Gender Equality in India: Problems of Patriarchal Structure

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About this sample


Words: 3212 |

Pages: 7|

17 min read

Published: Jan 5, 2023

Words: 3212|Pages: 7|17 min read

Published: Jan 5, 2023

What a piece of work is woman!

'Why Violent Video Games Shouldn't Be Banned'?

In form, in moving, how express and admirable!

In action how like an angel.

In apprehension how like a God!

And at the same time it is also said.

Frailty — thy name is woman.

- William Shakespeare.

The status of women involves equality between men and women. Women are viewed to be the second sex. Equality and status are closely associated with power. The changing status of power involves the sharing on equal footing with men in decision-making and its accomplishment, to intimate and reputable extents. The societal value framework plays an important role in determining the changing status of power equations. Hence, the status of women involves the distribution and redistribution of power.

A woman is not accepted on her terms by the patriarchal structure. Gyno -Critics have considered the kind of divide between a father language and a mother language. If he or she wants to be accepted anywhere, he or she has to know the rules of the game that they have to play, then he or she has to use what is called `The Father Language.' It is the language that is expository pertaining particularly to scientific discourse and involves talking down to and does not seek any particular response. If one speaks the father language, he or she gets absorbed into the patriarchy. Mother language, on the other hand, sheds intellectual authority.

During the last two or three decades, women's studies have become popular and this study deals with women in the Indian situation. When we go back to the Vedic period, one could find that the status of a woman was equal to that of a man. After the Vedic period, a flat position for women in society was presented. After independence, there has been an improvement in the status of women. Today, we are critically analyzing the position of women. Questions are being raised regarding a woman's position in every walk of life. Actions are being proposed to change the situations and solve the problems that are being faced by women.In a male-centric society, the institution of marriage is the fundamental consideration for all the problems connected with women. In India, a culture has been created which has denied the existence of women except as daughter/sister, a wife/daughter-in-law, and mother/mother-in-law. It has also denied women the possibility of being a 'SHE,' a person capable of achieving individuation. She is seen as an insignificant creature and as her status is described in Raja Rao'sThe Serpent and the Rope: 'Women should not be'(45). A man's relationship with woman is most often the bond that exists between a master and a slave. A woman is an object and she is essential to man because only through her that man hopes to attain self-realization. It is in such a culture, in recent times, that voices of dissent are heard in the form of feminism.

One of the primal and seminal concerns of feminism is to declare that a woman is a being. She is not an object in the hands of man. A woman is not the 'other'; She is not an addition to a man. She is an autonomous being capable of finding her own way to salvation, through trial and error. Some feminist writings say that there must have been a time in the cradle of humanity when there were no different issues for men and women. Over the movement of civilization, issues have tended to be different for women and they never remained at the center of anything. Women have become marginalized and men have remained at the Centre for many centuries. It is women alone who are caught in the interface between production for the needs of human existence and the reproduction of new human beings themselves. This has been the universal situation about women.

Problems like the deterioration of their social status, and the perpetual insecurity in a squatter settlement are important considerations in determining the social status of women in India. In the Patriarchal Indian Social System, the difficulties faced by women are: They are not treated equally, there is less endowment for women, women are subordinated through violence, the media's negative portrayal of women, and the support systems for women sometimes prove to be trapped for women. Women play multiple roles such as school teachers, typists, clerks, telephone operators, midwives, and ayahs. While married women have a low social status and security because of her family situation and poor economic background, unmarried women are ill-treated where she lives. Sometimes in the absence of sons, some daughters stay unmarried to support their old parents.

The enhancement of the position of women requires a change in the opinions and roles of both men and women. Women's initiation and empowerment should not only be contemplated as an issue in social development but also should be seen as a significant part in every dimension of development. Equity, sovereign equality, interdependence, common interest, and cooperation among all states should be the basis for the betterment of the position of women.

There were different phases of rise and fall in the position of women in the Indian situation. It is remarked that in the Vedic period women get involved in all the fields like men and took an active part in every province of human life. A woman has been a man's friend, his co-worker, and never his inferior. She has enjoyed property rights, an approach to the property of her father and husband, and also she has scuffled against the political as well as social problems generously with man. During the Vedic period, women have been occupied high positions in society and have been allowed to enter the societal province.

It reveals that women have equal rights with men in choosing a life partner in her marriage. Marriage is well established social and religious institution in the Vedic period. It has prevented sexual immorality to a great extent. In the middle ages, women's social position declined remarkably. The male child is considered to be more important in the family compared to daughters because religiously and economically they are given more preference. Not only does the son perform funeral rites necessary for salvation, but also he is a potential wage earner. He has been seen as a supporter of his parents in their old age. He is also considered to be an economic asset. The daughter, on the other side, has no economic importance, and she has been derided for taking money from the family in the form of dowry during her marriage. In recent times, education, especially formal education, has played a very significant role in the social status of women. It is a major path of ascending social mobility. “Education is the key that opens the door to life which is essentially social in character.' 

For women, the greatest achievement is motherhood. After achieving it, everything is rewarded for fulfilling her destined role. Whether Jain, Buddhist, or Hindu, Dharma is a salient pedestal on which the entire structure of society is built. It has meanings at different levels, though the overall impact of the word gives Hindus the dictum to follow a religion-oriented way of life. This fundamental body of moral behavior, related to the continuity of the universe as a recognized scientific reality which gives a woman as the sahakarinior worldly protector of her husband's life and the one who holds things together. What is important in the life of Indian Women is a form of endurance, which is difficult to define.

When Hindu women marry, they must bear sons. Then only, they become blessed. It is believed that the father’s soul may reach heaven only when a mother begets the son. It is interesting to note that, in the Indian social set-up, women still glorify only male children above females. This has created sex determination in family life, and it is intact for over five thousand years because of women’s ability to cope with the harsh realities of life in Indian society. Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Nation, has seen this loathing situation and has tried to bring a solution to their problem. He has stated thus:

Women are not abala...weaker sex. You can change the face of the country today. You must have the courage to use the great strength to suffer without inflicting suffering and to resist wrong so that you would break but not bend…, God has a blessed woman with the strength of faith in a measure that is not given to man. So long as we cannot dispel the ignorance which makes women put male offspring above female, it won't be well with us.

Further, Gandhiji's philosophy is that a woman has a right to get an education. According to him, education expands and sharpens women’s intellect and increases their capacity for doing well. Though men and women are considered as equals, in existing practice when it comes to the question of giving education to girls, there is a liability among the parents to prefer a boy's education than that of a girl. The illiterate mother, in particular, has very little chance to perceive that she should guarantee better education to her daughter at least. The National Committee on the Status of Women observes that the Constitutional directive to provide free and compulsory education up to 14 years has remained unfulfilled till now.

In India, activities to enhance the status of women have been initiated in the 19th century. They are known as 'reform movement.' This has helped women to take part in the nationalist Movement. Women have acted as vehicles for National Independence. With the blossoming autonomous women's groups, things have started changing. A process of transformation has begun in the field of women's social status. Three major movements are noticeable in this process of transformation. First, in the social economic sphere, the continuing absorption of women into the workforce has continued. Second, science and technology in relation to birth control and reduction in their drudgery will minimize the present imbalance in capacity for personal decisions and actions between the sexes. Third, the present redefinition of the moral and psychological assumption that a single-parent family as the only legitimate form of sexual cohabitation is likely to continue. These three emerging trends in Indian society are likely to generate specific and continuing courses of action, particularly on the part of organized women's groups, governments, and large private corporate organizations.

The extension of equal treatment to women and equal consideration would go a long way in ensuring equal social justice, the struggle for which has been a basic theme of political and social movements for the past several centuries. For a long time yet, this goal has be achieved by organized women's action. The social values of the people change with changes in the economic structure and ideology. The Committee on the status of women in India observes that patterns of Women's activity are greatly affected by social attitudes and institutions, which stem from the social ideology concerning the status of women. These may differ according to the stage of economic development. On the one hand, a woman has been kept out of occupational activity as a bread earner and on the other hand, on the pretext of the biological ground, she has been compelled to become a wife and mother. The responsibility of nurturing a child has always been allocated to the woman. Margaret Polatnick has argued that child-rearing 'is no sacred fate of nature, but a social policy which supports male domination in the society and in the family'.

Men, as the subordinate group, don't want childrearing responsibility, so they assign it to women. Slowly the working woman has taken over part of the bread-winning activity but the man has not as yet taken over the child-rearing activity. Social reforms and economic developments are gradually changing the man-woman relationship and the fixed nature of roles has been allocated to them by the prevalent social structure. Education plays an important role in the social status of women and has offered them job opportunities in new fields. From time to time, Indian women, have been showing their talent in each and every discipline of knowledge. Man boasts and brags, domineers, and dominates over women only because a woman has come out from man, she is one of the ribs of a man. In the Hindu religion, the social value of women is not certain, sometimes upgraded and sometimes degraded.In modern times, women have shown their determination in every field. If one probe into the history of Indian authors in English, one can see that Indian women have shown their talent both qualitatively and quantitatively and are displaying their value endlessly.

Indian women writers through their works have brought out well on women's struggle for freedom, identity, marital problems, and so on. This happens because of gender bias and cultural estrangement. Men have freedom in a tradition-bound society. They have their own views, and feelings and can express them freely and fearlessly. On the other hand, women are expected to be mute and passive. They have to shape themselves according to the wishes, needs and instructions of the family. In other words, they are viewed to be the private property of the male. In such a scenario, Indian women writers in English are against the subjugation of women and through their works they project freedom for women.

Most of the Indian women writers including the chosen writers for the study are against the chiding of women in a tradition-bound society, where women are viewed to be the inferior sex. Women writers are against the sadism of men, which ruins their life totally. Man’s dominant psyche, these writers know pretty well, may spoil women’s economic and social independence. Indian women writers do not like women to be treated with prejudice because this kind of existence does not take them as human beings. Interestingly, most of Indian women writers do not allow their protagonists, either their body or mind, to be dominated by the male ego. The protagonists of these women writers do not allow themselves to be marked by despair or frustration. Also, they know pretty well if they allow despair or frustration, they may gnaw their soul.

Further, it is observed that most of the protagonists of Indian women writers adhere to modern view. To them sex is not a taboo. Though the protagonists experience emptiness, at every step in their life, they try to swim across this without pent-up emotions. Most of the Indian women writers have brought out lesbianism as a sort of elite. To them it is not a curse or a sort of hindrance to attaining an individualistic identity. They have the guts to break the social taboos. The protagonists of Indian women writers are educated and long for career-oriented life. They have their own dreams. Through their protest and resistance, they save themselves from victimization.

They attempt to assert their individuality and confront in search of freedom because they do their best to redefine human relationships. The cultural and social background may help them to realize their need to live in the family. But, they dare to reject their respective role if there is any harm to their existence. They work to achieve self-identity and independence with their gouging tendencies. Discard, in their marriage, is a real problem to them and if it surmounts, they struggle to find a solution to the problems. In fact, they strive very hard to uphold family and societal norms. To their heedful behavior, at the same time, they are not ready to lose their identity because of their awareness their rights and duties.

They also have illicit sexual passion and bank on an independent autonomous existence. Though the readers may think that a careen between tradition and modernity, they want their existence to be felt and recognized by all those who come into contact with them. In other words, it seems they refuse to stoop to tradition, convention, and oppression. So, they show sign of being far from the conservative hold of Indian society. These protagonists of Indian women writers have a circle of their own. They do not care for virulent critics about their opinions. They don’t bother for anyone and they try to bring the world at their feet. Also, they believe the sky is the limit for their progress. Truly they are modern women with enthusiasm and creative energy.

The Post–Colonial Writers, at the beginning, have portrayed pain, hardship and struggle in their writings at the beginning. They show life of dependence. Also, they show how their protagonists live at the mercy of the patriarchal man in their lives. In fact, they have shown their heroines with less dignity, identity or individuality. Later, writers like Anita Desai and Ruth ParawerJhabvalaproject their protagonists as independent and how they live life of their own. They have inner struggles and with it they try to discover the real self through their inner natural potential to show they do not want to submit themselves to anyone’s injunctions. They want to assert their position as human beings equal to men. As a result, they show a scuffle between age old traditions and emerging new ideas. Most of the Indian women writers have brought out how the family and society are responsible for deteriorating relations. But, the fierce protagonists of Indian women writers struggle to attain selfhood to show that they are non- conformist.

In fact, the protagonists are projected not as an object and they go ahead to attain their goal with their strident endeavors. Though the double standards of patriarchy may give them mental trauma, they try to overcome their agony with their audacity. Most of Indian women writers talk about Liberal Feminism. Its aim is to achieve equality between man and woman; it stresses more on the strength of an individual to change biased practices against women. It works within the framework of society to bring women into it. Liberal Feminism has its saying to focus on the individual who uses her abilities not only to help but also to help women thereby becoming equal with men in society.

Indian women writers,who fall into Liberal Feminism, work for an individual woman who has the ability to determine her role in family and society with freedom to attain selfhood. It, therefore, aims to remove the historic structure of patriarchal law that has denied women’s rights. The major stress is on the equality of women. In short, it helps to bring equality between women and men in the framework of existing social systems.

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The history of Indian women writers in English begins with KrupabaiSatthianadhan, Cornelia Sorabji, and Sarojini Naidu. They are the pillars of feminism during the colonial period in their dedication in helping the marginalized women of India. Although all three have separate careers and have been from different backgrounds, they have converged because of the same ideal: the belief that the treatment of many women subjected to social practices needed reform, and female education has been necessary in the reform. Satthianadhan, Sorabji, and Naidu have become the aid for women who have felt oppressed within society, often symbolically and literally becoming the voice for these women. They have been truly women of ambition on a mission, a mission to rewrite history for the future of India’s women. Naidu, who has been on the forefront in protesting against the British for the 

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Gender Equality in India: Problems of Patriarchal Structure. (2023, January 05). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 13, 2024, from
“Gender Equality in India: Problems of Patriarchal Structure.” GradesFixer, 05 Jan. 2023,
Gender Equality in India: Problems of Patriarchal Structure. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 13 Jun. 2024].
Gender Equality in India: Problems of Patriarchal Structure [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2023 Jan 05 [cited 2024 Jun 13]. Available from:
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