The fundamental differences between the gender equality and women’s liberation in the West and the one in India are that in the West it involved a struggle for acceptance as equals in all spheres of life, but in India, it pertains only to the woman’s role as a wife. In India, a woman has never degenerated into a sex symbol. She has, rather, been treated with divine reverence. As stated earlier, her cause has been upheld by men themselves, and hence the Indian woman carries no bitterness against man as a class.
The rapid change in the standard of values and behaviour attempted by Mahatma Gandhi and some of his enthusiastic followers could not bring the desired results because society was not prepared to accept the Gandhian ethic in sexual matters, which called for a highly developed standard of sincerity. This state of affairs resulted in the development of hypocrisy in the sense that whatever was propagated and accepted publicly was rejected in private. Men tried to evade the call of the times by adopting double standards and women in India, newly freed from their domestic subjugation, did not see a clear way out of this situation.
Below Are the Reasons For Gender Inequality
This resulted in the moral confusion that took different directions and distorted sexual behaviour and the standard of values. In the matter of gender equality and equality of rights, one cannot fail to observe a sharp distinction between the roles and spheres of the two sexes. True parity, granted by the Constitution of India, could be achieved only when the conceptions and attitudes of the people are brought on par with it.
With the expansion of education and urbanisation since the attainment of independence, women in India are getting “or opportunities to enter almost all spheres of social, administrative, legal and political activity. During the past few years, much thought has been given to the principle of egalitarianism between the sexes on the individual level. It appears that human society is conceived to consist of two sexes hostile to each other. This tendency is fundamentally very unfortunate from the point of view of the larger interest of humanity However, every social trend is based on certain historical facts.
In the West, talk of egalitarianism is based on economic self-sufficiency of the woman. The progress of science and technology and industrialisation have laid open to women in India all kinds of jobs, technical as well as administrative. Almost everywhere women in India are achieving positions which were once considered beyond their capacity. The most exclusive scientific societies have opened their doors and admitted women in India to the highest honours (Montaigne Ashby. The Natural Superiority of Women. London: George Allen and Unwin Ltd. 1954), for example, Madame Curie, Semla Lagerlof, Grazia Seledda, Sigrid Undset, Pearl Buck, Gabriela Mistrel, and many many more.
It is sometimes said that among women in India, there have been very few great musicians, poets, painters, scientists, inventors, technologists and philosophers. This contention might have been valid until the dawn of the 19th century, that is, before which women in India were deprived of all opportunities to prove and develop their faculties and genius. Now they can vote and occupy various high positions in all spheres including the legal, political and diplomatic. The increasing demand for skills to fill jobs created by industrialisation has been the most important factor leading to this state of affairs. The demand for industry has crossed all racial, ethnic, national and sex barriers. Most of the highly industrialised countries of the West had to allow even foreigners to work in their industries. In certain countries, the number of foreigners working in the industry had gone beyond the number of natives so engaged.
Further, the economic philosophy of John Locke introduced in Western ethics and philosophy the concept of equal opportunity to develop oneself. Thus, the industrial needs as also the ethical assertions worked simultaneously in favour of the struggle for egalitarianism.
To develop skilled workers needed by industry, the educational set up was expanded laying all branches of study open to men and women equally. Thus, women in India got an opportunity to prepare themselves for all types of jobs at par with men, thereby attaining economic independence. This state of affairs benefited the women of the lower strata, who learnt skills for getting employment while women in the middle and upper strata could attain economic parity with men due to their traditional apathy towards participation in occupations.
In course of time, this led to two independent trends among the lower and upper classes; for example, the menfolk of the lower classes conceded fewer rights than their women in India obtained while men in the upper strata conceded more rights ideologically than their women in India did, in fact, achieve (William J. Goode. World Revolutions and Family Patterns).
These ideological tensions are non-existent in Indian society. As stated earlier, the Indian woman’s struggle is limited to attaining parity in respect of her role as a wife. With increasing education, academic as well as professional, they will soon attain this parity in all respects and regain the position of respect they held during the Vedic period.
The relationship between husband and wife is one of partnership in which each looks after the interests of the other. As the elevation of the soul consists of self-negation, the idea of husband and wife looking after each other is evidently conducive to worldly happiness and spiritual elevation. The proper idea of Indian womanhood is self-fulfilment by means of self-effacement.
Ancient and medieval literature of the West confirms the prevalence of a similar concept of the ideal woman, that is, the personification of devotion, sacrifice and submissiveness to her husband. From the modern point of view, we find an element of consent and mutual co-operation as the basis of married life among the members of the lower castes, whereas among the upper castes there is a strong sense of possession over property and wife alike.
Besides this, women of the upper castes, not themselves engaged in productive or economic activities, were fully dependent upon their husbands whereas women of the lower castes enjoyed much more freedom and economic independence due to their equal participation in productive activities.
Although it is very difficult to define the term «gender equality» in any universal form, a beginning has been made to transform relations, frame policies and set up goals. There is no gainsaying that the two sexes need to be brought closer through mutual love and understanding. It is time to realise the significance of effective social equality of the sexes