‘Contesting’ the Discourses of Womanhood: A Historical Reaccount of the Conditions of Women in British India and Beyond
Department of History
Munshi Premchand Mahavidyalaya
Siliguri, Darjeeling,West Bengal
Abstract:: In the past women in India were dependent on men. Their religious practices and traditions ascribed for their subordination to men in all matters. They were denied education, access to social justice and equality. They were also unaware of their basic rights due to their ignorance. With the arrival of the British, the Christian missionaries were shocked to see the dependant state of women and wanted to build schools to educate them about their rights, along with their true intention of spreading their religion. More alarming at that time were the practices of Sati, child marriage, female infanticide, Devadasi system, pardha system and others which they wanted to free women from and also create a political platform for them. Independent India saw more liberated women who have created a literature of their own, placing women in the context of the changing social scenario. But increasing education, better job opportunities and awareness of rights and privileges of women have forced her to ponder and define her role in society. The objective of the study is to analyze the portrayal of women in today’s world in comparison to the past. An attempt to understand whether the modern women is truly liberated of her ignorance or has she entered a new arena that has more shackles to offer..
Key Words:Education, Exploitation, Patriarchy, Subordination, Women Empowerment etc.