Female Identity in India | Nilima Meher

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Female Identity in India: Nilima Meher

Published in May 2016, Issue XVI of Ashvamegh

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Introduction to the Author:

Nilima Meher OdishaMiss Nilima Meher is at present working as a lecturer in English in Panchayat College(Govt.), Bargarh, Odisha. She has published four articles on Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in different International journals. Her area of interest is feminism along with cultural studies. She is pursuing her Ph. D work on Third Generation Nigerian Literature in Sambalpur University, Odisha.





 Female Identity in India

Abstract: This article is based on the real position of women in India. To write this article, the Ted Talk of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the famous Nigerian author on Should we all be Feminists which is published in a book form inspired me where she has discussed the position of Nigerian women in Nigeria at the present time. Along with this, during my PRCN (pre commissioned course of NCC) training at Gwalior, trainees from different part of India discussed on the position of women. So, this article is based on the opinion of women from different parts of India. I will be covering some aspects concerning the position of women because the subjects itself is very vast and multi-dimensional.


We are now too much talking about women empowerment. But it is a big question whether we are really empowered or not. We are talking about equal rights to boys and girls, but practically, what is the current condition? When we are talking about equality of son and daughter, why in India, the major portion of Indian girls can’t keep their old parents in their in-laws-house. Leave the exemplary states like Kerala and some one or two families in hundred families because we are talking about major portion of Indian women.

It is a common practice in many parts of India that when a baby girl cries we stop her by telling that she is not yet going to her in-laws’ house. But when a boy cries, we stop him by telling that don’t cry like a girl. Girls only cry. If they will not cry how could they know the pain and the distinction of boys and girls start from the emotional strength. Girls are supposed to be more emotional and weak for their crying nature and boys are considered stronger at emotional level.

Another distinction is girls only have marriage marks whereas boys move freely without carrying any sign. It is the only compulsion of ladies where the ceremony, involvement and everything is same. By this tradition, importance of male again increases. During marriage, bridegroom and his family should be received properly. If the bride and her family don’t receive them with such welcome means, it might produce devastating results. Sometimes marriages are also cancelled. Girls suffer more by it. When the same thing happens for girls it is ok because they and their family can tolerate and have to tolerate. This system is prevailing more in educated high class society in most of the parts of India.

Then comes the question of rearing children. When children do not behave properly, blame directly goes on women only. But when a child achieves something the credit goes to father. Both parents have equal rights over their child but why it is women only. Leave the biological aspect. Apart from that there are many responsibilities of the child which should be done on sharing basis.

We tell that economically self-sufficient ladies are empowered but when giving money in auto or in hotel comes why the male offers in the name of tradition. Why male adjust table for ladies. Out of these traditions, develop the attitude of people (male/female) that women are not too strong. Sometimes, it is the notion of those women who were earlier under pressure of male and they are comfortable with the system. So, those type of opposition is common and expected from those ladies. But for male, it is the male ego which propels them to consider women as weak.

Delicacy is always associated with female because they can’t roar and work like men. But this is not the criteria to consider them inferior to men. To become angry is ‘not good for women’ is not only a conception in India but throughout the world.

Again, in our tradition, we have the preference for a girl who is younger and lesser in height than a boy. This system signifies the condition of women. In age when women will be younger means they should always look smaller than the male is expected from all.

Next when we come to sexual relationship there also the will of male always exists, may be in marital relationship, pre-marital or even in extra marital relationship. From the beginning, they are taught to shrink themselves, compromise their situation to have peace in marriage. Rape by men is heard where only the will of the male is sustained.      When virginity of girls is praise worthy, why it is not expected from the boys? They are always clear like mirror but girls become impure, like mud of dirty water!

In any govt or non-govt or simply in casual things women are not accepted and expected to take the lead. Even in manual labour groups women are considered as inferior. So their wage varies for the same work till now. Women are not followed because they are considered less intelligent and having no courage to handle any difficult situation. Many exceptional cases are there but I am here particularly discussing about the bulk of Indian women. When team work comes, it is considered as a big deal and it is not given to women. Although men will do those works without interest and potency, still it is good. They will be head only for the name but in reality women are the efficient workers in the team. Again, if two or three teams are working together under one leader then for those teams, men take the initiative to become the leader and when women come in front, they are suppressed and not at all heard. I have the experience of such situations. In my college, when exams are conducted, women will be there in the group but they will not be the leader again. And all the money matters – male members will handle. If a woman takes the position of a man and works efficiently, still the colleagues will consider her predecessor the best.

In public place if a woman is there with a man means that time woman becomes completely invisible. If discussion on technical thing or machinery or electronic gadgets are going on in ordinary life (not of girls studying engineering) in most Indian families women remain quite or if they speak means they are made quite by male members of the society. A very common practice is there since the childhood that boys are given electronic and machinery toys to play whereas girls are given only dolls to play with.

In India, a tradition is there that girls are given advise from the female members of the family what to do, what not to do to be safe outside, to make the in-laws family happy and to make it heaven. Books, magazines are also published to give advice on it. But no such books are written for men with many rules to follow.

There are women who are all against these things who talk about the liberation or equality then they are considered as house broker who are there to destroy the marital life of others.

In India for a working lady when bridegroom is selected the boy must be in a higher post and his salary must be more than the girl. If such thing does not happen and the lady earn the money means she and her family members pretend before public that she is not the high earning source of the family because it deteriorates the ‘so called status and dignity’ of the man.

Marriage for a lady is considered too much essential in India. Girls are always told that marriage is a good thing, essential for living, for old age, for mutual support and to live prestigiously in the society. When a girl does not marry people start doubting her character, conjecture stories, blame her and many more things even if she is working or a lady of high status. But a man can stay single though out the life. No one will ask any question and no bad image will be there for him before public.

Women don’t have a home of their own. Since the childhood, they are told that their parents house is not their real house. Husband’s house is her own home. When they accept the in-laws home as their home they are scolded and restricted to do the things they like to. They are told not to consider this home as their own or of their father. Then where the lady will go? Which one will be her real home?


Girls are thought to cover themselves, have shame and to have all feminine quality which is indispensible for them. They are advised to return home before night and they have also restriction to go to a certain place. Whereas boys hardly have.


In our culture women are subordinate to man. There are many sayings on it. The house of the husband is the heaven for a lady. The wife should seek for shelter under the foot of her husband like that. There is nothing called culture. It is the brain child of people themselves. If they want, they can manipulate it the way it suits them. But most of time it is favourable to male only. Again it is always men but many women have become adapted to the situation and surrender themselves.

Just like all the stars from earth looks alike with their uniqness, are the thing of many queries for people on earth. They are all equal stars for the beholders. Just like that in God’s creation irrespective of gender differences they should be considered as human beings only.

In India, British system is followed in army where the wives of officers receive the same honour and dignity. That system is very nice to be followed in the life of civilian so that there will be no question on female identity.

Gender specific work should be removed and gender specific advice also. Everything is there in our mindset. So, we have to change our mindset. Along with that, if we raise our son and daughter without any differences that question of female identity will be gone soon. It is not the responsibility of male to give female a status rather the females should enhance their self esteem.



Reading List

Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi. We Should All Be Feminist. London: Fourth Estate, 2014.



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