A brief history of women education
Any society consists of two major section-male and female. Therefore, to measure the development of any society, one should take both the sections into consideration. From ancient times, male section has always been empowered and educated, but the same cannot be said about the female section. Position of a women has been degrading ever since!
When we see the scenario in Indian context, the situation of women is pitiable. However, in the ancient India, during the Vedic era, the condition of women was respectable, but with the passage of time it degraded to a great extent. In the Vedic era, the status of women was balanced with their male counterparts. Both of this section were given equal opportunity to education and had equal participation in areas of political and social gatherings. Since the women of this era were educated, therefore social evils like sati, child marriage or dowry system was not present. The women were empowered and had right to take their own decision. Child marriage was strictly prohibited as mentioned in rig Veda that a girl cannot be married before attaining the age of puberty. During the Sutra and Smriti (after 600 B.C.), Manu who is also known as giver of law, made several rules in regards to conduct and position of women. The women’s right to education was completely taken away. There was a tradition of upnayan sansakar. According to this tradition one is allowed to attain education only after the upnayan sansakar and straight away the women and shudras were denied their right to this practice. This made it very clear that their education was curtailed. From this very instance the position of women started degrading and the term women empowerment was erased from the social chapter. Manu told that a women is protected by her father before marriage, by her husband after marriage and by her son when she is a widow. This showed how she was considered to be subordinate to the male community. The condition of the women from the Sutra and Smriti continued to degrade for age. Be it the Mauryan era or the Gupta regime, the condition was pitiable. No preference was given to a girl child. She was only thought fit for household and maintaining her family. She was not introduced to formal education at all. She was not having any social or political participation. Even greatest scholar of that time, Kautilya said that a girl who remains within the four walls is a suitable girl. She was subject to sort of social evil. Even after six decades of independence, the current scenario is not much changed. The rural areas of the country is still deprived of the gem of education. There is notable rate of gender disparity in literacy rate. Though the urban areas are better in this respect but in a country like India where the major population resides in rural areas the condition of women here makes a great difference. Until and unless some progress is made in the rural area, the scenario will not change. To bring the change we need to be the change, and it can only be achieved by collective effort in this field. Government should take strong step and make out various policies. The government has already taken commendable steps like on railway ticket it is written “ Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao”. Government should make the formal education of a girl child compulsory. On the other hand individual efforts should be put in for the cause.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: This article is written by Arpana Kumari, our intern.