Women in India constitute nearly 50% of its population. According to 1991 census, there were 40.6 crores of women as against 43.7 crores of men. Roughly, there are 929 women for every 1000 men.
Man considers woman to be frail and weak by nature. She is shorter and delicate compared to the strongly build man. But man forgets that a woman is made so, so to play a specific fro in nature which a man cannot play, that is the role of the mother. In intelligence both are equal. Man is aggressive and emotional. A woman is patient, calm and receptive. She can bear more pain and has more tolerance than a man. She is stronger in conviction and in perseverance. Yet women all over the world are playing a secondary role only.
The position in India is no different. Women were glorified in epics and puranas, for their service to their men. Serving a father first, secondly a husband, and later serving her children and grandchildren, had been her lot. Puranas mention the names of Seeta, Savitri and Anusuya and glorify them for their devote service to their husbands. They even say that a woman can easily get salvation by serving her husband.
After Independence the Constitution of India gave equal rights to men and women in all walks of life. But even today one cannot say that all women in India enjoy equal rights with men in all matters.
There are many reasons for this (1) the customs and traditions prevalent for centuries, (2) The high percentage of illiteracy among women, (3) Ignorance of their rights, (4) Patriarchal Society, (5) Economic system, (6) Acceptance of the theory of Karma or fatalism, (7) Unchecked male domination in all walks of life.
In spite of all these problems mentioned above, one could see that the condition of India women has improved a lot. There are now adequate educational facilities for girls and women. Special incentives and reservations are there to encourage them to study. Even in employment there are special reservations.
We can now see women employed in all fields not only in clerical jobs but also in I.A.S., I.P.S. and Indian Air Force. There are reservations in legislatures also. There are Chief Ministers who are women. We had a lady Prime Minister. These are considered as exceptions as the women folk, particularly in the rural areas, are yet to come out of their bondage. To enable the rural women too to take part in politics in a significant way, the Central Government has introduced a bill in Parliament reserving one third of the seats in Parliament and other elected bodies for women.
The year 1995, was declared as the International Year for Women throughout the world. The women were made aware of their status and place in society. There have been many movements in our country as well as in other countries for the advancement of women. Recently there was a world meet of women at Beijing, the capital of China. Women are now no longer in slumber. They are awake and moving fast. They are asserting their rights. As far as India is concerned, it has already agreed to treat women as equal with men in all respects the difference, whatever now exists, is sure to vanish the coming decades when women also get equally educated and liberate themselves from superstitions and irrational traditions.
A man and a woman are like two wheels of a cart. The cart can move fast and safely too, when both of them pull it in the same direction and with equal strength. Hence no developing country or society can afford to ignore the role of women, if they are to progress.