Women’s Education in Modern Times


Women’s Education in Modern Times

          The voice of the working woman “a document of U.N.O. 1982 makes a significant stoical statement” women make up 50% of the world’s population. Comprise 33.3% of the official labour force, perform nearly 66.6% of all working hours, receive 10% of the world’s income & own less than 1% of world properly. This alone justifies, serious, positive, down to earth policy on empowerment of women. It is also true that women of late, have made their presence felt, with a difference. In a male dominated society in all the spheres of work.

          Including decision making areas of Government. There is a vast have proved their excellence. But area, where women is in shill considered complementary to man’s domain. They are shill suffering to. Most of own people are content to precedes image of our women prove then individually. Thus a became an age old concept enshrined in the man individuated our same powers/veer permits.

          Golden, as embodiment of shakh, Durga, Shikago, M.A. Saraswati, riches M. Laxmi & values MA Sita & many more. They clean, that our religion is safe in their hands. They obey their comment.

          What is needed is attitudinal change. Let than be treated as individuals, on far with them. Let than not be content to be called as a good mother, good wife, a good daughter. Let then be also treated as a good partner.

          Article 14, 15, 16 of the contribution of India guarantee equality before law, equal protection of law and equality of opportunity to all Indian citizen. It prohibits discrimination against any citizen on growls of religion caste, Sex. It premeds equally of opportunity to all. 

          This can be possible only if attitudes of men & women, change. When we folk of very slowly. We are made to rewards.

          It has been proved beyond doubt, that women have proved them selves, in all spheres & this has to be accepted without any reservation. The men folk of the family and the society as a whole need to given encouring  patronageto their efforts. They need to be allowed work with dignity. Creation of warm and respectful atmosphere 5 the need of times. It 5 time, the is more sensitive to her role, as a mother and wife man should achieved and willing share in their domeshe obligations.

          Let it be accepted as a necessary prevision and be not viewed as an encroachment on their right.

          In addition of national policy on women, most of the state level have framed state policy. The state of Madhya Pradesh has stated in it policy state mal that if shall endeaun is social structure based on justice and equality. When women can react without any obi function & get the benefit of resources available at different ladder/resource. 

          The issue of women and social change in India is not as simple as it appears. Historical contingencies have been an important factor in changing our society. Women no less played a crucial role, given the limitations imposed in each period, in bringing salient changes.

          With the coming of Aryans, patriarchy got well established even before the varna became caste. The daughter was not greeted as was the son in the Vedic period. Various sacrifices were performed for the birth of a son. The Atharva Veda implored, “The birth of a girl grant it elsewhere, here grant a boy.” Women were blessed to be mothers of “heroic sons”. Vivekananda possessing the Vedic mind in this century thought, that the educated girls, “will inspire their husbands with noble ideals and be mothers of heroic sons”. 

          Despite the patriarchal onslaught women did challenge the world view of their periods. While Gargi, Maithreyi, Apala, etc., did so in the Vedic period Sita, Draupadi etc., did in the Epic period. When Sita is said to have spurned Ram and moved into the earth, what more rebellion do we expect. It was a non-violent blow to patriarchy. King Ashoka had to face brave women in the battle of kalinga which changed him thoroughly. The coronation of Razia Begum as Sultana in the early medieval period was no less an event which angered the Turks. Mirabai flouted the patriarchal norms of the Rajputana, even though for a male deity. Noorjahan and Jahanara’s role in the Mughal times cannot be easily forgotton. Come Modern period and reminiscent it gets of Rani of Jhansi, Begum Hazrat Mahal, Pandita Ramabai etc. Truly, history has been his-story and not her story. No wonder many important contributions of women have been neglected and ignored. These women (and many more whom history has gulped), though few, are those from whom the present day feminists draw inspiration.

(i)                Reform Movement : It was in the 19th Century that enlightened men like Ram Mohun Roy, Dayananda Saraswati, Keshab Chandra Sen, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, Jyoti Bhai Phule, Govind Ranade, Maharishi Karve, Bhandarkar etc., championed women’s cause. But most of these social reformers wanted to improve the position of women within the family as wives and mothers and not to expand their role in society. Their micro-productive (domestic) role as nurturants was recognized by Gandhi and stretched to the public space.

(ii)              Nationalist Movement : Gandhi’s whole philosophy of non-violence was drawn from the life of Indian women, who quietly, ungrudgingly bore all insults and beating of their wayward husbands in order to reform them.

Gandhi has to be given the credit for involving women in the nationalist movement. He was the first mass-mobiliser who saw the potential of women for an organized movement.

Under his guidance in 1931, in the Karachi annual session, the Congress Party passed a formal resolution committing itself to the political equality of Indian women much before their European sisters had even won the right to vote.

(iii)            Women’s Movement: After Independence, the Constitution came in force in 1950 proclaiming equality between the sexes, among others. Five year plans started from 1951 establishing Central Social Welfare Board and Mahila Mandals. Despite these and many other measures, the Report of the Committee on the Status of Women (submitted in 1974) pointed out that dynamics of social change and development had adversely affected women and they manifested all sings of a backward group, that is, declining sex-ratio, lower life-expectancy, higher infant and maternal mortality, declining work participation, increasing illiteracy, rising migration etc.

The tabling of the Report and the International decade for women (1975-1985) hightened the awareness of people on the plight of Indian women. Women’s movement for freedom from patriarchal practices and oppression, started. For the first time unlike other movements a movement of women sprouted, which saw them as individuals in their own right. It was no more men crusading for women’s issues but women and some men for women’s issues. Lots of women’s organisations emerged which aimed at conscientising every one on women’s issues and collectivizing experiences of the oppressed women to channelise the urge for change in the position of women in all spheres. This new consciousness gave rise to not only feminist (women and men) activists but also feminist-activist-researchers. And a whole body of literature appeared and continues to pour day in and day out.

What awakened and brought together women’s organisations all over the country to fight against oppression of women was the Mathura rape case, in 1980. Soon the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 1983 was passed penalizing custodial rape.

          No wonder, less than 35% of our women are literate and only about 4% go on to receive higher education. 85% of women workers are still sedimented in the unorganized sector where the legal measures have no meaning for them.

          The plight of Indian women continues to be a matter of concern. What the Constitution proclaims for women, the reality springs up by opposing the very tenets, principles, ideals of the Constitution. A siege has been laid on women. They have been captured by the very institutions which attempt to safeguard and protect their lives and interests namely family, marriage, educational institutions, employment establishments, political mega-structures, policing outfits, legal machinery etc. Whether it is child marriage, infanticide, feticide, wife battering, sati, widowhood, bigamy, polygenic, sexual harassment, physical torture, mental cruelty, rape by intimates, strangers, police, army, para-military, dowry extortions, dowry murders, pre-marital and post marital suicides etc., all these forms of oppression of women map and draw the contours of our decadent capitalist, consumerist, corrupt, casteist, communal, patriarchal society. 

          Be it any denomination,  Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Sikh etc., the forms of oppression of women may vary but the content is same excruciatingly, over-powering, emaciating and agonizing. The question is not merely of women being killed and murdered but also of the on-going throttling and murder of various emotions, ambitions of millions of young girls, that is, girl-children and women which take place on each day from sunrise to sunset.

          This does not mean that women have reconciled to this fact. The discontent is brewing amongst oppressed women. The young girls of rural and urban areas have started voicing their likes and dislikes. The employed women, though encountering role-conflict, have learnt to become firm and assertive. They now seek and demand their husband’s cooperation in performing household chores. Many men have started correcting the wrongs done by them and begun to question the patriarchal privileges given to them. So what if 90% families are traditional. What matters is the 10% families that are egalitarian, cutting across religion, caste and class barriers.

          Marriages are not always arranged now. Lots of choice marriages (love marriages, love-cum-arranged marriages) are taking place (free from dowry and gifts). Men are tending to be more considerate. Further, marriage is no more taken to be the only option. Many women are preferring to remain single, while still many other couples have started living together without marriage. All possibilities are being explored to establish an equalitarian, and depatriarchised existence. Regard for feminal kinspeople too is increasing.

          The awakening and liberation of the top five or six percent of our women is beginning to have a trickle down effect in the sense of registering a greater awareness of women’s problems and restrictive social practices that affect their growth and potential. Today due to them, women’s cause has acquired a moral and political legitimacy. Due to this today hardly any one may stand up publicly and oppose women’s fundamental rights or deny them political participation, notes Mrinal Pande.

          Though in fewer numbers women have been entering the traditional male bastions, as scientists, pilots, police, engineers, architects apart from being bureaucrats, teachers, doctors, businesswoman, entrepreneurs, journalists etc. These women with one voice proclaim together with Malan Devi, involved in the Bodh Gaya Land Struggle Movement:

          “Earlier we had tongues but could not speak. We had feet but could not walk. Now we have got the strength to speak and to work”.




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          The early 19th century opened a new chapter which was a landmark in Indian history. The arrival of foreign missionaries, introduction of English language and other outside influences brought new factors to bear on the Indian people especially the 1intelligentia. English education was sought for professional development in the process of remodeling the society and women received ample attention. Social reformers and administrators as well realized that social transformation could take place only by the spread of education to women. Primary education was in good progress and the enrollment of girls in schools increased during 1921-34. But it slowly declined due to certain difficulties like lack of finance and inefficiency.

          Higher education was also fairly good and it was the University of Madras which first admitted two women students first in the year 1876 followed by University of Calcutta in 1878. It may be surprising to know that University of London admitted women students later only in 1897. British educationists felt the need for medical education for women after witnessing the sufferings of women during home visits.

          In 1885 the national association for supplying the female media was established. The training and teaching of Indian women in the medical science was recommended. In 1916 the Lady Harding Medical College was established in Delhi. Between 1854-1902 frequent visits of many scholars and the intervention of Rajaram Mohan Roy the great social reformer led to the development of female education.

          A commission was appointed to study the problems relating to the education of women since there was no satisfactory demand for women’s education. This Indian Education Commission recommended grant – in – aid schools for women and the rules were made more liberal for girls in other schools with regard to fees, prizes and scholarships. The general awakening of the people to world was I, introduction of Sarada Act and teaching of great leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru led to phenomenol awakening among Indian women.

          But for the above developments perhaps it would have taken many more years to witness any progress in women’s education.

What is Empowerment?

          Empowerment strategies are varied and refer to those strategies which enable women to realize their full potentials. They consist of greater access to knowledge and resources, greater autonomy in decision making, greater ability to plan their lives, greater control over the circumstances that influence their lives and finally factors which would free them from the shackles of custom beliefs and practices. Unless they themselves become conscious of the oppression meted out to them and show initiative to push forward it would not be possible to change their status much. Some of the empowerment mechanisms could be identified as follows:

          Literacy and higher education;

          Better health care for herself and her children;

          Higher age at marriage;

          Greater work participation in modernized sector;

          Necessary financial and service support for self-employment;

          Opportunities for higher positions of power;

          Complete knowledge of her rights; and above all

          Self – reliance self respect and dignity of being a woman;


          Robert Merton while proposing the ‘Ethos of science’ sys that the institutional goal of science is the extension of certified knowledge. The technical methods employed towards this end provide the relevant definition of knowledge; ‘empirically confirmed and logically consistent predictions. Accordingly, four sets of institutional imperatives – universalism, communism, disinterestedness and organized skepticism comprise the ethos of modern science.

          The first norm universalism implies the acceptance or rejection of claims entering the lists of science irrespective of the personal or social attributes of the protagonist; his race, nationality, religion, class, (we may did gender here) and personal qualities. For the purpose of this paper, we will try to review those studies on women in science that have tried to examine this norm and have shown that ‘particularism’ is very much functional within the institution of science. In addition we would also attempt to highlight the methodology adopted in studies on women in science and relate it to the issues that have been of concern to sociologists of science.

          As in any subject, literature on women in science/research are found at varied levels. They can be broadly classified under three categories:

  1. Personal notes/impressionistic articles;
  2. Presentation of a particular view/idea based on opinion of like-minded activists: and
  3. Empirical-research based reports, articles that fall within frameworks, models of sociology of science.

However, all the three sources are important for they bring forth insights, complement each other and facilitate further research.

Nature of Discrimination

          In general, all such materials try to highlight in their own way discrimination experienced by women scientists at different levels. The nature of discrimination undertaken for analysis can be broadly classified into two types:

(a)             indicators of overt discrimination; and

(b)             aspects of covert or subtle discrimination.

We shall look into them in some detail.

(a)                         Indicators of Overt Discrimination: Under this category we include such factors as are recordable and quantifiable. They can be admission application, records and final selection lists of graduate students to science programmes, allotment of financial assistance to students and criteria considered for such decisions. Once in the career, the career profile of women scientists can be reconstructed by recording the number of years they have spent in completing the doctorate degree, the number of jobs, positions they apply for, before obtaining a tenure position, number of years spent in waiting-breaks during their research degree and later, number of years in a particular position or rank befor4e obtaining promotions etc. These factors can be compared for a set of male and female cohort scientists to draw out visible discriminatory criteria.

In addition there are certain other important dimensions to a career in science which directly relate to research. These include the topics given to women scientists for their doctoral thesis, resources accessible to them for research, research productivity patterns of these scientists, their collaboration patterns and authorship details of joint publications, criteria that is operational at the time of recruitment and promotion especially when it concerns competition between equally qualified male and female scientists. Similarly, as they climb the ladder, a comparison of the number of deputations, fellowships, membership in committees and administrative responsibilities that are offered to women scientists along with their male colleagues can be made. These indicators not only reflect the extent to which women receive rewards monetarily and in terms of prestige within the institution and outside among the scientific community, but also reflect the extent to which they participate in decision-making on matters concerning research and employment.

As mentioned in the beginning, literature on women in science have been varied and sporadic. However, the issue seems to be a common concern across the globe and the same ideas are highlighted whether these are about women scientists in India, America, of France except for countries of Eastern Europe for which relevant information is not available. Looking at the quantitative compilation, we can find a number of surveys especially with reference to women scientists in America with details about their employment statistics, based on which can an analysis is attempted. A study of matched samples of women and men who have received doctorates shows that in each of the five fields ((Physics, maths, chemistry, biology, psychology and sociology) and at every level of prestige of university graduate departments women had consistently higher intelligence scores than men. Women students, it was found, receive slightly higher scores on tests of verbal facility incorporated into the nationwide GRE, but men do considerably better than women on test of quantitative skills (Zuckerman and Cole 1975). Examination of admission records however showed that members of both sexes were admitted in the same proportions as they apply. The same seemed to be true in terms of allotment of fellowships too (Astin, 1969). However these findings have to be read in a context that:  (i) women in the 60’s took to higher education especially research in smaller numbers and (ii) the 1950’s and 1960’s was a boom period for sciences as they received substantial financial support from governments of respective countries. It is only much later when both these factors changed i.e. women started entering science in large numbers and scarcity of resources became a reality that criteria for allotment becomes crucial.

Several analyses have been conducted to show the slow career mobility of women in science. In one study it was found that in the U.S., female Ph. D’s are more than four times as likely as males to be unemployed and constitute only 6.6% of tenured Ph. D. faculty in the sciences (Vetter, 1980). In her analysis of productivity patterns of male and female chemists Barbara Reskin observes that the greater indeterminancy of the women’s productivity mirrors the greater unpredictability of their careers; they often held extended post-doctoral fellowships; in effect permanent non-faculty positions (Reskin 1976); changed jobs more frequently irrespective of institutional prestige (Hargens 1969). Similar findings have been highlighted by others in varied disciplines (Fidell 1970, Chubin 1974, Banerjee 1980). However, the slow career patterns of women scientists have not been studied independently but only in relation to their productivity patterns and placement in positions of responsibility.


          Development of gender planning implies taking account of the fact that women and men play different roles especially in the third world and therefore have different needs and provide both the conceptual framework and the methodological tools for incorporating gender into the planning of their socio-economic programmes. At the policy level in India the changes are visible with the advent of the United Nations Decade for Women (1975-1985). Greater stress is placed on the economic and social development of women and a greater understanding of the plight of low – income women. With welfare oriented family centered programmes which assumed motherhood as the most important or rather the only role for women the shift is towards a diversity of approaches emphasizing the productive role of women. In this paper an attempt is made to analysis the attitude and actions towards empowerment of women by the governmental and non-governmental organizations in India.

The role of Government of India in Women Empowerment

          The first few plans followed a welfarist approach and treated women as recipients of aid. The first five year plan focused its attention on the problem of high infant and maternal mortality and thence undertook steps to develop school feeding schemes for children and creation of nutrition sections in the public health departments and maternity and child health centers. The focus of second plan was on the problems of women workers. Hence policies were initiated for equal pay for equal work, provision of facilities for training to enable women to compete for higher jobs and expansion of opportunities for part time employment. The main thrust of the third plan was the expansion of girls education. On the social welfare side the largest share was provided for expanding rural welfare services and condensed courses of education for adult women. The fourth plan continued to emphasise women’s education. The fifth plan gave priority for training of women in need of care and protection, women from low income families needy women with dependent children and working women.

          It is only during the fifth plan a separate Bureau of Women’s Welfare and Development (WWD) was set up in 1976 as part of the erstwhile Department of Social Welfare in order to intensity the country-wide efforts launched during the International Year of the Women. The Bureau was entrusted with the major responsibility of implementing the National Plan of Action for Women besides co-ordinating the activities relating to women’s welfare and development.

          The sixth plan for the first time in India’s planning history contained a separate chapter on Women and Development. To make the International Women’s Decade a success it emphasized on three strategies viz economic independence, educational advancement and access to health care and family planning. Hence variety of programmes were taken up under different sectors of development to ameliorate the socio economic status of women. In the rural development sector the IRDP gave priority to women heads of households and about 35% of total number of beneficiaries under TRYSEM were women. A new scheme viz Development of Women and Children (DWCRA) was started in 1982-83 as a pilot project in the blocks of the country. Many voluntary organizations were requested to avail funds from the government for the above schemes and benefit women. Under Science and Technology for Women varieties of activities were taken up. Projects were sponsored for development of smokeless chullahs use of solar cookers setting up of bio-gas plants and devices for improving the water purification system. A number of technology demonstration cum training centres at selected focal points all over the country were set up by the National Research Development Corporation (NRDC) to provide expertise and resources to women entrepreneurs. 

          During the seventh five year plan an integrated multidisciplinary approach was adopted covering employment education health nutrition application of science and technology and other related aspects in areas of interest to women. It is only during the seventh plan ‘Women Development Corporations’ were established for promoting employment generating activities for women.

          Thus with the beginning of International Women’s Decade in 1975 a number of schemes were introduced and earnest efforts were made by the government to improve the status of women. Inspite of implementational loopholes theses policies strive their best to integrate women into the mainstream of society. Thus the Department of Women and Child Development being the national machinery for the development of women plays a vital role assited by the The Central Social Welfare Board and the National Institute of Public co-operation and Child Development. While the Central Social Welfare Board is an apex body with state level branches to encourage voluntary effort in the field of women’s development NIPCCD is an advisory –cum- research – cum national level training institute in the field of child development with a separate division for women’s research and development. In India legislations and programmes favouring women had never been wanting. But unfortunately the spirit behind these policies is hardly appreciated by the implementing authorities.

Voluntary Efforts and Women Empowerment in India

          In serving the cause of poor and women voluntary organizations are considered to be superior to the government for certain obvious reasons. The members of a voluntary orgainsation are willing to spend time energy and even money for an activity which they think is good. This motivation and commitment make them work more sincerely for the cause when compared to government officials. The above argument does not mean that all voluntary orgtanisation are committed and sincere and all government departments are not so. There are exceptions in both. But by and large voluntary organizations are better placed when compared to the government in the dissimination of development efforts. The second advantage enjoyed by voluntary organisation is flexibility in operations. Revisions and modifications in the light of experience are possible. Thus there is feedback and learning through experience. The limited size of operations ensure efficiency and immediate accountability to the target group. Moreover a new society needs a new value system. The voluntary organisations are best suited to carry out this task. The poor the deprived and women who accept sufferings as their fate should be made to fight against exploitative forces and challenge the existing order. ‘Awareness building’ or ‘Conscientisation’ as Paule Freire would call it becomes imperative. Since any change in the ‘state quo’ would invite retaliation from the rich only an impartial autonomous body could do it. Hence voluntary organisations are best suited for this task.

          International voluntary organisations normally have some common programmes which they may take up at national, state and local levels within their broad framework. Among the national voluntary organisations we have quite a bit of variety. While majority voluntary organisations concentrate on action oriented programmes, a few organize people and fight out issues without directly working for the welfare of the masses. Their strategies are slogan raising carrying out processions resorting to hunger strike and move the media government court etc to solve the issue at hand. There are certain organisations which merely train social workers or carry out research and training for meeting the personnel requirements of voluntary organisations. Some organisations are formed consisting of specialists from various branches of k

Source by Ashish Sharma

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