Feminism generally refers to the social, political and economic equality of the sexes. I am writing this post in answer to IHM’s tag.
Most of the angles of this subject seem to have been covered in the recent blog posts that I have read. So I will discuss just one aspect.
In Indian history there have been many women who are remembered with respect and awe. Among them are Jijabai, mother of Chatrapati Shivaji, Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi, Rani Chennamma of Kittur, and others. These women are often held up as examples to prove that women were on an equal level with men in India.
But was this really so? No doubt these were great women. Jijabai succeeded in molding her son into a great warrior and ruler who established an Independent state free from the oppression of the Moguls. But circumstances prevented Shahajiraje, Shivaji’s father from being with his family.
After the demise of Rani Laxmibai’s husband, the then British Governor General refused to recognise her adopted son as heir to the throne of Jhansi. So she had to take up arms against the British. Rani Chennamma had found herself in the same situation. She too fought against the British.
These and many other women in Indian history fought against all odds and showed great courage when circumstances were against them. But could they have shown the same admirable capabilities if they had not been caught in adverse circumstances?
Did they have the chance to show what they were capable of, because they were in difficult situations? If there had been men to ‘take care of them’ might they not have been required to lead more ordinary lives?
It is well known that during World War II, lives of women in England changed drastically. Because most of the men of working age had gone to fight overseas, more women went to work, and many worked in jobs previously closed to women. They got a chance to show that they could be as good at a job as men, simply because the men were not there.
Women everywhere have shown that they can be as capable as a man in adverse situations. But it should not be necessary that such adverse circumstances exist before they are allowed to show their strengths.
They should have an opportunity to work or obtain an education or do anything else not just in adversity, but as a matter of course. Just as men would have.
If men and women are to be truly equal men and women should have equal opportunities to show what they are capable of.
Of course times have changed. And I am confident that society is making strides in that direction.
Women have become more independent. And men have begun to understand. We still have some way to go, but progress is certainly being made.