Women in India


Women in India

The status of women in India has been subject to many great changes over the past few millennia. From a largely unknown status 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.

History

Ancient India

Some scholars believe that in ancient India, the women enjoyed equal status with men in all fields of life.cite book
last=Mishra
first=R. C.
title=Towards Gender Equality
url=https://www.vedamsbooks.com/no43902.htm
year=2006
publisher=Authorspress
id=ISBN 81-7273-306-2
] However, some others hold contrasting views.cite book
title=Status and Position of Women: In Ancient, Medieval and Modern India
last=Pruthi
first=Raj Kumar
coauthors=Rameshwari Devi and Romila Pruthi
url=https://www.vedamsbooks.com/no21831.htm
year=2001
publisher=Vedam books
id=ISBN 81-7594-078-6
] Works by ancient Indian grammarians such as Patanjali and Katyayana suggest that women were educated in the early Vedic period. ["Varttika" by Katyayana, 125, 2477] [Comments to Ashtadhyayi 3.3.21 and 4.1.14 by Patanjali] Rigvedic verses suggest that the women married at a mature age and were probably free to select their husband. [R. C. Majumdar and A. D. Pusalker (editors): The history and culture of the Indian people. Volume I, The Vedic age. Bombay: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan 1951, p.394] Scriptures such as Rig Veda and Upanishads mention several women sages and seers, notably Gargi and Maitreyi.cite web
title=Vedic Women: Loving, Learned, Lucky!
url=http://hinduism.about.com/library/weekly/aa031601c.htm
accessdate=2006-12-24
]

Some kingdoms in the ancient India had traditions such as "nagarvadhu" ("bride of the city"). Women competed to win the coveted title of the "nagarvadhu". Amrapali is the most famous example of a nagarvadhu.

According to studies, women enjoyed equal status and rights during the early Vedic period.cite web
title=InfoChange women: Background & Perspective
url=http://www.infochangeindia.org/WomenIbp.jsp
accessdate=2006-12-24
] However, later (approximately 500 B.C.), the status of women began to decline with the Smritis (esp. Manusmriti) and with the Islamic invasion of Babur and the Mughal empire and later Christianity curtailing women's freedom and rights.cite web
title=Women in History
url=http://nrcw.nic.in/index2.asp?sublinkid=450
publisher=National Resource Center for Women
accessdate=2006-12-24
]

Although reformatory movements such as Jainism allowed women to be admitted to the religious order, by and large, the women in India faced confinement and restrictions. The practice of child marriages is believed to have started from around sixth century.cite web
title=Status of Women in Medieval Karnataka
author=Jyotsana Kamat
url=http://www.kamat.com/jyotsna/women.htm
date=2006-11-05
accessdate=2006-12-24
]

Medieval period

The Indian woman's position in the society further deteriorated during the medieval period. Sati, child marriages and ban on widow remarriages became part of social life in India. The Muslim conquest in the Indian subcontinent brought the purdah practice in the Indian society. Among the Rajputs of Rajasthan, the Jauhar was practised. In some parts of India, the Devadasis or the temple women were sexually exploited. Polygamy was widely practised esp. among Hindu Kshatriya rulers. In many Muslim families, women were secluded to Zenana.

In spite of these conditions, some women execeled in the fields of politics, literature, education and religion. Razia Sultana became the only woman monarch to have ever ruled Delhi. The Gond queen Durgavati ruled for fifteen years, before she lost her life in a battle with Mughal emperor Akbar's general Asaf Khan in 1564. Chand Bibi defended Ahmednagar against the mighty Mughal forces of Akbar in 1590s. Jehangir's wife Nur Jehan effectively wielded imperial power and was recognized as the real force behind the Mughal throne. Shivaji's mother, Jijabai was deputed as queen regent, because of her ability as a warrior and administrator. In South India, many women administered villages, towns, divisions and heralded social and religious institutions.

The Bhakti cults tried to restore women's status and questioned some of the forms of oppression. Mirabai, a female saint-poet, was one of the most important Bhakti movement figures. Some other female saint-poets from this period include Akkamadevi, Rami Janabai and Lal Ded.

Bhakti sects within Hinduism such as the Mahanubhav, Varkari and many others were principle movements within the Hindu fold to openly advocate social justice and equality between men and women.

Jahanara Begum and Princess Zebunnissa were well-known poetesses and they also influenced the ruling administration.

Shortly after the Bhakti movement, Guru Nanak, the first Guru of Sikhs also preached the message of equality between men and women. He advocated that women be allowed to lead religious assemblies; to perform and lead congregational hymn singing called Kirtan or Bhajan; become members of religious management committees; to lead armies on the battlefield; have equality in marriage, and equality in Amrit (Baptism). Other Sikh Gurus also preached against the discrimination against women.

Historical practices

Traditions such as sati, jauhar, child marriage, and devadasi have been banned and are largely defunct. However, some cases of these practices are still found in remote parts of India. The purdah is still practised by many Indian women.

;Sati:Sati is an old, largely defunct custom, in which the widow was immolated alive on her husband's funeral pyre. Although the act was supposed to be a voluntary on the widow's part, it is believed to have been sometimes forced on the widow. It was abolished by the British in 1829. There have been around forty reported cases of sati since independence.cite web
title=Feudal mindset still dogs women's struggle
author=Vimla Dang
url=http://www.tribuneindia.com/50yrs/women.htm
publisher=The Tribune
date=1998-06-19
accessdate=2006-12-24
] In 1987, the Roop Kanwar case of Rajasthan led to The Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act. [cite web
title=The Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act, 1987
url=http://www.wcd.nic.in/commissionofsatiprevention.htm
accessdate=2006-12-24
]

;Jauhar:Jauhar refers to the practice of the voluntary immolation of all the wives and daughters of defeated warriors, in order to avoid capture and consequent molestation by the enemy. The practice was followed by the wives of defeated Rajput rulers, who are known to place a high premium on honour.

;Child marriages:Earlier, child marriages were highly prevalent in India. The young girls would live with their parents till they reached puberty. In the past, the child widows were condemned to a life of great agony, shaving heads, living in isolation, and shunned by the society.cite web
title=Gandhi and Status of Women
url=http://www.kamat.com/mmgandhi/gwomen.htm
author=Jyotsna Kamat
date=2006-12-19
accessdate=2006-12-24
] Although child marriage was outlawed in 1860, it is still a common practice in some underdeveloped areas of the country. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/1617759.stm BBC News | SOUTH ASIA | Child marriages targeted in India ] ]

;Purdah:Purdah is the practice of requiring women to cover their bodies so as to cover their skin and conceal their form. It imposes restrictions on the mobility of women, it curtails their right to interact freely and it is a symbol of the subordination of women. It does not reflect the religious teachings of either Hinduism or Islam, contrary to common belief, although misconception has occurred due to the ignorance and prejudices of religious leaders of both faiths.

;Devadasis:Devadasi is a religious practice in some parts of southern India, in which women are "married" to a deity or temple. The ritual was well established by the 10th century A.D. [cite web
url=http://www.kamat.com/kalranga/people/yellamma/yellamma.htm
title=The Yellamma Cult
author=K. L. Kamat
date=2006-12-19
accessdate=2006-12-25
] In the later period, the illegitimate sexual exploitation of the devadasis became a norm in some parts of India.

British rule

European scholars observed in the 19th century Hindu women are "naturally chaste" and "more virtuous" than other women. [Dubois, Jean Antoine and Beauchamp, Henry King, Hindu manners, customs, and ceremonies, Clarendon press, 1897] During the British Raj, many reformers such as Ram Mohan Roy, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, Jyotirao Phule etc. fought for the upliftment of women. Raja Rammohun Roy's efforts led to the abolition of the Sati practice in 1829. Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar's crusade for the improvement in condition of widows led to the Widow Remarriage Act of 1856. Many women reformers such as Pandita Ramabai also helped the cause of women upliftment.

Rani Lakshmi Bai, the Queen of Jhansi, led the Indian Rebellion of 1857 against the British. She is now widely considered as a nationalist hero. Begum Hazrat Mahal, the co-ruler of Awadh, was another ruler who led the revolt of 1857. She refused the deals with the British and later retreated to Nepal. The Begums of Bhopal were also few of the notable female rulers during this period. They did not observe purdah and were trained in martial arts.

Chandramukhi Basu, Kadambini Ganguly and Anandi Gopal Joshi were few of the earliest Indian women to obtain educational degrees.

In 1917, the first women's delegation met the Secretary of State to demand women's political rights, supported by the Indian National Congress. The All India Women's Education Conference was held in Pune in 1927. In 1929, the Child Marriage Restraint Act was passed, stipulating fourteen as the minimum age of marriage for a girl through the efforts of Mahomed Ali Jinnah. [Ambassador of Hindu Muslim Unity, Ian Bryant Wells] Though Mahatma Gandhi himself married at the age of thirteen, he later urged people to boycott child marriages and called upon the young men to marry the child widows

Women played an important part in India's independence struggle. Some of the famous freedom fighters include Bhikaji Cama, Dr. Annie Besant, Pritilata Waddedar, Vijayalakshmi Pandit, Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, Anjali Ammal, Aruna Asaf Ali, Sucheta Kriplani and Kasturba Gandhi. Other notable names include Muthulakshmi Reddy, Durgabai Deshmukh etc. The Rani of Jhansi Regiment of Subhash Chandra Bose's Indian National Army consisted entirely of women including Captain Lakshmi Sahgal. Sarojini Naidu, a poet and a freedom fighter, was the first Indian woman to become the President of the Indian National Congress and the first woman to become the governor of a state in India.

Independent India

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 (Article 14), no discrimination by the State (Article 15(1)), equality of opportunity (Article 16), equal pay for equal work (Article 39(d)). In addition, it allows special provisions to be made by the State in favour of women and children (Article 15(3)), renounces practices derogatory to the dignity of women (Article 51(A) (e)), and also allows for provisions to be made by the State for securing just and humane conditions of work and for maternity relief. (Article 42).cite web
title=Women in India: How Free? How Equal?
url=http://www.un.org.in/wii.htm
author=Kalyani Menon-Sen, A. K. Shiva Kumar
publisher=United Nations
date=2001
accessdate=2006-12-24
]

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, [cite web
url=http://www.census.gov/ipc/prod/wid-9803.pdf
title=Women of the World: Women's Health in India
author=Victoria A. Velkoff and Arjun Adlakha
publisher=U.S. Department of Commerce
date=October 1998
accessdate=2006-12-25
] 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. [cite web
title=National Policy For The Empowerment Of Women (2001)
url=http://www.wcd.nic.in/empwomen.htm
accessdate=2006-12-24
]

In 2006, the case of a Muslim rape victim called Imrana was highlighted in the media. Imrana was raped by her father-in-law. The pronouncement of some Muslim clerics that Imrana should marry her father-in-law led to wide-spread protests and finally Imrana's father-in-law was given a prison term of 10 years, The verdict was welcomed by many women's groups and the All India Muslim Personal Law Board. [cite web
url=http://southasia.oneworld.net/article/view/141611/1/
title=OneWorld South Asia News: Imrana
accessdate=2006-12-25
]

Timeline

The steady change in their position can be highlighted by looking at what has been achieved by women in the country:

* 1905: Suzanne RD Tata becomes the first Indian woman to drive a car. [cite web
url=http://www.mumbaipolice.org/aboutus/history.htm |title=Mumbai Police History |accessdate=2006-12-24
]
*1916: The first women's university, SNDT Women's University, was founded on June 2, 1916 by the social reformer Dhondo Keshav Karve with just five students.
* 1927: The All India Women's Conference was founded.
* 1994: Harita Kaur Deol becomes the first Indian woman to perform a solo flight.
* 1951: Prem Mathur becomes the first Indian women commercial pilot of the Deccan Airways
* 1959: Anna Chandy becomes the first Indian woman Judge of High Court [cite web |url=http://highcourtofkerala.nic.in/judge.htm |title=High Court of Kerala: Former Chief Justices / Judges |accessdate=2006-12-24]
* 1966: Captain Durga Banerjee becomes the first Indian woman pilot of the state airline, Indian Airlines.
* 1966: Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay wins Ramon Magsaysay award for community leadership.
* 1966: Indira Gandhi becomes the first woman Prime Minister of India
* 1970: Kamaljit Sandhu becomes the first Indian woman to win a Gold in the Asian Games
* 1972: Kiran Bedi becomes the first female recruit to join the Indian Police Service. [cite web |url=http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2003/sga827.doc.htm|title=Kiran Bedi Of India Appointed Civilian Police Adviser | accessdate=2006-12-25]
* 1989: Justice M. Fathima Beevi becomes the first woman judge of the Supreme Court of India. [ http://highcourtofkerala.nic.in/judge.htm ]
* November 1997: Kalpana Chawla becomes the first Indian woman to go into Space. [http://www.funlok.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=1498 ]
* September 21, 1992: Priya Jhingan becomes the first lady cadet to join the Indian Army (later commissioned on March 6, 1993) [cite web |url=http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/LAND-FORCES/Army/Articles/Article29.html |title= Army'S First Lady Cadet Looks Back |accessdate=2007-03-30]
*2004: Punita Arora becomes the first woman in the Indian Army to don the highest rank of Lt General.
* 2005: Manndhir Rajput, a 34-year-old woman from Ludhiana, Punjab becomes the first Indian woman to become an engine driver of trains with the New South Wales Rail Corporation, Australia. [ [http://www.tribuneindia.com/2006/20060521/society.htm The Tribune, Chandigarh, India - Education Tribune ] ]
* 2007: Pratibha Patil becomes the first woman President of India.

Culture

Sari (a single piece of a long cloth wound around the body) and salwar kameez are worn by women all over India. "Bindi" is part of the women's make-up. Traditionally, the red bindi (or sindhur) was worn only by the married Hindu women, but now it has become a part of women's fashion. [ [http://www.kamat.com/kalranga/women/bindi.htm Kamat's Potpourri: The Significance of the holy dot (Bindi) ] ]

Rangoli (or Kolam) is a traditional art very popular among Indian women. Popular women's magazines include Femina, Grihshobha , vanita, Woman's Era etc.

Education and economic development

According to 1992-93 figures, only 9.2% of the households in India were female-headed. However, approximately 35% of the households below the poverty line were found to be female-headed.cite web
title=Asia's women in agriculture, environment and rural production: India
url=http://www.fao.org/sd/wpdirect/WPre0108.htm
accessdate=2006-12-24
]

Education

Though it is gradually rising, the female literacy rate in India is lower than the male literacy rate. Compared to boys, far fewer girls are enrolled in the schools, and many of them drop out. According to the National Sample Survey Data of 1997, only the states of Kerala and Mizoram have approached universal female literacy rates. According to majority of the scholars, the major factor behind the improved social and economic status of women in Kerala is literacy.

Under Non-Formal Education programme, about 40% of the centers in states and 10% of the centers in UTs are exclusively reserved for females.Fact|date=June 2008 As of 2000, about 0.3 million NFE centers were catering to about 7.42 million children, out of which about 0.12 million were exclusively for girls.Fact|date=June 2008 Currently, in engineering, medical and other colleges, 30% of the seats have been reserved for females.Fact|date=June 2008 In urban India, girls are nearly at par with the boys in terms of education. However, in rural India girls continue to be less educated than the boys.

According to a 1998 report by U.S. Department of Commerce, the chief barrier to female education in India are inadequate school facilities (such as sanitary facilities), shortage of female teachers and gender bias in curriculum (majority of the female characters being depicted as weak and helpless) [cite web
url=http://www.census.gov/ipc/prod/wid-9801.pdf
title=Women of the World: Women's Education in India
author=Victoria A. Velkoff
publisher=U.S. Department of Commerce
date=October 1998
accessdate=2006-12-25
]

Workforce participation

Contrary to the common perception, a large percent of women in India work.cite web
title=Women of India: Frequently Asked Questions
url=http://www.kamat.com/kalranga/women/faq.htm
date=2006-12-19
accessdate=2006-12-24
] The National data collection agencies accept the fact that there is a serious under-estimation of women's contribution as workers. However, there are far fewer women in the paid workforce than there are men. In urban India Women have impressive number in the workforce. As an example at software industry 30% of the workforce is female. They are at par with their male counter parts in terms of wages, position at the work place.

In rural India, agriculture and allied industrial sectors employ as much as 89.5% of the total female labour. In overall farm production, women's average contribution is estimated at 55% to 66% of the total labour. According to a 1991 World Bank report, women accounted for 93% of total employment in dairy production in India. Women constitute 51% of the total employed in forest-based small-scale enterprises.

One of the most famous female business success stories is the Shri Mahila Griha Udyog, the makers of the Lijjat papad. In 2006, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, who started Biocon - one of India's first biotech companies, was rated India's richest woman. Lalita Gupte and Kalpana Morparia (both were the only businesswomen in India who made our list of the Forbes World's Most Powerful Women), run India's second-largest bank, ICICI Bank. [ [http://www.forbes.com/2006/08/30/power-women-india_cz_mb_06women_0831india.html India's Most Powerful Businesswomen] . Forbes.com.]

Land and property rights

In most Indian families, women do not own any property in their own names, and do not get a share of parental property. Due to weak enforcement of laws protecting them, women continue to have little access to land and property.cite web
title=Chronic Hunger and the Status of Women in India
url=http://www.thp.org/reports/indiawom.htm
author=Carol S. Coonrod
date=June 1998
accessdate=2006-12-24
] In fact, some of the laws discriminate against women, when it comes to land and property rights.

The Hindu personal laws of mid-1956s (applied to Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains) gave women rights to inheritance. However, the sons had an independent share in the ancestral property, while the daughters' shares were based on the share received by their father. Hence, a father could effectively disinherit a daughter by renouncing his share of the ancestral property, but the son will continue to have a share in his own right. Additionally, married daughters, even those facing marital harassment, had no residential rights in the ancestral home. After amendment of Hindu laws in 2005, now women in have been provided the same status as that of menFact|date=February 2007.

In 1986, the Supreme Court of India ruled that Shah Bano, an old divorced Muslim woman was eligible for maintenance money. However, the decision was vociferously opposed by fundamentalist Muslim leaders, who alleged that the court was interfering in their personal law. The Union Government subsequently passed the Muslim Women's (Protection of Rights Upon Divorce) Act. [cite web|title = The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act|url=http://www.sudhirlaw.com/themuslimwomen.htm|date=May 1986|accessdate=2008-02-14]

Similarly, the Christian women have struggled over years for equal rights of divorce and succession. In 1994, all the churches, jointly with women's organisations, drew up a draft law called the Christian Marriage and Matrimonial Causes Bill. However, the government has still not amended the relevant laws.

Crimes against women

Police records show high incidence of crimes against women in India. The National Crime Records Bureau reported in 1998 that the growth rate of crimes against women would be higher than the population growth rate by 2010. Earlier, many cases were not registered with the police due to the social stigma attached to rape and molestation cases. Official statistics show that there has been a dramatic increase in the number of reported crimes against women.

exual Harassment

Half of the total number of crimes against women reported in 1990 related to molestation and harassment at the workplace. Eve teasing is a euphemism used for sexual harassment or molestation of women by men. Many activists blame the rising incidents of sexual harassment against women on the influence of "Western culture". In 1987, The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act was passed [cite web
title=The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1987
url=http://www.wcd.nic.in/dowryprohibitionrules.htm
accessdate=2006-12-24
] to prohibit indecent representation of women through advertisements or in publications, writings, paintings, figures or in any other manner.

In 1997, in a landmark judgement, the Supreme Court of India took a strong stand against sexual harassment of women inthe workplace. The Court also laid down detailed guidelines for prevention and redressal of grievances. The National Commission for Women subsequently elaborated these guidelines into a Code of Conduct for employers.

Dowry

"Main articles: Dowry and Dowry law in India"

In 1961, the Government of India passed the Dowry Prohibition Act, [cite web
title=The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961
url=http://www.wcd.nic.in/dowryprohibitionact.htm
accessdate=2006-12-24
] making the dowry demands in wedding arrangements illegal. However, many cases of dowry-related domestic violence, suicides and murders have been reported. In the 1980s, numerous such cases were reported.

In 1985, the Dowry Prohibition (maintenance of lists of presents to the bride and bridegroom) rules were framed. [cite web
title=The Dowry Prohibition (maintenance of lists of presents to the bride and bridegroom) rules, 1985
url=http://www.wcd.nic.in/dowryprohibitionrules.htm
accessdate=2006-12-24
] According to these rules, a signed list of presents given at the time of the marriage to the bride and the bridegroom should be maintained. The list should contain a brief description of each present, its approximate value, the name of whoever has given the present and his/her relationship to the person. However, such rules are hardly enforced.

A 1997 report ["Kitchen fires Kill Indian Brides with Inadequate Dowry", July 23, 1997, New Delhi, UPI] claimed that at least 5,000 women die each year because of dowry deaths, and at least a dozen die each day in 'kitchen fires' thought to be intentional. The term for this is "bride burning" and is criticized within India itself. Amongst the urban educated, such dowry abuse has reduced dramatically.

Female infanticides and sex selective abortions

India has a highly masculine sex ratio, the chief reason being that many women die before reaching adulthood. Tribal societies in India have a less masculine sex ratio than all other caste groups. This, in spite of the fact that tribal communities have far lower levels of income, literacy and health facilities. It is therefore suggested by many experts, that the highly masculine sex ratio in India can be attributed to female infanticides and sex-selective abortions.

All medical tests that can be used to determine the sex of the child have been banned in India, due to incidents of these tests being used to get rid of unwanted female children before birth. Female infanticide (killing of girl infants) is still prevalent in some rural areas. The abuse of the dowry tradition has been one of the main reasons for sex-selective abortions and female infanticides in India.

Domestic violence

The incidents of domestive violence are higher among the lower Socio-Economic Classes (SECs). There are various instances of an inebriated husband beating up the wife often leading to severe injuries. Domestic violence is also seen in the form of physical abuse. The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 came into force on October 26, 2006.

Trafficking

The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act was passed in 1956. [cite web
title=The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956
url=http://www.wcd.nic.in/act/itpa1956.htm
accessdate=2006-12-24
] However many cases of trafficking of young girls and women have been reported. These women are either forced into prostitution, domestic work or child labor.

Other concerns

Health

The average female life expectancy today in India is low compared to many countries, but it has shown gradual improvement over the years. In many families, especially rural ones, the girls and women face nutritional discrimination within the family, and are anaemic and malnourished.

The maternal mortality in India is the second highest in the world. Only 42% of births in the country are supervised by health professionals. Most women deliver with help from women in the family who often lack the skills and resources to save the mother's life if it is in danger. According to UNDP Human Development Report (1997), the proportion of pregnant women (age 15-49 aged) with anemia was found to be as high as 88%.

Family planning

The average Indian woman has little control over her own fertility and reproductive health. Women, particularly women in rural areas, do not have access to safe and self-controlled methods of contraception. The public health system emphasises permanent methods like sterilisation, or long-term methods like IUDs that do not need follow-up. Sterilization accounts for more than 75% of total contraception, with female sterilisation accounting for almost 95% of all sterilisations

Notable Indian women

Arts and entertainment

Singers and vocalists such as M.S. Subbulakshmi, Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle are widely revered in India. Many actresses such as Aishwarya Rai are highly popular. Anjolie Ela Menon is a famous painter.

ports

Although the general sports scenario in India is not very good, some Indian women have made notable achievements in the field. Some of the famous female sportspersons in Indian include P. T. Usha (athletics), Kunjarani Devi (weightlifting), Diana Edulji (cricket), Koneru Hampi (chess) and Sania Mirza (tennis). Karnam Malleswari (weightlifter), is the only Indian woman to have won an Olympic medal (Bronze medal in 2000).

Politics

Through the Panchayat Raj institutions, over a million women have actively entered political life in India. As per the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendment Acts, all local elected bodies reserve one-third of their seats for women. Although the percentages of women in various levels of political activity has risen considerably, women are still under-represented in governance and decisionmaking positions.

In 2005, the Women's Reservation Bill was passed, providing 33% reservation for women in Parliament and State Assembly. Some of the notable women leaders in India include Sushma Swaraj, Vasundhara Raje Scindia, Sheila Dikshit, Jayalalitha, Uma Bharati, Mayawati, Mamata Banerjee and Sonia Gandhi. On July 25, 2007 the country's ever first woman president Pratibha Patil was sworn in.

Literature

Sarojini Naidu, Chandabai, Subhadra Kumari Chauhan, Mahadevi Varma, Salma Siddiqui, Shivani, Anita Desai, Arundhati Roy, Shashi Deshpande, Shobha De, Kiran Desai, etc. are some of the notable female Indian authors.

Other fields

Tarla Dalal is a popular cookery author, who has written more than 30 books. Several of her books have been translated into various languages, and the total sales of her books exceeds 1 million copies. [cite web
url=http://food.sify.com/fullstory.php?id=13460619
title=Tarla Dalal - Profile
accessdate=2006-12-24
] Shahnaz Husain is one of the most popular Indian beauticians and entrepreneur.

ee also

* Feminism in India
* Women's rights
* Women in Sikhism
* Women in Hinduism
* Sexism in India
* List of Indian women artists
* List of Indian film actresses
* Indian women in dance

References

Bibliography

* "Women in Ancient India" by Clarisse Bader. Trubner's Oriental Series. Routledge, 2001. ISBN 9780415244893.

External links

* [http://womennewsnetwork.net/2007/11/05/nothing-to-go-back-to-the-fate-of-the-widows-of-vrindavan-india/"Nothing to Go Back To - The Fate of the Widows of Vrindavan, India"] WNN - Women News Network
* [http://ncw.nic.in/ National Commission for Women]
* [http://www.wcd.nic.in Ministry of Women & Child Development]
* [http://sawnet.org/ South Asian Women's NETwork] (SAWNET)
* [http://www.skidmore.edu/academics/arthistory/ah369/LINKSPG2.HTM#bib Women of the Mughal Dynasty]
* [http://www.pariwariksuraksha.org Indian women & Dowry law misuse]
* [http://www.kamat.com/kalranga/women/index.htm Women of India]
* [http://www.rediff.com/money/2005/apr/29spec.htm 21 Top Women CEOs of India]
* [http://www.szirine.com/countrytemplate.php?country=India The Bangle Code - fiction related to unwritten social rules that Indian women have to deal with]
* [http://www.memsaab.com/ A global network for Indian Women]


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