An unequal journey but dreams roll on!



An unequal journey but dreams roll on! Ankita Chakrabarty/ Zee Research Group/ Delhi

The status of women in India has undergone many great changes over the past six decades but the status of women in modern India is a sort of a paradox. If on one hand she is at the peak of ladder of success, on the other hand she is mutely suffering the violence afflicted on her by her own family members. As compared with the past they have really achieved a lot and are at par with the men but still there is a long way to go. Their worth is still not understood. Their path is full of hindrances and blocks. Looking at both highs and lows in the political, economic and social front in the past sixty four years of independence, the figures suggest that there is still a long way for the women to go.

Looking at both highs and lows in the political, economic and social front in the past sixty four years of independence, the figures suggest that there is still a long way for the women to go.

On the political front, the percentage share of women members in Parliament has increased from 4.4 percent in 1952 to 10.7 percent in 2009. Women have occupied high offices in India including that of the President, Prime minister, Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Leader of Opposition and others. Indian women like Indira Gandhi, Pratibha Patil, Meira Kumar, Sushma Swaraj, Sheila Dikshit, Mayawati and many others have excelled in politics despite being in a man’s field. However, there is lack of intent with respect to Women’s Reservation Bill. The bill was passed by the upper house on 9Th March 2010, but it has not been tabled in the Lok Sabha.

At the time of Independence, women in senior management roles or as entrepreneurs were unthinkable. Now, we have several women entrepreneurs/high profile executives in the country. Kiran Mazumdar Shaw( Biocon) , Ekta Kapoor ( Balaji Telefilms), Chanda Kochhar ( MD and CEO of ICICI bank), Indra Nooyi ( Chairman and CEO of Pepsico) are among the top women entrepreneurs/executives in India and abroad. But the low is that only five percent of women in India hold board seats in all BSE listed companies.

More and more female in India are successfully seeking literacy. Female literacy rate in 1951 was 8.86 percent, the current figure of 2011 stands at 65.46 percent. Maternal Mortality Ratio has also declined from 580in 1982-86 to 212 in 2007-09. However, the sex ratio has declined leading to rise in female foeticide. The sex ratio has declined from 946 in 1951 to 940 in 2011. India records a whopping 5.7 million illegal abortions every year.

Crime against women has also seen a rise in the last sixty four years. There has been rise in dowry cases. In 1965-75 just one case of dowry death was reported and by 2009, 8,383 cases of dowry death had been reported. Rape cases have also increased from 2,962 in 1974 to 21,397in 2009. Though one reason for this trend could be that women earlier may have been more reluctant to come out in the open and report cases of abuse or harassment for dowry.

Indian women have conquered the film and fashion industry with Sushmita Sen and Aishwarya Rai winning the Miss Universe and Miss World title. Melody Queen Lata Mangeshkar was awarded Bharat Ratna for her outstanding contribution to the music industry. Shabana Azmi was awarded National Award five times for her brilliant performance as an actress. Films like Mother India, Aaradhna and Bandit Queen have depicted the plight of Indian women but at the same time the characters in these films have identified the strength of women in India.

All in all it is a mixed bag with the key role of the home maker reigning supreme even as the woman of today seeks to rediscover herself .