Case study: India
a) Changing role of men/women in other areas.
Changing role of men in society:
In India, dharma or the moral order the cosmos influences the roles of men and women. For example, dharma has many meanings. Dharma signifies truth. It has come to be understood as “that which is established, customary, or proper”. In addition, dharma signifies one’s duty, responsibility, or moral responsibility. For example, svadharma is understood as one’s moral obligation given one’s position in India’s social order. Rajadharma is the dharma of kings. Varnadharma is the dharma of one’s caste and stridharma is the dharma of women.
Men are being held under such heightened scrutiny is a sign of changing social rules between men and women as the country modernizes, a process fuelled by its economic boom. While more and more Indian women move into the hi-tech workforce or rise to key government posts in the new India, some analysts say many women appear to be losing the battle to overcome centuries-old cultural attitudes that tend to devalue the role of women and keep them dependent on men.
Changing role of women in society:
The status of women in India has been subject to many great changes over the past few millennia. From equal status with men in ancient times through the low points of the medieval period, to the promotion of equal rights by many reformers, the history of women in India has been eventful.
Women’s status in India was low and devalued up till the 20th century. The inhumane caste system in place in India, which is supposedly based on religious faith, brought about masculine domination acts against the religious base of men and women living as equals. As a result, women were viewed as though they were of a lower status than men.
Traditional moral order:
Under stridharma, the dharma of women entails devotion to one’s husband. A woman’s career is her husband. This means a woman’s obligation in life is to serve her husband and provide him with children, especially sons (Heinz 1999: 161). He is essentially her “lord” for the very meaning of the word husband (Pati) means both husband and lord. In addition, she worships him by eating his leftovers. This may also be a sign of respect.
Obedience to and dependence upon men characterizes women’s traditional roles in the family. Patrivrata, or total devotion to the husband, set out by Hindu scriptures is the wifely ideal (Lebra,et al. 1984: 26-27). The ideal wife is one whose sole joy in life is to satisfy her husband. Her only concern is to perform properly any of the services demanded by her husband. Such a woman is attached to her husband even after he has died. In fact, in a conversation between mythological characters Sandili and Sumana, when asked by Sumana how she had attained divinity and was residing in heaven, Sandili replied that it was not through performance of any religious rite or penance but through fidelity and loyalty to her husband that she became a goddess (Mukherjee 1978: 15). Stories like this are not uncommon in Hindu mythology which serves to strengthen the ideals of stridharma. In addition, under Hindu customary law, marriage is seen as a sacrament with stricter obligations for women than men (13-17). For example, neither divorce nor widow remarriage was allowed in the past. Also, whereas widowers could remarry, widows were considered ritually polluting and lead restricted lives.
Women in India are beginning to follow the direction that the women of the Western world took more than eighty years ago; demanding treatment as human equals. The main goals in achieving equality are, improvement of health care, education and job opportunities in order to gain equality between men and women in the various settings of public society, the workplace, the school yard and – possibly the most fundamental setting of all – the home.
They are also striving to be independent on the equal level of men. However, these women are faced with tough opposition and restrictions by the caste system, heavy religious customs, older and more traditional roles of the sexes, as well as the even stronger power that men hold in India. The status was at one time accepted, but with the Western women’s revolution and perception, the role is slowly succeeding in its development through both independent groups of women and national and worldwide organizations based on the goal of gaining equality. They have all accomplished much, but have yet to overthrow the male dominated society.
In modern India, women have adorned high offices in India including that of the President, Prime minister, Speaker of the Lok Sabha etc.
Women in India now participate in all activities such as education, politics, media, art and culture, service sectors, science and technology, etc.
The Constitution of India guarantees to all Indian women equality, no discrimination by the State, equality of opportunity, equal pay for equal work. In addition, it allows special provisions to be made by the State in favour of women and children, renounces practices derogatory to the dignity of women, and also allows for provisions to be made by the State for securing just and humane conditions of work and for maternity relief.
The feminist activism in India picked up momentum during later 1970s. One of the first national level issues that brought the women's groups together was the Mathura rape case. The acquittal of policemen accused of raping a young girl Mathura in a police station, led to a wide-scale protests in 1979–1980. The protests were widely covered in the national media, and forced the Government to amend the Evidence Act, the Criminal Procedure Code and the Indian Penal Code and introduce the category of custodial rape. Female activists united over issues such as female infanticide, gender bias, women health, and female literacy.
Since alcoholism is often associated with violence against women in India,many women groups launched anti-liquor campaigns in Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and other states. Many Indian Muslim women have questioned the fundamental leaders' interpretation of women's rights under the Shariat law and have criticized the triple talaq system.
In 1990s, grants from foreign donor agencies enabled the formation of new women-oriented NGOs. Self-help groups and NGOs such as Self Employed Women's Association (SEWA) have played a major role in women's rights in India. Many women have emerged as leaders of local movements. For example, Medha Patkar of the Narmada Bachao Andolan.
The Government of India declared 2001 as the Year of Women's Empowerment (Swashakti). The National Policy For The Empowerment Of Women came was passed in 2001.