The status of women has been a constant subject of study since time immemorial. If we look over a period of 50 years or a century it has been agreed that things have changed for women and women themselves have changed a lot till date. From being a homemaker to practically making space for themselves in every field, women have come a long way. Life and society have been creating difficult situations for women even till date, you see its a patriarchal society which dares to persist till today. Immaterial of all the hassles women have extended their energies and focus beyond the boundaries of four walls of their home and have given us some extraordinary leaders, smart businesswomen, creative artists, audacious journalists and legendary writers viz Indira Gandhi, Indra Nooyi , Amrita Shergill, Barkha Dutt and J. K Rowling respectively. If we try to think about the Women of 19th and 20th century then we would not think of them as something more than a homemaker and probably that’s why they were given the derogatory tag of a ‘doormat’. Women rarely marked their presence in the tough real world they were restricted to literature, art and all other ancillary fields although in those fields also they did exceptionally well writers like Virginia Wolf & Jane Austen carved a niche for themselves irrespective of the age they were in! Although women did show glimpses of their talent here and there in various fields even in martial for instance we had great Laxmi Bai we had Marie Curie, Eleanor Roosevelt but still why do we feel a change in our women heroes than and now when we still had women making name for themselves why and how can we say that things today are entirely different. Firstly in those times, there was one Laxmi Bai amongst thousands of docile queens who were reduced to the status of mere commodities in wars as they were led from one kingdom to other if their King was defeated. However, today it is one Indra Nooyi amongst thousands of IT workers, industrialists etc so the point being the education institutes or the society itself is churning out more professional and work oriented women today than those times not just for mercenary reasons but because of the change in thinking , the gradual acceptance of the fact that women are not born to be homemakers or they are not kitchen appliances. Secondly the amount of struggles and impediments one would have faced at that time are relatively very low today because today it is a common scenario for women to go out and work. They have a ‘Voice’ of their own , they have a mind of their own. If we go back to Elizabethan Era, although the reigning queen was a woman but still women were not allowed to play characters in theater; men used to play their parts. And today we have Bollywood actresses like Kareena Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra who are paid more than some Bollywood male actors. No wonder we are told to thank our stars for being born in 21st century. If we look through general parameters women are no longer subalterns although they still occupy that fragile position which can be exploited but the change is that if the women is strong enough to voice her opinions and speak her mind the world will resonate her wishes. Malala Yousafzai is one such exemplary character for girls caught up in a grossly patriarchal society which is still rigidly orthodox that women have various platforms to showcase their talent today. Today, women wear flashy and skimpy clothes , make their own decisions, drive their own cars and travel alone.They have come far off from the purdah system that coerced them to cover their bodies and veil their faces throughout the day or when in front of the stranger. One primary reason why women have gained such independence for themselves is economic independence. Women used to wage earners earlier also but were paid less for same work it is not so today. As folks know that their daughter will be able to stand on her own feet after she has graduated thats why many parents do take the initiative to make their daughters study. In fact not making their daughter study would be an unconventional scenario except in the rural spaces. We also have women politicians, leaders and council members in more generous amounts than ever before. Many feminists say that women are the oldest slaves and this slavery emerged from economic dependence and the idea of money itself. These humongous changes can be owed to technology, globalisation, acceptance and self dependence of women. If a crime happens today against a women then the chances are pretty high that the case will be reported and it is because women have increased awareness of their social rights , their self consciousness has increased and society has also a bit eased down a pressure on the victim. This holistic difference in attitude of women and the world itself is reflective of a progressive society as a whole as no country or world as a whole can experience affluence or peace till its women are respected and given their due. The 180 degree change from a bovine, innocent, simplistic figure to a smart , artistic and competitive one is not an identity which has been engendered to women or given as a gift but one which has been rather taken by them.
About the Author: This article is contributed by Anubha Gautam, our Intern.