Role of Women and Women’s Organizations

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Relevance: GS I- Role of Women and Women’s Organization

Introduction
  • Though mother nature made women an equal half of human society, men made them as subordinates in many ways.
  • Within the historical context, the status of women differs significantly with respect to civilization, religion, caste, and culture, etc.
  • The only commonality is that they are generally housewives looking after their family.
Position of Women in Historical times
  • The role of Indian women has evolved over different periods of time in the following ways:
  • IVC:
    • The very urban nature of Indus Valley civilization (2500 BC–1500 BC) itself revealed that women might have enjoyed some sort of rights.
    • The statue of a dancing girl tells the women to hold in the art.
  • Early Vedic Period (1500 BC–1000 BC)
    • Social-Economic status:
      • Women were accorded high respect and dignity.
      • Women never observed purdah in this period.
      • In the economic field also, women enjoyed freedom.
      • In the religious field, the wife enjoyed- full rights and regularly participated in religious ceremonies with her husband. In fact, the performance of religious ceremonies was considered invalid without the wife joining her husband as his full partner.
      • Women even participated actively in religious discourses.
      • Women participated in popular political assemblies.
    • Education:
      • In education, women enjoyed equality with men. Even they were allowed to spend life in ‘Gurukul’. 
      • There were women poets like Apala, Viswavara, Ghosa, and Lopamudra during this era which is also called Rig Vedic period.
    • Marriage rights:
      • Women usually get marriage lately.
      • They have considerable freedom in choosing their life partner, particularly in a higher caste. For instance, Kshatriya society brides had the excessive right of selecting their own consorts, which was known as ‘Swayamvara’.
      • Dowry system is not established; but, in rich and royal families, some kind of gift is given to the royal family.
      • Widow remarriages were permitted.
      • Sati Pratha was absent.
      • Divorce, however, was not permissible to them. But then it was not permissible to men either.
      • Monogamy is a general norm, but bigamy is also found in higher castes.
    • Property rights:
      • Property inheritance is very limited, but unmarried girls get some share of their father’s property.
      • In the household, women enjoyed complete freedom and were treated as Ardhangins (better halves).
  • Later Vedic Period (1000 BC–500 BC)
    • In this period, larger kingdoms were formed.
    • It means more need for having a large army which in turn gave more role and prestige for men.
    • On the other side, Brahmanism raised above the state.
    • Most of the religious rituals and rites not only deprived women but also made it an exclusive privilege of Brahmins.
    • Women were denied to read Vedic texts.
    • Virtually, the position of women is opposite to the early Vedic life.
    • Education opportunities were denied.
    • Child marriages had become common;
    • Marriages were arranged even before puberty.  
    • They were considered inferior and subordinate to men.
    • Women also lost their political rights of attending assemblies. 
    • However, the women in the royal and rich household enjoyed certain privileges and reached the pinnacle of fame (e.g., Gargi and Maitreyi).
  • Women during the Buddhist period
    • Buddha preached equality and he tried to improve the cultural, educational, and religious statuses of women.
    • The status of women improved a  little during the  Buddhist period though there was no tremendous change.
    • Some of the rigidities and restrictions imposed by the caste system were relaxed. 
    • During the benevolent rule of the famous Buddhist kings such as Chandragupta Maurya, Ashoka, Sri Harsha, and others, women regained a part of their lost freedom and status due to the relatively broadminded Buddhist philosophy.
    • Women were not only confined to domestic work but also they could resort to an educational career if they so desired.
    • In the religious field, women came to occupy a distinctly superior place.
    • Women were permitted to become “Sanyasis”.
    • Many women took a leading role in Buddhist monastic-life,  women had their sangha called the Bhikshuni Sangha,  which was guided by the same rules and regulations as these of the monks.
    • Their political and economic status, however, remained unchanged.
  • Women in the Medieval Period
    • Medieval India was a rule by Muslim kings and religious Ulmas.
    • The existing social evils became more prominent and also a new kind of restrictions imposed on women in the name of religion.
    • The old norms of female infanticide, no education to girls, child marriage, and dowry became more prominent.
    • The condition of Hindu widows is inhuman, they were taken away all kinds of worldly pleasure. For instance, their heads were shaved.
    • In this context, Muslim widow status is not bad because remarriage is permitted for them.
    • However, the institution of marriage is not sacrosanct in Islam, men have full freedom to divorce their wife at any time. This forced Muslim women to remain subordinate and submissive to their husbands.
    • Purdha or purdah system (covering the female body by big clad similarly to modern Muslim women) was widely followed.
    • Other than Sati, a menace called Jauhar came into existence. Under this, wives and daughters of defeated warriors self-immolate themselves to avoid strain on their modesty and at the hands of the enemy.
    • Bhakti movement started by Tamil Saiva Nayanars and the Vaisnava Alvars in the 12th century reformed Hinduism which in turn had a positive effect on women status transcending caste lines.
  • Condition of Women during the 18th Century
    • Despite the progressive impact of the Bhakti Movement, Indian women continued to be oppressed across the religion and caste, from the womb to tomb in the following ways in the 18th century:
    • Female Infanticide:
      • The practise of killing female children after birth was widely prevailed at the time, particularly among upper-caste Bengalis and Rajputs. For them, a girl child was an economic burden.
    • Child Marriage:
      • Marriages were done at a very early age, even before puberty. This puts unbearable physical pain and mental agony to girls.
    • Denial of Education:
      • Education was denied to girls falsely believing that learning make them disobedient to men and lead to loss of culture.
    • Menace Dowry:
      • Evolved as a symbolic gesture it later became mandatory for marriages. This menace not only denied marriage for many but also made to be women even after marriage due to low dowry.
    • Prevalence of Sati:
      • Under this practice, wives are forced to burn themselves after the death of their husband.
      • Raja Ram Mohan Roy called it as ‘Murder according to every Shastra’.
    • The humiliation of Widows:
      • Widows are considered as inauspicious. They lived a secluded
      • life not only from society but also from their own family. Unlike Muslim women, the condition
      • of Hindu Widows is pathetic as they are not allowed to remarry.
    • Containment of Women in House:
      • Women were usually contained in the house, not allowed
      • to go out for employment opportunities. This made them perpetual dependent of male in economic sphere.
    • No Property Rights:
      • Women denied their due share in parents and husband properties. But they (widows/divorced women) are burdened with growing children without financial assistance.
    • Practise of Purdah System:
      • It is a socio and religious practice for the seclusion of women. It takes two forms: physical segregation of the sexes and the requirement that women cover their bodies so as to cover their skin and conceal their form.
    • Domestic Violence:
      • Women are often subject to harassment and physical torture at the hands of husbands.
    • Little Religious Freedom:
      • Women were not allowed to perform certain religious rites. Their entry denied in many of the temples.
    • No to Politics:
      • The patriarchal society of India denied women participation in the politics and administration of the country. They are deliberately kept out of corridors of power and gover- nance structures.
  • Women under British Rule
    • Though the English regime undermined Indian sovereignty, they supported new emerged educated class to liberate women from clutches of religious orthodox and male chauvinists in the following ways:
      • Ending Infanticide:
        • Infanticides are declared illegal and equivalent to murder by the Bengal regulations of 1795 and 1804.
        • The registration of the birth of all babies was made compulsory for parents in the 1870 act.
        • It further provided for verification of female children for some years after birth.
      • Abolition of Sati:
        • At the initiative of Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Government declared the practice of Sati (burning alive of widows) illegal and punishable by criminal courts as culpable homicide in 1829.
        • Though this regulation was originally implemented in Bengal alone, next year it extended to the other two major provinces, like Madras and Bombay.
      • Widow Remarriage:
        • At the instance of Brahmo Samaj and Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar Government enacted the Hindu Remarriage Act, 1856. Vidyasagar cited Vedic texts to prove that the Hindu religion sanctioned widow remarriage.
        • Vishnu Shastri Pandit founded the Widow Remarriage Association in the 1850s.
        • Karsondas Mulji through his Gujarati weekly paper Satya Prakash advocated widow remarriage.
      • Annihilation of Child Marriage:
        • Due to the efforts of Parsi reformer B.M. Malabari, the Age of Consent Act (1891) was enacted which forbade the marriage of girls below 12 years old.
        • The Sarda Act (1930) further pushed the marriage age to 18 and 14 for boys and girls, respectively.
      • Education to Women:
        • TheChristianmissionarieswerethefirsttosetuptheCalcuttaFemaleJuvenileSociety in 1819.
        • Bethune School was founded by J.E.D. Bethune in Calcutta in 1849 as a culmination of power women education movement started in the 1840s and 1850s.
        • Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar started about 35 girls' schools in West Bengal.
        • Charles Wood’s Despatch on Education (1854) and Hunter Commission laid great stress on the need for female education.
        • Jagannath Shankar Seth and Bhau Daji actively promoted the girls’ schools in Maharashtra.
    • Role of Women in Freedom Struggle
      • During the national struggle, Indian women showed their patriotism, nationalism, leadership, service mind, sacrifice attitude and vigour, and valour in the following ways:
      • Jhansi Rani and Begham Hazratmahal provided inspiring leadership for the 1857 revolt.
      • Kadambari Ganguly, the first woman graduate of the British Empire, went to attend the first meeting of the Indian National Congress meeting as a delegate.
      • Bhikaiji Rustom Cama co-founded the Paris Indian Society. In 1907, she attended the second Socialist Congress in Germany, where she described the devastating effects of a famine that had struck the Indian subcontinent. In her appeal for human rights, equality, and autonomy from Great Britain, she unfurled what she called the ‘Flag of Indian Independence’.
      • Annie Besant started the Home Rule Movement to get some sort of self-rule for India.
      • Women like Vijayalakshmi Pandit, Muthulaksmi Reddy, and Aruna Asaf Ali are some of the women freedom fighters who participated in the non-violent movement of non-cooperation and civil disobedience.
      • Sarala Debi Chaudhurani participated in the revolutionary movement. She provided shelter and acted as a courier to revolutionaries.
      • Rani Gaidinliu participated in Heraka movement.
      • Lakshmi Sahgal headed the Jhansi unit Subhas’s INA (Indian National Army)
Women's Constitutional Rights
  • In the light of historical experiences and in consonance with the democratic ideals, our founding fathers incorporated various provisions for gender equality across the constitution they are.
  • Constitutional Privileges Preamble
    • It assures SOCIALIST, SECULAR, DEMOCRATIC, REPUBLIC ideals to all its citizens without any gender bias. It also offers EQUALITY of status and of opportunity for all its citizens including women.
  • Fundamental Rights
    • Equality before law for women (Article 14).
    • The State not to discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them, Article 15 (1).
    • The State to make any special provision in favour of women and children, Article 15 (3).
    • Equality of opportunity for all citizens in matters relating to employment or appointment to any office under the State (Article 16).
    • Article 21 A (Right to education): It provides free and compulsory education of all children in the age group of 6 to 14 years.
    • Prohibition of traffic in human beings and forced labour (Article 23).
    • Article 24 mandates that no child below the age of 14 years shall be employed to work in any factory or mine or engaged in any other hazardous employment.
  • DPSP
    • The State to direct its policy towards securing:
      • Men and women equally the right to an adequate means of livelihood, Article 39(a);
      • Equal pay for equal work for both men and women, Article 39(d).
      • To promote justice, on a basis of equal opportunity and to provide free legal aid to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disabilities (Article 39 A).
      • The State to make provision for securing just and humane conditions of work and for maternity relief (Article 42).
      • Early childhood care and education to children below the age of six years-Article 45 (after the 86th amendment act).
      • The State to promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people and to protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation (Article 46).
      • The State to raise the level of nutrition and the standard of living of its people (Article 47).
  • Fundamental Duties
    • To promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India and to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women (Article 51 A (e)).
  • Political Rights
    • Voting rights are denied to women during pre-independence, but constitutional strictly prohibited gender bias in voting by offering universal adult franchise under Article 326.
    • Under Article 243 D, one-third of seats in the Panchayats including offices of chairpersons reserved for women.
    • 18. Under Article 243 T, one-third of seats in the Municipality including offices of chairpersons reserved for women.
Legislative Safeguard
  • Dowry Prohibition Act,1961:It prescribes penalty for giving or taking dowry does not apply to presents that are given at the time of a marriage to the bride or bridegroom.
  • Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956: The Act intends to combat trafficking and sexual exploitation for commercial purposes.
  • Commission of Sati Prevention Act, 1986: An attempt to commit Sati or to abet such an attempt is punishable with imprisonment or imposition of a fine.
  • Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986: Indecent representation of women through advertisement and various publications, paintings, writings, figures, or in any other manner is completely prohibited through this act.
  • Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005: They not only cover physical violence against women but also consider other forms of violence, such as emotional/ verbal, sexual, and economic abuse. One of the most important features of the Act is the woman’s right to stay in her husband’s home.
  • Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013: It, among the others, demands that any workplace with more than 10 employees needs to create a mechanism for redressal of complaints against sexual harassment.
  • Other legislative works that aimed to safeguard women's rights are the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, Hindu Succession Act, 1956, The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976, and The Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1976.
Problems of Indian Women: 21st Century
  • Anything else, the problems of women is changed from time to time with the changing circum- stances. 21st-century India faces the following problems:
    • Female Infanticide:
      • Though female infanticide is sharply reduced,it continues to be prevalent in different forms for different reasons. Male child quest-driven sex selection is common now. The problem is more among educated urban and rich people.
    • Worst Child Sex Ratio:
      • As per the 2011 Census, the child sex ratio (0–6 years) has shown a decline from 927 females per thousand males in 2001 to 919 females per thousand males in 2011. Small-family desire, dowry burden and son preference are behind this.
    • Low Sex Ratio:
      • India has 940 females per 1,000 males as per the 2011 census. Though the trend is moving in a good direction when compared to the 2001 census (933), there is a huge gap in gender equality.
    • Child Abuse:
      • Creating strain on our moral fabric children, particularly female child, are now abused that too by relatives and parents. This not only creates physical pain but also metal agony unsuitable to the age.
    • Inferior Treatment:
      • Women are given inferior treatment from womb to tomb. They are seen as a liability in the material world. They are not properly educated rather employed as child labour. Their health is not properly taken care. Their emotions, feeling and happi- ness are often neglected.
    • Problem of Dowry:
      • Still, millions of women get late married or married not at all because of the menace of dowry. It creates a lot of emotional tensions in the family and society at large.
    • Domestic Violence:
      • Though the status of women in their husband home is improved lot, still women are facing domestic violence for dowry or love marriage or inter-caste marriage reasons.
    • Harassment at the Workplace:
      • With more women engaged in a job outside the home, they are subject to harassment at the workplace by their superiors and peers. Women reeling under economic constraints even do not have the opportunity to disclose their problems.
    • Safety:
      • The safety and security of Indian women in public place are pathetic. Molestation, rape, eve-teasing are everyday phenomena at present. India’s rich tradition is facing back- lash at the world stage because of this.
    • Trafficking:
      • The trafficking of girl child and women are ever-increasing. The problem is such an act is done by organized crime syndicate with well-developed and connected net- work. Trafficked women are used for flesh trading and criminal activities.
    • Low Literacy:
      • Even after six decades of independence, the literacy rate of women is just over 65% as against men’s 82 plus. This clearly shows that women education is less impor- tant for Indian society.
    • Non-valuing Housewife job:
      • Despite the hectic and restless work done by our women in the kitchen and home from early morning to late night, their contribution is not appreciated. Because neither it is monetarily valued nor publically rewarded.
    • Feminization of Agriculture:
      • With the growing tendency of migration of men for work and consequent handover of agriculture job to household, women lead to the feminization of farming.
      • The disguised nature of Indian agriculture puts women in a perpetual state of poverty.
    • Less Economic Engagement:
      • Though women widely participate in all kinds of jobs, still their economic engagement is less compared to men. For instance from 2004 to 2011, female participation in the country’s labour force declined from 35% to 25%. It is a puzzling picture; over the past few decades’ access to education for Indian women has increased, but still, they have increasingly stayed away from employment.
    • Lack of Political Participation:
      • Despite a gender-neutral constitution, women's participation in politics is insignificant. In fact, women MPs in 16th Lok Sabha is just over 11%. The one-third reservation offered for women in Panchayats is captured by estab- lished politicians’ wives and daughters.
Women Empowerment Policies and Programmes
  • Realizing the fact that empowerment of women is the sine qua non for creating an inclusive and egalitarian society, the Indian government took the following initiatives:
  • Policies
    • National Policy for Empowerment of Women 2001:
      • It calls for gender sensitivity in socio- and economic policies. It also pitched for equal access for women in health, education, and employment. It also voiced against all forms of gender discrimination and humiliation.
    • National Policy for Children, 2013:
      • It assures the all-around development of children with strong support from the State. And so it vowed for quality education, safe, healthy and happy life among the others.
    • National Nutrition Policy 1993:
      • It ensures adequate nutrition for children to have good physical and mental health by avoiding nutrient deficiency diseases, learning impairment, stunted growth, etc.
  • Programs
    • Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Scheme:
      • It aims the prevention of gender-biased sex-selective elimination, ensuring survival and protection of the girl child, ensuring education and participation of the girl child.
    • ICDS (Integrated Child Development Scheme):
      • It aims to improve the nutritional and health status of children in the age group 0–6 years, and also to enhance the capability of the mother to look after the normal health and nutritional needs of the child through proper nutrition and health education.
    • Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS):
      • It aimed at building a protective environment for children in difficult circumstances, as well as other vulnerable children, through Government–Civil Society Partnership. It brings together multiple existing child protection schemes of the women's ministry under one comprehensive umbrella.
    • Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment of Adolescent Girls (RGSEAG) Sabla:
      • It provides health and nutrition assistance facilities for adolescent girls, including drop-out girls. It also educates them about public services and trains them on skill for self-development.
    • Weekly Iron and Folic Acid Supplementation (WIFS) Programme:
      • It aims to meet the challenge of the high prevalence and incidence of anaemia amongst adolescent girls and boys.
    • Support to Training and Employment Programme for Women (STEP):
      • It aims to provide skills that give employability to women in the age group of 16 and above to make them self-employed/entrepreneurs. Grants-in-aid are given under the scheme for NGOs.
    • UJJAWALA:
      • A Comprehensive Scheme for Prevention of trafficking and Rescue, Rehabilitation and Re-integration of Victims of Trafficking and Commercial Sexual Exploitation
    • Janani Suraksha Yojana:
      • It aims to promote institutional delivery by offering free prenatal and post-natal care.
    • Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana (IGMSY):
      • It is a Conditional Maternity Benefit Scheme. Similar to this scheme under the National Food Security Act, 2013, pregnant women and lactating mothers will also be entitled to receive maternity benefit of not less than Rs. 6,000.
    • Rajiv Gandhi National Creche Scheme:
      • It provides day-care facilities to the children of working women.
    • SWADHAR Greh:
      • A Scheme for Women in Difficult Circumstances.
    • One-Stop Centre Scheme:
      • It aims to provide integrated support and assistance under one roof to women affected by violence, both in private and public spaces.
The success of Indian Women since Independence
  • Consequently, during six decades of democratic journey, our country witnessed the following progressive developments in women empowerment.
    • Social Progress
      • The instance of female infanticide and child marriage sharply reduced. Women gained greater freedom in the selection of their life partner.
      • The condition of widows is improved markedly. Widow re-marriage is common now.
      • Women also have higher say in divorce and second marriage.
      • Women made great strides in education, for example, Kiran Bedi IPS and Nirupama Rao IFS.
    • Economic Developments
      • Shedding their traditional housewife role, women made parallel inroads in the economic sphere, with respect to their male counterparts.
      • Nowadays, they significantly dominate the agriculture sector, particularly animal husbandry.
      • They also made huge inroads into high-tech service sec- tors, like information technology, medicine, etc. Indian women also proved themselves as capable of providing leadership roles in economic spheres, for example, Chanda Kochhar (ICICI), Kiran Mazumdar Shaw (Biocon Biotechnology), Indira Nooyi (PepsiCo), and Arundhati Bhattacharya (SBI).
      • Our women also adopted the Self Help Group (SHG) model to make themselves economically independent (e.g., Kerala’s Kudumbashree).
    • Political Participations
      • Indian women also proved their metal in governance and administration of the country.
      • They actively participated in politics from the office of ward member to the august office of PM.
      • India has pride in producing many successful women CMs, like Mayawati, Mamata Banerjee, and Jayalalitha.
      • It was the women PM Indira Gandhi, also known as Iron lady, who demonstrated the world about India’s power.
      • India’s largest political party INC was controlled by a women Sonia Gandhi for about 25 years.
    • Scientific Achievements
      • Proving Gandhiji’s words that ‘Woman is more fitted than man to make exploration’, Indian women excelled in science and technology.
      • Side-lining wrong medieval perception women dem- onstrated their mental power in this field.
      • Indian women like Anna Mani (meteorology), Dr Indira Hinduja (gynaecologist), Dr Aditi Pant (Oceanographer), Kalpana Chawla (Space), Sunita Narain (environment), and Dr Tessy Thomas (The Missile Women of India for her role in Agni series) are some of the best popular faces in this context.
Women Organization: Contemporary Context
  • As we moved from women's protection to women empowerment, the role of NGOs changed. Now they are performing the following functions:
  • Role
    • Emancipator:
      • Women organizations are primarily functioning as the emancipator of women from the suppression and oppression of orthodox classes and self-prescribed religious fatwas. It sets women free from outdated, regressive social practices and customs.
    • Educator:
      • It educates women about their legal rights and constitutional privileges, thereby it melts away the ignorance of women and makes right-oriented citizen, whereby women avoid the harassment and atrocities in the society and leads a dignified life.
      • If at all that happens they are empowered to deal with.
    • Mobiliser of Mass:
      • They mobilize people at the grass-root level by articulating the problems of the women, thereby NGOs highlight the serious nature of the problem to the government and media. Such a mobilization also provides immense scope for the exchange of progressive feminist ideas.
    • Custodian of Rights:
      • Women NGOs act as guardian of women life, custodian of women's rights, and guarantors of women's freedom.
      • In case of deprivation of their rights, NGOs try to restore them by organizing demonstrations, or by approaching the court or by high- lighting the issue leveraging the power of media.
    • Agent of Change:
      • Women organizations are at the forefront of social transformation by giving adequate space for liberal thoughts, progressive ideas, modern values, and practices.
      • Thereby it inculcates a culture of tolerance and assimilation.
    • Champion of Weak:
      • It gives special emphasis on women belonging to the weaker section of the society, like Dalits and Tribes.
      • They address their socioeconomic concerns with long-term vision.
      • They provide the utmost care in terms of health, education and housing to integrate them into mainstream development of the nation.
    • Pressure Group:
      • Nowadays, women NGOs are evolving as separate pressure groups due to their large social base.
      • Thereby it ensures that government policies and programmes are relevant, need-oriented, and gender-equitable.
  • Problems
    • Unorganized:
      • Most of the women NGOs are not properly structured and systematically managed.
      • They are functioning as isolated units, lacking coordination and cooperation at the pan-India level.
      • They lack capacity building which in turn cost the efficiency and effectiveness of the organization.
    • Financial Constraints:
      • It is one of the major stumbling blocks for women organization.
      • They mainly depend on donation and do not have their own revenue generation.
      • Governmental aid for them is too meagre. Ultimately it results in poor and inadequate infrastruc- ture facilities.
    • Narrow Base:
      • Despite its popular cause and aim to empower half of the Indian population, its membership is less and is primarily numbered by victims and their relatives as it lacks large-scale participation of women.
      • Despite the fact that historically men act as a torchbearer for women empowerment, men membership is least encouraged.
    • Corruption:
      • In recent years, corruption and maladministration are widely prevalent amongst few women NGOs. The revered institution is used for money laundering and legalizing illegal wealth.
    • Urban Centric:
      • It mainly focuses on urban and peripheral areas leaving large rural areas where 60% of the Indian population lives.
      • The subject of women's empowerment became a matter to gain prestige and glamour for the rich and educated upper class.
      • They never address the root of women's problems instead opted for ad hoc solutions to get media coverage.
    • No consistency:
      • Women NGOs lack consistency in their functioning. Once the particular issue is over, they become dormant. It also fails to follow up the issue up to the last.
    • Curative:
      • Women organizations are focusing more on curative aspects, having less focus on preventive aspects.
      • That is less emphasis on education and empowerment more on sympathizing victims.
Institution for Women Empowerment
  • Pre-Independence
    • The role of Mahila Mandals organized by Arya and Brahmo Samaj is commendable in the context of women's upliftment in the earlier period.
    • Christian Missionaries did their best in this perspective, particularly in the context of education and social status.
    • National Social Conference: It was as a social reform cell of INC by MG Ranade and Raghunatha Rao in 1887. It advocated inter-caste marriages, opposed polygamy and Kulinism (Privileges of Brahmins). It also launched the ‘Pledge Movement’ to inspire people to take a pledge against child marriage.
    • Satyashodhak Samaj: Founded by Jyotiba Phule, it among the other spread education to women.
    • Women’s India Association, Madras: Founded in 1917 by Margaret cousins, it worked extensively for the social and education emancipation of the women.
    • National Council of Women in India (1925): Started by women from Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, it aimed for women's rights.
    • All India Women Conference (1927): It focused on all concerns of women, particularly education.
Women NGO's: Post Independence
  • The women's rights movement took an upswing in the 1980s culminated in the Shah Bano case which upheld the basic human rights of Muslim women defying orthodox Islam bodies. Rights groups like Forum against Rape, Stree Sangharsh, and Samata actively took up the issue of rape during this period.
    • Self-Employment Women’s Association (SEWA):
      • It was the first women’s trade union, and it was formed in 1972 focused on improving the condition of women working in the unorganized sector.
    • All India Democratic Women Association (AIDWA):
      • Founded in 1981 as a pan-India women organization, it committed to achieving democracy, equality, and women’s emancipation.
    • Indian Association of Women’s Studies:
      • Established in 1981 as an institution of women academics and activists,it involved in research and teaching. It actively publishes books and journals on feminist subjects.
    • Breakthrough Trust:
      • Breakthrough Trust is working to make violence and discrimination against women and girls unacceptable. This trust engages in various multimedia campaigns and mobilizes the community in favour of women. It also takes action and ensures dignity, justice, and equality for all.
    • Guria Swayam Sevi Sansthan:
      • It is working to free women and children from sexual exploitation, forced prostitution, and trafficking and restoration the rights of their children at Varanasi and Mau (UP).
    • Jagori:
      • The Delhi-based NGO is working on tackling sexual harassment. It is working for the last 25 years with a vision of ‘spreading feminist consciousness for the creation of a just society’. It has started the ‘Safe Delhi’ campaign to fight the problem of sexual harassment.
Conclusion
  • Education & Economic independence of women & awareness amongst the masses are the most important weapons to eradicate this inhumane behaviour of the society towards the female sex.
  • We are slowly but steadily heading towards an era of change & hope to see the light of change, shine on the weaker sex, as it is called one day.



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