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Essay on “Indian Womanhood” Complete Essay, Paragraph, Speech for Class 10, Class 12 and Graduation and other classes.

Indian Womanhood

Women’s status in society is a controversial issue which has been engaging our conscience in recent times. Despite forming half the human population and despite showing, from time to time, their ability to stand up to any challenge, women have rarely been gracefully recognized by men as worthy partners in shouldering the responsibilities of life. Rather, men view women with suspicion, jealousy, and often, outright hatred. Their fortunes have so widely varied with time, that Indian women have alternately been deified and despised; exalted and exploited; ingratiated and ignored Nevertheless, undaunted by the attitude of men towards them, women, with great resilience and patience, have always bounced back after every phase of subjugation, with renewed vigour and vitality.

Quite in contrast to the global trend, in India, prejudice against women, particularly in ancient times, was never very strong. Women enjoyed high status in both the spiritual and temporal activities of society. Though they rarely became rishis or sages, women as the wives of sages, enjoyed as much importance and respect as the sages themselves.

The case with royalty was also similar. Epics like the Mahabaratha and the Ramayana are replete with instances of women playing crucial roles is shaping the destinies of their lands. It is a tribute to the status of womanhood of the time, that the legacy of a Sita, a Kunthi or a Draupadi endures to inspire modern women and society.

However, at some time in the past, privileges like liberty and respect, that had been the hallmark of women’s status until then, were weakened by certain unhealthy prejudices that developed in the society. These prejudices, which caused a period of exploitation that spread over several centuries, substantially sapped the vitality of Indian womanhood, seemingly beyond the scope of redemption. No natural reason can be attributed to such a collapse from a status of confidence and respect to a state of misery and hopelessness. Obviously, as a majority of modem historians believe, the exploitation that women endured was due to the deliberate design of certain vested interests.

But, while women in most parts of India were enduring varying levels of exploitation, some, in a few pockets scattered across the country, continued to enjoy liberty and equality. Kerala is an important example of such a pocket. The matrilineal system of succession which the societies in Kerala followed, ensured that their women enjoyed a level of respect and esteem that was unmatched by any other society in India.

The status of womanhood started taking a turn for the better all over India in the first half of the nineteenth century, when Raja Rammohan Roy strongly espoused its cause. After abolishing the practice of `sati’, which was quite prevalent in Northern India at that time, he founded the Brahma Sarnaj, to lead the general emancipation of society, and with it the order of ‘Brahma kumaris’, to work for women’s welfare. Though much progress was made by the movement, particularly in the field of women’s education and in breaking the customs of purdah and seclusion, it did not enjoy enough public approval or support for its actions to be successful.

Women’s emancipation had to wait until the dawn of the twentieth century, for the big boost that would enable its success. It was provided by the fight for freedom under Gandhiji’s leadership. The genius of Gandhiji ensured that the efforts to liberate the country went hand in hand with those to uplift the women of India. When Gandhiji realized the substantial contribution that a huge population could make towards winning freedom, he could not naturally exclude women (who formed half the population) from the effort. His encouragement for women, and his faith in them, resulted in the emergence of such stalwarts as Sarojini Naidu and Rajkumari Amrit Kaur on the Indian political scene. It is a tribute to its resilience that Indian womanhood has not looked back since the heady days of the freedom movement, and has moved from strength to strength. Rather than be the target of welfare and support, women have now matured to be equal partners in development. Nursed and nourished by the aspirations and efforts of the leaders of this century, the modern emancipation of women has become a role model for other societies around the world to follow. The fruits of these efforts and aspirations are evident in the various fields of human activity, in which men and women work shoulder to shoulder, for the prosperity and well-being of the country. Hopefully, the day is not far off when the strength of our women scientists, aircraft pilots, diplomats, and administrators, will be of such proportions as will match the share of women in our population.


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