By Vijay Garg
Career amongst women is a recent phenomenon. It is only during the last two decades that Indian women have started acquiring Careers and this number is greatly increased in numbers. However, it was not always the same. Women in Ancient India, back in the days of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, commanded a great deal of respect from men. It was Manu in the first century BC, who felt that Indian women should remain dependent on their father before marriage, later on, her husband, and finally on her son.
During the medieval period, Muslims who were influenced by their culture started marrying their daughters at a very early age. This practice originated the system of child marriage which further led to the lowering of the status of women. It was also during this time that the dowry system also became prevalent. Thus began a time when women were oppressed and discriminated against. It became a tradition of sorts to control women as the beliefs of the society were hardened on orthodox beliefs formulated in the ancient period. It wasn't until the 20th century, that the women in India were starting to look up to careers and changing the shape of their lives. The 20th century brought industrialization with it and it also brought education which to a large extent opened the eyes of society toward the plight of women. Education also created a need amongst them to redeem their status and to work towards the betterment of their gender in general and society in particular.
The advent of modern times changed society to a great extent. This change was evident with the rise of the nuclear families wherein equal opportunities were given to sons and daughters. Daughters were no longer kept uneducated and they were allowed to further their studies. Education led to awareness among women about the rights and privileges which were earlier denied to them. The law also supported them and female foeticide was abolished, along with strict punishments for those who indulged in Dowry System. The influence of the media, both domestic and foreign, helped them in attaining liberal views. They realized the strides of progress made by women in advanced countries. The success of the women entrepreneurs of the west also influenced the Indian women and they felt the need to question the subjugation they were being subjected to. Education, coupled with liberal views and the support of parents, helped women gain a new identity in the male-dominated society.
The whole status of women started undergoing a perceptible change. Women started entering the labor market and their numbers started to rise. They also ventured into commerce and started owning and changing the face of businesses of today, both literally and figuratively. The past decade has seen a dynamic growth and expansion of women-owned businesses. The expansion in revenues and employment has also far exceeded the growth in numbers. The male-oriented conception of the sport also came under change. Women were now allowed to compete in long-distance events alongside men, and women’s marathons. Women have entered even those fields which were strictly considered for men, like driving, space, technology, engineering, architecture, etc. Women like Kalpana Chawla, P.T. Usha, Sania Mirza, Pratibha Patil, and many more, are breaking traditional paths and inspiring others to do so.
Today, there is heightened awareness among them to fight discrimination. Traditional gender stereotypes that suggested that women’s primary social roles were wife and mother, whereas those of men were the breadwinner, has long gone under overhauling. Women of today are contributing to the global economy and their surrounding communities. The presence of women in the workplace is also creating a tremendous impact on their employment and business environments. The role of women in family life has also changed significantly. As an educated housewife, or as a working woman she has acquired a respectable place in society. Today's women, young women, in particular, are becoming more career-oriented, with high educational aspirations and greater ambitions at the same time. Despite their careers, they are still maintaining the value traditionally placed on them, those of family and nurturing.
Positive Effects of the Emergence of Career-Oriented Women
With relevant education, work experience, improved economic conditions, and financial opportunities, women are creating and sustaining successful business ventures. This not only has an impact on the economy of the country but is also changing the status of women in society.
Progressive women have a positive effect on women who live in countries where women are still oppressed. They are inspired by them and it motivates them to fight oppression. Underdeveloped and developing countries feel pressurized upon looking at the status of women in developed countries. The status of women affects a country's reputation and the economy as developed or underdeveloped. Working women help with the household income, which leads to the well-being of the family as a whole.
Career-Oriented Women are educated. An educated population translates into a high literacy rate and also ensures the continuation of literacy in the family and society as well. It saves a great deal of capital and effort for the country.
Sufficient availability of money also means access to medical services which is an indicator of the high population with good health.
Because Women think differently than Men, they provide a variety of viewpoints, ideas, plans, etc. which are a necessary part of any organization.
The writer is a retired Principal & educational columnist. Views expressed are his personal.
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