The status of women in India has been subject to many great changes over the past few millennia.
From equal status with men in ancient times through the low points of the medieval period, to the promotion of equal rights by many reformers, the history of women in India has been eventful.
While women in the ‘West’ had to fight for over a century to get some of their basic rights, like the right to vote, the Constitution of India gave women equal rights with men from the beginning. Unfortunately, women in India are mostly unaware of their rights because of illiteracy and the oppressive tradition.
Names like Kalpana Chawla: The Indian born, who fought her way up into NASA and was the first women in space, and Indira Gandhi: The Iron Woman of India was the Prime Minister of the Nation, and Mother Teresa are not representative of the condition of Indian women.
Elaborate laws to protect women
India has elaborate laws to protect the rights of women, including the Prevention of Immoral Traffic, the Sati (widow burning) Act, and the Dowry Prevention Act. Women and children have figured prominently in the government's agenda of social reforms and initiatives.
Government unable to enforce laws
However the Government is often unable to enforce these laws, especially in rural areas where traditions are deeply rooted.
Dowry, Female bondage and forced prostitution are widespread in some parts of India. Many obstacles to the realization of women's human rights in India, are social and cultural in nature, deeply rooted in the traditions of its communities. In modern India, women have adorned high offices in India including that of the President, Prime minister, Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Leader of Opposition, etc. The current President of India is a woman.
The 12th President of India is Her Excellency Pratibha Devisingh Patil, the first woman to serve in the office, who was sworn in on 25 July 2007.
" I am deeply committed to the cause of education and would like to see every person, man and woman, boy and girl, be touched by the light of modern education. Empowerment of women is particularly important to me as I believe this leads to the empowerment of the nation" Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil, President of India