Patriarchy and Female Empowerment

Hannah Johnson SCU ’17

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Credit: Raveendran

It’s no secret that the feminist movement and discussions around the topic of female empowerment and the patriarchy have come into the spotlight in recent years. It is an issue that has grown in recognition and has been addressed differently in various countries. The social status of women in India has been influenced by numerous religions over the last 5,000 years. During the 19th century the first wave of feminism took place in India, as the first generation of English educated women came to head the women’s movement. At the time, this only influenced women of higher castes. The movement helped lay the groundwork for organizations such as AIWC and the YWCA. These groups helped fight child marriage, advocate for women’s voting rights, and teach life skills to women in India. In recent years new laws have been put into place to criminalize stalking, voyeurism and acid attacks (Bagri, 2013). The fight for women’s liberation has been difficult, as improvements to women’s safety come from a patriarchal lens “rather than referring to practices to protect women’s independence and livelihood, safety is most often referenced in relation to women taking measures to protect themselves through remaining inside the house, dressing conservatively, and traveling with male escorts.” (Livine, 2015, p. 9).

Dress is influenced by the patriarchy to be conservative while women follow traditional gender roles. I think that the cultural differences in women’s roles will be noticeable. Having prior research on how women bimage titleehave in their country is important to understanding behavior of locals and how you should act as a visitor. I thought it was interesting how despite negative aspects of the patriarchy positive changes are being made. I was intrigued by discussions on traditional practices such as Sati regarding whether they are sexist or feminist in their own way. I also found it interesting how the roles of religion and tradition are trying to find a place where tradition and the feminist movement can coexist.

Credit: Aneesha Dalal, Via Buzzfeed


Bagri, N. T. (2013, March 8). Where is India’s Feminist Movement Headed? The New York Times. Retrieved from movement-headed/?_r=0

Livine, E. (2015). Violence Against Women in India: Origins, Perpetuation and Reform Retrieved from

Dr Patel, V. & Khajuria, R. (2016). Political Feminism in India
n Analysis of Actors, Debates and Strategies Retrieved from bueros/indien/12706.pdf

Raveendran, (Photographer). (2014, March 28). Indian women march to parliament on International World Women’s day [digital image]. Retrieved from

Dalal, A. (Photographer). (2014, July 14). BuzzFeed asked people around the country why India needs feminism. [digital image]. Retrieved from