the Panchayat Raj institutions, over a million women have actively entered political life in India. 56] As per the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendment Acts, all local elected bodies reserve one-third of their seats for women. Although the percentages of women in various levels of political activity has risen considerably, women are still under-represented in governance and decisionmaking positions. [37] Literature Many women writers are prominent in Indian literature as poets and story writers, such as Sarojini Naidu, Kamala Surayya, Shobha De, Arundhati Roy, and Anita Desai. Sarojini Naidu is called the nightingale of India. Arundhati Roy won the Booker Prize (Man Booker Prize) for her novel The God of Small Things.

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Women’s Progress in India. (2016, Sep 15). Retrieved from


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