Introduction: In Modern India, women are in the forefront in almost all fields. The belief that, women were inferior to men has been broken.
They hold an important position in the Indian society and are playing a significant role in the overall development of India. With education becoming widespread, more girls are being educated. There are women administrators, senior executives, police officers, social-workers and politicians.
Many women have made their name in the national mainstream such as Mother Teresa, Shobha De, Ekta Kapoor, Sania Mirza, Saina Nehwal, P.T. Usha, Kiran Bedi, Indira Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi, Arundhati Roy, Medha Patkar, and others. The list is endless. Each has made the country richer by her contributions.
1. Source of Inspiration: A woman who has inspired many a school child is Lakshmi Bai, Rani of Jhansi (1835-58). The brave queen is perhaps the first freedom fighter of the country. A brave warrior, she took on the might of the British Empire and led the revolt in the first war of Indian independence in 1857 and died fighting.
2. Freedom Struggle: Later, many more women were to jump into India’s freedom struggler, inspired by Mahatma Gandhi. Social reformers who worked towards women’s emancipation realized that unless women were granted equal status in all walk of life-economic, education, and social-India could not progress. As a result, women joined the freedom struggle in a big way.
3. National Progress: After independence, women started participating in the nation’s progress in many ways. They became lawyers, social workers, scientists and took up professions which were in the male domain earlier. Many women joined the armed forces also, and today we have women pilots and sailors.
4. Politics: India has witnessed great Women Politicians such as Indira Gandhi, Sonia Ganchi, Sushma Swaraj, Jayalalithaa, etc.One of the most successful politicians of all times has been Mrs. Indira Gandhi, who was admired the world over. She led the country with a decisiveness that has not been seen since. It was a time when the country was finding its feet, and women too found new vocations. These women were courageous, establishing a precedence which others would follow.
5. Contribution in various fields: Among the women who braved the odds and came in the limelight were professionals in different fields.
- Vijaylakshmi Pandit became the first woman President of the UN General Assembly.
- Gunjan Saxena became the first women pilot to fly sorties during the Kargil war.
- Kiran Bedi had become the country’s first IPS officer. She stayed in the limelight by taking up reforms wherever she worked. Kalpana Chawla became the first Indian-born woman to go in space.
- Amrita Patel became the chairperson of the National Dairy Development board.
- Shabana Azmi, Medha Patkar and Ela Bhatt came to be known for social causes.
- In sports, Kunjarani Devi, P.T. Usha, Jyotirmoyee Sikdar, Shiny Wilson, among other, became known achievers.
- In literature, Mahasweta Devi and Arundhati Roy touched new heights. As whole tribe of women writers became famous for their works in the 1990’s.
- International beauty contests came to be dazzled by Indian beauty. Reita Faria Powell won the Miss world for the first time in 1966 and later Sushmita Sen became Miss Universe while Aishwarya Rai became Miss World. It seemed that the floodgates had been opened. Since then, a number of girls have achieved international fame: Diana Hayden, Yukta Mookhey.
Conclusion: This is not to forget the countless women who are not known because they devoted themselves to domestic duties. It is said that “behind every great man there is a great woman”, so the role and importance of women in building the nation indirectly, cannot be underestimated.