Everything you need to learn about status of women in India. Learn about:- 1. Status of Women in Ancient India 2. Status of Women in Medieval India 3. Status of Women in Modern India.
Status of Women in Ancient India:
Every human society is invariably characterised by social differentiations. Gender based differentiation is one. Men had the role of earning and women had the role of reproduction of heirs and home making. A historical understanding of status of women in early Indian society shows a declining trend in the position of women. The historical analysis of the position of women in ancient India shows that women did not share an equal position with men.
Women were recognised only as wives and mothers. Their position was as subordinate to men. The Indian patriarchal society that dominates the social, political and economic life of people in the country has never encouraged its women in any field, except kitchen! Indian women are relatively disempowered and they enjoy lower status than that of men from times immemorial.
The root to the participation of women in politics can be traced back to 19th century reform movement. Social reformers thought that social change could be initiated by educating women and bringing progressive legislation. Social evils can be eradicated by raising consciousness and making people sensitive to injustice done to women.
Status of Women down the Ages:
Women in Ancient India:
In the ancient Indus valley civilisation of India, evidences show the worship of the mother goddess. Hence, the veneration for the mother is evident during that period. During the Rig Vedic period, it is believed that the position of wife was honoured and women’s position was acknowledged, especially in the performance of religious ceremonies.
Education of young girls was considered as an important qualification for marriage. There are references in Vedic literature that in the Kshatriya society, brides had exclusive right of selecting their own consorts, which was known as ‘Swayamvara’. In Rig Vedic society, dowry system was unknown. However, the concept of marriage as a dan or gift was prevalent. Monogamy was the general practice though Bigamy was also in practice, but it was limited to the aristocratic classes. The wife was respected in her new house. The wife participated in the sacrificial offerings of her husband.
However, being a patriarchal system, the women were expected to bear sons since the son performed the last rites and continued the lineage. Remarriage of widows was permitted under certain conditions. Female morality maintained a high standard although the same degree of fidelity was not expected from the husband. In this age there was no practice of divorce. The Rig Veda states that the widow had the right to marry again with her husband’s brother. Rig Veda recognised the right of inheritance of unmarried daughters on the property of her father but married daughters were exempted.
Gradually, religious ceremonies were increasingly conducted by the priests resulting in weakening of the women’s eminent position in the household. Later, in the Age of the Upanishads, the ‘anuloma’ system of marriage, i.e., between the male of a higher caste and female of a lower caste prevailed during this period.
In the Age of Sutras and Epics, the ‘Grihya-sutras’ give detailed rules regarding the proper seasons for marriage and qualifications of bride and bridegroom. The bride was supposed to be at a mature age, over 15 or 16. The elaborate rites indicate that marriage was a holy bond and not a contract. The women held an honoured position in the household. She was allowed to sing, dance, and enjoy life. Sati was not generally prevalent. Widow Remarriage was allowed under certain circumstances.
On the whole, the Dharma-sutras take a more lenient attitude than the Smritis of a later age. The ‘Apastamba’ imposes several penalties on a husband who unjustly forsakes his wife. On the other hand, a wife who forsakes her husband has to only perform penance. In case a grown up girl was not married at a proper time by her father, she could choose her husband after three years of waiting. The most pleasing feature of this period is the presence of women teachers, many of whom possessed high spiritual knowledge.
As in all patriarchal societies during that age, the birth of a daughter was unwelcome. The son lived with his parents, earned money for the family, protected the family from enemies, and perpetuated the name of the family. The Ramayana along with the Mahabharata and the Puranas constitute the epic literature in India. The position of women gradually deteriorated not only in the society but also in the family. The discontinuance of Upanayana, the neglect of education, and lowering of the marriage age had a negative consequence upon the position and status of woman.
During this period, a woman was considered to be a commodity which could be kept on bet and could be sold or purchased. But we also get quite contrary views from Ramayana and Mahabharata. Sita is regarded as one of the five ideal and revered women in India, the other four being Ahalya, Draupati, Tara, and Mandodari. There are references in Mahabharata which reflects that women used to guide men on religious and social questions. It was expected of a good woman to cooperate with her husband in religious pursuits.
Marriage was a religious sacrament. A woman was considered unfit for independence at any time as she required protection throughout her life. In the Age 600 BC to 320 AD, marriage between the same caste was preferred although inter caste marriages were prevalent. Of the eight forms of marriage prescribed by the Dharma-sutras, the Arsha form of marriage was most popular.
The bridegroom was selected by the girl’s father. According to Nearchus, the Indians “marry without giving or taking dowries but the girls, as soon as they are marriageable, are brought forward by their fathers and exposed in public, to be selected by a person who excels in some form of physical exercise”. This indicates a modified form of Swayamvara.
Lowering of the marriage age affected their education and culture adversely. Emphasis was now laid on the physical chastity of women which discouraged widow remarriage, divorce, and encouragement of Sati. There is also evidence that women were active in such public economic activities as wage-labour, as well as serving as temple dancers, courtesans, and court attendants. During the earlier part of this period, there were highly educated women holding an honorable position in the society and household.
Women also received training in arts, music, painting, and for some, military training also. Buddhist and Jain nuns renounced the world for the sake of spiritual salvation. Jain texts refer to Jayanti who carried on discussions with Mahavira himself and later on became a nun. In spite of the progress, there were growing regression. Upanayana ceremony was reduced to only a formality. Manu laid down that marriage was equal to Upanayana while Yajnavalkya took the step of prohibiting Upanayana ceremony for girls.
The wife who used to perform Vedic sacrifices was denied the right to do so. Sati existed but was confined to the warrior class only. Women courtesans were not looked down by religious leaders or kings. A famous courtesan Amrapali who lived during the reign of Bimbisara (300 to 273 BC) was a beauty whom Buddha visited. Chandragupta Maurya, the founder of the Maurya dynasty, was reputedly assisted by Kautilya, a Brahman prime minister, who composed the Arthasastra, a handbook of statecraft.
The elaborate documents states that women had property rights to the stridhan, which was the gift made to a woman at the time of her marriage by her parents and afterwards augmented by her husband. Marriage was both a secular and sacred institution. Widows could remarry, although, when they did so, they lost rights to any property inherited from their deceased husbands.
In 320 to 750 AD, the Gupta Empire is seen as the classical age of Indian culture because of its high literary and artistic accomplishments. Some information on roles for elite women comes from the Kama Sutra, a manual about the many ways to acquire pleasure, a legitimate goal for Hindu men in the householder, or the second stage, of their lives. Women were expected to be educated, to give and to receive sexual pleasure, and to be faithful wives.
Courtesans were trained in poetry and music as well as the skills of sexual pleasure and were esteemed members of society. An important example is of a noble-hearted courtesan Vasantesena, the heroine of the “The Little Clay Cart,” a popular play in Sanskrit ascribed to Sudraka (ca. A.D. 400). The other major dramatic female heroine of classical Indian literature is Shakuntala, a docile young woman who yearned for her distant lover in Kalidasa’s “Shakuntala and the Ring of Remembrance.”
There was a growing tendency to lower the marriageable age of girls with girls being married before or after puberty. Marriage within the same caste was preferred but prohibited within certain degrees of relationship. Girls of high families had adequate opportunities for acquiring proficiency in higher learning. In Vatsyayanas Kamasutra, instances of princesses are mentioned whose intellect was sharpened by knowledge of the Sastras.
The literary evidence of the Gupta age proves that girls of high families as also those living in hermitages read works on ancient history and legend. Girls living in royal courts were trained in singing and dancing too. Vatsyanana draws a picture of a good wife which may be taken as a reflection of the real life during that period. Sati was extolled by some but strongly disapproved by others.
The only direction in which the position of women improved was in the sphere of proprietary rights. As society began to discourage widow remarriages, there began to arise a class of childless widows who needed money to maintain themselves. Due to a lowering of the age of marriage, girls were not educated as before. This reduced the position and status of women. Brides being too young had no say in choosing their partners.
Love marriages were a thing of the past. During this period, marriage became an irrevocable union, but it was one sided in favour of the husband. Since women were not as educated as before, they did not know what their rights were. Among the most striking changes may be the increased recognition in Katyayana of the women’s right to property and a remarkable rule in Atri that allowed women molested by robbers to regain her social status.
The recorded history of India began with the arrival of Aryans in the 15th Century B.C. When Vedic Era began, the patriarchal culture has eliminated the matriarchal culture. It could be considered the beginning of gender discrimination in India.
The historical period marked by Rigveda reveals the predominance of religious concern over the civil life. Vedic culture was widespread until the arrival of the Muslims in the 8th Century. The period that followed the Muslim invasion is considered the medieval history in India which also witnessed the predominance of patriarchal culture.
With regard to patriarchal ordering of the social life, Islamic era did not differ much from that of the Vedic era. What followed the Muslim era is the British Raj in the 18th Century. It was also predominantly patriarchal. Throughout the past centuries, the patriarchy and the patriarchal social organization prevailed – so too the gender discrimination. A survey of Vedas, Puranas, Upanishads and Epics reveals the status of women and their struggle for power in ancient India.
The status of women during the pre-Vedic period is not clear. It is believed that pre-historic man who lived in the Paleolithic age was a nomad. Food gathering was the chief occupation.
Culture and civilization are the attributes of Neolithic man who became a food producer leaving slowly the style of food gathering. Men began to settle down on river valleys. Indus valley civilization which was the first known civilization in India is said to have flourished in the 25th Century B.C.
During this civilization, historical evidence shows that the people worshipped natural forces and divine references were mostly feminine. Nature was often called mother. Mother goddess was the first worshipped deity of the people of Indus Valley civilization.
From these findings, we may conclude that Indus community was basically matriarchal. Family was headed by mothers. Mother had control over the children. The custom of monogamous marriages was of later origin and the role of a man as a father of the children of a woman was not recognized.
There are reasons to believe that in pre-historic India, gender discrimination was non-existent. Polyandry was common in matriarchal communities of pre-historic India. The role of father in child birth was not known and women were believed to be the masters of home commanding the respect of children and the youth. Many old civilizations of the world were matriarchal for the same reason.
Pre-historic communities were not settled permanently at a site and were moving around in search of food which consumed most of their waking hours. Both men and women were engaged in food gathering which was the only economic activity. Therefore, there are reasons to believe that both men and women had equal participation in the economic life.
Women in Vedic Literature:
Vedic period witnessed the historical development of human civilization from nomadic style to settled style. During the early Vedic era, there is evidence to show that woman was given some respect and opportunities in domestic life. She was considered the creator, protector, and educator of her children. Women were given opportunities to offer sacrifices along with their husbands.
A man could not become a spiritual whole unless he was accompanied by his wife. The gods were thought not to accept the materials offered by a bachelor. Sati did not exist in this period. Widowed mothers were protected by their sons. Rigveda the first Vedic script brings to light the culture and civilization of early invaders to India who were predominantly nomadic.
The society had not yet settled down with farming. They were mainly food gatherers. Society in the Rig-Vedic period was prominently pastoral and it did not produce surplus to allow any section to be completely subordinated or withdrawn from the process of production. Both the men and women were engaged in food gathering and partook equally the struggle for survival.
Each family was a single economic unit without any specialization or gender based division of labour. Both men and women could participate equally in all the political, economic and religious affairs, which were very simple in terms of organization and functioning. This perhaps explains the comparatively better situation of women in the Vedic period in terms of access to education, religious rights, freedom of movements etc.
Gradually a transition from matriarchal to patriarchal order of the society is seen. Vedic texts including Brahmanas and Upanishads prescribed the limits of her social, political and religious freedoms. Women were supposed to live the life as prescribed by these religious codes. Upanishads gave the foundation for the earliest Hindu culture and tradition that governed the lives of Indian women till the middle age.
Upanishads had an important role in framing a pretty stereotype of Indian woman. In Brhadarranyaka Upanishad, Yajnavalkya says that women should be honoured with ornaments, clothes and food by their husbands, brother-in-law and maternal relations. For a woman, her husband should be everything. Through devotion and love for him, she fulfills her duty and develops her highest personality. The noblest duty of a woman is the arduous task of motherhood.
Brahmanas and Upanishads were annexures to Vedas and reflect the life of later Vedic age. Brahmanas reflect a transitional development in the status of woman limiting her role in the social life except in the performance of religious sacrifices. Her social and political freedom was curtailed.
The lives of women began to be confined to the four walls of their household. We find passages in Aitereya Brahmana and Maitrayani Samhita which show that women were forbidden to go to the assemblies. Sati was known during Vedic period. Sati became popular during the later Vedic period where the widows either chose for themselves or were forced to jump into the pyre of their husbands so that they may not be spoiled afterward by others.
Gradually it became an acceptable custom to safeguard the purity of the tribe. The birth of daughter, which was not a source of anxiety during the Vedic period, became a source of disaster for the father during the post-Vedic phase. Thus it was said that the birth of a son is bliss incarnate, while that of a daughter is root of family’s misery.
Sutras are contemporary to the Upanishads. The Sutra literature developed during the period from 500 to 200 B.C. It has contributed very much in the formation of the traditional image of Indian woman. Dharma Sutra, an extension of the Grihya Sutras, states that marriage was solemnized before agni which is represented as the ‘supreme reality’.
‘Woman’s existence merged with that of a man through the performance of the couple to carry this supreme witness along with them and cherish it in their home with ardent devotion all through their lives; and at death the body was to be consumed by this sacred fire’.
We cannot ignore the contrasting image of womanhood presented in the same Vedic texts of ancient India. The double standard regarding the status of women is made clear when we read other texts in Vedic literature. Woman, according to Manu, should be protected and honoured at all stages of her life.
Manu starts with the fundamental principle that women must be kept all day and night in control by the males of their families. Her father protects her in childhood, her husband protects her in youth, and her sons protect her in old age; a woman is never fit for living independently.
He says that the creator implanted in them carnal passions, love for ornament, impure desires, wrath, dishonesty, malice and bad conduct. Manu gives the circumstances under which a woman is likely to go astray. Drinking, associating with immoral people, separation from her husband, roaming around, sleeping late and dwelling with other men is the six causes of her ruin.
Manu further states that a vicious husband must be worshipped, but a bad wife may at any time be superseded by another wife. Even though the husband is of bad character seeking pleasure elsewhere he must be constantly worshipped as god by a faithful wife.
A barren wife may be superseded in the eighth year; she, whose all children die in the tenth, she who bears only daughters in the eleventh, but she who is quarrelsome, without delay. ‘A wife, who, being superseded, in the anger departs from her husband’s house, must either be instantly confined or cast off in the presence of the family’.
Women during Later Vedic Age:
Ramayana and Mahabharata are the great epics of India. The lifestyle presented in these epics reflects the contemporary socioeconomic reality. Mahabharata, which is written presumably later, presents a story prior to that of Ramayana. The social life presented by Ramayana and Mahabharata may be the first written record of Hindu way of living.
The popular from of marriage as seen in the epics is Swayamvara. Swayamvara is the institution of marriage especially among the higher castes. In this ancient form of marriage, women were said to have exercised the freedom and autonomy to select their life partner. Sita of Ramayana and Draupati of Mahabharat married by way of Swayamvara.
Swayamvara does not give the freedom of choice to the bride in the modern sense, because often her freedom to choose her husband is limited. In the institution of ‘Swayamvara’ she is compelled to marry the winner of a competition, conducted to prove the martial excellence of her prospective bridegrooms.
Gandhari is the noblest of the women characters in the Mahabharata. She set an example of true sahadharmini who dared to bandage her own eyes for the sake of her blind husband Dhrutarashtra. Debate continues whether Gandhari was doing the right thing by willfully impairing her eyesight.
Would she have been a better companion and a more useful guide to her totally blind husband if she was not blind? However, she shows boldness to remonstrate with him when she knew her husband was following the wrong path. Has she impaired her sight in order to avoid seeing the injustice done by her husband or to empathize with him?
Another character, Kunti is the embodiment of patience, perseverance and self-sacrifice. Draupati, the central figure of the great epic, was a woman who possessed courage, sense of dignity and justice.
‘The loftiness of her soul, her unfading courage in the face of disaster, her spirit of self-sacrifice, and above all, her moral earnestness and spiritual integrity has shed luster on the ideals of womanhood in ancient India.’ The epics have presented many other noble woman characters.
There was gradual degeneration in the status of women in India after the Vedic age. Caste system and ritualism began to take deep root in the lives of common man. Child marriage and Sati became popular. Buddhism and Jainism emerged as alternative religious orders devoid of caste-based social order.
These new religions professed equality between men and women but had little impact on rural masses. Among the intellectuals they appeared as strong countercurrents for caste ridden Hindu society. Till the arrival of the Muslims, the Hindu philosophy was the guiding force for the masses in India.
Patriarchal social order backed with religious sanctions nurtured gender discrimination in economic, political and social life of traditional communities in India. Education of women, which was an accepted norm during the Vedic period, slowly began to be neglected and later on girls were totally denied any access to education.
Upanayana or sacred thread ceremony, which was performed to initiate a person into the Vedic studies, was prohibited for women and Shudras by the Manu codes thus closing the doors for any formal education to women. Thus there prevailed no system of education for them, as they had no Upanayan Sanskar.
Child marriage was accepted as a means to protect ritual purity of the caste ridden communities. In a matrilineal society where considerable concern for ritual purity is emphasized, women play a vital role in the protection of the purity of the group.
If men of ritually low status were to get sexual access to women of higher status, not only the purity of the women but also that of the entire group would be endangered. Since the main threat to purity of the group came from female sexuality, it becomes vital to guard it. Most groups solved this problem by the custom of pre-puberty marriages.
By circa 8th century, the marriageable age for girls was lowered to 9 or 10 years, which not only gave a final blow to any effort at educating women but also encouraged the sinister practice of pre-puberty marriages. The situation of widows was very pathetic in the later Vedic era.
Even if certain ancient texts have supported the remarriage of widows, Alberuni has observed that the re-marriage of the widows was prohibited by custom. Today with the introduction of a new comprehensive legislation dealing with the personal laws of the Hindu, Manu Smriti has ceased to be a law. Manu, however, will be venerated as the first law giver for the Hindus.
Changing Role of Women in Vaishnative Cult:
The Culture and society of Bengal had undergone certain important changes after the invasion of Turks on Bengal. The Islamic religion and culture had deep impact on the Bengali culture and society, if a bit perversely in that the predominantly Bengali society and culture started to witness a breakdown of its moral and ethical code. As a defensive response the Smarta tradition in Bengal (the scripture of Hindu code of conduct) under Raghunandan and his Navyanaya group (the contemporary hegemonic Brahmanic ideology) shackled the Bengali society with their orthodox rules and regulations.
Shri Chaitanya Deva and his liberal Vaishnava religion challenged both the oppressive Smarta laws and buttressed the social modes on the other hand. Social perspective of Bengal was conditioned by the responses from the Vaishnavite movements. Predominantly literary texts help us to construct the changing modes of society.
A plethora of historical works from the time of Tapan Raychaudhuri have already looked into these aspects. However, a picture of women of 16th-17th century Bengal which can be constructed from many Vaishnavite literatures and other sources remains a lacuna in this overall historiographic scenario.
Actually after the invasion of Turks in Bengal the period of Smriti Shastras started. The orthodox Brahman leaders of Bengal created their own Hindu rules and regulations to protect the Hindu society from the touch of Muslims, especially to protect Hindu women. On the other hand the tantrism degenerated into simply antinomian malpractices. All the suppressing rules and rituals over women perpetrated by the conservative and superstitious Brahmins reached its zenith.
From various kind of religious texts, articles, and literatures we can find out a picture of the condition of women in pre-Chaitanya and his contemporary period, which reflects on the depressing patriarchal ideology ruling the roost. Child marriage, polygamy of koulinya-tradition, the Sati system (committing suicide into husband’s funeral pyre) and more than that, lots of restrictions within home made a pathetic picture of the women of pre-Chaitanya period.
After the incarnation of Shri Chaitanya Deva (C 1486) the Vaishnava religion and literature started to flow in a new direction. His liberal Namadharma (in the name of Lord Krishna) influenced all the societies, religions and cultures. Though personally he was an ascetic, keeping himself away from the women, his disciples were ordered to preach the Nama majesty of Lord Krishna and Radha to the men and women in general.
From ‘Shri Shri Gouranga Champu’, ‘Shri Shri Chaitanya Charitamritam’, ‘Shri Shri Chaitanya MangaIa’, we can find a picture of polite, devoted, happy and sometimes truant women. Though it was not a very radical change but it was much better than the society of pre-Chaitanya period. Within Vaishnava society the women enjoyed much freedom, peace and happiness than during the Navya-naya period (pre-Chaitanya period).
But the remarkable change was noted in later half of the 16th century within Vaishnava society. (It can be attributed to his (Chaitanya’s) follower Sri Nityananda Mahaprabhu who preached Vaishnavism irrespective of gender, caste or creed. It is stated that he gave shelter to Budhist Sahajiyas, Saktas and followers of other occult practices which widened the democratic base of Vaishnava religion.)
All these changes happened due to various reasons. First of all, after Karrani dynasty Bengal was under Mughal Empire and though political instability was within the political powers but there was no such social suppression by the ruling power that time which means the social stability unlike sultanate reign.
Secondly, the Sufis who came during Sultanate period spread their very simple and liberal philosophy reticently through the societies which were neglected either by upper class Hindu Brahmins or economically solvent people.
Thirdly, at that time some Buddhist Sahajiyas, Hindu Tantrics and other Sahajiya sects who were committed themselves in transgressions, were making the society nasty. In this perspective Sri Chaitanya Deva and then Sri Nityananda and his son Birabhadra took revolutionary steps against the above mentioned sects.
It is found that though Sri Chaitanya Deva himself did not like to come in physical contact with women, but his liberal Nama majesty changed the ongoing orthodox religious thought. This line of thinking influenced his followers, especially Sri Nityananda Mahaprabhu who preached Vaishnavism irrespective of gender, caste or creed. This tradition went on through his son Sri Birabhadra.
Unlike pre-Chaitanya period Sri Nityananda Mahaprabhu began to treat women equal in the field of religious rites and rituals since second half of 16th century which helped many women to read and write, like Janhava Devi, Subhadra Devi, Hemlata Devi, Kanchanlatika Devi and so on. From the latter half of the sixteenth century they began to take part in scholastic endeavours. Even the literacy rate of women among the Vaishnavite sects was somewhat higher than the other societies.
From ‘Shri Chaitanya Bhagvatam’, ‘Chaitanya Mangala’ it is evident that, though the Sati system was in vogue in the society, none of the Vaishnava widow women committed Sati which means that they succeeded to some extent to break the fetters against the women. Even the Namadharma was preached among the deprived or the social outcastes i.e. the prostitutes.
This trend continued even up to the reformation taken by Shri Virabhadra, son of Shri Nityananda Mahaprabhu. It is said that he gave shelter to 1200 Neda and 1300 Nedi (possibly Buddhist Sahajiyas who practiced antinomian rituals) against the opposition of the orthodox Brahmin leaders and six Vrindavana Goswamis, who followed a different type of Vaishnava practices more orthodox in nature. With the inclusion of these sects the position of the women changed perceptibly.
From the latter half of 16th century and 1st half of 17th century inter-caste marriage started. Post puberty marriages and of course opinion of the girls regarding the groom was sought. From 1st half of 17th century many women Gurus appeared in the Vaishnava society such as Janhava Devi, Kanchanlatika Devi, Ganga Devi, Madhabi lata Devi and so on.
Status of Women in Medieval India:
Historical References to Women in Early Medieval Period:
Like the earlier period, women were generally considered mentally inferior. Their duty was to obey their husband blindly. Women continued to be denied the right to study the Vedas. Furthermore, the marriageable age for girls was lowered, thereby destroying their opportunities for higher education. However, from some of the dramatic works of the period, we find the court ladies and even the queen’s maids-in-waiting were capable of composing excellent Sanskrit and Prakrit verses.
Various stories point to the skill of princesses in the fine arts, especially in painting and music. Daughters of high officials, courtesans, and concubines were also supposed to be highly skilled in the various arts, including poetry. As for marriage, the Smriti writers say that girls were to be given away by their parents, between the ages of six and eight or between their eighth year and attending puberty.
Medhatithi made inter- caste marriages exceptional. Marriage with the daughter of a maternal uncle is condemned. Marriage by mutual love is condemned by Medhatithi and he said that one should marry a girl who is much younger than himself, she must get married between the age of eight and achieving puberty. If a girl’s guardian cannot find her a match before she becomes of marriageable age, then she can choose her partner after staying in her father’s house for three years after attaining puberty.
Sometimes, girls with the approval of their parents opted for a Swayamvara ceremony. Remarriage was allowed under certain condition when the husband had deserted or died or adopted the life of a recluse, or was impotent or had become an outcaste. In general, women were distrusted. However, within the home they were honoured. If a husband abandoned even a guilty wife, she was to be given maintenance.
With the growth of property rights in land, the property rights of women also increased. In order to preserve the property of a family, women were given the right to inherit the property of their male relations. With some reservation, a widow was entitled to the entire estate of her husband if he died sonless. Daughters also had the right to succeed to the properties of a widow.
Thus, the growth of feudal society strengthened the concept of private property. The practice of Sati was made obligatory by some writers, but condemned by others. According to an Arab writer, Sulaiman, wives of a king sometimes burnt themselves on the funeral pyre of their husbands, but it was for them to exercise their option in the matter. Purdah was not prevalent during this period.
The general level of their culture is high. Several Queens of the Kara dynasty ruled in Ores. Sugandha and Didda of Kashmir administered extensive kingdoms. There were learned women as well as administrators. Saraswati, wife of Mandanamisra, who acted as an arbitrator in her husband’s disputations with Sankaracharya, was a learned scholar herself.
Women in Medieval India:
Medieval Indian history spreads over 500 years. It is predominantly the history of Muslim rulers. Muslims appeared in India as a warrior class. Their rule in India is divided into two Eras; The Era of Delhi Sultanate and the Mughal Era. The only woman who had ever occupied the throne of Delhi was Razia Sultan. Gulbadan Begum was a woman of exceptional poetic talent who wrote Humayun-namah.
Nur Jahan and Jahan Ara took an active part in the state affairs. Nur Jahan was the greatest Muslim queen of India. She was the very embodiment of beauty and military valour. Mumtaj Mahal a princess of a rare beauty combined with superb intellectual talents and aesthetic tastes.
India has also produced heroic women such as Chandbibi, who appeared on the ramparts of the fort of Ahmednagar dressed in male attire; Tara Bai, the Maharata heroine who was the life and soul of Maharata resistance during the last determined onslaught of Aurangazeb; Mangammal, whose benign rule is still a green memory in the South, and Ahalya Bai Holkar, to whose administrative genius Sir John Malcolm has paid a magnificent tribute. The Moghul princesses of course played a notable part in the court life of Agra and Delhi. Jehanara, the partisan of Dara Shikoh, Roshanara, the partisan of Aurangazeb, Zebunnissa, the daughter of Aurangazeb, whose poems (under the pen name of Makhfi) have come down to us, and others represented the culture of the court.
Jija Bai, the mother of Shivaji, was a devoted mother, who was strong-willed and autocratic at home, but subordinated herself to the interests of her son. During the medieval period the social life of women underwent great changes. Dependence of women on their husbands or other male relatives was a prominent feature of this period.
Devoid of avenues of any education, having lost the access to Stridhana or dowry, they virtually became the exploited class with disastrous results for themselves and the nation. Indian women were politically, socially, and economically inactive except for those engaged in farming and weaving. Political subordination includes the exclusion of women from all important decision-making processes.
With the advent of Muslims in India, the social movement of Indian women was restricted. They were prohibited to attend public functions and were not free to participate as men’s equals in religious functions. Another social evil that existed in society during this period was child marriage. These child brides were denied all intellectual, physical, and spiritual development.
Similarly, most of the women were made to believe that their ideal place was the home. Thus, they were persuaded by circumstances to accept their inferiority and secondary position. Men being providers, women became dependent on them economically for their subsistence except for the labour classes, where both men and women participated in subsistence farming and other occupations.
Many social evils like female infanticide, Sati, child marriages, Purdah system, or zenana (the seclusion of women), developed during the middle ages due to the political instability of Northern India, especially due to various invasions. Polygamy came into practice. Muslim rulers in India had large harems. Thus, women came to be regarded as instruments of sensual satisfaction. Even among the Hindus there was no limit set to the number of wives a man could take, and a Muslim man could have as many as four wives.
Islam also made the husband the head of the family and insisted that a wife should obey all his commands and should serve him with utmost loyalty. Another social evil that existed in medieval India was female infanticide. This particular system was prevalent among Rajputs and other high castes. Even among the Muslims this custom existed. This social evil originated from the belief that only the birth of a son could make salvation possible for parents as only a son had the privilege of performing Samskaras.
The son began to be considered as the maintainer of the race. Purdah gained popularity with the advent of the Muslims. The Purdah system existed among Kshatriyas in the period of Dharma Sastras. Dowry system was a common phenomenon. It actually meant “Stridhana” which included gifts, ornaments, property, and cash presented to her by her father or her relatives. But in the medieval period the term acquired special significance. It meant money or “Dakshina” which was actually presented to the bridegroom along with the bride.
In Vedic times it ensured some sort of security for her. During the Middle Ages, the term “Stridhana” acquired huge dimensions. The Hindus and Muslims favoured this custom of dowry. This in a way contributed to female infanticide, as it became a heavy burden on the poor. The birth of girls came to be seen as a misfortune by the majority of the population.
The condition of the Hindu widows became more miserable during the medieval period. Rigidity of caste system denied them the right to freedom and social mobility. A widow was secluded from society and was devoid of any worldly pleasure. The condition of the Muslim widow was slightly better owing to the fact that she could marry after a certain lapse of time following her husband’s death. Jauhar refers to the practice of voluntary immolation by wives and daughters of defeated warriors, in order to avoid capture and consequent molestation by the enemy.
The practice was followed by the wives of defeated Rajput rulers, who are known to place a high premium on honour. The feudal society of the time encouraged “Sati” which meant self-immolation of the widow. The Devadasi system was prevalent among the Hindus. Under the Devadasi system women were the brides of gods. But they were supposed to entertain kings, priests, and even members of the upper classes.
Bhakti movements which flourished during the medieval age gave rise to a new class of man and women who cared little for gender bias. This liberal stream to some extent widened the horizon of women. Female poet-saints also played a significant role in the Bhakti movement. Nonetheless, many of these women had to struggle for acceptance within the largely male dominated movement. Injustices and the patriarchal order itself were not a major focus of these poet-saints.
Akkamahadevi, also known as Akka or Mahadevi was a bhakta from the southern region of Karnataka and a devotee of Shiva in the 12th century CE. Mirabai, or Mira is said to have been born into a ruling Rajput family. Mirabai’s poetry tells of her vision of Lord Krishna when she was a child.
In medieval India most of the women’s took active part in politics, like Raziya Sultana, daughter of sultan Iltutmish, she successfully led her Delhi administration for four year (1236-1240),similarly Chand Bibi, daughter of Husain Nizam Sahs, the thirst sovereign of Ahmadnagar, the Mughals many time try to capture the Ahmadnagar but Chand bibi took the leadership of Ahmadnagar and made a gallant and successful resistance to the Mughal army led by Akbar’s son prince Murad, but ultimately the Mughals could not capture the city during the life time of Chand Bibi, Nur Jahan, wife of Mughal emperor Jahangir.
She took over the administration from her husband in the 1620s, Tara Bai wife of Rajaram, she carried on the administration of the Maratha kingdom in the name of her minor son, under her leadership the Marathas began to raid the imperial territories of Berar, Gujrat and Ahmadnagar, Rani Ahalya Bai become the ruler of the Holkar state, she was one of the most successful leader of that period.
Women in Colonial India:
In colonial India anti-imperialist women’s movement play a significant role for freedom. The six women participate at the Bombay session of Indian National Congress in 1889. (Two of them from Bengal-Kadambini Ganguly and Swarnakumari Devi). It was only after that appeal that the Calcutta session of Indian National Congress under the president ship of Anne Besant resolved that women should be granted the right of universal franchise in the elected process of our country meanwhile, women’s organization like Sahi Samity, (1887) under the leadership of Swarnakumari Devi and Bharat Sree Mandal (1910) led by Sarala Devi Chowdhurani were formed by the women of the Togore family.
A significant change came when Gandhi led “Civil Disobedience Movement” of the 1930s, and “Quit India Movement”. In this movement many women’s play a remarkable role for Indian national movement, like Sarojini Naidu, Pravabati Devi, Kasturba Gandhi, Kamala Nehuru, Jyotirrmoyee Ganguli, Latika Ghosh, Ashalata Devi, Neli Sengupta, Captain Laxmi Saigal, Aruna Asaf Ali.
That the time most of the women participate the Indian national movement which is lunched by Gandhi against the British rule, like non-cooperation (1920) civil disobedience movement (1930) and quit India movement (1942) and the greatest women freedom fighter Matangini Hazra who sacrificed her life for free India.
Status of Women in Modern India:
Indian Women during the 19th Century:
Modern India refers to the period from A.D.1700 to A.D. 1947. In the background of the intellectual upheaval of the 18th and 19th century there was a worldwide demand for establishment of independent and egalitarian nationalist societies which invariably emphasized the equality of women with men.
In India, the caste order of the society was challenged. Colonization disrupted Indian economy and displaced the whole section of artisans who started migrating to the new found towns and cities seeking employment in the modern factories. New land revenue system deprived the rural and tribal women of their customary rights to the forests, community property and resources.
The ownership laws made the traditional agriculture land a commodity which can be sold, transferred and alienated from the cultivators creating a new wealthy middle class of zamindars who joined hands with the colonial powers to impoverish the peasants.
British established their rule in India, Modernization begun in the 19th century in India. At the advent of the British rule, the position of women in India was at its lowest ebb. Sati was evidently prevalent. Purdah was strictly enforced on Muslim women. Dancing girls had lucrative professions. Almost all the Hindu temples openly harboured devadasis. The British rule, no doubt, tried to check all these evils.
The British lifestyle began to impress Indians. The British government took bold steps to reform the caste ridden Indian social order. There were some enlightened Indians who supported the British attempt to reform the oppressive social order of India.
The first was the abolition of sati by law, on humanitarian grounds. It was on the 4th December 1892 that the British government in India passed the famous resolution by which sati was made a crime of culpable homicide punishable with fine, imprisonment or both. Raja Ram Mohan Roy represented the opinion of the enlightened Indian who argued that sati practice had no religious sanction. The natural consequence of the abolition of sati was the recognition of the right of the widow to remarriage.
Most of the reform movements (Brahma Samaj of 1825, Prarthana Samaj of 1897 and Arya Samaj of 1875) were led by male reformers who set the limit of the freedom and development of women. These reformers attacked only those practices that were extremely cruel or visibly violent (of course affecting only high caste Indian women). Seldom had they challenged the kinship structures of women subordination, sanctity of marriage and family, sexual division of labour, and caste hierarchies which perpetuated inequalities.
Women reformers like Pandita Ramabai, Rukhmabai and Tarabai Shinde pointed out the biases of their contemporary male reformers. Theosophical society was established at Chennai and Dr. Annie Besant who came from Europe and joined it. It also developed general social reform programme and did not have any particularly gender friendly attitude.
Abolition of Sati (widow immolation) of 1829 is considered a great achievement of the reformist movement. There is an economic reason for the prevalence of widow immolation. In Dayabagh system a widow could inherit property of the diseased if she has a child.
Sati effectively prevents the inheritance by widows. The act regulated the ‘illegal’ sati and permitted legal sati (sati practiced voluntarily). This regulation became a sign of government approval of widow immolation leading to actual increase of this practice.
Widow Remarriage was recognized by law in 1856. Widow’s remarriage restriction was among high caste and high class families. Widow Remarriage was a high caste issue, as it was widely in practice among many low caste groups. Widow’s remarriage in levirate form was commonly accepted among the Jats of Haryana.
In such customary marriages, women seldom exercised any decision-making power. The men of the family took such decisions often against the will of the women. The new act in practice minimized the occurrence of widow marriage due to an inherent limitation of the act which deprived widows any right to maintenance or inheritance from her husband’s property and the children were to be handed over to the relatives of her deceased husband.
She is put in a dilemma of either keeping her children or remarrying. Even the lower caste women had to face the new problem which deprived the widows who were remarried of the property inherited from their husbands. Therefore, after the act was passed fewer remarriages took place. Those married widows were ‘virgin’ widows who had no children to part with. Widows who were not virgin widows did not and could not remarry.
Position of Women in Twenty-First Century; India:
Second decades of twenty-first century till now the women have not own their own fate till now they remain other from the society. Living in a same country, same society, same culture today they are tortured by the men, they are deprived from their own rights as a human being, they are insulted by the patriarchy society till now they have not acquire their own position.
They have not out from the four walls after the sunset, today also in a narrow lane, in open field, at empty field, noon at summer, night in storm, in deep forest they have been assaulting by the male member of the society.
Because they belong to female gender, they are inferior from the male, they have not the male gender, they are women; the “other”. As the women have not gotten their own real position from the society even in the second decades of twenty-first century, the question of gender equity is raised again and this will raise again and again until the gender equity will have not practically established. The great philosopher of India, Swami Vivekananda has said like a bird can fly in the sky by its two feathers, the society also run by the same participation of both the male and female.
According to him in the bird of society, male belongs in one feather and women on the other side, without the same participation and same contribution of both the male and female the society will never progress.
Women are not only keep a family, but also keep the whole world from various kinds of ill-incident, she (in the form of devi durga) saved the earth from the giant like Mahishasur by defeating him, they have not only gave birth the great freedom fighter like Subhas Chandra Bose, Gandhiji, Kshudiram Bose et all; the great scientist like Inestine, Neoton, Alexander Flemming et all, great men like Socretis, Plato, Vidyasagar, Vivekananda, Nietzshe, Barthes, Faucault et all but also contribute a lot to becoming them as they are.
In this way they keep the whole universe sometime in a loud voice or actively or sometimes in a silence voice or passively, but the grief matter is that they have not acquired equality from the society. And so need a revolution, a fight as the French had acquired their common human rights (equity, fraternity and freedom) by the French revolution, as the Nakshal movement arises against the Jamindar, as the Fetaroos continue their fight against corruption, like that a bright movement with courage needs which is aimed to gender equality, and is demanded to establish female’s original and truth place.
Why a woman should live by a male’s identity? The demand of this movement should be on female’s own identity. The literature silently inspires women to such a movement against the male authority and in India, the glorious name Arundhati Roy stands apart in a class of her own in the field of Women empowerment through literature.
Her only one and best novel “God of a Small Thing” enlightens her movements through the characters like Amu and her mother. They belong to an upper class aristocratic and high society but deprived more than the subaltern women by the social ‘taboos and totems’. But they have not abided these rules as their foremothers had abided. They themselves fight against these social dogmas.
The great fire of education, Vidyasagar, Vivekanda, Rabindranath Tagore, Raja Rammohon Roy et all had opened the closed door of female education various centuries ago. They had raised the black curtain and through the open door with raising curtain the female gender has reached to the every field and every sector of society. Today they are not only wives or mothers or girls, but they are educated, researcher, well dancer, teacher, artist of drawing; song, actress, pilot, driver, engineer, doctor, reporter, fighter even they are also writer.
They are not only come out from the closed door with black curtain- they have reached to Mahakas, and Miss Kalpana Chawla is an ever glorious example of that. Each sector is incomplete without the women. They are heroines, or main characters in cinema world, main characters in literature, they have got place in every discussion. Today is not only the women talk about their common human rights but also the original gentlemen have been talking about them.
Once in a time only the male had power to decorate the women through their eyes and through their pens, but now the female have raised their own hands to portrait themselves in literature—in spite of all these opportunities have the women crossed the half sky and reached to the complete sky??? How much theoretically they have got from the human rights; have they got the same quantity opportunity in practically??? The question is remained and from one question thousand and thousand questions are born up.
One problem begets thousand problems. And that is why to get so much opportunity from human rights and freedom the women today also are tortured, discriminated, deprived, harassed, assaulted sometimes in Park Street(Kolkata); sometimes in the bank side of Ganges or in narrow lane or in open field and even in running bus. Everyday these incidents have got place in the headlines of newspapers. The torture and assault have not stopped till now which started in Mahabharata as the Kourava tried to open the clothes of Draupadi in the Courtier.
Women’s cry has not stopped. They were sometimes remain as Devadasi, sometimes sex keeper of jamindar/Mahajan or sometimes prostitute and when today they have tried to erase the so called tags from their group, such incidents have continued one after another.
From Himalaya in North to Bay of Bengal in south India and from Meghalaya in east to Gujarat in west India—the women have tortured. The fire of the incident of Kamduni in Barasat till now has not stopped, what did the error Nirvaya do in Delhi??? Are the women remained as things like the past??? Previous they assaulted at inside the home and now they are being tortured in outside the home.
They till now remain as things, and for that to the advertisement of a soap industry the advertisement of a nearly naked women is shown in T.V.; to sell the newspaper often the picture of half-naked women are posted. Till now the girl babies are killed before their birth, house-wife torture, rape, gang- rape are not stopped- days by days these are increasing and that is why a new movement on gender equity is needed by the participation of women – rather to stop these unfair situations women fighter is needed; as Rabindranath Tagore has said –
“God, why do not u give the permission to own women’s luck by their own?” (translation)
From the child to an old woman—everyone is assaulted. Law, Human rights, punishment etc. do not stop these ill incidents. The decoration of women, styles of walking, talking etc. all as if they want to please he male member of the society, they never have to live as their own; all the bloody ideas have to be stooped now; all the mental, emotional, and physical tortures of women should be stopped now and for that the society needs a movement on gender equity should need and I think that the women participation in this movement will show the path of success.
Women in Modern India:
Modern India refers to the period from 1700 A.D. to 1947 A.D. In the background of the intellectual upheaval of the 18th and 19th century, there was a worldwide demand for establishing of independent and egalitarian nationalist societies which invariably emphasised the equality of women with men.
Women in modern India have largely been influenced by the programs of reform and upliftment largely influenced by the western democratic and liberal ideology. Before the advent of the British in India, the life of women was rather oppressive, and they were subject to a constant process of subjugation and social oppression. During the British rule, a number of changes were made in the economic and social structures of Indian society, and some substantial progress was achieved in elimination of inequalities between men and women, in education, employment, social rights, etc.
After the Bhakti Movement, the Christian Missionaries took interest in the education of the girls. The Hunter Commission too emphasised on the need for female education in 1882. The Calcutta, Bombay, and Madras (now Kolkata, Mumbai, and Chennai) institutions did not permit the admission of girls till 1875. It was only after 1882 that girls were allowed to go for higher education.
Since then, there has been a continuous progress in the area of education among females. Though the number of girls studying at various levels was low, yet there has been a marked increase in the number of female students at every level from 1941 onwards. During the 19th century, women in India suffered from disabilities like child-marriage, practice of polygamy, sale of girls for marriage purposes, severe restrictions on widows, non-access to education, and restricting oneself to domestic and child-bearing functions.
The Indian National Conference started in 1885 by Justice Ranade contained these disabilities. Raja Ram Mohan Roy, who played an important role in getting the Sati system abolished raised voices against the child-marriage and fought for the right of inheritance for women. Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar launched a movement for the right of widows to remarry and also pleaded for educating women. Maharaja S. Rao, ruler of Baroda State worked for prevention of child-marriages, Polygamy, and getting the rights of education to women, and the right of remarriage to widows.
Swami Vivekananda, Annie Besant, Mahatma Gandhi, and Swami Dayanand Saraswati also took interest in the social and political rights of women. Some women organisations like the Banga Mahila Samaj, and the Ladies Theosophical Society functioned at local levels to promote modern ideas for women. These organisations took up issues like women’s education, abolition of social evils like Purdah and Child marriage, Hindu law reform, moral and material progress of women, equality of rights and opportunities, etc.
It can be said that, the Indian women’s movement worked for two goals:
(i) Uplift of women.
(ii) Equal rights for both men and women.
During the 19th and 20th centuries, some laws were enacted with the sincere efforts of Indian social reformers, humanists, and some British administrators to improve the condition of women in Indian society. The first effort in this direction was the enactment of law against the practice of Sati. From about 1812, the Bengali reformer Raja Ram Mohan Roy started his own campaign against the practice.
On 4 December 1829, the practice was formally banned in the Bengal Presidency lands, by the then-governor general, William Bentick. Female Infanticide was another inhuman practice afflicting the 19th century Indian society. It was particularly in vogue in Rajputana, Punjab, and the North Western Provinces. Some laws were enacted against this practice in 1795, 1802, and 1804, and then in 1870.
Gradually, this evil practice came to be done away through education and public opinion. Social reformers made sincere efforts to popularize Widow Remarriage by writing in newspapers and contemporary journals. Prominent among these reformers were Raja Rammohan Roy and Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar. They carried out large scale campaigns in this regard mainly through books, pamphlets, and petitions with scores of signatures.
Finally, the Widow Remarriage Act came into force in 1856. The practice of Child Marriage was another social stigma for the women. In November 1870, the Indian Reforms Association was started with the efforts of Keshav Chandra Sen. In 1846, the minimum marriageable age for a girl was only 10 years. In 1891, through the enactment of the Age of Consent Act, this was raised to 12 years. In 1930, through the Sharda Act, the minimum age was raised to 14 years.
After independence, the limit was raised to 18 years in 1978. Voices were raised against the practice of Purdah during the 19th and 20th century. In Southern India and among the peasantry, Purdah was not prevalent. Through the large scale participation of women in the national freedom movement, the system disappeared without any specific legislative measure taken against it.
The Present Position of Women in Indian Society:
For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Unfortunately, the liberty and equality enjoyed by Indian women today have not reached the vast majority of women citizens in India. When a brief study was comprehensively done through facts escalation and consequences of sex-selection of boy child over girl child are quite shocking and very disturbing and very much widely practiced even today in almost all parts and all sections of people in India. The question arises here – are we a Nation of Mass Murders? Does a Girl not have a right to born peacefully and with the same respect like a boy child in our so called cultural and spiritual enriched land?
As a nation, we are proud on our strong family values but in the real sense most of us are still dwelling with ‘Artificial Balance’ family to have a son by killing preceding daughters? Ultimately the way we treat any one relationship in the family will eventfully affect every other relationship in the family. Marriage is one of the key institutions of civilization. The family unit created in the society is a fundamental building block of the Nation Building. Unstable, unhappy family and children will create an unstable and chaotic society.
Whereas happy family with strong family values will produce children with high self-esteem children who will enrich the world around them and become catalysts of positive Change. As we try to increase our wealth and status by having sons at the expense of daughters and by taking dowry and hosting lavish weddings. Are we not compromising on our principles in the process?
Can a life built on another’s suffering ever bring us happiness? Are we comfortable with the choices we are making as an individual, as families, as a society? Indifference is also an action – Silence is also a choice. If each one of us does not do something to stem this crisis, we will definitely have to face the consequences of both Indifference and Silence in some point of our respective lives.
In our country, there is tremendous pressure on women to bear sons to such an extent that they are made to feel like failures if they do not. Some women also get threatened for her own life, abandonment, forced abortions and even divorced in some cases. A childless woman is tagged as ‘Banj’ which means her married life is total ‘incomplete’ one who only has daughters are also regarded as partially incomplete. Most married women feels secured and enjoy the status of sorts only after giving birth to a boy child.
A large percentage of Indian women are anemic and consecutive abortions ruin their health. They may get prolonged diseases or die early. The scientific truth is women have nothing to do with the gender of the baby. But it is only women who get blamed and even today, India is suffering from its partial paralysis due to traditional and ill social practices and poor mindset. The experts predict that this situation will lead to increased levels of anti-social behaviors and rise violence and crime against women and will ultimately present a threat to the stability and security of our country.
History proves, that an adverse sex ratio of women against men is decreasing day by day in India which results increased increasing violence against women.
The following crimes were committed against women in 2007:
1. 1 woman was sexually harassed every 48 hours
2. 1 woman or minor girl was abducted every 26 minutes
3. 1 woman was raped every 25 minutes
4. 1 woman was molested every 14 minutes.
UNICEF recently concluded that, “the alarming decline in child sex ratio (in India) is likely to result in more girls being married at a younger age, more girls dropping out of education, increased mortality as a result of early child-bearing and associated increase in acts of violence against girls and women such as rape, abduction, trafficking and force polyandry.”
Moreover, child marriage was prevalent in India and continues even today. In India, however the child marriage was outlawed in 1860 but according to UNICEF on ‘State of the World’s Children 2009 report, 47% of India’s women aged 20-24 were married before the legal age of 18, with 56% in rural areas. The report also showed that 40% of the world’s child marriages occur in India.
Sex ratio is a valuable source for finding the population of women in India and what is the ratio of women to that of men in India. Sex ratio is used to describe the number of females per 1000 of males. In the Population Census 2011 in India it was revealed that the population ratio in India 2011 was 940 females per 1000 of males. The Sex Ratio 2011 shows an upward trend from the census 2001 data.
Census 2001 revealed that there were 933 females to that of 1000 males. Since decades India has seen a decrease in the sex ratio 2011 but since the last two decades there has been in slight increase in the sex ratio. Since the last five decades the sex ratio has been moving around 930 of females to that of 1000 of males as in case of India.
The Sex Ratio in India was almost normal during the phase of the years of independence, but thereafter it started showing gradual signs of decrease. Though the Sex Ratio in India has gone through commendable signs of improvement in last 10 years, there are still some states where the sex ratio is still low and is a cause of alarming concern. One of the states which are continuously showing a decreasing trend in the population of women 2011 is the state of Haryana.
The state of Haryana has the lowest rate of sex ratio in India and the figure shows a number of 877 of females to that of 1000 of males but at the same time there are states such as Pondicherry and Kerala where the number of women is more than the number of men. Kerala houses a number of 1084 females to that of 1000 males. While Pondicherry and Kerala are the only two states where the number of female is more than the number of men, there are also states in India like that of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra where the sex ratio 2011 is showing considerable signs of improvement.
Some facts related to the Sex Ratio in India follows the main cause of the decline of the sex ratio in India is due to the biased attitude which is meted out to the women. The main cause of this gender bias is inadequate education. Pondicherry and Kerala houses the maximum number of female while the regions of Daman and Diu and Haryana have the lowest density of female population.