Gender inequality is not only the matter of a special country or place instead it has always been a global issue for people. Men and women are almost equal in the total universe but still women are not given equal status with men and this unequal gender role in nationalization process operates in every country. Since the beginning women have faced disrespect, domestic cruelty, sense of deficiency, are subjugate to behave like a servant etc. Time is passing but in all the ages women are assumed to face some issues because it has become the universal notion that they are supposed to serve men. Though our religious beliefs make women a goddess but we fail to distinguish her as a human being first, we worship goddesses but we exploit girls. Ideally it is being said that they achieve equal position like men in our society but it is sad to say that still they are facing though several types of differentiation in domestic and professional lives. Like men-folk, women must have equal roles to perform for the development of the society.
History of Gender inequality
Gender inequality is a situation in which women and men are not equal. Gender inequality refers to health, education, economic and political inequalities between men and women in India. Gender inequalities, and its social causes, affect the sex ratio of India, life of women’s health and including also their educational avail and economic status. Gender inequality in India is a multifaceted issue that concerns men and women alike. Although the constitution of India has granted men and women equal rights, but gender distinction still remains. There is specific research on gender differentiation mostly in favour of men over women. The gender inequality and status of women in India has been going through many changes in the past few millenniums. Gender Inequality has been seen in India from the very beginning. There were women of most affected in India and many changes were seen in their status. It is also very difficult to know exactly the status or position of women in different period of times but researchers and grammarians, like katayana and patanjali, have thrown some lights on it from the old scriptures and from other sources. The gender inequalities and status of women and their activities can be divided into three main historical period, the ancient, the medieval and the modern.
In Ancient period- During the Vedic period and according to the Hindu scriptures, in the ancient time women were given a reputable position. They were considered half part of men or it can be said that men were recognized to be incomplete without them. Men were couldn’t punish their wives and they were called as “Ardhangini”(Half Body) of men. In the early Vedic periods there was no gender differentiation. There is sufficient proof that in the society the women had equal rights with men during the ‘Rig-Vedic’ periods (1500-1000 BC). The Rig Vedic women in India enjoyed high status in society. Their condition was good. There were many women Rishis during this period. Through monogamy was mostly common, the richer section of the society were satisfied in polygamy. There were no Sati system or early marriage. In the “Rig Vedic” verses we also find that women married at the mature age and could choice their husbands. Both boys and girls had “initiation” (Upnayana). Very few girls continued their studies because of hard lives and different penance had to be taken at different stages of their student-lives. Some women argued their hard life and considered themselves worthy of living at home. They activated themselves in cultivating arts and craft and became good housewives. They were known as “Sadyovadhus”.
But among the girls who were studying “God-realization” seriously, some of them were very good in learning methods. They were known as “Brahmavadinis”. In the Vedic literature 27 such “Brahmavadinis” were mentioned, e.g. Gargi, Maitreyi, Visvanara, Lopamudra, Apala, Saswati, etc. women started being discriminated against since the Later Vedic period in education and other rights and facilities. Child marriage, widow burning, the veil system and polygamy further worsened the women’s position.
In medieval period- During the medieval period, gender inequality was on high level and woman was given a position subordinate to man. Law and religion did not recognize the equality and equal rights of man and woman. The women’s place was largely presumed as being in the home. In short, the role of women was considered to be one of subservience to her husband, the master and ruler of her family. Child marriage, practices of sati, prohibition of widow marriage were considered in a ritualistic way among the Hindus. The situation of Muslim women among the Muslims was not good either. tradition of veil system among the women started at this period. Among the Rajput women in Rajasthan the “Jauhar’ was practiced to save the respect of women. Among the Hindus polygamy was a part of the lives and among the Muslims polygamy was accepted in the name of religion. In some parts of the country the system of “Devdashi” or “Temple Women” was operated and both the rich people and the “Temple Priests” sexually exploited them. This continued for many decades till the rise of the “Vakti Cult” movement. One of the women leaders of “Vakti Cult” movement was “Mirabai” she was a saint, a poet and a singer. At that time women felt some heave of relief in the orthodox society. In this time “Guru Nanak” tried to spread the messages of equality among men and women of the society. This had a very effective influence on the societies in some parts of India.