Women in remote past in India enjoyed full freedom and had equal rights with men. They were free to roam about in the society and chose their husbands through ‘Swayamvars’. During the middle ages, due to Muslim and Moghul influence, they were kept in purdah and within the four-walls of the house. They were not given proper education and were treated almost like slaves. They had no freedom, no rights and their most sacred duty was to obey blindly. During the British rule there was no change in their position. After independence, things have started changing but, in some respects, they are still regarded in the same old way. No one feels happy at the birth of a female child in the house. A daughter is still regarded as a burden as the parents will have to arrange for a big dowry at her marriage. After marriage they have to face all sorts of problems. Even educated and modernized husbands do not allow their wives as much freedom as is required.
Gradually the things are changing and improving. Women are given equal rights with men and they have started taking their due place in the society. In free lndia they are marching ahead in the field of education and professional training. There is no distinction made in respect of the education of boys and girls. No fields of education are taboo for women. .They are being trained for medicine, engineering, technology, commerce, industry, banking and for almost all other fields.
The constitution of free India has given women equal rights of voting and fighting elections with men. This clearly shows that they are free to participate in political affairs of the country. They are now fighting elections, becoming M.L.A.’s and M.P.’s and even ministers in state and central governments. They are even chief ministers and prime minister. They are becoming equal partners in forming, dismissing or supporting governments.
Laws have been amended or changed to make the position of women strong in the society and the country. They have been given right to divorce in certain cases. They have been provided police protection against the cruelty of husbands and in-laws. Hindu Succession Act gives the daughter a right in the ancestral property along with sons. These reforms will go a long way in securing for women a place of pride in the society. The Constitution of Indian Republic provides that no distinction should be made on the basis of caste, religion or sex. Thus women’s rights have been safeguarded under the constitution.
The signs of change in the position of women are now manifest. Women are coming up with an appreciable speed. They are rendering praiseworthy services in social, economic, educational and many other spheres of life. They are becoming doctors, engineers, teachers, lawyers, diplomats, technocrats, legislators, ministers, chief ministers and prime minister. The celebration of the International Women’s Year in 1975 gave further fillip to their emancipation