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The Development of the Role of Indian Women in Society
by Shivani Joshi

In a modern democratic society the word "oppression" is looked upon with disgust. Political oppression during World War II led people to realize that they wanted more from their leaders. Women were no different, they wanted a say and they battled to get the right to vote. The movement inspired many women who wanted to prove their worth. By getting themselves the right to vote, women were seen as equal to men. Time has, however, shown that women need more than the right to vote in order to have an equal standing with men. As a result, women continued to be oppressed in the home, and oppression continued within the walls of a newfound democratic society.

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Today, many women are still oppressed and one main cause of this is traditional ethics that act as a protocol in many homes, especially Indian homes. After marriage many women are expected to stay at home and become permanent housewives, often leaving decision- making to their husbands. Thankfully, things are changing and Indian women have begun to fight back and regain some of their independence.

More and more Indian women are continuing to work after marriage. In fact, over 1/3 of businesses are owned by women and they seem to be expanding at a greater speed than those owned by men. This shows just how strong determined women can be. Many Indian women have pursued successful careers, refusing to take a passive role in their lives. A number of Indian families have begun to see just how determined Indian women can be and how ambitious they really are. For many traditionalists this radical change has been a shock. The thought of the wife out working while the husband stays home with the children is a difficult concept to grasp. Yet, this is exactly what is going on in some Indian families. There has been a complete role reversal with the husbands more than willing to take on daily household chores while the wife is the main breadwinner! For many women dreams have become reality, and with the support of family and friends they are able to have the type of life they always imagined.

Not only is change in a sometimes-orthodox society an important milestone, it also teaches us all a lesson about how some traditions can leave people unhappy. However, by joining forces and fighting for change things will happen for the better. The next generation, my generation, looks upon some of these traditions as oppressive. It is up to us to change things for the better to help create and maintain a contemporary, modern society that will be fair and democratic for all that live within it.

Shivani Joshi resides in London and is currently studying English. One of her dreams is to pursue a career in magazine writing, perhaps with an entertainment or feature specialty. She also feels her voice would speak well to the young Asian community. Some of her work has been published in her local newspaper.

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