The women questions arose in modern India as a part of the 19th century social reform movement. What were the major issues and debates concerning women in that period?

The condition of women in the early 19th century was not that satisfying. The society was full of superstitious activities like Sati, Polygamy, Purdah, female infanticide, etc. They were deprived of the educational, social, and economic opportunities. And the matter of inequality further deteriorated the condition.


  • British India mainly concentrated on the personal laws of different communities. It had strengthened the foundation of the patriarchal society and deprived the women of property rights, adoption, marriage, and divorce.
  • The nexus between the British colonial state and the patriarchal society was evident.
  • The reformers of India used to revere the glorious past of India considering the woman’s presence as significant belonging. They safeguarded the western influence in society.
  • The Purdah system extended the distancing between opposite sexes, social isolation, and mental numbness. That was the reason, women’s participation in the mass movement was missing at that time.

Previously, the restriction of women on the issue of marriage, movement, freedom, liberty, decisions was not that much rampant but in the 19th century, it became a part of the society.

In 1956, the British government started ratified widow remarriage, but the participation of women was missing. They used to refrain themselves from remarriage to keep their social status intact.

Many individuals and societies emerged at that time to become the voice of the women. Mid 19th century experienced many movements but its extent and intensity were limited.

The very purpose of providing women education was associated with domestication. The ultimate goal was to produce better wives, better mothers, and better keepers.

The 19th century experienced a gradual transition in the participation of women from agricultural, animal husbandry, fisheries sectors.

Comment: The society of the 19th century in India tried to improve the position of the women by the developmental approach towards education, labor participation, social participation, but the issues like equal rights, and equal status were overlooked.


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