Democracy is not merely a form of government but also a way of life, an order of society, a way of social and economic relations, and above all, a belief system (Saikia & Baruah, 2012). Thus, given important role on absence of discrimination and gender quality in political participation in order to maintain stability and democracy within the country. Gender inequality in civil, politics and other aspect can lead to social movement, political or cultural conflict which bring concern to the democracy sustainability.
India is the world’s largest democracy country and at the same time it has very strict social norms and moral on the gender role. They maintain it generations to generations but with the rise of global pressure on the gender equality, women rights, it is challenging to the local culture. It seems to go in oppose direction between the growth of modernity and the social culture of Hinduism society. The caste system in India is an important part of Hindu tradition which developed and solidified during the Vedic period from 1500 to 500 BCE (Sen, 1962). According to the caste system, Shudras and untouchables classes experiencing more gender inequalities and discriminations rather than other classes. Thus, most women from Shudras and untouchables classes have to face unfortunate social position and their social status, traditionally discriminated from better job opportunities and opportunity to grow, thus they were neglected by urban projects, political rights.
Ancient women can enjoy their freedom, educate themselves, public service and to select their partner but in the same castes or family standard during Epic Period. But regarding to the property rights, religious field and public life, women have very limit rights. For example, a married daughter had no share in her father’s property and no direct share in her husband property (Punam, 2017). Until the period of Dharmashatras and Purans, women gradually declined and there was a major change. The girls were deprived of formal education, women were regarded as second-class citizens and freedom of women was curtailed. Girls were prevented from learning and becoming in higher position. The law giver of Indian society gave the statement that “Women have to be under father during childhood, under her husband during youth and under her son during old age” and at no stage shall she deserve freedom (Punam, 2017). Although there are some improvement regarding to the women status, there are still women suffering from inequality in certain parts of the country. Today, India ranks 101 out of 134 countries on the gender inequality index. There are many suicide cases because of the inequality factors such as dowry, rape, sex selective abortion, acid throwing, trafficking and domestic violence (Bajpai, 2013).
India’s poverty is one of the main reasons for low literacy among women. Only 13% of farm is owned by women across India. It was very low on the women participation in the decision making. This is worsened by lack of choices that women have to engage in paid work related to work type and location, patriarchal gender norms, and the undue burdens of unpaid care work that women bear (Council on Foreign Relations, n.d). In addition, there are very high discrimination between men and women in term of opportunities, education and other political boundary.
The wage gap between Indian men and women is amongst the worst in the world, a report by international confederation of charitable organizations, Oxfam, said. The Monster salary Index (MSI) says, Indian men earn 27% more than women in the same kind of work done by both men and women. The average gender gap is 38.2%. From Household respect, domestic violence remains as culturally accepted because of cultural and religious reasons (Indian Institution of Management Ahmedabad, 2016). India history has represented the path to new generations to follow the norms and it also has sufficient evidence that women were excluded from the formal education system which make their voice not being heard and weak power to against the opposition. It was stated that not gender-biased nature of India history but take that as a given.
Due to the social constrain and oppression, there are several women movement wave and activities to call for change of social status and women rights. This aspect challenge to the nation and religious society and can even lead to the conflict of identity which is one reason that democracy is declining in India. Democracy implies equality for all human persons, men and women. As against this basic notion of democracy, women are discriminated against in terms of access of food, education and health care, economic and political spheres. Since political participation is to select rulers and formulate government system, public policy which is core in democracy country, women exclusive, gender inequality become neglect to the democracy government in India. Women comprise about half of population; free and fair election cannot be reached without gender consideration and it is necessary to strengthen democracy. Although the later constitution guarantees equal rights for women, some progress in participations in some area, Indian women continue to remain oppressed and struggle over everything from survival to resources as they are subjected to the influence of the existing patriarchal system in society (Saikia & Baruah, 2012). Women are still ignored, and their capacities are found to be unseen or less value in the local level. In addition, although women get seat in parliament, political position, they cannot make the decision freely. Therefore, in the rise of democracy and vast information, technology, gender equality is important and women participatory. India should promote the idea of gender equality in the school and ensure the women voice in local bodies. By increase educated women and capability in the labor forces make much improvement to not only economic, but also strengthen social justice. In addition, rather seeing women movement as the opposition to the social culture of India, it is about the development of gender interaction, women creative, empowerment and seek for new social norms for sustainability. Change should be started within the family and I personally agree the everyone equal, rather than gender equality because it is not only about the men and women, but also other specific sex different.
On the other hand, the declining of democracy and Gender equality in India are because of the poverty and women education, participation. Because of poverty and lack of family support, women less access to the technology, and their voice hardly heard or consider in decision make in political level and experience disadvantage of social issue.
Last but not least, Government, non-government organization, civil society, family and women need to work together to promote women participatory procedure and solve the problems from the household, local to the country level. By considering of gender quality in politics, decision making and public policy, it will help to maintain democracy and the sustainability in India.
Saikia, S., & Baruah, A. (2012). DEEPENING DEMOCRACY IN INDIA BY BUILDING GENDER EQUALITY IN POLITICS. The Indian Journal of Political Science, 73(2), 273–282. http://www.jstor.org/stable/41856590
Sen, K. (1962). Hindusim in India. Penguin Books.
Punam, D. S. (2017). The role and position of Women Ancient Society to Modern Society in India.https://www.researchgate.net/publication/316918695_The_Role_and_Position_of_Women_Ancient_Society_to_Modern_Society_in_India
Bajpai, R. (2013, October 30). Gender equality: India ranked 101 among 136 countries. Down To Earth. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/gender-equality-india-ranked-101-among-136-countries-42578
Council on Foreign Relations. (n.d.). Governance in India: Women’s rights. Council on Foreign Relations. https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/governance-india-womens-rights
Indian Institution of Management Ahmedabad. (2016). Gender pay gap in India at 27%: Monster salary index. IIMA. https://www.iima.ac.in/news/gender-pay-gap-india-27-monster-salary-index