Class 7 Social Science Gender and the Role of women Exam Notes

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Class 7 Social Science Gender and the Role of women Exam Notes. Please refer to the examination notes which you can use for preparing and revising for exams. These notes will help you to revise the concepts quickly and get good marks.


We all know that biologically all human beings fall into two categories – male and female. The term gender refers to social and cultural attributes, roles and responsibilities associated with a male and female. Gender is culturally determined and is a social concept that changes over a period of time from one culture to another culture.

Meaning Of Gender

(i) Gender is a term that you may often have heard. It is a term, however that is not easily understood. It tends to remain distant from our lives and restricted to discussions during training programmers.

(ii) In fact, it is something that all of us experience in our lives on a daily basis. It determines, for example, who we are and what we will become, where we can go and where not, the life choices available to us and those we eventually make.

(iii) Our understanding of gender is often based on the family and society that we live in. This leads us to think that the roles we see men and women around us play are fixed and natural.

(iv) In fact, these roles differ across communities around the world. By gender, then, we mean the many social values and stereotypes our cultures attach to the biological distinction between male and female.

(v) It is a term that helps us to understand many of the inequalities and power relations between men and women is society.

(v) It is a term that helps us to understand many of the inequalities and power relations between men and women is society.


The gender inequality can be traced back to the prehistoric time when men were allowed to go for hunting, women were asked to cook and look after children at home.
Gender is also stereotyping which assumes that girls are fit for certain type of jobs like cooking, taking care of babies only while men are capable to go outside and earn money.


(i) Being a boy or a girl is an important part of one's identity.

(ii) The society we grow up in, teaches us what kind of behaviour is acceptable for girls and boys, what boys and girls can or cannot do.

(iii) We often grow up thinking that these things are exactly the same everywhere. But all societies do not look at boys and girls in the same way.

(iv) Different roles are assigned to boys and girls to prepare them for their future roles as men and women. Most societies value men and women as different.

(v) The roles women play and the work they do are usually valued less than the roles men play and the work they do.

(vi) Inequalities between men and women emerge in the area of work.


(i) Across the world, the main responsibility for housework and care, looking after the family, especially children, the elderly and sick members, lies with women.

(ii) Yet, as we have seen, the work that women do within the home is not recognized as work. It is also assumed that this is something that comes naturally to women.

(iii) It therefore, does not have to be paid for. And society devalues this work.


(i) Many homes, particularly in towns and cities, employ domestic workers.

(ii) They do a lot of work sweeping and cleaning, washing clothes and dishes, cooking, looking after young children or the elderlty.

(iii) Most domestic workers are women. Sometimes even young boys or girls are employed to do this work. Wages are low, as domestic work does not have much value.


(i) In fact, what we commonly term as housework actually involves many different tasks. A number of these tasks require heavy physical work. In both rural and urban areas women and girls have to fetch water.

(ii) In rural areas women and girls carry heavy head loads of firewood. Tasks like washing clothes, clearing sweeping and picking up loads require bending, lifting and carrying. Many chores, like cooking, involve standing for long hours in front of hot stoves.

(iii) The work women do is strenuous and physically demanding – words that we normally associate with men.

(iv) Another aspect of housework and care – giving that we do not recognized is that it is very time consuming. In fact, if we add up the housework and the work women do outside the home, we find that women spend much more time working than men and have much less time for leisure.


(i) As we have seen the low value attached to women's household and care - giving work is not an individual or family matter. It is part of a larger system of inequality between men and women. It, therefore, has to be dealt with through actions not just at the level of the individual or the family but also by the government.

(ii) As we now know, equality is an important principle of our Constitution.

(iii) The Constitution says that being male or female should not become a reason for discrimination. In reality, inequality between the sexes exists.

(iv) The government is, therefore, committed to understanding the reasons for this and taking positive steps to remedy the situation.

(v) For example, it recognizes that burden of child care and housework falls on women and girls. This naturally has an impact of whether girls can attend school. It determines whether women can work outside the house and what kind of jobs and careers they can have.

(vi) The government has set up anganwadis or child care centers in several villages in the country. The government has passed laws that make it mandatory for organizations that have more than 30 women employees to provide crèche facilities.

(vii) The provision of creches helps many women to take up employment outside the home. It also makes it possible for more girls to attend school.


In the 19th century social reformers like Raja Rammohan Roy, Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar and Dayanand Saraswati fought for the upliftment of women. Dayanand Saraswati opened many schools and colleges to educate girls.

The constitution also provides equal opportunities for women in all spheres of life. The government is also taking steps to arrest violence or harassment against women at verbal, sexual, economical and emotional levels. Unless government takes stern steps, the inequality will continue in the society. Though to a great extent the inequality has decreased, yet miles are to go to see a brighter future for girls.




Women were nor secure neither were they treated properly since the prehistoric time. History proves that women were called weaker sex and were not given any role or responsibility in the society. Women had to fight at every step for their rights. They had been struggling for equality for many years. Women are typically associated with the home and generally called homemakers. Even in the professional ground woman had to choose a safe job, so they became teachers and nurses. Certain jobs like being a scientist or a technical oriented person the women were not preferred, first because of the risk involved secondly the mind set that woman cannot handle such jobs. This mindset led to the differences among men
and women and men were chosen for professional education as doctor, engineer, pilot and scientist. Girls are not encouraged to take up such job after their education. They are made to get marry. However, there is a lot of women who have came out of the box and have taken up challenging jobs. Learning for change

(i) Going to school is an extremely important part of your life. As more and more children enter school every year, we begin to think that it is normal for all children to go to school.

(ii) Today, it is difficult for us to imagine that school and learning could be seen as "out of bounds" or not appropriate for some children. families or elderes did. For girls, the situation was worse.

(iv) In communities that taught sons to read and write, daughters were not allowed to learn the alphabet. Even in families where skills like pottery, weaving and craft were taught, the contribution of daughters and women was only seen as supportive.

(v) For example, in the pottery trade, women collected the mud and prepared the earth for the pots. But since they did not operate the wheel, they were not seen as potters.

(vi) You have probably noticed in the above table that SC and ST girls leave school at a rate that is higher than the category 'all girls'. This means that girls who are from Dalit and Adivasi backgrounds are less likely to remain in school. The 2001 census also found that Muslim girls are less likely, than Dalit and Adivasi girls, to complete primary school. While a Muslim girl is likely to stay in school for around three years, girls from other communities spend around four years in school.

(vii) In the nineteenth century, many new ideas about education and learning emerged. Schools became more common and communities that had never learnt reading and writing started sending their children to school.

(viii) But there was a lot of opposition to educating girls even then. Yet many women and men made efforts to open schools for girls. Women struggled to learn to read and writebSchool level All boys SC boys ST boys All Girls SC girls ST girls Total
Primary         (Class -1-5)      34       37     49      29     36    49    31
Elementary    (Class 6-8)       52        57    69       53     62    71   52
Secondary     (Class 9-10)      61        71    78       65     76    81   63
Schooling and Education today

(i) Today, both boys and girls attend school in large numbers. Yet, as we will see, there still remain differences between the education of boys and girls. India has a census every 10 years which counts the whole population of the country. It also gathers detailed information about the people living in India – their age, schooling, what work they do, and so on.

(ii) We use this information to measure many things, like the number of literate people, and the ratio of men and women.

(iii) According to the 1961 census, about 40 per cent of all boys and men (7 years old and above) were literate (that is, they could at least write their names) compared to just 15 per cent of all girls and women. In the most recent census of 2001,these figures have grown to 76 per cent for boys and men, and 54 per cent for girls and women.

(iv) This means that the proportion of both men and women who are now able to read and have at least some amount of schooling has increased . But, as you can also see, the percentage of the male group is still higher than the female group. The gap has not gone away.

(v) There are several reasons why children from Dalit. Adivasi and Muslim communities leave school. In many parts of the country, especially in rural and poor areas, there may not even be proper schools nor teachers who teach on a regular basis. If a school is not close to people's homes, and there is no transport like buses or vans, parents may not be willing to send their girls to school.

(vi) Many families are too poor and unable to bear the cost of educating all their children . Boys are given preference in this situation.

Women's Movement

(i) Women and girls now have the right to study and go to school. There are other spheres – like legal reform, violence and health – where the situation of women and girls has improved. These changes have not happened automatically. Women individually, and collectively have struggled to bring about these changes.

(ii) This struggle is known as the Women's movement individual women and women's organizations from different parts of the country are part of the movement. Many men support the women's movement as well. The diversity, passion and efforts of those involved make's it a very vibrant movement.

(iii) Different strategies have been used to spread awareness, fight discrimination and seek justice. Here are some glimpses of this struggle.

(iv) Campaigns to fight discrimination and violence against women are an important part of the women's movement. Campaigns have also led to new laws being passed. A law was cased in 2006 to give women who face physical and mental violence within their homes, also called domestic violence, some legal protection.

Similarly, efforts made by the women's movement led the Supreme Court to formulate guidelines in 1997 to protect women against sexual harassment at the workplace and with in educational institutions.
In the 1980s, for example, women's groups across the country spoke out against dowry death, cases of young brides being murdered by their in – laws or husbands, greedy for more dowry. Women's groups spoke out against the failure to bring these cases to justice. They did so by coming on to the streets, approaching the courts, and by sharing information. Eventually, this became a public issue in the newspapers and society, and the dowry laws were changed to punish families who seek dowry.

(v) An important part of the women's movements' work is to raise public awareness on women's right issues. Their message has been spread through street plays, songs and public meetings.

(vi) The women's movement raises its voice when violations against women take place or for example, when a law or policy acts against their interests. Public rallies and  emonstrations are a very powerful way of drawing attention to injustices.

(vii) The women's movement is also about showing solidarity with other women causes.

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