Feminism in India


Gender Equality and Feminism have become turning subjects all around the Earth during the past half a century, with adult females forming and protesting against the stereotypes imposed upon them by the work forces. Several theories exist about how these stereotypes and inequalities came approximately, with some people reasoning that it is caused by the chauvinistic nature innately present in all human existences, with others rejecting this as a “lazy” statement to do, and imputing it to more specific causes. In the times of hunter-gatherers, the adult females occupied an equal position to that of work forces, and everyone had to lend in order to last and convey up the immature 1s. As agribusiness started to look, along with importance to ownership of land, the patriarchal signifier of society started ruling the scene, as work forces were bestowed with the responsibility to get and support belongings, and therefore the go throughing down of belongings down the line of male posterities ( patrilineal ) became relevant, therefore side-lining the adult females in the society. With the growing of capitalist economy, the importance of the atomic household had increased, which required the male to be employed, typically in industries, in order to gain income, and the adult females would hold to remain at place and expression after the domestic demands such as cookery, and raising of kids, etc. The ground for this was that the chief agencies of production was the modern atomic household, and so this apparatus was promoted as the norm in order to maximize market additions and increase efficiency [ 1 ] . This consequence of capitalist economy along with the patriarchal nature of most societies is what many argue to be the major ground behind the stigmatisation and stereotyping of adult females as weaker, and restricted to household work. Challenging these impressions, women’s rightist motions have been seen in several states of the universe, thereby guaranting that the adult females in their state had rights and were comparatively equal to the work forces, forestalling further societal downtrodding of adult females. Several states have allowed adult females to fall in the ground forces even, with some directing them into combat every bit good [ 2 ] , in order to advance gender equality and inspire adult females to believe in themselves and alter the manner society looks at adult females. However, the state of affairs in India is rather different. Gender inequality is rampant here, and about in every domain of life, adult females are marginalized and oppressed, viewed as mere tools or belongings possessed by work forces. India witnesses the 2nd highest sum of gender inequality in all of Asia, second merely to the Taliban-ruled Afghanistan [ 3 ] . However, some women’s rightist motions have been seen even in India, nevertheless their undertaking is much more hard here due to a huge figure of grounds which will be discussed in deepness in this undertaking with the aid of some interviews of Indian feminist societal militants.


The first measure I took towards this undertaking was to seek for societal militants in India who had made parts to the feminist motion, and identified some women’s rightists out of whom I had picked the interviews of Dr. Vandana Shiva [ 4 ] , Dr. Sarojini Sahoo [ 5 ] , Ms. Flavia Agnes [ 6 ] and Mrs. Madhu Kishwar [ 7 ] . Of these, Dr. Vandana Shiva would be the most outstanding militant, who has written several books for the cause of feminism and doing the adult females of India aware of such favoritism, and besides won the Fukuoka Prize in 2012 [ 8 ] . Dr. Sarojini Sahoo is besides a well-known militant who has written several books about gender and gender, and won the Laadli Media Award in 2011, and her interview offers us the most information sing the subject, and hence is the cardinal interview for the intents of this undertaking. From all the interviews, a few major issues have been identified and so analysed with the aid of other beginnings, and their impact on the society at big is shown. The militants are by and large in understanding with each other, and normally merely the chief focal point of their statement is what changes. I have besides identified a smattering of interviews of women’s rightists from states other than India in order to compare them with those of the Indian women’s rightists, and this affirm what is it that makes the feminist motion in India more indispensable and complicated than in other states.

Core Chapter

After traveling through the interview [ 9 ] of Christina Hoff Sommers, a feminist militant from the USA, we can state that the chief focal point of the interview is on bettering adult females representation in political relations, and largely to disenchant adult females from several other schools of feminism which she believes to be false and misdirecting to the adult females population at big. This shows that feminism has already successfully granted them basic societal equity in the USA.

The interview [ 10 ] of Perla Vasquez, a women’s rightist from Mexico, has besides been identified and analysed. The major issues in this every bit good largely comprise of economic and political troubles faced by adult females in Mexico.

This is in contrast with the phase in India as we can infer from the 4 interviews analysed for the interest of this undertaking, where the focal point is on basic favoritism of adult females in the societal field, and to halt the many signifiers of unfairness suffered by them daily, and in about every domain of life. The major points of difference I have identified from these interviews is the footing of patriarchal values and subjugation of adult females being strongly embedded with spiritual tradition, peculiarly Hinduism, since the ulterior Vedic period ; and the 2nd being the rampant instances of sexual force against adult females all around the state. It is this basic factor which makes feminism so much more indispensable in India, particularly the rural topographic points, and the support of patriarchate in the Hindu tradition, and the fact that a big bulk of India is still spiritual, makes it much more hard to get the ends of societal equality and basic self-respect for adult females.

Consequence of Culture and Traditions

In her interview, Sarojini Sahoo states “At one clip in India – in the ancient Vedic period – there were equal rights between work forces and adult females and even feminist jurisprudence shapers like Gargi and Maitreyi. But the ulterior Vedic period polarized the sexes. Males oppressed females and treated them as ‘other ‘ or similar to a lower caste.” [ 11 ]

This statement has been proven to be true, and adult females had so enjoyed a place of equal rights to those of males in the Vedic period, with adult females being venerated, and the prevalence of several Goddesses and female Deities in the Hindu tradition from that clip, farther reenforcing their place in society [ 12 ] . However, during the clip following the Vedic period, the state of affairs of adult females deteriorated much further down. With the reaching of the Dharma Shastras, the Patriarchal signifier of society was stressed and promoted, doing the subjugation of adult females in the society. However, most people argue that it is during the clip of the Mughals when adult females in India became genuinely secluded, although there is grounds of such being practiced every bit early as during the clip of Asoka. [ 13 ] The Smritis were another ground which led to the side-lining of adult females in the ulterior Vedic society, which reflected the legislators’ chauvinistic nature in implementing traditions and patterns which led to the farther subjugation and control of adult females in the society by males, and Torahs which lacked all impressions of equity and justness. These causes led to a hardening of a society where adult females were treated worse than Shudras ( Harijans ) [ 14 ] , enduring several inequalities from the work forces every twenty-four hours. This has continued for a long clip, with patterns such as the Dowry system and the system of Sati being followed widely all over India when the British had arrive, and had non declined until the British Empire issued statute laws censoring the pattern of Sati [ 15 ] , following which it easy started worsening. The dowery system was originally merely prevalent in the in-between category who really owned belongings which they could give away for dowery, but subsequently was adopted even by the poorer subdivisions of society, frequently ensuing in instances where one would give away a life-time of nest eggs as dowery. It was banned by the Government of India in 1961, by the Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961, but the pattern of dowery is still really much prevalent about everyplace in India, particularly in the small towns where the jurisprudence has small consequence. This gives rise to a societal horror known as Dowry decease, which will be discussed under the following subject. Another issue originating out of traditions is that adult females are assumed to be weaker, and are made to remain at place and taught how to execute family work such as cookery and cleansing, and are non allowed to take portion in most societal events. As a consequence, most parents do non let their girls to travel to school, and do them remain at place and larn family accomplishments. As a consequence, while 76 % of work forces are literate in India, merely 54 % of adult females are literate [ 16 ] . This indicates how much of an consequence such traditions and impressions can hold on a state as a whole.

Violence against adult females

One of the major issues discussed by about every women’s rightist in their interview is dowry decease. This is a pattern where the bride is killed when her household does non give a big adequate dowery. It has in fact been on the addition, seen mostly throughout North India [ 17 ] . This has caused adult females to be looked upon as a load in their household of birth. Sarojini Sahoo has stated the same in her interview, depicting how adult females are normally viewed in society: “An single girl — seen as a old maid even in her late mid-twentiess — brings shame upon her parents, and is a load. But one time married, she is considered the belongings of her in-laws.” [ 18 ] This load leads to desiring a male kid over a female one, along with the fact that the Dharma Shastras and other texts of Hindu faith which make a boy more desirable than a girl due to the fact they can inherit, transport on the name, and merely a boy can execute the last rites of his father/grandfather. This leads to the societal pattern of female infanticide, which has been on the addition in India. It is fundamentally the act of killing immature female kids, as their parents want a male kid. This has caused the sex ratio to drop in India over the old ages. India has a kid sex ratio of 914:100, as of 2011. [ 19 ] Next is the existent physical force against adult females, which is really widespread in India compared to all the other states. India has of late become celebrated for colza, following the Delhi colza instance. A statement from Madhu Kishwar sing such force competently sums up a assortment of such jobs prevalent in India: “Another chief issue is sexual force of all sorts, from what goes by the name of “eve-teasing” , which is a really mild, contemptuous word used to depict what goes from squeezing and rubbing to lewd remarks to physical force, hitting you… Then there is colza of all kinds…” [ 20 ]

Sexual force is at its highest in India. Some theorize that this is the recoil of a strong patriarchal society [ 21 ] witnessing Westernization of adult females. It is the biggest societal issue in all of India, and is the major ground why India needs feminism. The concluding job to be discussed is the fact that matrimonial colza is to this twenty-four hours non criminalized in India. The Indian Penal Code has no countenance against this act. The lone resort for the married woman is to inquire for divorce and go forth her hubby, but apart from that, there is no penalty meted out to the husband/rapist. Domestic force besides has a separate jurisprudence which many say is non rigorous plenty, therefore doing it prevailing in infinite countries of the state. Flavia Agnes addresses the subject in her interview: “In a society where matrimony is the norm, the ultimate power remainders with the husband.” To sum up the issue of force, a statement from Vandana Shiva fits absolutely: “This violent economic order can merely work as a war against people and against the Earth, and in that war, the colza against adult females is a really, really big instrument of war. We see that everyplace. And hence, we have to hold an terminal to the force against women.” [ 22 ]


We have seen how the morning of private ownership of land and belongings gave rise to the Patriarchal society, forcing adult females to a side function, and how this was further solidified by the rise of capitalist economy and its demand for the atomic household and the “ideal setup” for division of labor. We so discussed how it originated in India, and how the Vedic period originally had great equality for the adult females in their society, and how that position deteriorated over clip due to the Dharma Shastras and the Smritis, giving rise to traditions like dowery and sati. We have seen how these patterns came approximately, the attempts of the authorities to control them, and the effectivity of these Torahs. We besides see how the traditions affected the rate of literacy among misss drastically, and so how dowry leads to slay in several instances, and how this load so leads to female infanticide, and the apogee of all these oppressive traditions taking to the sexual force against adult females due to them being viewed as weaker, or as belongings, and eventually how the jurisprudence even now is rather unjust with respect to adult females, denying them any merely resort matrimonial colza, despite several protests for the interest of the same. To reason, we have seen how gender inequality has its ain alone points in India, and how it is all the more indispensable for India to larn feminism, and the higher trouble of really conveying about alterations in this society.


  1. JSTOR
  2. The Hindu
  3. The National Geographic
  4. The Times of India
  5. Foundation for Sustainable Development
  6. The Guardian