Feminine energy in India has always been worshipped in the form of Lakshmi, Durga and Saraswati. Despite the Goddess status endowed to them, women have to fight for their place in the world. In a patriarchal society like India, women have been role-bearers in the way biology and society prescribed. As wives and mothers, they contained themselves within the homes and kept patriarchal values and traditions afloat. The number and gender of offspring’s she could bear and through her culinary prowess the worth of women was determined. Since a young age mothers trained their daughters to master techniques and manage various taste buds of family members. In fact a popular folk tales reveals how a girl is considered competent enough to be a bride, if she can demonstrate her ability to cook perfect papads. With food and the kitchen taking center-stage, in patriarchal Indian households the women toiled hard in the kitchen to nurture the family.
But soon came gas top burners, LPG connections, pressure cookers, mixer grinders, refrigerators, water purifiers and the more recent inventions of the food processors, microwaves, OTGs, changed the life of women forever. Modernizing Indian kitchens, these equipments and appliances reduced much of the negative labour from the women’s life in the kitchen. With reduced time and effort, women found imagination for other roles that they could play.
A new journey in women’s life is made, progress is force multiplied every time new technology touches her life. Within the kitchen and beyond, life for women is unleashed with every update in technology. With kitchen appliances women experienced some extra time, with the advent of Television and Cable TV- women found me time. Television, unleashed boundaries for them, it helped them hear other stories. Afternoons for Indian women were dedicated to learn new recipes or hear the stories of other women in similar/unique contexts. Women happily sat in front of the TV in the afternoon sorting, cutting and preparing for the evening meal. The scooty is another remarkable Indian innovation that gave wings and wheels to women. Providing self-sufficiency to women, the scooty offered mobility to Indian women at affordable costs.
In early 21st century, the mobile phone was democratized and reached every Indian. Women acquired private space and individuality through a number. The ten-digit number announced their independent identity and destroyed boundaries of the mind. A social revolution in its own right, the mobile phone moved India and its women to a new stage of experiencing modernity. Modernity that defied hierarchy and age old gender biases. Easy and unaware, it swept the nation and created new fundamental need, rich-poor, man-women, rural-urban all alike.
With biological control given back to the women, with the advent of condoms and contraceptives- women could control and take charge of nature. With freedom, flexibility and the power to decide when to conceive, science helped women take charge of her body. Condoms and contraceptives empowered women to take charge of their own reproductive and biological health. It brought them self- respect and dignity and to the nation a better human-development index. Advancements and the development of the low cost sanitary napkin and the law and science around abortion, furthered choice, self- determination and autonomy for women.
One invention at a time, science has contributed knowingly and unknowingly in charting change in the status of women. Within homes and beyond the leapfrogging that technology adoption provides emancipates lives and households in India.
It would be true to say that technology has played the most fundamental role in empowering women in India. Perhaps it has played a more important role than the family eco-system or the law and policy frameworks, because it has enabled change from within for women. The access and adoption of technological advancements have helped women battle their own selves and challenge what time, biology and society had in mind for them. While societal and the policy eco-system enabled the fight from the outside, scientific progress created imagination within oneself to emerge and evolve.
In times of tomorrow, more change will be embraced and perhaps more confidence will emerge. With adoption of the technologies like Botox, time can be frozen. With freezing of eggs women will perhaps extend marriageable age? A new era perhaps of women’s emancipation awaits us as India adopts life sciences and codes human creation too. How society and the human race cope with these heady changes only women and time will unveil- but until then Thank You Science!