Student Article / Arts

Role of Women in Society

Role of Women in Society

Assistant Editor

28 Nov, 2018

Throughout much of history and in many societies, women have been regarded as inferior citizens. The role of women in society has been placed secondary in comparison to men. Only occasionally, did girls receive education equal to that of boys in India. 

Women were often denied careers or professions that provided financial and political power. Upon marriage, whatever property they had was usually transferred to their husbands. They were denied the right to vote and their legal rights were curtailed. The importance of women and their position in society was abysmal. 

Women were also socialized to behave differently in the society. Their major roles as that of mothers and wives. They were often praised for their looks rather than what they could do and identified as submissive, kind-hearted, and caring.

Despite the above, numerous women achieved remarkable heights; led an interesting life and lived in important epochs of history. To most of the people, history was ‘his story’. The importance of women was relegated to back channels. 

The few women that could influence matters were insignificant so records of their activities are scare. Only after the 1970s was history dominated by and concerned with females. Among historians and archaeologists, there was also a unifying judgment that the majority of women’s occupations were homebound monotony with nothing noteworthy to record. The view that history was “men’s business” meant the women did not have a real say in it. The available female histories tended to centre on nobility and monarchism. 

As compared to their White or more affluent counterparts, working-class Blacks or women from marginal groups stood out even lower chances of having a history recorded. Under-representation and powerlessness constituted the matrix of class, racism, and gender in the history texts.

Such a perspective concerning women’s history and other marginalized histories has just begun to change in fifty last years. The number of women, who study and work to become historians or archaeologists is growing. Feminism and societal change have changed our expectations, equality has risen due to them. 

Social history—the history of lived experience that sheds light on the histories of working-class and female populations has become more popular. Organizations such as universities and museums have come to understand the importance of their becoming more representative that, most importantly, it is vital for them to become decolonized by telling stories from different perspectives.

Women's Rights Movement Milestones

India’s history of women empowerment has had some key turning points. The journey has been progressive and progressing from the courageous women who battled for suffrage rights during independence to 1956 when Hindu Succession Act gave daughters equal inheritance. All Indians, male and female alike are assured of justice liberty equality and fraternity in the Preamble to Indian Constitution. These victories promise a time when women will be able to compete with men in the same manner.

It is evident from the socio-cultural, political and economic development of the country that women have been empowered in India after independence. The role of women after independence gained significant prominence. 

The 2001 National Policy for the Empowerment of Women was one aimed at eliminating violence and discrimination against women as well advance their active participation in decision-making. Under the Right to Education Act of 2009, all children in the age group between six and fourteen years are entitled free compulsory education additional provisions for girls-vulnerable groups. 

Under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural work guarantee act of 2005, rural households are guaranteed 100 days’ pay work with an emphasis on women’s empowerment. Moreover, the Women’s Reservation Bill of 2023 that was recently passed by Parliament and calls for a reservation

Significant Historical Figures Who Promoted Women’s Equality

Various important figures have played significant roles in the emancipation of women and their empowerment. They blazed a trail for those to follow them by defying social mores in their fight against inequality. The following famous historical individuals have made substantial contributions to the empowerment of women:

•Susan B. Anthony- Sweet is a famous proponent and defender of women’s voting rights who dedicated her life to the struggle for acquiring this right by female population. She was among the leaders of the women suffrage movement in America that formed National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) in 1869.

•Elizabeth Cady Stanton: Stanton was a major leader in the American women’s suffrage campaign and had close connections with Susan B. Anthony. She played an important part of organizing the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848, during which the famous Declaration of Sentiments was written that asked for equal rights to women.

•Emmeline Pankhurst (1858–1928): Pankhurst was a political activist who belonged to the British suffragette movement. In 1903, she founded the Women’s Social and Political Union that advocated for women suffrage using militant campaigns.

•Sojourner Truth: Born into slavery, Truth emerged as a leading spokesperson for women’s rights and abolition. Her famous 1851 speech, ”Ain’t I a Woman?”, emphasized the two movements of women’s rights and abolitionism as closely related to each other.

•Malala Yousafzai (born 1997): When she managed to avoid being killed by the Taliban in Pakistan Malala gained international renown as a current-day crusader for girls’ education. She continued to be a staunch champion for girls’ education around the world and co-authored their autobiography ‘I Am Malala’.

Crucial Concerns for Women's Empowerment

Inequality of Gender

Gender inequality is the underpinning factor of challenges that women face worldwide. However, women still suffer from prejudice in some sectors like availability of health facilities, jobs and getting representation or position at the political system as well as education. Raising the issue of women’s empowerment advocates for elimination of prejudiced behaviour and gender barriers.

Abuse of Women

Violence towards women is still a global epidemic that millions of people suffer from. It is manifested in various forms such as rape, human trafficking, domestic violence and dangerous rituals.

According to the report that is indicated on UNIFEM website, at least one in three women throughout the world experience violence

Ending violence against women is the effort of people, groups and governments working in harmony. These initiatives should be geared towards raising public awareness, formulating legislation to regulate the violence and provide resources in terms of counseling services for victims.

Insufficient Economic Prospects

Probably the greatest challenge women face is limited access to economic opportunities. Women face several barriers while working, like salary gaps between males and females, lack of career advancement opportunities etc. Women may be empowered economically by equal access to training, education and business opportunities because their independence is promoted hence lowering poverty.

Gender-Based Prejudice

However, the gender discrimination exists in most aspects of society preventing women from progressing and depriving them of their abilities. The types of subtle discrimination are prejudiced hiring practices, unfair treatment and stereotyping.

New Developments in Women's Roles

The importance of women in several fields are likely to alter considerably within the next few years. One noteworthy trend is the increasing number of women in leadership positions. It is expected that the proportion of women executives and board members will rise when more women join workforce, seek higher education. This trend reflects a growing awareness of the critical role that women play in making decisions.

Another visible trend is the growth in female entrepreneurship. More and more women are starting businesses on their own that generates employment opportunities which in turn fuels the economy. This trend will be exacerbated by programs that support female entrepreneurship, such as financing availability and mentoring programmes.

The continuing technological integration in many industries is also an emerging area. As technology will continue to become pervasive, it is expected that women involved in STEM careers would increase as well. Efforts to promote gender equality in STEM education and inclusiveness of these sectors will result, among other things, in a workforce that is diverse as well as highly creative.

Women are powerful

Positions in various large-scale companies. Working outside doesn’t mean women do not do household chores. Women do two full-time jobs - the one at the workplace and the one at home. Women nowadays are becoming keepers of the home, planners of family events, errand runners, and bill payers. According to statistics, women are the prime caretakers of families around the world. As per an international study when the economic and political organization of a society changes, women come to the forefront and help the family to adjust to new challenges. Women are likely to be the prime initiators of outside assistance, and they play an important role in facilitating changes in family life.

Role of Women as Educators

Women’s education is critical to the country’s entire development. It’s similar to an effective medicine that may know how to cure a patient and recover their health. A well-educated lady is capable of managing both her personal and professional lives. The physical and intellectual growth of the child is the moral goal of education. Education’s true objective is to provide students with “full knowledge” or “greater information.” 

A woman who is educated possesses skills, knowledge and confidence that can make her better employee, mother and even a citizen. A woman who is more educated will also earn higher income, and she would be a better performing employee. In reality, females enjoy a higher return on their educational investment compared to males.

It has been noted that the mother is usually the one who regularly motivates her children to go and study in school. As a result, women’s roles are thus at the center of progresses that will allow families and communities realizing their full potential in future.

Role of Women in the Workforce

The theme for International women's was “Think equal, build smart, innovate for change,” this was selected to identify the innovative ways of advancing gender equality and the empowerment of women; this accelerates the 2030 Agenda, of the new U.N.Sustainable Development Goals. Although women’s opportunities still lag behind men's, the historic and current role of women is beyond doubt.

In relation to women who join the labour, there has been a remarkable and revolutionary trend in recent times. This change is characterized by intensive engagement, expanded work choices and changing individual perception of women’s duty in the workplace.

One of the significant trends is how many more women are going to college and working in fields that have been considered men’s realm, like STEM. Educational empowerment has provided women with the necessary knowledge and certifications on which they can build their success in different professions; thus, improving diversity and inclusivity of work for all people.

The technological advancements and the advantages of flexible work schedules have enabled people to develop a working environment that satisfies women, many of whom balance career and home life. The adoption of family-friendly laws and regulations such as paid parental leave, flexible working schedules among others have led to women employment.

Additionally, gender diversity and inclusion in business leadership are becoming more relevant. Corporations no longer see the need for homogeneous information and work hard to eliminate any barriers that would prevent women from getting ahead. The initiatives promoting equal pay and opportunity are defining a work environment in which women can grow their way up to the top of whatever fields they decide would be their chosen paths.

Not only does this trend illustrate the increasing gender equality but it also demonstrates just how much more productive women can be in a work environment when they are given equal opportunity. As women keep proving stereotypes wrong and redefining their role in the workplace, rather than just hoping for it to happen equality of work will be a reality.

Role of Women as Global Volunteers

Global Volunteers’ community development work worldwide strengthens women’s and children’s capacity, health, and development. With the direction of local leaders, volunteers help ensure academic accessibility, parental involvement, psycho-social support, nutrition, and health education, funding scholarships, construction schools, tutor literacy, numeracy, and more. Throughout history, the role of women in society has ensured the stability and long-term development of nations. Worldwide, women comprise 43 percent of the world’s agricultural labor– and 70 percent in some countries.

Areas In Which More Advancement Is Required

While the role of women in society has gained, several areas need more work before attaining gender equality. On average, women receive less wages than men for the same job due to the gender pay gap. Maintaining this difference requires continued efforts to fight against biased compensation policies and promote the concept of open pay.

Lastly, work environments must also be adapted to help minimize gender biased prejudices and discrimination. It is crucial to have workplaces where various opinions are respected, and equal opportunity for professional development can be offered. Improving issues such as sexual harassment and work-life balance will lead to a more equal workplace.

Moreover, it is necessary to involve more women in the sectors that have been dominated by male such as finance, STEM and leader positions. To overcome these barriers, it is very crucial to denounce prejudices and motivate females to learn and work in the given ones.

Men's Support of Gender Equality Role

Men are crucial for gender equality development. The first crucial step is actively fighting against dangerous prejudices and biases. Through their power in the community and on workplace, men can push for laws that support equality like paternal leave or even flexible work hours.

Initiatives like allyship and mentoring programs can enable men and women to work together in a collaborative environment. Men who promote and actively support diversity in an organization ensure that there is a balanced presence at all levels of organisation.

Families’ dynamics are shifting and men have the chance to promote gender equality by taking part in child rearing roles as well challenging traditional expectations of how both genders should behave at home. Aside from helping women, this change improves the gender’s work-life balance and healthier family dynamics.

The importance of women shouldn’t be relegated to secondary as compared with men. Men and women must partner to deal with the challenges of today’s society by accepting change and driving gender equality in future.

Way Forward in Women's Changing Roles

The role of women in society has changed enormously throughout history. Since the quest for fundamental rights throughout history to gender parity, women have stood firm and challenged social norms as well as barriers. 

Important milestones in the ongoing fight for gender equality have been reached regarding education, working opportunities and managerial positions.

Pioneers such as Savitribai Phule, Sarojini Naidu, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, along with current activist Malala Yousafzai have made a vital contribution to broadening the scope of women’s responsibilities. 

Women are breaking through glass ceilings, entering the workforce in increasing numbers, and pursuing a more diverse set of careers. These changes are a mirror of the society that is accepting and appreciating women’s value and importance of women in most spheres.