Once upon a time, not so long ago, to the Indian middle class woman, her home was her world and her family her life. It was a simple enough world where the men went out and earned money, while the women stayed at home and raised their families. In this cozy, boxed-in world, men did the economically productive and socially valued outside-the-house jobs while the women did the non-paying and devalued inside ones. Education was a male prerogative. Workplaces were male dominated where no woman dared to go. The walls were strong and rigid.
At the same time, girls were married off young, before they even reached puberty. They became mothers several times before they reached the age of twenty. The men were married young too, but unlike the girls, they pursued their education and went on to work. While marriage and motherhood drastically altered the lives of women, marriage and fatherhood was incidental to that of men.
The immensely required social change was seen when the educated men wanted at least a partially educated wife. The reason for this was the changing face of the Indian family- from big size joint families of almost 20 members, to nuclear families of at large four members. And in these nuclear families, women now also had to undertake certain outside jobs which the office-going husbands had no time for. Bills had to be paid, shopping had to be done and the children had to be dropped off to school. These unpaid chores were essential to keep the single income nuclear families going.
Thus uneducated girls had few takers in the changing society. Most girls now finished college and went on to finish college as well. But most often than not, they ended up sitting at home, after they got married.
The first women entrants into the job market were so grateful to be there that they did not even notice the exploitation that was taking place. The women were also paid less than their male colleagues for the same amount and type of work. They had no job security or any incentives which were offered to the men.
Present day time marks a time of equal status between the genders. The time indeed has changed by leaps and bounce. More and more women are moving out of the confines of their homes every day. They are now competing with men in every sphere, whether in the field of education or in the field of job. The working women have proved themselves as doctors, engineers, lawyers, entrepreneurs, pilots and educationalists. Flexible work arrangements, which earlier was a hindrance has now become an incentive for the working women. Technology has been a major boon for women. Jobs no longer require physical strength or endurance; they require only certain education and special skills.
Agitation, litigation and gender sensitization has lead to women being more aware of their rights and take advantage of the same. They are aggressively still fighting for all the gender-related issues at the workplace which have not been officially addressed till now.