Awaken her socially, and see the difference by Madanjit Kaur GENDER discrimination has been a universal phenomenon in human history from time immemorial. On account of her biological constitution, social taboos and scriptural sanction, the social position of the woman has always been considered as inferior and subordinate to man in society. Guru Nanak not only rejected the lowly social status of woman but declared her to be the essence of social coherence and progress, and equal to man in every sphere of life. No doubt Sikhism brought great relief to the sufferings of the Indian women, but the social transformation could not cross religious boundaries. There were other reformatory movements to elevate the status of women, but the position of women remained the same in Indian society. Even in Europe the right of franchise came to women much later.However, with the dawn of modern age, old values have changed. With new awareness on account of education, economic development, social awareness, social organisations, industrialisation, urbanisation, disintegration of joint families, economic and technical developments, pressures of consumer society, more opportunities for work, development of means of communication and transportation and social mobility, a great change has occurred in the attitude towards women. Subsequently, the position of women has certainly been enhanced. I see a steady trend among modern women towards increasing consciousness of their rights, seeking liberty from gender discrimination and finding an independent identity and economic independence. Women have now certainly got a status in society. A working women’s position is certainly different from that of housewife. But the attitude and behaviour of society towards working women is not yet satisfactory and just. Although women have joined almost every profession in our country and most of them are doing excellent work, the working women have to put in a great deal of hard work to reach the top. But everything does not stop there. She has to fight hard to retain her position and make people realise the worth of her skills. Economic independence is essential for the personality development of woman and for providing economic support to her family. It gives her confidence, liberty, identity, security, a status and a feeling of sharing the economic needs of the household.Much work is needed on the social front for the harmonious development of the position of women in our society. Social evils like girl abuse, women abuse, dowry deaths, sati, gender discrimination etc are painful realities of our society. We have to deal with these problems seriously and sincerely. The dominant nature of the male in our society is one of the major factors to be sublimated to the spirit of equality.Girls should not be considered an unwanted burden, liability and problem. They need equal attention and loving treatment for the mental and physical development of their personality. Women should have more facilities for education, applied sciences, professional courses and training and more career prospects and avenues of employment.We need more women welfare organisations to make efforts at the grassroots level for the welfare of women and development of society. Top We need more opportunities for the development of women entrepreneurship in the socio-economic, industrial and commercial spheres so that women can play a definite role in the economic development of the country and contribute significantly in the task of nation building.The deal which I want from society is that the woman should not be taken as an object of liability, property, a sex symbol but as an equal human being. Although she has to awaken to her potentialities, she still needs more awareness and alertness about her rights and duties. She has definitely a serious role to play in the 21st century. At the national front the women have also an additional role to play in the preservation and conservation of our cultural values. We have to safeguard our young generation from the influx of western culture which is devoid of any morality and human sensitivity, through media and other devices of communication. This impact of western values is eroding our cultural ethos and spirituality. The material value pattern of a consumer society is no answer to the challenges of human existence in this crucial phase of the times. The writer is an eminent scholar, and is an authority on Sikhism.