An individual’s role in society is defined by a set of perceived behaviors he or she is required to perform in a society. What is a woman’s role in society? The role differs among societies and is dependent on culture, traditions, and religion. A woman’s role in societies around the world has evolved through time, although the basic role of a woman as a mother, sister, or daughter still remains very much the same.
Historically, the role of women started to evolve in the nineteenth century. Women began to break out of the stereotypical roles which had been the same for centuries, and started to explore new horizons while proving their worth. In 1800 women began to challenge the traditional intellectual, social, economic, and political attitudes about a woman’s place in society.
By 1900 the role of women had drastically changed, with more acceptance of their evolving roles. Women were allowed to work outside the home. They were more than just mothers, sisters, or daughters. Many women began serving in professional roles as doctors, lawyers, and politicians. Although their roles in society broadened, inequality remained. For this reason women started campaigning for equal rights.
In the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, gender equality advanced as women started to be more readily accepted by society in various roles of which preceding generations only dreamed. Women have proved their worth, and in many cases are now preferred over men.
Although much has changed, the role of a woman is still influenced by culture, religion, and traditions. Around the world the role of women is not unified: there are vast differences among women’s roles in various regions. In some regions women are still living out the roles which were laid out in the Stone Age, confining them to the boundary of their homes. These women are restricted to their roles as mother, sisters, and daughters and are expected to perform the duties pertaining to their relationships within the parameters of their homes. But in other regions the role of a woman has changed so much that it is no longer limited to relationships. Women are working, being breadwinners, and resisting the traditional role of wife by staying single or becoming a single parent.
Whatever the role of a woman in society, education is one factor that opens the door to new prospects for women around the world. In developed countries where education is prevalent, women face much less resistance and are encouraged to take on more roles and be productive members of society.
Underdeveloped nations are trying to catch up, but progress is slow and often met by social resistance as women’s lack of education and experience holds them back. The situation in urban areas of these countries is better than in rural areas; in some rural areas of underdeveloped countries there are no schools, and even if there is a school male children are sent more often than female children. These double standards lead to slow progress in realizing the rights of women and the potential of the constructive roles women can play to better society.