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A woman is the full Circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture and transform. Diane Mariechild

Historically women in India were revered and the birth of a girl was widely believed to mark the arrival of Lakshmi the Goddess of wealth and riches. Women have been considered janani, i.e., the progenitor and ardhanigini i.e., half of the body. Women are also considered to be an embodiment of Goddess Durga.

Women have shouldered equal responsibilities with men. Widespread discrimination against women is, however, reflected in recurrent incidents of rape, acid throwing, dowry killings, wife

beating, honour killings, forced prostitution, etc. Some of these issues were highlighted by Satyamev Jayate (Truth alone prevails) an acclaimed television show hosted by Bollywood icon Aamir Khan.

A global poll conducted by Thomson Reuters in 2012 rated India as the fourth most dangerous country globally for women, and the worst country for women among the G20 countries. Gender discrimination is not only inequitable but also hampers the development of the nation. Evidently no country can sustain its development if it underutilises its women, who constitute almost half the population.

Despite some basic changes in the status and role of women in the society, no society treats its women as well as its men. Consequently, women continue to suffer from diverse deprivations from kitchens to key-boards, from the cradle to the grave across nations. But, as Kofi Annan stressed, no development strategy is more beneficial to society as a whole than treating men and women alike.

Besides, their entrepreneurial role in cities, Indian women contribute significantly to agricultural activities, handicrafts, village art and crafts.

Factors impeding the advancement of women include lack of access to housing and basic services, inadequate support services and technologies for reducing drudgery and occupational health hazards and for enhancing their productivity. This necessitates devising of a broad-based strategic action plan for the realisation of equal partnership of men and women in all spheres of life and economic activity.

Hillary Clinton, former First Lady of the United States correctly observed: In country after country women have demonstrated that when given the tools of opportunity education, health care, access to credit, political participation and legal rights they can lift themselves out of poverty, and as women realise their potential, they lift their families, communities and nations as well. True, there are some striking cases of breaking the glass ceiling. The names of Meera Kumar,

Speaker of the Lok Sabha; Sushma Swaraj, Leader of the Opposition in the Parliament; Chanda Kocchar, Chairperson, ICICI Bank; Shikha Sharma, Chairperson, Axis Bank; Kalpana Morarka, India Head, JP Morgan and Sudha Sharma, Chairperson, CBDT easily come to mind. But as one swallow does not make a summer, the fact of some women occupying top positions does not make the development process broad-based, equitable and inclusive. Clearly, much more needs to be done.

The gross under-representation of women and the attitudinal bias against women is strikingly reflected in several areas of employment like the police, the judiciary and the law, etc. The correction of this unhappy situation requires focused intervention targeting education, training, child care, health, nutrition, credit, employment, welfare services support and legal safeguards. In the struggle for independence, it was stressed that political freedom must ultimately lead to emancipation of women by eliminating shortcomings in terms of education, nutrition and health. But this aspiration is yet to be realized. Investing in womens capabilities and empowering them is the best way to advance economic growth and overall development.

The Indian political system has also been characterised by concern with womens status and rights. This is reflected in various constitutional provisions. But robust gender laws need to be effectively enforced.

Laws relating to marriage, divorce, maintenance and inheritance have not been fully effective because of their inherent problems. Hence, attempts to provide de jure equality to women must be carried to their logical conclusion. This requires tougher laws, stricter enforcement and exemplary Let As per 2011 literacy me Census, in do there is are 940 some women as for number every male 1000 men of punishment. crunching: in India. 82.14%.






As at end-March 2011, 21% of total bank deposit accounts constituting merely 12 % of total deposits were held by women. Similarly, women availed only 18 % of the total small credit from




Women constitute about 25% of the formal employment in India whereas 84 % of rural women continue to be engaged in agricultural production.

Hence there has to be a shift from narrow welfare measures to broad-based development. The Finance Minister rightly stressed in his Budget Speech There is no bank that exclusively serves women. Can we have a bank that lends money to women and women run businesses; that supports Self Help Groups and womens livelihood; that employs pre-dominantly women; and that addresses gender-related aspects of empowerment and financial inclusion? I think w e can. We are now in the process of starting Indias first women bank as a public sector bank with an initial investment of Rs. 1000 crore.

There is certainly a case for cheap and accessible credit to women by public sector banks. But this concept of a women-centric bank has some times been viewed as an extreme case of inclusion by exclusion.

There has also been a greater awareness of the need for inculcating confidence among women, generating awareness about their rights and privileges and training them for economic activity and employment. The benefits of development must extend to women both qualitatively and quantitatively. Gender-specific policies with emphasis on activities and resources beneficial to women may help in providing greater opportunities because of the injustices against women. But what is required is affirmative action in areas, such as, education, health and welfare to overcome entrenched discrimination caused by gender bias, denial of opportunities, lack of employers trust in their capabilities and apprehension about not getting a fair deal.

The national policy for empowerment of women stresses policies, programmes and systems to ensure mainstreaming of womens perspectives in all developmental processes, both as agents and beneficiaries.

It is time now for us to make a difference and effect a mindset change in the oppressively male-

centric scheme of things and bring about true socio-economic empowerment of women across regions, regions and classes. We can-and we must- do this. But gender integration and promotion of a cohesive social framework requires active participation of all stakeholders in the development process, including the society at large, government, educational institutions, premier technological institutions, voluntary agencies, policy makers and women themselves. The journey of emancipation of women has crossed many milestones. But affirmative action is required for women to play their rightful role in the society. The task ahead may be long and tortuous. But let us make a beginning immediately.

Ancient India
According to scholars, women in ancient India enjoyed equal status with men in all aspects of life.[14] Works by ancient Indian grammarians such as Patanjali and Katyayana suggest that women were educated in the early Vedic period.[15][16] Rigvedic verses suggest that women married at a mature age and were probably free to select their own husbands. [17] Scriptures such as the Rig Vedaand Upanishads mention several women sages and seers, notably Gargi and Maitreyi. There are very few texts specifically dealing with the role of women[19] an important exception is the Stri Dharma Paddhati of Tryambakayajvan, an official at Thanjavur c. 1730. The text compiles strictures on women's behaviour dating back to the Apastambasutra (c. 4th century BCE).[20] The opening verse goes: mukhyo dharmaH smr^tiShu vihito bhartr^shushruShANam hi : women are enjoined to be of service to their husbands. Some kingdoms in ancient India had traditions such as nagarvadhu ("bride of the city"). Women competed to win the coveted title of nagarvadhu. Amrapali is the most famous example of a nagarvadhu. According to studies, women enjoyed equal status and rights during the early Vedic period.[21] However in approximately 500 B.C., the status of women began to decline, and with the Islamic invasion of Babur and the Mughal empire and Christianity later worsened women's freedom and rights.[7]

Although reform movements such as Jainism allowed women to be admitted to religious orders, by and large women in India faced confinement and restrictions.[21] The practice ofchild marriages is believed to have started around the sixth century.[22] Medieval period Krishna at Goddesss Radharani's feet. Indian women's position in society further deteriorated during the medieval period,[7][14] when child marriages and a ban on remarriage by widows became part of social life in some communities in India. The Muslim conquest in the Indian subcontinent broughtpurdah to Indian society. Among the Rajputs of Rajasthan, the Jauhar was practised. In some parts of India, some of Devadasis were sexually exploited. Polygamy was practised among Hindu Kshatriya rulers for some political reasons.[22] In many Muslim families, women were restricted to Zenana areas of the house. In spite of these conditions, women often became prominent in the fields of politics, literature, education and religion.[7] Razia Sultanabecame the only woman monarch to have ever ruled Delhi. The Gond queen Durgavati ruled for fifteen years before losing her life in a battle with Mughal emperor Akbar's general Asaf Khan in 1564. Chand Bibi defended Ahmednagar against the powerful Mughalforces of Akbar in the 1590s. Jehangir's wife Nur Jehan effectively wielded imperial power, and was recognized as the real power behind the Mughal throne. The Mughal princesses Jahanara and Zebunnissa were well-known poets, and also influenced the ruling powers. Shivaji's mother, Jijabai, was queen regent because of her ability as a warrior and an administrator. In South India, many women administered villages, towns, and divisions, and ushered in new social and religious institutions. The Bhakti movements tried to restore women's status and questioned certain forms of oppression.[21] Mirabai, a female saint-poet, was one of the most important Bhakti movement figures. Other female saint-poets from this period included Akka Mahadevi, Rami Janabai and Lal Ded. Bhakti sects within Hinduism such as the Mahanubhav, Varkari and many others were principle movements within the Hindu fold openly advocating social justice and equality between men and women. Immediately following the Bhakti movements, Guru Nanak, the first Guru of Sikhs, preached equality between men and women. He advocated that women be allowed to lead religious assemblies; to lead congregational hymn singing called Kirtan or Bhajan; to become members of religious management committees; to lead armies on the battlefield; to have equality in marriage, and to have equality in Amrit (Baptism). Other Sikh Gurusalso preached the same, but there practices often regarded to be breach of women rights.

Historical practices Traditions such as Sati, Jauhar, and Devadasi among some communities have been banned and are largely defunct in modern India. However, some instances of these practices are still found in remote parts of India. The purdah is still practiced by Indian women in some communities. Child marriage remains common in rural areas, although it is illegal under current Indian law. Sati Sati is an old, almost completely defunct custom among some communities, in which the widow was immolated alive on her husband's funeral pyre. Although the act was supposed to be voluntary on the widow's part. It's practice is forbidden by the Hindu scriptures in Kali yuga, the current age.[23] After the foreign invasions of Indian subcontinent, this practice started to mark its presence, as women were often raped or kidnapped by the foreign forces.[24] It was abolished by the British in 1829. There have been around forty reported cases of sati since independence. In 1987, the Roop Kanwar case in Rajasthan led to The Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act. Jauhar Jauhar refers to the practice of voluntary immolation by 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. Evidently such practice took place during the Islamic invasions of India. Purdah Purdah is the practice among some communities requiring women to cover themselves so as to conceal their skin and form from males. It imposes restrictions on the mobility of women, curtails their right to interact freely, and is a symbol of the subordination of women. It is noted that Indian women had to purdah in the Islamic Kingdoms in Indian Subcontinent, as result of fear, that they would be kidnapped by the Muslim invaders. Devadasis Devadasi is often misunderstood as religious practice. It was practised in southern India, in which women were "married" to a deity or temple. The ritual was well-established by the 10th century A.D.[28] By 1988, the practice was outlawed in the country British rule European scholars observed in the 19th century that Hindu women are "naturally chaste" and "more virtuous" than other women During the British Raj, many reformers such as Ram Mohan Roy, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar and Jyotirao Phule fought for the betterment of women. Peary Charan Sarkar, a former student of Hindu College, Calcutta and a member of "Young Bengal", set up the first free school for girls in India in 1847 in Barasat, a suburb of Calcutta (later the school was named Kalikrishna Girls' High School).

While this might suggest that there was no positive British contribution during the Raj era, that is not entirely the case. Missionaries' wives such as Martha Mault ne Mead and her daughter Eliza Caldwell ne Mault are rightly remembered for pioneering the education and training of girls in south India. This practice was initially met with local resistance, as it flew in the face of tradition. Raja Rammohan Roy's efforts led to the abolition of Sati under GovernorGeneral William Cavendish-Bentinck in 1829. Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar's crusade for improvement in the situation of widows led to the Widow Remarriage Act of 1856. Many women reformers such as Pandita Ramabai also helped the cause of women. Kittur Chennamma, queen of the princely state Kittur in Karnataka,[31] led an armed rebellion against the British in response to the Doctrine of lapse. Abbakka Rani, queen of coastal Karnataka, led the defence against invading European armies, notably the Portuguese in the 16th century. Rani Lakshmi Bai, the Queen of Jhansi, led the Indian Rebellion of 1857 against the British. She is now widely considered as a national hero. Begum Hazrat Mahal, the co-ruler of Awadh, was another ruler who led the revolt of 1857. She refused deals with the British and later retreated to Nepal. The Begums of Bhopal were also considered notable female rulers during this period. They did not observe purdah and were trained in martial arts., Kadambini Ganguly and Anandi Gopal Joshi were some of the earliest Indian women to obtain a degree. 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, it became a major organisation in the movement for social change.[21][32] In 1929, the Child Marriage Restraint Act was passed, stipulating fourteen as the minimum age of marriage for a girl.[21][33][full citation needed] Though Mahatma Gandhi himself married at the age of thirteen, he later urged people to boycott child marriages and called upon young men to marry child widows.[34] Women played an important part in India's independence struggle. Some famous freedom fighters include Bhikaji Cama, Dr. Annie Besant, Pritilata Waddedar, Vijayalakshmi Pandit, Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, Aruna Asaf Ali, Sucheta Kriplani and Kasturba Gandhi. Other notable names include Muthulakshmi Reddy and Durgabai Deshmukh. The Rani of Jhansi Regiment of Subhas Chandra Bose's Indian National Army consisted entirely of women, including Captain Lakshmi Sahgal. Sarojini Naidu, a poet and freedom fighter, was the first Indian woman to become President of the Indian National Congress and the first woman to become the governor of a state in India.

Independent India
Female Safety Index per state according to the Tata Strategic Management Group. Light green indicates greatest safety; yellow, medium safety and light red, least safety.

Women in India now participate fully in areas such as education, sports, politics, media, art and culture, service sectors, science and technology, etc.[7] Indira Gandhi, who served as Prime Minister of India for an aggregate period of fifteen years, is the world's longest serving woman Prime Minister.[35] 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), and 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).[36] Feminist activism in India gained momentum in the late 1970s. One of the first national-level issues that brought 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 country-wide protests in 1979-1980. The protests, widely covered by the national media, forced the Government to amend the Evidence Act, the Criminal Procedure Code, and the Indian Penal Code; and created a new offence, custodial rape.[36] Female activists also united over issues such as female infanticide, gender bias, women's health, women's safety, and women's literacy. Since alcoholism is often associated with violence against women in India,[37] many women groups launched anti-liquor campaigns in Andhra Pradesh, Himachal [36] Pradesh, Haryana, Odisha, 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.[21] 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 the advancement of 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).[21] The National Policy For The Empowerment Of Women came was passed in 2001.[38] In 2006, the case of Imrana, a Muslim rape victim, was highlighted by 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 widespread protests, and finally Imrana's father-in-law was sentenced to 10 years in prison. The verdict was welcomed by many women's groups and the All India Muslim Personal Law Board.[39]

In 2010 March 9, one day after International Women's day, Rajya Sabha passed the Women's Reservation Bill requiring that 33% of seats in India's Parliament and state legislative bodies be reserved for women.[40] High Level Committee on Status of Women in India The Government of India set up a High Level Committee on the Status of Women to undertake comprehensive study to understand the status of women since 1989 as well as to evolve appropriate policy interventions based on a contemporary assessment of womens needs vide Ministry of Women and Child Development's (Resolutions No. 4-5/2009-WW dated the 27th February, 2012 and 29 June 2012). The committee consisted of the Chairperson, Member Secretary and seventeen Members. The High Level Committee presented its first copy of the Preliminary Report to the Minister for Women and Child Development, Krishna Tirath on 3 February 2014. The High Level Committee identifiedViolence Against Women, Declining Sex Ratio and Economic Dis empowerment of Women as three key burning issues which require immediate attention of the nation, and action by the government. The Committee also flagged 10 recommendations for immediate action .[41]

Timeline of influential Indian women

The steady change in their position can be highlighted by looking at what has been achieved by women in the country: 1848: Jyotirao Phule, along with his wife Savitribai Phule, opened a school for girls in Pune, India. Savitribai Phule became the first woman teacher in India. 1879: John Elliot Drinkwater Bethune established the Bethune School in 1849, which developed into the Bethune College in 1879, thus becoming the first women's college in India. 1883: Chandramukhi Basu and Kadambini Ganguly became the first female graduates of India and the British Empire. 1886: Kadambini Ganguly and Anandi Gopal Joshi became the first women from India to be trained in Western medicine. 1905: Suzanne RD Tata becomes the first Indian woman to drive a car.[42] 1916: The first women's university, SNDT Women's University, was founded on 2 June 1916 by the social reformer Dhondo Keshav Karve with just five students. 1917: Annie Besant became the first female president of the Indian National Congress. 1919: For her distinguished social service, Pandita Ramabai became the first Indian woman to be awarded the Kaisar-i-Hind Medal by the British Raj.

1925: Sarojini Naidu became the first Indian born female president of the Indian National Congress. 1927: The All India Women's Conference was founded. 1944: Asima Chatterjee became the first Indian woman to be conferred the Doctorate of Science by an Indian university. 1947: On 15 August 1947, following independence, Sarojini Naidu became the governor of the United Provinces, and in the process became India's first woman governor. 1951: Prem Mathur of the Deccan Airways becomes the first Indian woman commercial pilot. 1953: Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit became the first woman (and first Indian) president of the United Nations General Assembly 1959: Anna Chandy becomes the first Indian woman judge of a High Court (Kerala High Court)[43] 1963: Sucheta Kriplani became the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, the first woman to hold that position in any Indian state. 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.[44] 1979: Mother Teresa wins the Nobel Peace Prize, becoming the first Indian female citizen to do so. 1984: On 23 May, Bachendri Pal became the first Indian woman to climb Mount Everest. 1989: Justice M. Fathima Beevi becomes the first woman judge of the Supreme Court of India.[45] 1992: Priya Jhingan becomes the first lady cadet to join the Indian Army (later commissioned on 6 March 1993)[46] 1994: Harita Kaur Deol becomes the first Indian woman pilot in the Indian Air Force (IAF), on a solo flight. 1997: Kalpana Chawla becomes the first India-born woman to go into space.[47] 2000: Karnam Malleswari became the first Indian woman to win an Olympic medal (bronze medal in the 2000 Summer Olympics at Sydney). 2002: Lakshmi Sahgal became the first Indian woman to run for the post of President of India. 2004: Punita Arora became the first woman in the Indian Army to don the highest rank of Lieutenant General.

2007: Pratibha Patil becomes the first woman President of India. 2009: Meira Kumar became the first woman Speaker of Lok Sabha, the lower house in Indian Parliament.

Education and economic development

According to 1992-93 figures, only 9.2% of the households in India were headed by females. However, approximately 35% of the households below the poverty line were found to be headed by females.[49]

Though it is gradually increasing, the female literacy rate in India is less than the male literacy rate.[50] Far fewer girls than boys are enrolled in school, and many girls drop out.[36] In urban India, girls are nearly on a par with boys in terms of education. However, in rural India girls continue to be less well-educated than boys. According to the National Sample Survey Data of 1997, only the states of Kerala and Mizoram have approached universal female literacy. According to scholars, the major factor behind improvements in the social and economic status of women in Kerala is literacy.[36] Under the Non-Formal Education programme (NFE), about 40% of the NFE centres in states and 10% of the centres in UTs are exclusively reserved for females. As of 2000, about 300,000 NFE centres were catering to about 7.42 million children. About 120,000 NFE centres were exclusively for girls. According to a 1998 report by the U.S. Department of Commerce, the chief barriers to female education in India are inadequate school facilities (such as sanitary facilities), shortage of female teachers and gender bias in the curriculum (female characters being depicted as weak and helpless).

Workforce participation

Women at work carrying new bricks, Puri, Orissa.

Contrary to common perception, a large percentage of women in India work.[53] National data collection agencies accept that statistics seriously understate women's contribution as workers.[36] However, there are far fewer women than men in the paid workforce. In urban India, women participate in the workforce in impressive numbers. For example, in the software industry 30% of the workforce is female.[54] In the workplace women enjoy parity with their male counterparts in terms of wages and roles. In rural India in the agriculture and allied industrial sectors, females account for as much as 89.5% of the labour force.[49] 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 94% of total employment in dairy production in India. Women constitute 51% of the total employed in forest-based small-scale enterprises.[49] One of the most famous female business success stories is the Shri Mahila Griha Udyog Lijjat Papad. In 2006, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, who founded Biocon, one of India's first biotech companies, was rated India's richest woman. Lalita D. Gupte and Kalpana Morparia were the only businesswomen in India who made the list of the Forbes World's Most Powerful Women in 2006. Gupte ran ICICI Bank, India's second-largest bank, until October 2006 [55] and Morparia is CEO of JP Morgan India.

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.[36] Due to weak enforcement of laws protecting them, women continue to have little access to land and property. In fact, some of the laws discriminate against women, when it comes to land and property rights.

The Hindu personal laws of 1956 (applying to Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains) gave women rights to inheritances. However, 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 a son would 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. Thanks to amendment of the Hindu laws in 2005, women now have the same status as men. In 1986, the Supreme Court of India ruled that Shah Bano, an elderly 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. Similarly, Christian women have struggled over years for equal rights in divorce and succession. In 1994, all 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.

Women as Agents of Change: Advancing the Role of Women in Politics and Civil Society
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee, on behalf of the National Democratic Institute, I appreciate this opportunity to testify about programs that help empower women to engage in political decision-making and civil society at all levels. NDI has been working with political and civic leaders for more than two decades to assist their efforts to increase the number and effectiveness of women in political life. We currently work in nearly 70 countries, creating programs that are specifically tailored to women and ensuring they are a part of every existing program. I appreciate the chance to highlight both the achievements and challenges in the process of integrating and empowering women in political processes. There is growing recognition of the untapped capacity and talents of women and womens leadership. In the last 10 years, the rate of womens representation in national parliaments globally has grown from 13.1 percent at the end of 1999 to 18.6 percent at the end of 2009. Some regions have seen particularly dramatic increases, such as Sub-Saharan Africa, where the number of women in parliaments has risen from 10.9 to 17.6 percent.1 As womens contributions toward a strong and vibrant society are increasingly well documented, there is also growing understanding of why womens meaningful participation is essential to building and sustaining democracy. Womens political participation results in tangible gains for democracy, including greater responsiveness to citizen needs, increased cooperation across party and ethnic lines, and more sustainable peace. Assessment of the economic, security and other benefits of womens participation Need for women in peace operations, treaty negotiations, constitution development, and reconciliation and reconstruction efforts Womens meaningful participation in politics affects both the range of policy issues that are considered and the types of solutions that are proposed. Research indicates that a legislators

gender has a distinct impact on policy priorities, making it critical that women are present in politics to represent the concerns of women and other marginalized citizens and help improve the responsiveness of policy-making and governance. And as more women reach leadership positions within their political parties, these parties tend to prioritize issues that impact health, education and other quality of life issues. There is strong evidence that as more women are elected to office, there is also a corollary increase in policy-making that reflects the priorities of families, women, and ethnic and racial minorities. Womens political participation has profound positive and democratic impacts on communities, legislatures, political parties, and citizens lives. In places as diverse as Timor-Leste, Croatia, Morocco, Rwanda and South Africa, an increase in the number of female lawmakers led to legislation related to antidiscrimination, domestic violence, family codes, inheritance, and child support and protection. Only five years after the womens suffrage movement achieved the rights of women to vote and run for office in Kuwait, newly elected female legislators this year introduced new labor laws that would give working mothers mandatory nursing breaks, and provide onsite childcare for companies with more than 200 employees. Women lawmakers tend to see womens issues more broadly as social issues, possibly as a result of the role that women have traditionally played as mothers and caregivers in their communities;2 and more women see government as a tool to help serve underrepresented or minority groups.3 Women lawmakers, therefore, have often been perceived as more sensitive to community concerns and more responsive to constituency needs. Women are deeply committed to peace-building and post-conflict reconstruction and have a unique and powerful perspective to bring to the negotiating table. Women often suffer disproportionately during armed conflict and often advocate most strongly for stabilization, reconstruction and the prevention of further conflict. Peace agreements, post-conflict reconstruction and governance have a better chance of long-term success when women are involved.4 Furthermore, establishing sustainable peace requires transforming power relationships, including achieving more equitable gender relations.5 Womens peace groups in Uganda, for example, have used conflict resolution training to successfully reduce the level of violence in their communities. In the face of strong resistance from male leaders, women have established cross-community coalitions to open up dialogue and are operating centers to rehabilitate former girl abductees and child soldiers.6 Womens leadership and conflict resolution styles often embody democratic ideals in that women have tended to work in a less hierarchical, more participatory and more collaborative way than male colleagues.7 Women are also more likely to work across party lines, even in highly partisan environments. Since assuming 56 percent of the seats in the Rwandan parliament in 2008, women have been responsible for forming the first cross-party caucus to work on controversial issues such as land rights and food security. They have also formed the only

tripartite partnership among civil society and executive and legislative bodies to coordinate responsive legislation and ensure basic services are delivered.8 Around the world, women lawmakers are often perceived as more honest and more responsive than their male counterparts, qualities that encourage confidence in democratic and representative institutions. In a study of 31 democratic countries, the presence of more women in legislatures is positively correlated with enhanced perceptions of government legitimacy among both men and women.9 When women are empowered as political leaders, countries often experience higher standards of living with positive developments in education, infrastructure and health, and concrete steps being taken to help make democracy deliver. Using data from 19 member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), researchers found that an increase in women legislators results in an increase in total educational expenditure.10 In India, research showed that West Bengal villages with greater representation of women in local councils saw an investment in drinking water facilities that was double that of villages with low levels of elected women, and that the roads there were almost twice as likely to be in good condition. The study also revealed that the presence of a woman council leader reduces the gender gap in school attendance by 13 percentage points.11 Analysis of the major preconditions for increased participation Despite these positive indicators and gains, considerable challenges remain to womens meaningful political participation. And while no ideal environment currently exists to jumpstart the advancement of womens political advancement, there are certain conditions that make it easier. First, women must have reasonable access to positions of power. Political leadership is often centralized and informal. Holding a formal position, even an elected position, does not necessarily lead to greater influence, as the real leaders do not always hold formal titles. Power in democracies is further built on relationships that often have existed many years. In countries where womens public roles are only beginning to develop, womens absence from this history can present significant barriers. However, by giving women the tools they need to lead, creating the opportunity for advancement and helping build networks of like-minded men and women, and ensuring that womens legal rights are firmly entrenched, a pathway to power can be developed. Next, transparency in the political and legislative processes is critical to the advancement of women in political and civil society. The lack of openness in political decision-making and undemocratic internal processes are challenging for all newcomers, but particularly for women. Similarly, the complex hierarchies in political parties and legislatures represent a barrier to many women who enter politics at the local level and aspire to rise to other levels of leadership.

Moreover, there must be the willingness of citizens to accept new ideas about gender roles in society. There are still many countries that discourage women from competing directly with men or consider childcare and housekeeping to be the exclusive domain of women. As such, it is common throughout the world to see women activists supporting democratic activities at the grassroots level, yet to see few women in leadership positions, thereby creating an absence of women from whom to draw for higher levels of political leadership. Concerted efforts must be made to raise awareness of gender inequality and the ways in which stereotypical gender roles create both formal and informal barriers. The support of male political leaders is also a key ingredient in creating a political climate that encourages womens political participation. The ability of women to attain financial autonomy or access to economic resources is also necessary for their greater participation in political life. Worldwide, womens lower economic status, relative poverty and discriminatory legal frameworks are substantial hurdles to overcome. Because women control and have access to fewer economic resources, they are often unable to pay the formal and informal costs associated with gaining a partys nomination and standing for election. Strategies for increasing womens participation Quotas whether mandatory, legislated or voluntary continue to be the most effective means for increasing the number of women both in political parties and elective office. Studies conducted by NDI also indicate that quotas, in and of themselves, have not overcome the many obstacles that many women confront, including developing the political will to meaningfully implement a quota. Usually, quotas are implemented only after concerted advocacy efforts by womens political and civic alliances. Ongoing debate continues over whether quotas are workable in every political or electoral system; and even in the many countries that have embraced the use of quotas, they are seen as temporary, special measures. As a result, some countries with a long history of quotas, such as Australia, have now opted for gender neutral quotas. There are several types of quota systems: Quotas for candidates A system of reserved seats, such as those in Rwanda, Uganda and Morocco, guarantees that women candidates will be elected and achieve a specified level of representation in the targeted political institution, such as a parliament. Comparable attempts have been made by parties in Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom to get women candidates designated within quotas to winnable constituencies. Meanwhile, a quota that targets party lists, such as in Mexico, does not guarantee the election of women candidates, depending on the placement of women candidates in relation to the percentage of votes that the party receives. Quotas for representative institutions and multiple levels of government This system mandates womens representation in the national legislature, locally elected bodies, the executive branch (cabinet appointments), the judiciary and political parties.

Internal party quotas for candidates and for governing boards A number of parties have internal quotas for women for all or some of their governing boards. These quotas ensure that womens voices are present as the party makes internal decisions regarding its strategy and platform. Non-quota efforts to enhance womens political leadership have included reforms and legislation that regulate party activities; gender sensitive reforms to political institutions that increase the likelihood that the women who are elected will be able to succeed and seek reelection; party funding for the training of women; efforts to enhance the profile of women candidates; mechanisms to help women candidates address campaign costs; outreach to international organizations and donor aid agencies that can fund and carry out technical assistance programs to enhance the capacity of women candidates and elected officials, and to support advocacy campaigns on behalf of womens political participation and leadership. Overview of programs that empower women to engage in political decision-making and civil society at all levels NDI has worked to support and empower women in political decision-making and civil society at all levels. Recently, the Institute conducted an assessment to better understand effective approaches to encouraging womens political participation across regions and to measure the impact of such programs. The research concluded that best practices include: 1) conducting ongoing communications trainings; 2) focusing on building leadership skills; 3) uniting women across political party lines; 4) working with parties on internal reform; 5) training women to train other women; 6) developing the capacity and preparedness of elected women; 7) exchanging information internationally; and 8) engaging youth to help change socio-political attitudes and behavior. With these criteria in mind, the Institute has sought to help women acquire the tools necessary to participate successfully in all aspects of the political process in legislatures, political parties and civil society as leaders, activists and informed citizens. These programs have been supported by, among others, the National Endowment for Democracy; the U.S. Agency for International Development; the State Departments Middle East Partnership Initiative and Bureau for Democracy; Human Rights and Labor; the United Nations Development Programme; the Canadian International Development Agency; the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency; and individual contributors and private foundations, such as the Liz Claiborne Foundation and the Melvin and Bren Simon Foundation. Working with women in civil society is a major part of NDI's work. Women's civil society organizations play a key role in supporting increased women's political participation and women leaders. Furthermore, they advocate for, and provide technical expertise on key policy issues and help illustrate how policies may affect men and women, and boys and girls differently.

Involvement in civil society also gives women the opportunity to influence government and gain visibility, credibility and respect, and to help mitigate barriers to women's political participation. In many regions, civic organizations are led by women, and are often viewed as vehicles for women's leadership; they have emerged as incubators for women to cultivate their political and personal power. Creating strong partnerships among women in civic organizations and women in political parties and elected office can help advance a common women's agenda in a coordinated way. Furthermore, partnerships between civic organizations - that are critical in reaching and educating citizens - political parties and elected officials help build networks, develop relationships, and sustain trust and communication at the grassroots level. Civic organizations can also be useful in conducting gender equality assessments, working with political parties or examining public policies or government programs to identify challenges to gender equality and how to best address them. In Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Mostar Women Citizens Initiative (MWCI) created issue-based coalitions across ethnic lines to provide a greater role for women in political and civic life in Bosnia. One such coalition of women from major political parties, civic groups and citizen associations formed to advocate for greater protection to women on maternity leave. The group established and managed a working group of experts who produced a draft law, then implemented a media and advocacy campaign to help influence the government to adopt this draft law. Working with women in political parties is at the heart of NDI's work with women. Political parties are the gateway to political leadership and the key to advancing women's full participation in the political process. It is not enough for parties to establish women's wings or place women at the bottom end of party lists; they must develop real avenues for women's leadership. Access to, and advancement within political parties remains both essential to women's political success and the most difficult political door for women to enter. NDIs political party programs focus on building the skills and capacity of women party activists, as well as reinforcing among party leaders the value of women as voters, party leaders and candidates. NDIs Win with Women Global Initiative, convened in 2003 by NDI Chairman Madeleine Albright, has focused exclusively on strengthening women's roles in political parties. The Win with Women Global Initiative's organizing tool is the Global Action Plan (GAP), a set of concrete recommendations to help political parties broaden their appeal by becoming more inclusive and representative of women as voters, party leaders, candidates and elected officials. NDI has conducted multiparty and/or single party pro grams to assess parties strengths and weaknesses in recruiting, retaining and promoting women; to help parties reform their internal policies and practices; and to develop effective strategies that attract, retain and promote women. The Institute also helps parties develop and implement gender equality strategies to increase womens representation and participation and provides technical assistance to parties in developing gender responsive political platforms.

In Botswana, NDI conducted assessments of three major political parties to determine the degree to which women are incorporated in leadership positions, and to identify both the obstacles and opportunities they face in seeking such positions. From these assessments, NDI generated specific recommendations on how each party can increase womens political participation. These findings were presented to party leaders and also informed the content and design of a skills-building program for potential women leaders in each party. NDI also works to promote and support the participation of women in all stages of the electoral process, as candidates, campaign managers, poll watchers and voters. Recognizing the particular barriers women face in electoral processes, NDI has developed and implemented programs targeted specifically toward the specialized needs of women and gaps in women's electoral participation. In 2005, NDI assisted the Lebanese Association for Democratic Elections (LADE) in developing and a nationwide campaign to encourage women to participate in the general elections. The Use Your Voice campaign featured five prominent Lebanese women who appeared in television, radio, public transportation and billboard advertisements to motivate women voters. In Afghanistan, where women have been disproportionately affected by the brutal repression of the Taliban regime, NDI has trained most of the women candidates for national and provincial elections since 2004. And in Iraq, the National Platform for Women, supported by NDI, brought together women political and civic activists to advance the issues of healthcare, education, employment and political participation. After the elections, the National Platform will be a tool for newly-elected parliamentarians as they seek to respond to constituents needs. It will also serve as a point of reference for including women in policy debates; and it will encourage voters to hold candidates and political parties who have endorsed the platform accountable to their public campaign promises. The online resource iKNOW Politics ( was created by the Institute and its partners to encourage womens participation and effectiveness in political life. A joint project of NDI, the UNDP, the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), the InterParliamentary Union (IPU) and the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA), iKNOW Politics is a virtual forum in English, Spanish, French and Arabic that provides opportunities for women to share their experiences, access information and build a supportive online community to promote womens political participation. Since its inception in 2007, iKNOW Politics has averaged 1.5 million hits a month, and serves elected women officials, candidates, decision-makers, political leaders and civic groups, as well as academics, students and practitioners worldwide. Having attained political office, women need the skills, knowledge and self-confidence to perform their jobs effectively. Elected women have often had little or no opportunity to develop the type of specialized skills necessary to succeed in public office and NDI often works with elected women to help build their capacity to be effective officeholders. These skills may be office-specific, such as rules of procedures, drafting and advocating for legislation and budgets, and constituency outreach. Such capacity building may focus on equipping women with the

technical knowledge necessary to participate in influential committees in non-traditional areas, such as finance or defense. NDI also works with their male counterparts to raise awareness of gender equality issues, as well as to demonstrate the importance and political value of women's leadership in public office. NDI also works to help form and develop caucuses that can advocate for womens participation and leadership. Parliamentary caucuses have helped harness the power of women legislators to increase their influence, add a gender perspective into the policy development process and introduce legislation that address priority issues necessary for the achievement of gender equality. These groups frequently represent a unique space within legislatures for multi-partisan debate, and as such, the ability of the womens caucuses to be effective has reverberations on larger legislative, civic and political processes. Many caucuses not only work to help women parliamentarians come together to enact policy, they also conduct programs, training workshops and roundtables to help make women better members of parliament and political leaders. Other types of caucuses include womens branches or wings within political parties that can impact party policies and processes; and broader caucuses that include party activists, elected women and leaders from civil society organizations who work together to advocate for change. In Bangladesh, NDI supports an alliance of senior women political and civil society leaders through the Bangladesh Alliance for Women Leadership (BDAWL), which was formed to help women rise to senior positions within political parties, government, and civil society. The Alliance helped organize an orientation program for the 9th parliament of Bangladesh. Its recent 197-page publication, Whos Who: Women Leaders at a Glance, serves as a resource for government, business, academia, professionals and the media in identifying women experts from a broad array of disciples.

The three modernisations

The trajectory of a country is about three modernisations: social, political and economic. Social modernisation is about establishing freedom and rights of individuals. Political modernisation is about achieving democracy, where there is rule of law, where State power is dispersed and restricted, where elections generate contestability. Economic modernisation is about achieving a high growth modern market economy, about a government that gets away from expropriation and central planning to a government that is focused on solving market failures. All three modernisations interact in complex ways and fuel each other. As an example, Milton Friedman's `Capitalism and Freedom' hypothesis is the idea that political modernisation fuels economic modernisation and vice versa. This is a well established idea in the discourse. I find it also interesting to think about the other two legs of the stool: the interlinkages between social modernisation and the other two kinds of modernisation.

The role of women When we think of social modernisation and economic modernisation, the big thing that leaps out is the role of women. A society that does not respect women is under-utilising half its labour force. We would expect to see a causal impact of greater equality of women upon growth. We in India are sometimes complacent about the role of women in India. India is famous for having women in leadership roles. In a dinner meeting by Larry Summers, I once said that India was world #1 on one measure of the role of women: the fraction of the top 100 financial firms that are headed by women. I once met Andre Beteille, and asked him: When compared with 1947, in what aspect have things in India worked out much different from what you expected. He said: The role of women in the elite. He said that for upper class women in India today, it's better than even Japan, which is otherwise a very advanced country. The daughters of the elite in India have no glass ceiling, which is better than what we see in most places. On a population scale, however, things are vastly worse. Paramita Ghoshreports, in the Hindustan Times, on a crime victimisation survey of women with scary results. The India Today survey (link, link) shows us that 79.3% of men believe that marital rape is okay. We don't know how many men in India act out on this belief, but the report Why do some men use violence against women and how can we prevent it? by the United Nations, shows us scary facts from

some Asian countries that have men who think similarly to what the Indian data is showing. The Supreme Court ruling of yesterday is a reminder of the distance that we have to go on achieving social modernisation.

Things are changing dramatically with the young With human capital measures like literacy or graduating high school, a person tends to achieve them when young. If a person has not become literate or graduated high school by age 20, things are unlikely to change later on. Hence, the analysis of the cross section in the population is tantamount to looking at the history: what we see for (say) 50 year olds today is a description of what things were like, 30 years ago, for 20-year olds. Age-specific rates are like rings of a tree.







(Time-series reconstructed from age-specific rates visible in the cross section) The graph above shows the literacy of the cohort entering the labour force, which I approximate as being the cohort at age 22.5. The blue vertical line stands for today. This is constructed using the cross-section visible in March 2013 from CMIE Consumer Pyramids, a quarterly panel dataset with 150,000 households covering 700,000 individuals. With children, high literacy rates are found early on, and this yields projections for literacy of the age 22.5 cohort in the future. We see that overall literacy of the cohort entering the workforce has gone up from roughly 70% in 1990, when India began opening the economy, to roughly 90% today and will go up to 100% in the coming 15 years. In addition, there was a big gender gap, which has been significantly reduced and will fully go away.















(Time-series reconstructed from age-specific rates in the cross section) It seems shocking to think that in 1990, roughly 7% of the cohort starting off into the labour force, at age 22.5, had passed 12th standard. This has gone up dramatically to 20%. Sharp growth is visible into the future when today's 15 year olds become age 22.5, and there is no gender gap with today's 15 year olds. The third thing that I want to show from household survey data is the ownership of mobile phones.

Age-specific rates of mobile phone ownership All of us have been hearing about miraculous growth of mobile phones in India for a while, and have become a bit inured to the story. While a lot has happened, however, a lot remains to be done. The black line shows that with males, roughly 75% of the young and 80% of the old have mobile phones. The work is progress lies in taking this up to 100% for everyone. What's striking is the women. The upper red line, for March 2013, shows that 40% of girls have mobile phones, and this decays to 20% at age 45. On a related note, Avjit Ghosh, writing in the Times of India, talks about a paper by Yvonne MacPherson and Sara Chamberlain which finds that only 9% of adult women in Bihar have ever sent an SMS. There is a high rate of change with mobile telephony, in even the short timespan between the latest data (March 2013) and the first data from CMIE (June 2010) which is the lower red line.

Speculation I feel that in the early decades after independence, we had a progressive elite, which was able to bring up daughters well and we made amazing strides at the top. But social modernisation took place only in the elite. For the bulk of the population, attitudes and indoctrination and levels of violence remained neanderthal. M. N. Srinivas has emphasised the extent to which the rest of society aspires to catch up with the lifestyle and the values of the elite. In the early years, there was little catch up on the treatment of women: the elite and the proletariat coexisted like oil and water. Perhaps budget constraints came in the way of translating aspirations. Maybe poor households shortchanged daughters on nutrition and education and mobile phones and such like, thus encouraging subservience in daughters. In my opinion, the economic growth of the last 20 years is creating a new wave of households within which daughters are growing up differently. Daughters who have high school education and a mobile phone are going to engage with the world differently. As an example, they are less likely to accept sexual harassment and sexual assault. We may now be at the early stages of something very big. Economic modernisation has created this phase of social modernisation. The rise of capable women who will not be pushed around will, in turn, fuel economic growth because we are then getting a superior labour force. There is an enormous distance to cover. In my opinion, it will be a story spread over two generations (50 years) starting from 2000, through which we will endup with something satisfactory on the role of women. Economic growth will create opportunities for women and for sensibly bringing up daughters, and the rise of capable women will fuel economic growth.

From Bread Bakers to Bread Earners- The changing roles of Indian Women

The portrayal or understanding of a Woman in India has been an evolving phenomenon since time immemorial. From once worshiped as divine and pure creatures, to the medieval roles of child bearing and rearing, and now to the contemporary portrayal of power and resistance, the women in India have changed myriad social roles over the past. However, the social presence of Indian women has got much more significance in todays developing times. Where until lately, they were shadowed by patria rchal dominance, the contemporary women in India have moved beyond all social boundaries to emerge as triumphant leaders of tomorrow. Not only has She taken up courageous roles in society, her own individuality as a woman has now got an improvised meanin g.

The world has changed for females in India now. The daughters are pursuing successful ambitions in the male dominated corporate scenario and mothers are taking up flextime jobs to showcase their exceptional managerial talent. Today, our women have stepped out to become bread earners of the family. Although the trend is yet developing in India, there are many families who choose for the men to stay back at home and manage household whereas their female counterparts take up challenging professional roles. The IT-BPO sector is becoming a female dominated industry in India with a significant number of capable and qualified female workforce delivering exceptional performances at the corporate level. Hospitality, Retail and Financial sectors are also not lagging behind in such changing scenarios.

According to Raju Bhatnagar,VP,Nasscom,women constitute an important economic force for the country and suitable enabling provisions must be made to harness their abilities to benefit the economy. (Quote source- Times of India). Keeping aside the hard core brick and mortar sectors that demand much physical strength, the strong, intellectual and determined women in India are set to take on remarkable careers in the promising professional arenas of today.

Supporting their ambitious endeavors and putting forth their entrepreneurial talent, the SHEROES Summit, presented by Fleximoms, is an excellent platform for the aspiring and successful women professionals to meet, interact, explore and gain insight about the evolving industry trends and opportunities to work with leading corporate houses in the country. SHEROES brings together stakeholders in context of women and work CEOs, business owners, women professionals, career coaches, entrepreneurs and women professionals across stages of life. The SHEROES Summit 2013 celebrates choices women make for themselves and making them work for them.

Get inspired and be a motivation for others to gear up the workplace. Come join hands!

Notable Indian women

Education Savitribai Phule was a social reformer. Along with her husband, Mahatma Jotiba Phule, she played an important role in improving women's rights in India during British Rule. Savitribai was the first female teacher of the first women's school in India and also considered to be the pioneer of modern Marathi poetry. In 1852 she opened a school for Untouchable caste girls. Arts and entertainment Singers and vocalists such as M.S. Subbulakshmi, Gangubai Hangal, Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle and others are widely revered in India. Anjolie Ela Menon is a famous painter. Sports Although in general the women's sports scenario in India is not very good, some Indian women have made notable achievements in the field. Some famous female sportspersons in Indian include P. T. Usha (athletics), J. J. Shobha (athletics), Kunjarani Devi (weightlifting), Diana Edulji (cricket), Saina Nehwal (badminton), Koneru Hampi (chess) and Sania Mirza (tennis). Female Olympic medalists from India include weightlifter Karnam Malleswari (bronze, 2000), Saina Nehwal (bronze, 2012), and boxer Mary Kom (bronze, 2012). Politics Through the Panchayat Raj institutions, over a million women have actively entered political life in India.[57] 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.[36] Literature Many women writers are prominent in Indian literature as poets and story writers, such as Sarojini Naidu, Kamala Surayya, Shobha De, Arundhati Roy, and Anita Desai. Sarojini Naidu is called the nightingale of India. Arundhati Roy won the Booker Prize (Man Booker Prize) for her novel The God of Small Things