Category Archives: Women

Can Women Have Rights in Islam?

I know that by saying this many eyebrows will be raised: Islam is a modern religion with the aim of emancipation. Yes, I know, looking at the Burka of Afghan women, looking at the hijab of Iranian women, reading that FGC is mostly done in the Islamic countries of Africa, reading how poorly women in Islamic countries are treated does not really prove my point. But give me a chance to explain my point without stopping to read my paper, and I am sure that at the end of this you will understand my statement.

Since it would be too broad to consider all the Islamic countries, I will concentrate on Iran as a sample and compare it to some other Islamic countries when necessary.
Before the islamization of Persia, Persians were mainly Zoroastrians. Women had numerous rights: right to divorce, right to own real property, right of leadership etc. I could go on and on. The other Middle Eastern countries did not have any of those rights. Women were seen as “birth-machines” for male production only. Now, do not ask me how they imagined future reproduction without girls!

Islam came from Saudi Arabia, a country where girls were buried right after their birth and women who dared to give birth to baby girls were mostly kicked out of their homes, had to see their husbands bringing other women into their homes to finally produce a male child. Women had no right to education, nor to real property and were seen as property of their fathers first and then their husbands. The motto was very simple: Be happy that I allow you to live at all.
When Islam was introduced to Saudi Arabia, the Koran (translated meaning: recitation) became a revolutionary rule-book. Not only did it speak about how to believe in God and how to appreciate nature, but additionally it spoke about family law, about wills and inheritance, and about women.

Many might be surprised to hear that Islam is the first world religion, dedicating one chapter (sure) to women (Sure 4, Nessah). It speaks about giving girls the right to live, and that those parents who buried their baby girls should fear the Judgment Day, since those girls would want to know why they had to die because of their gender. It continues about the woman in the marriage, and it also speaks about divorce. Unlike most other religions, Islam does give women the right of requesting a divorce for numerous reasons (one of them being if the husband does not pay any sexual attention to her).

It continues with the rights of women after their divorce, indicating that no man should mistreat his ex-wife; neither should he take their children away, mostly not if they are still being nursed by her. He should give her dowry and make sure that she is provided for. [[4.4] And give women their dowries as a free gift, but if they of themselves be pleased to give up to you a portion of it, then eat it with enjoyment and with wholesome result.]
After saying all of this I can imagine anyone asking me: if this religion is so modern, why are women in Islamic countries treated so poorly?

For being able to answer this question, I will give you a little historical background of Islam: As I mentioned above, before Islam women had basically no rights. And while reading Islamic rules now, we do not have to look at them from our modern, maybe western point of view, but mostly from the eyes of the women from 1,400 years ago. I give you one sample: Islamic rules indicate that in a legal situation, one would need two female witnesses, which would be the equivalent to one male witness. I have to admit, the first time I read this in the Koran, I was furious! What does that mean? Are women worth half of a man? The answer is NO! Put yourself in the same position of an Arab woman in the year 600 B.C.: You had no rights before Islam, and now you can even become a witness. Now, how does that sound? Or another sample: You were not able to stay in your house if your husband decided to leave you, and now he has to make sure that you will do fine after a divorce. See the difference?

Another question people usually ask me is about the hijab. Hijab means cover in Arabic. I did a lot of research on this, since the Islamic revolution, which required that (literally from one day to another) women should wear a scarf over their head and a longer coat or a veil (chador). I could not understand why women should cover themselves up, while men could walk around anyhow they wanted. While no where in the Koran is written that a woman should wear a Burka or cover her head, I found a historical explanation: The head cover was originally for the Prophet Muhammad’s wife, or any other female related to the Bani-Hashem Family and the Quaraish tribe (While Surnames did not exist at that time in history, people used their tribal names to indicate where they belonged to.). Originally this cover was meant to make a distinction between the women form the higher groups and the working class women. Similar to the difference between women in the US Northern and Southern States: women of the South, who had their slaves working for them on the farms, were not supposed to have a tanned skin, since it would show that they were working outside.

Here, it was supposed to show a woman’s cleanliness to cover her head in order for her not to get dust or dirt into her hair. The body cover also is not written literally in the Koran, but is based on history. Saudi Arabia is geographically one of the hottest countries on the globe. With temperatures of around 120 F (50 Celsius) in the summer, it is logical that people like to wear fewer clothes. And since back then women did not have any rights, imagine who would have come to rescue a woman in case of a sexual crime? Exactly: no one! To protect women the Koran indicated that women should cover the space between their shoulders, meaning their cleavage and should not show their body jewelry. (At that time working women would wear ankle bracelets with bell-charms, which would make a tremendous sound while walking.) Now you will probably ask: Why are women then wearing the hijab or Burka?

First, let us look at Iran. Iran is the only country where women wear their head scarves differently than in the other Islamic countries. In Taliban- Afghanistan women were forced to wear a Burka, in Saudi Arabia they also wear a Burka, which looks different than the Afghan one. In conclusion one could say that the different understanding of the koranic word of “cover your cleavage” is based on the geographical location of the practicing countries. In Pre-Islam Iran women were wearing something similar to the “Greek-dress”, a simple dress with a shawl in the back. The shawl became the head cover. In Saudi Arabia, people did not want to compromise and covered the whole woman. Do you see the difference? It is not Islam indicating what women should wear; it is the original tradition of the countries adapting their life styles to their understanding of the Islamic way of life.

The second question I am usually asked is about the famous Islamic statement, why men can have four wives, and that this would degrade women. First of all, the Koran does not say that any man can have four wives. There are numerous conditions on that statement: first, the man must be financially sound, he has to have the permission of his first wife, and most importantly he has to have some supporting reasons. If for example, his wife is ill, or she can not bear any children (see the difference to the pre-Islam time: the Koran does not make a gender differentiation), and most of all treat them all equally. [[4.3] And if you fear that you cannot act equitably towards orphans, then marry such women as seem good to you, two and three and four; but if you fear that you will not do justice (between them), then (marry) only one or what your right hands possess; this is more proper, that you may not deviate from the right course.] In case he does not, any of the women could request a divorce.

I believe the latter one explains everything! I can not even treat two pairs of shoes the same way! How should it be possible to treat two women exactly the same? Hence, one can see that the Koran makes it very difficult for men to take advantage of the rule. But, before closing this chapter I should explain why it is written in the book at all. Again, this has protective reasons for women. At a time in history, where women were not able to work, where society would treat a widowed woman poorly, or where a woman who did not have any male supporters was seen as an easy target, a man who was financially sound, and hence able to support her, was allowed to have another wife. This was also the Islamic way of keeping women away from prostitution.
I could go on and on and bring you more samples. However, concluding I would say that Islam does give women a lot of rights.

Sadly, around 80% of the Islamic population is illiterate, and from that number more than half are women. Some people take advantage of their illiteracy by saying that no matter what gets done with them, they should obey, since this is the Islamic way. The countries traditions do not want women to be able to read and write, in order for them to read the Koran and become able to defend themselves based on the Islamic rules. Unfortunately the newest political developments and the involvement of terrorists in the name of Islam put a bad light on a religion, which was supposed to bring people closer and give women rights. Personally it makes me very sad and upset to see how people, who do not understand anything about Islam, act and try to explain their un-Islamic actions under the guise of the religion.

Status of a Woman

INTRODUCTION

There is an extreme manifestation of unequal social relations between men and women within the family and the economy. The state fails to transform the existing social relations based on dependence, oppression and exploitation. Socio economic arrangements of sex / gender based disparity are reflected in lower wages for women, their under reporting in the labour force and the disadvantaged position of women in health and education. The constitution of India declared the equality of sex as a guiding principle. As such family should be basically an egalitarian unit founded on equal rights of the individuals who form a family. The subordination of women to men pervades family life in all classes and castes in India.

WOMEN IN INDIAN SOCIETY

A study on the status of women in Indian history is a difficult task for several reasons. The idea of better status for Indian women has been slowly evolving, through social and religious reforms and change. It had several ups and downs. In fact, the real emancipation of women began with education, occupational mobility, diversification of their roles, changes in child marriage, widow remarriage, sati and the like. Woman is the companion of man gifted with equal mental capacities. She has the right to participate in the minutest details of activities of man and she has the same rights of freedom and liberty. Indian women have diverse multi-dimensional characteristics. They have progressive as well retrogressive, roles and values among several religious and caste groups all over India. Most of them are housewives. The urban women are better placed and have benefited from the existing opportunities for development at a faster rate than the rural. In the field of science and technology they now play a great role. They have many hurdles to overcome yet.

GENDER BIAS IN INDIAN SOCIETY

In a patriarchal society like India, repression of the women has always been justified as a natural thing. Indian thinkers and social activists did not take the issue of gender stratification very seriously. Indian Constitution and legislations provide equal status to men and women. According to Article 14 of the constitution, the state shall not deny any person equality before the law. But in reality, all women do not enjoy this equality of status with men. Especially in the home, married women are likely to experience relative inequality due to patriarchal mind sets, rigid sex role stereotypes and socio-economic powerlessness. In India, the family is mainly patriarchal and patrilineal which denies egalitarian gender relations. There prevails a great gender bias in society which stops women from coming forward on any front of life.

TECHNIQUES FOR THE ATTAINMENT OF GENDER EQUALITY

Conscientization of Women

Conscientization of women makes them aware about their social economic conditions, their duties and rights and the way to break the chains of their ignorance.

Building confidence in women

Unless and until, confidence is built in women that they are no way inferior to men and society, they will not be able to recognize their identity and their role in society.
Change in social Attitude

We can make laws and enact legislations, but legislations alone are not going to stop atrocities on women. These can be stopped only when we in society build public opinion against these atrocities. For this, there is a need to change social attitude towards women.

Collective Awareness

Collective awareness should be brought amongst women about their roles and rights in the society. For this, action may be initiated through mass mobilization of women for their empowerment. Media can play an important role to bring about radical changes in the attitudes of people in society.

WOMEN’S STATUS

According to 2001 census the sex ratio is 933 females per 1000 males. The adverse sex ratio and its decline age groups has emerged as matter of concern in India. Preference for sons, intra-household gender discrimination and limited access to health care can explain this trend. India has enacted legislation banning the use of prenatal diagnostic techniques for sex determination. Efforts are being undertaken for implementing a master plan of action to tackle the problems of violence against girl children through infanticide, sex selection and trafficking.

FIVE YEAR PLANS AND WOMEN’S DEVELOPMENT

The approach to women’s development in first five year plan (1951-1956) was not clear. Women were projected as beings in need of education, health and welfare services only. The Central Social Welfare Board (CSWB) set up in 1953, undertook to promote a number of welfare measures through voluntary organisations. Manila Mandals were promoted for rendering essential services of education and health both by the CSWB and community Development program through the first and second five year plans. The third, fourth and fifth plans continued the same approach without giving any support to the strategies of development perspectives and empowerment of women. The sixth five year plan (1979-84) failed to remove disparity and injustice in both social and economic life. The seventh five year plan (1985-90) highlighted the strategy of direct attack on the problems of poverty, unemployment and the provision of gainful employment to the women and youth.

The strategy in eighth plan (1993-97) was “to ensure that the benefits of development from different sectors do not by-pass women and special programmes were implemented to complement the general programmes”. Education and nutrition, legal literacy and “changes in social attitudes and perceptions in regard to the role of women were mentioned as essential for empowerment. The most dramatic development during this period was the passing of 73 rd and 74th (constitutional) amendment in 1992 making provision for reservation of one third of seats for women in the local bodies. The Ninth plan (1997-2002) declared the empowerment as one of the objectives of the plan. The strategy of empowerment of women was through women’s Self-Help Groups.

NATIONAL POLICY FOR THE EMPOWERMENT OF WOMEN -2001

The policy document is devised into seventeen sections. A number of steps were taken to build a strong foundation for empowering women and making them participants in decision making. The goal of the policy is to bring about the advancement, development and empowerment of women. The objectives of this policy include full development of women, enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedom, equal access to participation and decision making to health care, quality education, employment, elimination of all forms of discrimination against women, changing societal attitudes, elimination of all forms of violence against women and building and strengthening partnership with civil society particularly women’s organisations.

CONCLUSION

While a number of legislative measures were adopted to guarantee legal equality to women, in practice these measures could not reorient and redefine the new roles that women are expected to take up. Legislation alone cannot create proper environments for eliminating gender inequalities, and transform the unequal social relations based on oppression and exploitation. We need a radical reformation in the organization of economy along with a radical change in the structure of family, including reorganization of our attitudes towards gender relations. Women should be perceived as producers and participants, not merely clients for welfare.

What Kills Women?

Many individuals still believe that the most deadly disease among women is breast cancer, not cardiovascular disease. This article discusses how this myth developed. In addition it discusses which women are at greater risk for breast cancer, and for cardiovascular disease and why? It also discusses In the case of cardiovascular disease why women have poorer health outcomes than men. The primary, secondary, and tertiary preventions implemented for breast cancer and cardiovascular disease and their effectiveness are also discussed.

Women are at a greater risk of dying from heart disease as compared to other disease, including breast cancer. Still, many view heart disease as a middle age man’s disease. This myth developed because heart disease has been seen as a man’s disease and breast cancer as a women’s. There was insufficient research in the area of heart disease to find out that women express heart disease differently than men (Condon, 2004). Initially, research was conducted on men due to their greater accessibility. For example, heart disease has different symptoms in men and women. Men experience an aching pain, whereas women may experience a dull pain, dizziness, sickness, shortness of breath, or sweatiness, which resembles anxiety or stress (Kornstein & Clayton, 2002). Women’s symptoms were not reported, and often heart disease went undiagnosed in women. The public has been made aware of the threat of breast cancer to a greater extent than with heart disease. Awareness of heart disease in women is slowly increasing.

Any person that partakes in behaviors and circumstances that cause injury to the inner lining of the bloods vessels that supply the heart and brain with oxygen and nutrition is at an increased risk for heart disease (Condone, 2004). Women who smoke, eat a poor diet, are overweight, have a sedentary lifestyle, or are of a low socioeconomic level are more at risk for heart disease and breast cancer. Other risk factors include, increasing age, menopause, male sex, family history and heredity, diabetes, high blood pressure, or cholesterol (Condone, 2004; Kornstein & Clayton, 2002). African American women have a greater risk of heart disease, stroke, and more severe blood pressure than Europeans. Incidence of heart disease is higher among Mexican Americans, American Indians, and Native Hawaiians (Condon, 2004).

Women who are increasing in age have an increased risk for heart disease and breast cancer. Women who have reached menopause are at a greater risk because estrogen can protect against heart disease as it maintains cholesterol. With menopause is a lowering of estrogen and women are left more vulnerable. Estrogen replacement can reduce most of the risk factors (Condon, 2004). Breast cancer increases with age, as women age 30, 1 out of 5900 will have breast cancer whereas women age 70, 1 in 330 will have it (Condon, 2004). This may be due to an increase in age, being associated with an increased exposure to ovarian hormones, external estrogens, and environmental toxins. External estrogen increases the risk of heart disease and decreases health (Condon, 2004).

In people under 50, obesity poses a greater risk for coronary artery disease as it increases strain on the heart and increases the risk of diabetes (Condone, 2004). Diabetes is more serious for women than in men. Women diabetics are three to seven times more likely to develop heart disease than a non-diabetic, whereas men are only two to three times more likely. This may be due to the strong negative effect diabetes has on lipid levels and blood pressure in women (Condone, 2004).

Smokers are more at risk for heart disease. Nicotine constricts blood vessels and increases abnormal plaque formation on the walls of the vessels (Condon, 2004).

Smoking also increases the release of catecholamines into the blood and lowers estrogen levels. This causes levels of undesirable low density lipoprotein to increase and the levels of heart protective high density lipoprotein to decrease. In addition, nicotine masks chest pain and increases platelet aggregation. It also lowers oxygen levels (Condone, 2004). There is a clear risk associated with cigarette smoking, high estrogen contraceptives, and risk of heart disease in women over age 35 (Kornstein & Clayton, 2002).

A lack of social support, depression, anxiety, hostility, social isolation, and low or no religious involvement are associated with an increased risk of heart disease as these factors are associated with an increase in stress (Condon, 2004). This is especially true for those of a lower socioeconomic status. Stress increases the release of catecholamines and free radical damage to the coronary arteries (Condon, 2004).

African Americans, the elderly, and those with less education and from a lower socioeconomic group are at an increased risk of developing heart disease. The higher rate of heart disease in ethnicities is partially due to higher rates of obesity and diabetes within these cultures (Condon, 2004). Minorities in many circumstances have less contact with healthcare. Their healthcare is also of lesser quality. Illnesses are less likely to be detected early and early detection increases survival. Both breast cancer and heart disease need to be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible (Condon, 2004).

African Americans have double the rate of cardiovascular disease. African Americans have an additional 22-40 percent chance of dying after a myocardial infraction (Condon, 2004). They are also more than twice as likely to suffer death and disability from stroke. Heart disease is the leading cause of death ages 30-39 years (Kornstein & Clayton, 2002).

African American women experience breast cancer less than white women, but die from it more frequently then white women. African Americans are less likely to get tested early for heart disease and breast cancer. They are unlikely to devote attention to a problem that “might” exist (Condone, 2004). Many of these women carry heavy social burdens that prevent them from getting preventative healthcare and early treatment for health problems. In regards to breast cancer, by the time a lump is found, the cancer has already been growing. This is why breast cancer needs to be detected as soon as possible, before it spreads to other areas of the body (Condon, 2004). Breast cancer death rates are decreasing, but not for African Americans, which suggests these women do not have the access to the healthcare that white women do and are not receiving the much needed clinical breast examinations and mammography screenings (Condone, 2004).

Women empowerment

Women empowerment programmes need a holistic approach so that rather than focusing on just one symptom problem we focus on a wide range of issues which are closely associated with women’s marginalization and discrimination. Addressing these issues in an integrated manner will help us to find a wholesome solution towards total empowerment of women in all respects.

We very well know that women have always been marginalized and relegated to the status of subjugated class in the society. This has been happening from thousands of years now. The legacy of discrimination and oppression of women is seen in the economic system, culture and social norms and political systems around the world. Gender equality and women’s empowerment need action at the government and legal level where repealing of discriminatory laws and passing of new laws needs to be done to give genuine equal rights to women. Further empowering women economically, socially and politically should be a priority. Above all aggressive mass movements, mobilizations and campaigns are needed towards creating awareness and ending woman abuse and transforming gender relations.

Women empowerment programmes: Empowerment through multiple channels

So the key lies in women empowerment through economic self-sufficiency and higher awareness levels on social, political and legal issues through mobilization. There is also a need to recognize and emphasize the diverse roles of women such as reproductive, productive and community management. The contribution of women towards the growth and development of the society has to be highlighted and emphasised through various means and medium.

Women empowerment programmes: Empowerment of women at the grass root level

In fact true and real women empowerment can only take place when women are organized and strengthened at the grass root level. The women’s movement and a wide-spread network of social Organisations which have strong grass-roots presence and deep insight into women’s concerns have contributed in inspiring initiatives for the empowerment of women and their role becomes even more important today and in the days to come because of the various forms of direct and indirect discrimination against women that still exist in the society.

Women Empowerment Programmes: The holistic Goals and Objectives of total women empowerment:

1. Advancement and development of women in every walk of life.

2. Creating an environment through positive economic and social policies for development of women and realization of their full potential.

3. The enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedom by women on equal basis with men in all spheres of life that is political, economic, social, cultural and civil.

4. Equal access to participation and decision making of women in social, political and economic life of the nation and the world.

5. Equal access to women to health care, quality education at all levels, career and vocational guidance, employment, equal remuneration, occupational health and safety, social security and public office etc.

6. Strengthening legal systems aimed at elimination of all forms of discrimination against women.

7. Changing discriminatory societal attitudes and community practices by active participation and involvement of both men and women.

8. Mainstreaming a gender perspective in the development process.

9. Elimination of discrimination and all forms of violence against women and the girl child; and

10. Building and strengthening partnerships with civil society, particularly women’s organizations.

Women empowerment programmes: Gender perspective

Further for total women empowerment programmes we need mainstreaming of a Gender Perspective in the Development Process of the nation and the world. In this regard the following below mentioned topics and issues become paramount in terms of understanding and execution at various levels:

1. Economic Empowerment of women-This includes issues like Poverty Eradication, Micro Credit, Women and Economy, Globalization, Women and Agriculture, Women and Industry & Support Services

2. Social Empowerment of Women- This includes issues like Education, Health, Nutrition, Drinking Water and Sanitation, Housing and Shelter, Environment & Science and Technology

3. Women in Difficult Circumstances-This includes issues like Violence against women, Rights of the Girl Child & Mass Media

Women empowerment programmes: Gender disparity and gender discrimination

Gender disparity manifests itself in various forms, the most obvious being the trend of continuously declining female ratio in the population in the last few decades in India. Social stereotyping and violence at the domestic and societal levels are some of the other manifestations of discrimination against women that can be seen in one or the other way in most parts of the world.

Women empowerment programmes: Life of dependence

Most importantly we need to recognize the fact that women are still economically very weak and majority of them are forced to live an existence of economic dependence across the world. Therefore conception and execution of total women empowerment programmes at every level and at every sphere of life is a must.

For free information and advice on topics and issues related to women, visit [http://www.rise-of-womanhood.org]

[http://www.rise-of-womanhood.org]

This site envisions the rise of womanhood in true sense that is the rise of the “essence” of womanhood in the physical, mental, intellectual and the spiritual planes. It calls for the beginning of a campaign for the true rise of women in all spheres of life for the restoration of the balance in nature.

Somewhere we have to make a beginning and it’s always better if we make the initiation at our own self. We can strengthen this mass movement for the “rise of womanhood” by bringing about the necessary changes in our own life as felt by our inner self. Further we can transmit the new thinking to others who care to listen. A small step today will definitely lead to a giant leap tomorrow.

Empowerment of Women in India

Women empowerment in India is a challenging task as we need to acknowledge the fact that gender based discrimination is a deep rooted social malice practiced in India in many forms since thousands of years. The malice is not going to go away in a few years or for that matter by attempting to work at it through half-hearted attempts. Formulating laws and policies are not enough as it is seen that most of the times these laws and policies just remain on paper. The ground situation on the other hand just remains the same and in many instances worsens further. Addressing the malice of gender discrimination and women empowerment in India is long drawn battle against powerful structural forces of the society which are against women’s growth and development.

Women empowerment in India: The need for ground level actions

We have to accept the fact that things are not going to change overnight but because of this we cannot stop taking action either. At this juncture the most important step is to initiate ground level actions however small it might seem. The ground level actions should be focussed towards changing the social attitude and practices prevalent in the society which are highly biased against women. This can be initiated by working with the women at the root level and focusing on increasing women’s access and control over resources and increasing their control over decision making. Further working on the aspect of enhanced mobility and social interaction of women in the society would positively influence all round development and empowerment of women in India.

Women empowerment in India: Reality check at the ground level

Today there are lot of things that is happening in the name of women empowerment in India and lot of resources are spent in this direction. Keeping this in mind it is crucial to have a reality check on what is happening on paper and what is the actual ground situation. It is worthwhile to ponder on the fact that we are one of the worst in terms of worldwide gender equality rankings. In India women are discriminated and marginalized at every level of the society whether it is social participation, economic opportunity and economic participation, political participation, access to education or access to nutrition and reproductive health care. A significant few in the society still consider women as sex objects. Gender disparity is high, crimes against women are increasing and violence against women is all time high and in most cases go unreported. Dowry related problems and death is increasing and is profoundly manifesting in the urban population. Workplace harassment of women is another phenomenon which is rapidly increasing as more women join the workforce. Early age marriages are still taking place in large numbers and the number of girls going to school is abysmally low. Moreover majority of the girls who join the school drop out by the age of puberty to get married and live a life of drudgery. Female feticide and infanticide is starring the nation as one of the biggest social crisis. All this is happening despite the fact that there are number of programmes and policy initiatives that is being run by the government and other bodies. The year 2001 was declared as the National policy for empowerment of women. So it is time to ask the question whether we are moving in the right direction and where are we in terms of the paper actions and the actual ground realities.

Women empowerment in India: Discrimination against women in all walks of life

One of the major aspects of women empowerment in India is to change the attitude of society towards women. The problem in India is that the society never worked on the premise of gender equality from a long-long time. Atrocities and discrimination against women is a way of daily life in Indian society. There is an attitude which still prevails in India where women are considered to be only worthwhile of household activities and managing the children. The veil system, child marriage and dowry are testimonies to this truth. Women have never been part of the mainstream society in India and they are still considered as a great liability. If we just look at the sex ratio it will show the plight of women in India. It is the lowest at around 933. Female literacy is just 54.16 % as per 2001 Census. In Indian parliament and assemblies women have never represented more than 10%. Most of the women workers in India are outside the organized sector. Administrators, managers, professionals combined together and technical workers on the other hand are the lowest at 2.3% and 20 % respectively. Now these figures gives the real truth of the actual mentality of the society which has restricted women, marginalized women and discriminated against women quite openly. Can we achieve women empowerment in India with these alarming and dismal figures?

Women empowerment in India: Women not in control over their circumstances

As I mentioned before the government had declared 2001 as the women’s empowerment year but nothing much has happened even after that. Women even today are not able to exercise full control over their circumstances or actions. From a welfare society at the inception, India moved on to embrace the developmental model and now the latest fad is the empowerment model. But with all these initiatives however genuine they might have been or they are, nothing substantial has happened on the ground. Majority of Women in India are poor, uneducated and insufficiently trained. They often end up in the daily struggle of managing an ill equipped family and are not in a position to propel out themselves of the oppressive and regressive social and economic conditions. Female infanticide is one of the biggest crimes against humanity that is being carried out in India. The patriarchal system encourages a male child and considers women as a property or liability from the day she is born. We need to accept the truth that there is a great discrepancy in the ideology and the actual practice of empowerment policy in India. Everything is happening at a very superficial level and the time has come to find out an actionable path at the ground level for real and measurable change.

Women empowerment in India: Issues to be tackled

There are quite a large number of issues which need to be addressed to streamline the existing women empowerment programmes in India as well as initiating actual work at the ground level. Women make up to 52% of country’s population but their living conditions are very tough and torturous. To initiate measurable actions at ground level, education of women should be given top priority and female literacy programmes need to be enforced across the country. Further to improve the socioeconomic conditions women need to be trained and better equipped for taking informed decisions. The real change will be only visible when social attitudes and norms change. Here inclusive programmes involving the men are the need of the hour. This will be helpful for working out adjustments and sharing of gender based specific performance or tasks which are currently overburdening the women to no end. Unless we improve the ground level living standards of women in India we might not be able to influence their empowerment in any other possible way. Various issues that need to be addressed for improving overall conditions of the women in India include making access to affordable coking fuel for rural women, providing safe drinking water, sanitation, increasing decision making capacity among women, providing equal wages as that of men, ending their exploitation, improving the political participation of women, eradicating poverty among women, increasing the security of women who are engaged in agriculture as daily wage workers, providing affordable healthcare and nutrition and managing the risk of unwanted pregnancies, HIV infections and sexually transmitted diseases.

Women empowerment in India: Ending gender inequality and gender bias

It has to be understood that unless we change the basic social attitude which cultivates gender inequality and gender bias we would not be able to achieve much in terms of women empowerment in India. There are many laws and there have been many amendments that have been carried out to end the discrimination against women and empower women in all aspects of life. Gender equality is enshrined in Indian constitution and constitution empowers the state to end the gender based discrimination against women. There is reservation of seats in local bodies and municipalities and another law is being envisioned for reservation in parliament. But the sad part is that all these laws and amendments have become toothless as the fundamental problems lies in the attitude of the society which is highly biased against women. Now what is the solution? The only solution is for women to come together as a unifying force and initiate self empowering actions at the ground level. Let it happen even if it is at a slow pace initially but it must happen despite however small the initial steps might look like. So the connection is very clear. Once we work towards self empowerment through small number of infinite actions, we become aware of the ground realities and then we can think about taking further recourse towards changing the mindset of the society which fosters gender inequality and bias.

6 Problems Most Men Pursue Women and Exactly How to Solve it

Dear Friend,

Do you want to know something I find very interesting?

A lot of guys do things that actually repel the women they’re interested in dating or getting into a relationship with.

Hard to believe?

Well, it’s true. They do.

And what’s worse?

They do this with every single “new woman” that comes into their life over and over again… every… single… time.

So the question, my friend, then is:

Why do they do this?

I mean, if they want a certain woman, why would they do things that would “push her away”?

Why wouldn’t they do the “right things” from the very beginning so a woman would immediately be interested in getting together with them?

These are great questions.

After all, that would only make logical sense, right?

But THAT is the strangest part about it…

They do things that repel women because they simply DON’T realize they’re doing it – so they CAN’T help it!

And if you’ve ever tried getting a woman to go out with you or become your girlfriend but things just “didn’t work out”, what you’re about to learn will reveal the exact reasons why you’ve had these problems when “pursuing” a woman…

… and also show you EXACTLY how to solve them.

And the result?

You’ll start finding the women you meet in the future will be much more interested in you than they have been up until today.

So here they are:

PROBLEM #1: “I’m really nice to her but she doesn’t seem interested in me”

Okay, tell me if you can identify with this situation:

Let’s say you meet a woman who you find attractive – perhaps at work or through mutual friends. She seems really cool and you’d be interesting in pursuing “something” with her.

So what do you do?

How do you act and treat her when you’re around her?

Well, maybe you compliment her on how she looks by telling her how cute or beautiful she is.

Maybe you do “nice things” for her, like getting her a drink or holding her things for her while she goes to the restroom or something.

And maybe you give her your undivided attention by listening intently to everything she says, doing your best to understand her and where she’s coming from.

Basically, you are really “nice” to her. You know, you treat her like a true gentleman “should”.

Alright, here’s the pin that may burst your balloon:

Women are interested in guys who they feel attracted to. And doing all of these “nice things” doesn’t cause a woman to “feel that way” about you.

Just what does that mean?

Well, think about yourself… why do you become interested in certain women and not others?

Isn’t it because you find the ones you’re interested in attractive?

After all, isn’t that the ONLY difference between women you’d like to date and women who you just want as friends.

What if a woman was obese? Would you be interested in a “romantic relationship” with her?

Not likely.

Why not?

For the simple reason that you wouldn’t find her attractive.

Kind of obvious, I know

But look at it this way from a woman’s perspective:

By being “really nice” to women: by complimenting them a lot, going out of your way to do things for them, or doing them special favors, a woman will actually see you the SAME WAY as you do a very “fat” woman.

Being “too nice” is to women what “fat” is to us.

THE SOLUTION:

The first thing you NEED to do is stop being OVERLY nice to women. This doesn’t mean being mean. It just means that you stop treating them like they’re the center of the universe.

Stop treating them like they’re “special” or more important than anyone else… especially as more important than yourself!

Got it?

Good.

PROBLEM #2: “She says she has a boyfriend but I’m pretty sure she doesn’t”

Have you ever asked a woman for her phone number or asked if she’d like to go out with you sometime, but she said:

“I have a boyfriend.”

Or: “I don’t think my boyfriend would like that very much.”

Maybe she even brought up her boyfriend earlier in the conversation before you got the chance to ask her out.

That generally makes sense, right?

After all, why would a woman who’s already in a relationship want to go out with another guy?

But here’s the catch:

You were pretty sure she DIDN’T have a boyfriend. In fact, maybe you even KNEW she was single without a doubt.

So why would she tell you she had a boyfriend – when she didn’t?

Why would she “lie” about it?

Again, think about the situation from your perspective:

Let’s say a woman who you weren’t attracted to you asked you out. How would you respond? What would you say?

I mean, obviously you wouldn’t look at her in a “romantic way”, so you wouldn’t be interested in her in that way, right?

But would you tell her that directly?

Probably not.

After all, who wants to “reject” someone and hurt their feelings and then perhaps put themselves in a position to be blamed for it?

For wasn’t the REAL problem simply that there was NO attraction?

It’s not personal. Not really, anyway.

So women tell guys who they aren’t attracted to that they have a boyfriend to avoid getting into a “sticky situation” just like that.

She doesn’t mean to lie or be deceptive.

All it means is that she doesn’t find you attractive… which is okay.

Because you can change it…

THE SOLUTION:

Learn exactly what women find attractive in a man. Then make some changes so that women automatically become attracted to you.

For when you do that, women won’t tell you they have boyfriends when they don’t.

PROBLEM #3: “She gave me her number but it was the wrong one”

When this happens, isn’t there that “What if” factor?

You know, maybe you wrote it down wrong or maybe she made a mistake when she wrote it down for you. Or maybe you dialed it wrong… every time.

Could be, right?

Well, the honest truth is… not likely.

In fact, she probably gave you the wrong number on purpose.

But did she do it just be mean or cruel?

No.

So why would she do it? What’s in it for her?

Well, as you’ve probably guessed by now…

If a woman gives you a wrong number, she probably wasn’t attracted to you, so she wouldn’t have been interested in going out with you.

And just like when a woman says she has a boyfriend even when she’s single, the reason is because she doesn’t want you to feel rejected by her saying “No” to you.

So instead, she just gives you a “fake number”.

That way she doesn’t have to deal with the situation and perhaps be seen as the “evil one” for rejecting a guy directly.

THE SOLUTION:

Again, as you probably guessed… the answer is to first BECOME more attractive to women (more on this in other articles).

For when you do, women will WANT TO give you their REAL numbers for the simple reason that they want to see you again… because they feel that “spark”.

PROBLEM #4: “She asked for my number but then she never called me”

If you’ve never gotten the “I have a boyfriend” excuse, maybe you’ve found yourself in this situation:

After meeting a woman and talking for awhile, you ask for her number.

And how does she respond?

Does she give it to you… or does she say:

“Well, why don’t you give me YOUR number.”

And what do you do?

Well, you probably give it to her. I mean, why not? Saves you any nervousness of calling her, right?

But then what happens?

Well, over the following days you probably sit around that phone, just waiting for her to call you.

Then one by one, the days pass by and you begin to doubt if she ever will.

And what ultimately happens in the end?

Nothing.

She doesn’t call… and maybe you never see her again.

But why didn’t she call you?

I mean, if she asked for your number, wouldn’t that mean that she wanted it? And if she wanted it, why wouldn’t she call?

Yeah, women don’t seem to make much sense, do they?

But how about if we were to look at it in a different way:

What if she wasn’t interested in the FIRST PLACE? And the only reason she asked for your number was because then she wouldn’t have to give you hers.

In fact, what if it was just an easy way for her to get out of another “sticky situation” she didn’t want to be in?

Bingo!

THE SOLUTION:

It’s a very simple one:

NEVER give a woman your number if she first “refuses” or avoids giving you hers.

PROBLEM #5: “I call her and ask her out on a date but she just gives me excuses”

Let me know if you’ve ever experienced this:

You want to take a woman out on a date, but every time you call to ask her out, for some strange reason, she never seems to have time to get together or it “falls through” at the very last minute.

Why?

I mean, if she wasn’t interested in you, why did she give you her number in the first place?

Is she just a really busy person?

Or is there something else going on behind the scenes here?

To answer that, it may help if we rewind a little bit and take a closer look at your phone conversation with her.

What did you say?

You know, you called her and probably made some small talk for a little while, then what?

Did you finally work up the nerve, and say:

“You know… ummm… I was wondering if maybe I could take you out tomorrow.”

And she said:

“Ummm… well… what did you have in mind?”

And you said:

“I don’t know. Just hang-out, I guess… what do you want to do?”

And what did she say?

Either:

“Oh! I forgot, I’m busy tomorrow.”

Or:

“Well, why don’t you call me tomorrow?”

Of course, the next day when you called her, no one answered or she wasn’t home.

So what’s going on here?

Well, she probably WAS interested in you… UNTIL you called her.

And the reason she changed was: you didn’t have a plan, which made you come off as unsure of yourself.

In fact, you were looking to her or asking her to setup the date YOU called about. And that doesn’t exactly make a woman want to go out with a guy.

THE SOLUTION:

Okay, you know how women want to be “swept off their feet”? Well, that essentially means that they want the man to plan everything ahead of time and lead the way… so all she has to do is follow and go along with it.

So DO THAT.

When you call for a date, tell her what you’re planning to do and instead of “asking her out”, just ask if she’d like to JOIN you.

It works wonders! Test it out for yourself next time.

PROBLEM #6: “I take her out to dinner and a movie but I don’t get a second date” Yeah, I love this one.

You know that song “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”?

Well the songwriter wasn’t lying… girls DO just want to have fun.

And guess what?

Honestly, from a woman’s perspective, dinner dates and movies are NOT fun. In fact, they’re generally pretty boring and drawn out. After all, they last over three hours!

Three FULL hours of complete boredom. “But hey! it’s better than staying at home alone,” she thinks.

I mean, think about it:

Why do women enjoy spending time with guys? Why do women seem to like dating “jerks”?

It’s really quite simple:

Hanging around these guys allows them to feel STRONG emotions!

And strong emotions equals FUN.

See, dinner dates and movies generally don’t create an environment where that’s possible.

Just think back to when you’ve taken a woman out to dinner, what did you talk about?

Did you exchange “life stories”?

Did you discuss movies? Current events? Politics? Religion?

Did you listen to her talk about some personal problems she’s experiencing in her life… or discuss the “difficult people” in her life?

Well, guess what?

Doing any of these things is going to BORE a woman. And if dinner lasts about an hour, that’s a WHOLE hour of boredom.

Then you come to the movie. And as much as I enjoy watching movies, you can do this by yourself… so guess what?

Unless you’re making out in the theatre, there’s no difference. She could do this by herself if she wanted to and it would generally be the same experience.

So after a date like this, how does a woman think about you?

Well, when she gets home, this is what’s running through her mind: “Wow, I just spend three hours with this guy, bored to tears – why would I even consider going out with him again?”

Of course, it’s not necessarily you – it’s the dinner and movie date approach.

THE SOLUTION:

Give her a reason on the first date to WANT to see you again!

By taking a woman out to dinners or movies, especially during the first month of dating, you’re not giving her a reason to want to go out with you again.

In fact, you’re doing the OPPOSITE.

So instead, take her somewhere that’s going to be fun. In other words, take her some place where both of you will be involved in DOING something, like bowling or mini-golfing for example.

Seriously, that’ll make a MUCH better impression than dinner and a movie.

And not only that, keep it short… anywhere between 20 and 45 minutes is perfect for a first date.

Hindu woman

Women in Hinduism have a rich past. In ancient India, women were treated equal to men and in fact they were considered superior to men in many aspects. It is indeed remarkable to note that the word for strength, virility and power in Hindu culture is represented by the feminine “Shakti”. Shakti is the all prevailing universal manifestation of the feminine and she is worshiped as the goddess of strength, valour and power in Hinduism. All male power is said to be derived from this universal power and strength of the feminine principle. As per Hindu Mythology and literature kings and towns were completely destroyed because a single woman was wronged by the state or the people in power. Examples are Ravana in the epic called Ramayana and the Kauravas in Mahabharatha.

Women in Hinduism: Role of women in ancient Hinduism

The ancient history and the origins of Hinduism can be traced from the Vedic times. This was a golden period when women and men had equal rights in all aspects of life including education and religion. There were great women scholars who mastered the Vedas and in fact the creation of the Vedas itself was a joint effort of women and men rishis. The Vedas and Upanishads the first and foremost sacred texts of Hinduism mention in detail various rituals involving women as well as the contributions of women scholars and philosophers of those times.

Women in Hinduism: The creation of caste sysetm and degradation of the status of women

Later history and the creation of the caste system in fact became the bane of Hinduism. Later texts like the Manusmriti which were created to enforce the brahmanical order systematically degraded the role of women in Hindu society. Texts like Manusmriti cannot match the sacred texts like the Vedas and Upanishads but still they had a deep impact on the society. It’s not that this and the similar kind of later texts which are together called the “smritis” are completely junk but we have to accept that it contained lot of rubbish as per the standards of today’s society. There is no second opinion on the fact that women faced most of the burnt from the thinking and practice based on these later texts. Women became subordinate to men, they were always to be in control of men either in the form of a father, husband, brother or son. They were barred from education and overt religious practices and their socio-cultural role was also diminished considerably in various ways. This was in fact very ironical because on one hand still the feminine and the women power was worshiped in the form of goddess but the actual social situation of women was far inferior and pathetic. Though many aspects of later Hinduism were not congenial to women, still as a ancient and old religion the strength of Hinduism was its ability to adopt and change according to the times and this ensured that despite quite a bit of negativity and discrimination women in Hinduism evolved and positively contributed to society for their own benefit as well as the overall benefit of the society and the community.

Further to understand the role of Women in Hinduism there are many topics and issues which need to be analyzed and studied in detail.

These include

1. Women in Hinduism: Hindu view on the Woman
2. An initial orientation to women and Hinduism: This includes topics like, The Position of Women in Hinduism, Women as equals of men in early Vedic Religion, A growing net of restrictions, The liberation of women in the Puranas, Heroic women of the Epic Tradition, Women Poet-Saints, The ‘Mothers’ and from sati to dowry murders
3. Religious and Social variance in Women’s status in Hinduism
4. Famous Women of Ancient and Modern India: These include Gargi, Mira bai, Sarojini Naidu, Sita, Durgavati, Sarada Devi, Savitri, Queen of Jhansi Lakshm Bai, Bhagini Nivedita, Draupadi, Shakuntala Devi and Mother Mirra
5. Dowry Didn’t Evolve from India
6. Developing an Ecofeminist Ethic Within the Hindu Tradition: This includes topics like, Principles of Ecofeminism, Ecology and Hinduism, Hindu Sacred Texts and Ecofeminism and Shaktism, Tantra and Ecofeminism etc.
7. The Status of Dalit Women in India’s Caste Based System
8. The Divine Mother: God as Goddess
9. Mother Earth, Mother Nature
10. Feminine Spirituality, Feminine Rituals
11. Women as Hindu Spiritual Leaders: The Women of God
12. Women Scholars and Poetesses
13. The many achievements and talents of Hindu Women: Able Rulers, Warriors, Poetesses, Scholars, Mathematicians, Freedom fighters, Musicians, Artists and so on.
14. Musicians and Dancers
15. Ideal Queens
16. Warriors, Warrior Queens and Freedom Fighters
17. Social Status of Hindu Women: This includes topics such as Woman as Mother, Woman as Daughter, Woman as an unwanted Fetus, Woman as Sister, Woman as the Bride, Woman as Wife and Woman as Widow
18. The Woman as a Woman: Of Panegyrics and Caricatures
19. Women as the Strength and Inspiration of Great Men
20. Transforming Hindu Women into Shakti

As I said before, despite the latter developments in Hinduism which were never encouraging, exceptional contributions from “women in Hinduism” took place throughout its history. Whether it was the contributions from ordinary women or from the queens, warriors, artists and philosophers, “history, mythology and literature” are testimony to the fact that women played an important role in the evolution of Hinduism as a religion. These contributions from women are now increasing many folds in every aspect of life and that’s why even today Hinduism is one of the most fluid, ever adapting religions of the world.

For free information and advice on topics and issues related to women, visit [http://www.rise-of-womanhood.org]

[http://www.rise-of-womanhood.org]

This site envisions the rise of womanhood in true sense that is the rise of the “essence” of womanhood in the physical, mental, intellectual and the spiritual planes. It calls for the beginning of a campaign for the true rise of women in all spheres of life for the restoration of the balance in nature.

Somewhere we have to make a beginning and it’s always better if we make the initiation at our own self. We can strengthen this mass movement for the “rise of womanhood” by bringing about the necessary changes in our own life as felt by our inner self. Further we can transmit the new thinking to others who care to listen. A small step today will definitely lead to a giant leap tomorrow.

Christian women

“Women in Christianity” is a vast and complex subject with multiple dimensions as Christianity is one of the largest religions in the world practiced in different societies and cultures around the world. When we deal with the subject of “Women in Christianity” we need to understand that Christianity as that exists today is a mix of different denominations with Catholics and Protestants being the principle denominations. Further it would be prudent to delve into the history of Christianity to understand the role of women in this religion. In early Christianity there was no separate roles prescribed for men and women and women were not distinguished separately from men. This was despite the fact that the society in West Asia at that time was highly patriarchal in nature.

Women in Christianity: The early Christian prophets

From West Asia, Christianity spread to ancient Greece and Rome which were purely patriarchal societies. In these societies women and children were thought of as assets or possessions held by the head of the family. Men and Women were distinguished separately in this kind of set up and women were generally considered inferior to men. During these times Christians believed that the world will end soon and Christ will come to earth for the second time. There were many women teachers and prophets in Christianity in those days who believed in this proposition and went their way in preaching this doctrine.

Women in Christianity: Development of the patriarchal thought

But the initial belief of the immediate “second coming” of the Christ did not happen. From hereon Christianity slowly started to evolve as a systemized religion with the churches enjoying enormous clout and power. This led to the development of the patriarchal thought in Christianity which abolished and discarded the earlier view that men and women should not be distinguished separately. The havoc of the power of churches continued for the next two thousand years during which women were not only treated as inferior to men but great atrocities were committed against independent women who were branded as witches and hunted down mercilessly.

Women in Christianity: Wave of change in twentieth century

Only in the twentieth century things started changing in Christianity. With the churches losing much of their clout and power in the twentieth century, with democratic governments firmly established in many countries in Europe as well as in America and with religion getting separated from politics things started to change in a dramatic fashion in Christianity that was never thought about in the last two thousand years of the religion. It all started with the early feminist movements and peaked with the second wave of feminism from the period of 1960s. This period saw a profound change in the status of women in Christianity as a religion. Women’s rights came in the forefront.

Women in Christianity: Feminist Theology

Feminist theology was established as a branch of feminism to study the role of women especially in Christianity. The feminist theological movement influenced the development of the Wisdom literature that expressed God through a feminine image.

Women in Christianity: Women’s liberation movement

The period of 1960s and thereafter can be considered as the beginning of the “women’s liberation movement” in history which advocated social, cultural, political and religious equality of the gender. Though the women’s liberation movement went full throttle in this period the patriarchal set up did not vanish as such and the concept of sexual dualism still existed. This concept not only viewed the differences between men and women in mere biological terms but it also ranked and applied values to these differences. For instance, men were considered to be more idealistic, spiritual, and psychic than women. On the other hand, women were thought to be more emotional, instinctive, and physical than men. This was a senario of absolute “gender stereotyping” and it existed from last two thousand years. In fact this kind of sexual dualism originated from the Greek philosophers like Aristotle and Christianity had adopted it since then. It was only the women’s movement in 1960s that challenged these kind of thinking to some affect.

Women in Christianity: Marian devotion

The patriarchal Christianity surprisingly also witnessed another phenomenon that is the Marian devotion. Catholics were highly influenced by this whereas the Protestants rejected this phenomenon. Marian devotion even affected the feminist movement in both ways. One school of thought believed that the Marian devotion helped to offer the feminine view on God where as the other school of thought believed that the Marian devotion in fact harmed the feminist movement. They said that proclaiming Mary as Virgin Mary and worshiping her in fact in this form is damaging to the cause of women as “women and womanhood” are elevated to the “high pedestal of morality” and they are inhibited or discouraged to express or explore the more humane side of their nature. The sexual and cultural revolution of the 1970s and 80s precisely wanted to break free from this high pedestals of morality attached to women and womanhood.

Women in Christianity: The two parallel movements

After 1960s the emergence of two parallel movements took place in Christianity as a religion and the society in general. These two movements were the liberal and conservative movements. These two parallel movements exist till date. The more liberal feminist theological movement is influenced by the goddess worship, wisdom literature, Jesus’ movement and Marian devotion. On the other hand the religious right within Christianity works on the principal of sexual dualism. The religious right tries to find values only within an established tradition and they resist change of any kind to an established order. The religious right opposes the liberal reproductive rights of women especially the right to abortion, it rejects cloning technology, it rejects homosexuality and it seeks reestablishment of traditional family ideals based on the patriarchal system. Initially the religious right was only involved with the faith but after the 1970s they have increased their presence in the matters of politics so that they can influence mainstream culture and society in a more profound manner. This is especially true in America. It is natural that the religious right hates feminists. They fear that women will assert themselves, gradually obtain various rights, and ultimately threaten the position of men. For the religious right the advancement of women in society means that they will ultimately take over the jobs of men. Also, they feel that the differences in traditional gender roles are quite essential.

However, from the viewpoint of feminists, gender roles are never absolute or essential. They feel that these were formed within society, and that the concept of “gender” was established to analyze and distinguish the differences in the roles of men and women.

Women in Christianity: The religious right and the liberal feminist theological movement

It is quite natural that the Religious Right criticizes feminists, who challenge the superiority of men. They in fact resist everything about the feminist movement. For example they even dislike the liberal welfare policies for women because under such policies, single mothers who need to raise their children and the economically destitute are assisted financially. The Religious Right view such assistance as preventing the establishment of traditional families. They also reject the relativism of human existence and therefore they are intolerant to other views, cultures and religions. They believe in the absolutism and purity of Christian values and tradition. For the religious right “Patriarchal Christianity” is the central core of all existence. Anything outside this central core has to be resisted and absolutely rejected.

In relation to the role of “women in Christianity” we can see that now we have two parallel schools of thought that exits within the religion as well as in the society. These are the liberal feminist theological movement and the conservative religious right movement. Though this being the current scenario it is not a static situation and there is a continuous evolution that is taking place in regard to the “role of women in Christianity” as it had happened in the last two hundred years or so.

Further to understand the role of Women in Christianity we need to study the following topics in detail

1. Women and the genesis of Christianity
2. Women and Christianity- This includes subtopics like Women of faith surviving but not reporting abuse.
3. Sexuality and early Christianity.
4. How Christianity Changed the World-This includes subtopics like freedom and dignity for women.
5. The advent of the Religious right and the goals of the Religious right.
6. Feminist theology-This includes subtopics like Re-interpretation of the historical origins of Christianity, re-examination of the Bible from the viewpoint of Women, Biblical translation using “Inclusive Language”, formation of new understandings of God, networks of women from Different cultures, sharing methodology with sexual minorities and presenting new views on ecology.

The changes that happened in the Christian society in the last two hundred years have also affected other cultures and religions in a profound manner. The feminist movement owes its roots to the Christian society and thanks to it feminism has become a global phenomenon today which advocates gender based equality and ending of all types of discriminations and bias against women. In fact the study of the role of “women in Christianity” transcends the spectrum of “religion” and gives us a broad perspective of the struggle of women from the last 200 years for a right to a dignified and meaningful life.

Women Net-Savvy

Did you know that most planets rotate anticlockwise, while Venus rotates clockwise? Somehow this may explain why women are more correct, more logical, more pragmatic, more sensual, more aware, and more social than their male counterparts (who are, let us say, simple domesticated pets). Women have always been trendsetters and have always shown the way, even in typical male bastions like hunting and war (lionesses hunt the best; and is not every war so far recorded in history somewhere linked to a woman?) Elementary then, to surmise that women always work towards individual progress on the micro level and towards human progress as a whole on the macro level. Her role in this tech-savvy Internet age is no exception. According to the The Boston Consulting Group more than 57% of online women are traversing the cyberspace for at least more than a year, with the advanced users logging in for more than six years.

The number of female web surfers grow faster than the overall Internet population, according to Neilsen//NetRatings. Females accounted for 52 percent or 55.0 million Internet users at home with a growth rate of 9 percent. Males comprised the remaining 48 percent of the total surfing population, rising three percent from 48.2 million to 49.8 million surfers.

“Men spent more time online, logged on more often, and accessed more content than women, despite being out-numbered by the female Internet population by more than 5.2 million surfers,” said Dawn Brozek, senior Internet analyst, Neilsen//NetRatings. “Generally speaking, women shoulder a majority of the household responsibilities and therefore, face a ‘time poverty’ at home, with less leisure time than men to spend on activities such as surfing the Internet.”

This shows that women zero in and stick to sites that are most relevant to them, while males generally surf around casually and flit from site to site, without any specific object of enquiry. A study by HarrisInteractive stated that 95% of the purchasing decisions were finalized by women in any average U.S. household, as almost 90% of the household finances were controlled by them. The interesting part is that most of the costly purchases were done offline after researching about them online; whereas, most of the less costly purchases were done online after researching about them online. This shows that online purchasing is gaining ground and finding favor with women as years go by. Also, that women are more discerning and without adequate research do not buy. While online, they do not just follow ‘impulse buying’, which is common in offline shopping. Besides online shopping, they also are interested in socializing and sharing views.

The net-savvy online woman has distinct online attitudes, experiences, and habits. She uses the Internet for varied purposes like exchanging experiences, advice, interests, emails, banking, online securities/commodities trading, portfolio management, work from home employment opportunities like medical transcription, medical coding, programming, typing, consulting, freelancing, etc. She actively participates in discussion boards, blogs, and forums. She regularly visits websites related to food & drink, cooking, parenting, diets and weight loss programs, pregnancy, celebrity gossip, albums, horoscopes, shopping, travel, inspiration, ideas, technology, music, entertainment, games, gambling, lotteries, interactive tools, careers, beauty, style, fashion, fitness, dating, nutrition, quizzes, romance, relationships, sexuality, health, news, current events, family, and any other issue that lights up the sparkle in her eyes, or flowers her fertile imagination, or enhances her expertise in domestic or commercial, standard or niche segments.

Nowadays, women shop at eBay, Shopping.com, Amazon after comparing prices at BizRate, PriceGrabber, and Frucall. The epicureans visit Epicurious or FoodNetwork. The travelers search SideStep or Kayak and later share their travel and other photos of memorable moments at Flickr. Those who want to know why the devil wears Prada or why Max Factor is naughty and nice prefer going to Glam, PopSugar, and Style Diary. For entertainment, they watch videos and movies at YouTube and NetFlix. The money minded undertake online stock trading and regularly checkout CNNMoney, MSN Money, Yahoo! Finance, and Marketwatch. Job seekers visit Monster or CareerBuilder. The directionless career seekers find counseling at LinkedIn or Ryze. Freelancers meet at eLance or Guru. For cool deals real estate finders check out Realtor or RealtyTrac or Rent.com. The affluent geeks and the techie divas update themselves at Cnet, Thinkgeek, Digg, and tech.yahoo.com. Moms get and give parenting advice at MomJunction, Mothering, BabyZone, and Kaboose. And all of them, without exception, discuss sex, secrets, and lies at MySpace, friendster, Orkut, hi5, Facebook, and Bebo. Of course, they also send emails, chat, and join groups at Yahoo!, Google, MSN, and AOL.

Woman per se, was, is, and always shall be, intrinsically woven into the warp and weft of the societal fabric. Earlier the society was limited to one’s village, which now with the Internet has encompassed the whole world. The Internet has truly made the world a big global village, and women were the first ones to recognize, appreciate, and embrace its numerous functions and benefits. Due to this first mover advantage, women gobble up the largest chunk of the Internet users’ pie.

Market research companies like eMarketer , Forrester Research, EPM Communications Inc., Datamonitor , JupiterResearch, Hitwise, ComScore Media Metrix, BSM Media, Neilsen//NetRatings, AndersonAnalytics, Borrell Associates, Cyveillance, Pew Internet & American Life Project, Fulcrum Analytics (formerly Cyber Dialogue) and scores of other notable research companies unanimously agree that more than 70% of the total US Internet population is comprised of women! This is the sole reason why so many websites focus on what motivates women, what frustrates them, and what needs do they have. Most of the women-centric websites deal with attitudes, behavior, style, tastes and preferences; thereby, attempting to present a unique insight into the buying and social patterns of today’s online women.

According to Alexa , the top 10 online women-centric sites in the category “On the Web” sorted according to the most popular are BellaOnline (a community of women members, experts and hosts exchanging experiences, encouragement, interests and advice), SoFeminine (women’s magazine featuring articles, celebrity gossip, readers’ albums, blogs and discussion boards), Handbag.com (offers advice, shopping opportunities and ideas, information, inspiration and community, horoscopes, interactive tools and games), BlogHer (#1 guide to blogs by women), WomanSavers (world’s largest database rating good and bad men, helps women worldwide avoid dating alleged cheating, lying or abusive men), CodeGrrl (free PHP/MySQL scripts, tutorials, resources and forums), NZGirl (New Zealand-based magazine for teen girls and young women), Femail (online lifestyle magazine, issued monthly, with articles, discussion forums, and regular columns), All for Women (by women, about women, …all for women, friendly forum, articles, and links) and Womensforum (an online portal for women linking to a dozen partner sites).

The wind is clearly blowing in favor of women and thus more websites are becoming more and more women oriented. It is evident that the Internet has changed traditional norms of the society, as it embraces different cultures of the world and tries to synthesize these cultural variations, attempting to make one unified culture, one global culture. Women have also changed and have become proactive as their lives are being changed by the ever-changing societal trends. A virtual knowledge boom has taken place and women fuel its growth. Slowly gender roles are being exchanged as mature groups come under women’s dominion. Due to great advances in healthcare, people live longer. They get greater time to pursue their chosen careers and this has led to economic independence in the lives of women. Economic independence has brought in its wake all types of independence, which has prompted women to postpone few milestone events of their lives, like marriage, settling down, becoming a parent, and raising a family.

Due to increased earning power, women have become the most prolific consumers, the biggest spenders, and the greatest demanding buyers. They relate to technology in a different manner than men. They are more interested in what the technology can do rather than how it does. They see the usefulness of the Internet and use it accordingly to satisfy their needs, cravings, and wants. Advertisements go on testing women’s endurance, skill, and patience with the superwoman myth, who is successful both as a high-flying career woman and is also a loving wife cum a devoted mother. The media plays an influencing role in the trends of dress, food, beauty and body image. Education, fitness, nutrition, and healthcare websites are all gearing up to meet the hectic lifestyles of women. Women oriented websites employ feminine humor, deliver tension-relieving experiences, promote sociability, and facilitate amicability.

Venture capital would be easy to obtain for websites who aim to target the women audience. It has been found out the online purchases a woman makes is directly proportional to the time spent at the website. Thus Marketing & Advertising will also try to evolve newer and better ways of keeping the women engrossed at their websites. Women also forge strong online loyalties with the sites that they like. Due to their having less time on their hands, they go to their favorite sites immediately and buy what they need, after satisfactory prior research has been completed on it. This increases repeat customers for the websites, and increases web traffic due to word-of-mouth advertising. The majority of the netizens have always been women, and the feminization of the e-commerce websites ensures it will remain so, at least for the next decade or so.

Women Invisible Depression Great

During the Great Depression, women made up 25% of the work force, but their jobs were more unstable, temporary or seasonal then men, and the unemployment rate was much greater. There was also a decided bias and cultural view that “women didn’t work” and in fact many who were employed full time often called themselves “homemakers.” Neither men in the workforce, the unions, nor any branch of government were ready to accept the reality of working women, and this bias caused females intense hardship during the Great Depression.

The 1930’s was particularly hard on single, divorced or widowed women, but it was harder still on women who weren’t White. Women of color had to overcome both sexual and racial stereotyping. Black women in the North suffered an astounding 42.9% unemployment, while 23.2%. of White women were without work according to the 1937 census. In the South, both Black and White women were equally unemployed at 26%. In contrast, the unemployment rate for Black and White men in the North (38.9%/18.1%) and South (18%/16% respectively) were also lower than female counterparts.

The financial situation in Harlem was bleak even before the Great Depression. But afterward, the emerging Black working class in the North was decimated by wholesale layoffs of Black industrial workers. To be Black and a woman alone, made keeping a job or finding another one nearly impossible. The racial work hierarchy replaced Black women in waitressing or domestic work, with White women, now desperate for work, and willing to take steep wage cuts.

Survival Entrepreneurs
At the start of the Depression, while one study found that homeless women were most likely factory and service workers, domestics, garment workers, waitresses and beauticians; another suggested that the beauty industry was a major source of income for Black women. These women, later known as “survivalist entrepreneurs,” became self-employed in response to a desperate need to find an independent means of livelihood.”

Replaced by White women in more traditional domestic work as cooks, maids, nurses, and laundresses, even skilled and educated Black women were so hopeless, ”that they actually offered their services at the so-called ‘slave markets’-street corners where Negro women congregated to await White housewives who came daily to take their pick and bid wages down” (Boyd, 2000 citing Drake and Cayton, 1945/1962:246). Moreover, the home domestic service was very difficult, if not impossible, to coordinate with family responsibilities, as the domestic servant was usually on call ”around the clock” and was subject to the ”arbitrary power of individual employers.”


Inn Keepers and Hairdressers

Two occupations were sought out by Black women, in order to address both the need for income (or barter items) and their domestic responsibilities in northern cities during the Great Depression: (1) boarding house and lodging house keeping; and (2) hairdressing and beauty culture.

During the “Great Migration” of 1915-1930, thousands of Blacks from the South, mostly young, single men, streamed into Northern cities, looking for places to stay temporarily while they searched for housing and jobs. Housing these migrants created opportunities for Black working-class women,-now unemployed-to pay their rent.

According to one estimate, ”at least one-third” of Black families in the urban North had lodgers or boarders during the Great Migration (Thomas, 1992:93, citing Henri, 1976). The need was so great, multiple boarders were housed, leading one survey of northern Black families to report that ”seventy-five percent of the Negro homes have so many lodgers that they are really hotels.”

Women were usually at the center of these webs of family and community networks within the Black community:

“They ”undertook the greatest part of the burden” of helping the newcomers find interim housing. Women played ”connective and leadership roles” in northern Black communities, not only because it was considered traditional “woman’s work,” but also because taking in boarders and lodgers helped Black women combine housework with an informal, income-producing activity (Grossman, 1989:133). In addition, boarding and lodging house keeping was often combined with other types of self-employment. Some of the Black women who kept boarders and lodgers also earned money by making artificial flowers and lamp shades at home.” (Boyd, 2000)

In addition from 1890 to 1940, ”barbers and hairdressers” were the largest segments of the Black business population, together comprising about one third of this population in 1940 (Boyd, 2000 citing Oak, 1949:48).

“Blacks tended to gravitate into these occupations because “White barbers, hairdressers, and beauticians were unwilling or unable to style the hair of Blacks or to provide the hair preparations and cosmetics used by them. Thus, Black barbers, hairdressers, and beauticians had a ”protected consumer market” based on Whites’ desires for social distance from Blacks and on the special demands of Black consumers. Accordingly, these Black entrepreneurs were sheltered from outside competitors and could monopolize the trades of beauty culture and hairdressing within their own communities.

Black women who were seeking jobs believed that one’s appearance was a crucial factor in finding employment. Black self-help organizations in northern cities, such as the Urban League and the National Council of Negro Women, stressed the importance of good grooming to the newly arrived Black women from the South, advising them to have neat hair and clean nails when searching for work. Above all, the women were told avoid wearing ”head rags” and ”dust caps” in public (Boyd, 2000 citing Drake and Cayton, 1945/1962:247, 301; Grossman, 1989:150-151).

These warnings were particularly relevant to those who were looking for secretarial or white-collar jobs, for Black women needed straight hair and light skin to have any chance of obtaining such positions. Despite the hard times, beauty parlors and barber shops were the most numerous and viable Black-owned enterprises in Black communities (e.g., Boyd, 2000 citing Drake and Cayton, 1945/1962:450-451).

Black women entrepreneurs in the urban North also opened stores and restaurants, with modest savings ”as a means of securing a living” (Boyd, 2000 citing Frazier, 1949:405). Called ”depression businesses,” these marginal enterprises were often classified as proprietorships, even though they tended to operate out of ”houses, basements, and old buildings” (Boyd, 2000 citing Drake and Cayton, 1945/1962:454).

“Food stores and eating and drinking places were the most common of these businesses, because, if they failed, their owners could still live off their stocks.”

“Protestant Whites Only”
These businesses were a necessity for Black women, as the preference for hiring Whites climbed steeply during the Depression. In the Philadelphia Public Employment Office in 1932 & 1933, 68% of job orders for women specified “Whites Only.” In New York City, Black women were forced to go to separate unemployment offices in Harlem to seek work. Black churches and church-related institutions, a traditional source of help to the Black community, were overwhelmed by the demand, during the 1930’s. Municipal shelters, required to “accept everyone,” still reported that Catholics and African American women were “particularly hard to place.”

No one knows the numbers of Black women left homeless in the early thirty’s, but it was no doubt substantial, and invisible to the mostly white investigators. Instead, the media chose to focus on, and publicize the plight of White, homeless, middle-class “white collar” workers, as, by 1931 and 1932, unemployment spread to this middle-class. White-collar and college-educated women, usually accustomed “to regular employment and stable domicile,” became the “New Poor.” We don’t know the homeless rates for these women, beyond an educated guess, but of all the homeless in urban centers, 10% were suggested to be women. We do know, however, that the demand for “female beds” in shelters climbed from a bit over 3,000 in 1920 to 56,808 by 1932 in one city and in another, from 1929 -1930, demand rose 270%.

“Having an Address is a Luxury Now…”
Even these beds, however, were the last stop on the path towards homelessness and were designed for “habitually destitute” women, and avoided at all cost by those who were homeless for the first time. Some number ended up in shelters, but even more were not registered with any agency. Resources were few. Emergency home relief was restricted to families with dependent children until 1934. “Having an address is a luxury just now” an unemployed college woman told a social worker in 1932.

These newly destitute urban women were the shocked and dazed who drifted from one unemployment office to the next, resting in Grand Central or Pennsylvania station, and who rode the subway all night (the “five cent room”), or slept in the park, and who ate in penny kitchens. Slow to seek assistance, and fearful and ashamed to ask for charity, these women were often on the verge of starvation before they sought help. They were, according to one report, often the “saddest and most difficult to help.” These women “starved slowly in furnished rooms. They sold their furniture, their clothes, and then their bodies.”

The Emancipated Woman and Gender Myths
If cultural myths were that women “didn’t work,” then those that did were invisible. Their political voice was mute. Gender role demanded that women remain “someone’s poor relation,” who returned back to the rural homestead during times of trouble, to help out around the home, and were given shelter. These idyllic nurturing, pre-industrial mythical family homes were large enough to accommodate everyone. The new reality was much bleaker. Urban apartments, no bigger than two or three rooms, required “maiden aunts” or “single cousins” to “shift for themselves.” What remained of the family was often a strained, overburdened, over-crowded household that often contained severe domestic troubles of its own.

In addition, few, other than African Americans, were with the rural roots to return to. And this assumed that a woman once emancipated and tasting past success would remain “malleable.” The female role was an out-of-date myth, but was nonetheless a potent one. The “new woman” of the roaring twenties was now left without a social face during the Great Depression. Without a home–the quintessential element of womanhood–she was, paradoxically, ignored and invisible.

“…Neighborliness has been Stretched Beyond Human Endurance.”
In reality, more than half of these employed women had never married, while others were divorced, deserted, separated or claimed to be widowed. We don’t know how many were lesbian women. Some had dependent parents and siblings who relied on them for support. Fewer had children who were living with extended family. Women’s wages were historically low for most female professions, and allowed little capacity for substantial “emergency” savings, but most of these women were financially independent. In Milwaukee, for example, 60% of those seeking help had been self-supporting in 1929. In New York, this figure was 85%. Their available work was often the most volatile and at risk. Some had been unemployed for months, while others for a year or more. With savings and insurance gone, they had tapped out their informal social networks. One social worker, in late 1931, testified to a Senate committee that “neighborliness has been stretched not only beyond its capacity but beyond human endurance.”

Older women were often discriminated against because of their age, and their long history of living outside of traditional family systems. When work was available, it often specified, as did one job in Philadelphia, a demand for “white stenographers and clerks, under (age) 25.”

The Invisible Woman
The Great Depression’s effect on women, then, as it is now, was invisible to the eye. The tangible evidence of breadlines, Hoovervilles, and men selling apples on street corners, did not contain images of urban women. Unemployment, hunger and homelessness was considered a “man’s problem” and the distress and despair was measured in that way. In photographic images, and news reports, destitute urban women were overlooked or not apparent. It was considered unseemly to be a homeless woman, and they were often hidden from public view, ushered in through back door entrances, and fed in private.

Partly, the problem lay in expectations. While homelessness in men had swelled periodically during periods of economic crisis, since the depression of the 1890’s onward, large numbers of homeless women “on their own” were a new phenomenon. Public officials were unprepared: Without children, they were, early on, excluded from emergency shelters. One building with a capacity of 155 beds and six cribs, lodged over 56,000 “beds” during the third year of the depression. Still, these figures do not take account the number of women turned away, because they weren’t White or Protestant.

As the Great Depression wore on, wanting only a way to make money, these women were excluded from “New Deal” work programs set up to help the unemployed. Men were seen as “breadwinners,” holding greater claim to economic resources. While outreach and charitable agencies finally did emerge, they were often inadequate to meet the demand.

Whereas black women had particular hard times participating in the mainstream economy during the Great Depression, they did have some opportunity to find alternative employment within their own communities, because of unique migration patterns that had occurred during that period. White women, in contrast, had a keyhole opportunity, if they were young and of considerable skills, although their skin color alone offered them greater access to whatever traditional employment was still available.

The rejection of traditional female roles, and the desire for emancipation, however, put these women at profound risk once the economy collapsed. In any case, single women, with both black and white skin, fared worse and were invisible sufferers.