College Essay Examples


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India and the United States are examples of countries that have made profound changes to the rights of women. But one country was able to move forward at a much quicker speed than the other.

Women in India suffer extreme oppression, despite being included in the political arena.  In this paper, I will compare the key components of calculating the rights of women. These include health, education and protection against violence. It is the financial capital in the U.S. that has allowed the nation to outpace India as a leader in women’s rights.

The rise of rights among Indian women is a bit of a rare thing because India is known to have some of the worst ways of treating women (Role of Women, 2012). While there is a lot of poverty in the entire country, women have consistently been violated and discriminated against, so it is strange that a woman now holds power in the country. Women have so often been malnourished, suppressed and uneducated, even more than the rest of the people in the country who also suffer from a lesser degree of this fate. Many women are married when they are 13 years old because the mother can’t afford to pay a dowry. Even women who are leaders must come home to serve their in-laws and husband (Role of Women, 2012).
Women in the U.S. were given the right to vote in the fight for women suffrage and that is often traced back to the Declaration of Sentiments, which was produced in the first woman’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, N.Y. in 1848. The Woman’s Rights Convention in Syracuse followed four years later, in 1852. That was when the woman’s rights leader Susan B. Anthony joined the campaign, and it was her voice that led women to gaining the right to vote. She was even arrested for illegally voting in 1872. In 1878 a constitutional amendment proposed “The right of citizens to vote shall not be abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex,” (Exploring, N.D.). For the next 41 years, the same bill would be introduced in every Congressional session. Slowly, individual states began allowing the women to vote and this was happening near the end of the 19th century. Finally, in 1919 the two-thirds vote necessary for woman suffrage was passed in Congress. It was then sent for ratification to the states. But many southern states really didn’t like the proposed bill. The Tennessee house could have decided to ratify, but Harry Burns had the deciding vote and his mother wrote him a letter telling him to be a “Good boy and vote for suffrage,” (Exploring, N.D.).

During the British Feminist Reform Movement and Civilizing Mission, Indian women were seen as “victims awaiting redress at the hands of imperial saviors in order to further their own claims for suffrage and political rights,” (Chitnis N.D.). Even though feminists in Britain were advocating for more rights of women in India, the Indian women didn’t want the support. They recognized that the efforts of women in Britain only took place so that the British feminists could have a voice that people would listen to. They were largely ignored on the home front as being too masculine and falling out of the natural role of women, but when they depicted the suffering Indian woman, they gained some voice. Ironically, the feminists in Britain at the time were advocating for the Indian woman to be good Victorian and proper women, something they refused to be themselves (Chitnis N.D.). So while India was struggling to gain independence from Britain, they were also fighting to have rights for their women. On the other side of the ocean, in the U.S., the nation was already free from the restraints of England. Regardless, they had a similar culture as England and didn’t need to find a new identity, or political structure in regards to the treatment of their women. Of course, women didn’t have the rights when the U.S. gained their independence as they would later have.
So the Indian women had a different challenge when they were given their independence from England. They were already given the right to vote when Britain separated their power from India, so there was no need for the women to become politically active to fight for their rights. This could be a reason why women today in India don’t put up much of a fight for their rights. They have no heroes like Susan B. Anthony setting an example for them. It has never been done before in India, so why should the women there believe it can be done now.

According to a report in India Knowledge Wharton Network, the women leaders are striving for political reform, similar to what is being sought in the U.S., except these women are fighting for health care, education and funding so that the health care and education can happen (Role of Women, 2012). Health care is a major issue in India because there is not as much education. The education can help the women to know about birth control. However, even with the knowledge, the women may not be able to afford to pay for the birth control and even just for condoms. It is up to the men to take responsibility for making sure no babies are born and this can be a problem to afford even for men. Health care in the U.S. is not as much as a concern because women in the U.S. have more money than the women in India. The issue with health care in the U.S., which doesn’t needed to be fully explained in this essay, is relatively equal between men and women because education and availability of birth control is high and that is the main difference between health care for men and women. The political women leaders said they are also challenged with finding ways that women can have enough money to achieve their goals.

Even though India now has a woman leader, there needs to be more economic empowering and this can be done through microfinance programs, which are already happening a lot in places like Bolivia, Bangladesh and Indonesia. Microfinance is a way that institutions can include people in the banking sector. Around 8 to 10 million households are part of microfinance programs in the world. The program is centred on group lending contracts and modern attitudes about subsidies. The program essentially pools lots of small amounts of money and then lends that money to very poor people when they need it. With this money, the poor people can find ways to earn money and then pay back their loans, along with interest on them (Murduch, 1999). Opportunities like this can help women who have less of a chance than men at being able to get jobs. Women who like weaving, for example, can use the money they get from the microfinance loans to buy material. With this material they are able to make things like clothes. Once they sell the clothes, they can use the money to feed their families. In the United States, women don’t have to worry as much about getting microfinance loans for two reasons: first, there are jobs in the U.S. that are more suited to women than in India. For example, there is such a greater number of businesses, which can hire women. Whereas in India, much of the jobs are labour, which is suited mostly to men and is even more traditionally associated with men in India because of the traditional practices of men there.

But India is full of contradictions. Even though a woman is in power, there aren’t decisions like the microfinance initiative being pursued to help women have a better lifestyle. It should be noted, though, that women still only make up just over 11 per cent of the parliament (Role of Women, 2012). So while a woman is in power, she isn’t necessarily able to pass her policy proposals through her parliament. While the U.S. may think it has far greater rights for women than a country such as India, there were only 16.3 per cent of women in 535 seats in the 2012 congress (Women, 2012).

Education can be a way to solve both the problem of not having very good health care and being able to know how to take advantage of the micro-loans. Some of the women politicians have taken up the duty of bringing education to villages, where it was otherwise nearly impossible to get education. Even though this is happening more, there is also not very many people allowed to participate because there are more people wanting the education than there is room for (Role of Women, 2012). But there is a lot of poor policies in delivering the education to the rural communities. For example, school teachers are hired from a selection of state-wide candidates and are selected by the state. Some believe that making the selection process this way makes it subject to bribes and other forms of corruption. The women that do come to teach make efforts towards things like making sure there are separate bathrooms for males and females. This could lower the number of female drop outs after puberty (Role of Women, 2012).

In India, women are included in almost every field there is available. They have given contributions to the areas relating to politics, science, health and education, for example. But that doesn’t mean that the rights of women and men are equal in India. The situation for women is dire and there needs to be steps taken to create education and ways that women can make money. Even when women are given equal rights to employment and other things, there is a constant fright that they may be raped or beaten: “The fear of sexual violence has been a powerful factor in restricting women’s behavior and sense of freedom,” (Purnima, 2010). This struggle against violence represents a battle that has women faced with a battle for equal rights for power that is physical and economic. In the United States, however, woman don’t have to be as afraid as they are in India about being attacked, because law enforcement in the western nation is more stringent and takes protecting women much more seriously than its Indian counterpart.

One way to express the attitude towards women, despite them being included to a certain degree in the political system, is the declining sex ratio, which “amply portrays the discrimination shown towards women at the stage of birth. … They are victims of crime directed specifically at them, rape, kidnapping and abduction, dowry-related crimes, molestation, sexual harassment, eve-teasing, etc.,” (Purnima, 2010). Eve-teasing implies that the woman is responsible for being molested or raped. Approximately 40 per cent of the women who are married in India are victims of domestic violence and the acts against the women are growing extremely quickly (Purnima, 2010).  The fact that the treatment of women is getting worse, implies there is no connection between the rise of women in the political system and the treatment of women in the public. Women were given the right to vote when Britain gave India its freedom. They didn’t have to fight for it like in the U.S. and, along with a lack of money, that could by why women there are suffering so much.

The U.S. has taken on quite a different way of bringing women into power. The women’s liberation movement began in the 1960s when the gender said that it wanted a voice in politics (Women’s Leadership, N.D.). Shirley Chisholm and Bella Abzug were two of the people largely responsible for bringing women into the political arena. Chrisholm was an African-American woman who was the first coloured woman to be elected into Congress. She was from Brooklyn, N.Y. She ran for president in the early 1970s and co-founded the National Organization for Women (Women’s Leadership, N.D.). It is organizations such as the national Organization for Women that the women in India would have trouble finding funding for. However, it should be noted that the national committee on the status of women in India in 1972 was appointed. This organization did not have funding to create real change and to really promote the rights of women (Purnima, 2010). This is because much of the funding would likely come from women, and there isn’t a lot of capital among the women in India. The other prominent U.S. woman politician in the 1970s, Abzug, was an outspoken Civil rights lawyer and also a peace activist. She was dedicated in her six years in Congress to social justice issues. She was an author for the Right to Privacy Act and the Freedom of Information Act.

While these were very important years for the rights of women in the United States, it was in the 1990s that women made a major statement. Sixty million women came out to vote in the presidential election in 1992. This said that women wanted a voice and they demanded that their issues be heard. After all those women came out, 24 new women were elected into the House of Representatives. There were also five new women senators. That event represents the largest increase in the number of women in the political history of the U.S. (Women’s Leadership, N.D.).

Empowerment, in the true definition of the word, means to give rights in order to be in control of their life, whether that be political, social, culture and various other factors that make up a person’s life. These also include physical, moral and intellectual (Purnima, 2010). Given this definition, it would appear that women in India, despite having a degree of political empowerment, don’t really have much say in the way they live their lives. As the reader has witnessed, there is a constant fear among Indian woman about their safety. They are at risk of becoming pregnant, and because there is little education for women, they have little ways of knowing how they can protect themselves from becoming pregnant. At the same time, it’s also true that as long as they don’t make any effort at self-empowerment, it would be long and difficult task and process for the outsiders to empower them. Instead of remaining passive beneficiaries, they must have to become active partners,” (Purnima, 2010).

In order to have the type of progress that women in the U.S. have experienced particularly in the last half of the 20th century, women in India will need to have greater participation from the populace. There is currently a large gap in the way women in the U.S. are treated and how women in India are treated and the only way to create change is for women to speak up. Women in India are so often oppressed and made to believe they can’t be anything more than maids, that there aren’t enough powerful voices for women. After all, it is the squeaky wheel that gets the oil and if women aren’t throwing their arms up in protest about the way they are being treated, then little change will happen for the gender.

It seems that each Indian election has high hopes of generating a lot of change for women, which never really comes to happen. But as more women come into power in parliament, there is a greater ability to pass bills which benefit the overall well-being of women throughout the country. If this type of progress is made, and if women play a role outside of office as well, then there could be a lot of progress made towards making the situation for woman in India more equal to the treatment they receive in the U.S. But in order to generate the kind of change that will do anything, the people in office need to work hand in hand with the people who are not in office. There needs to be a combined effort to make the country something that other nations that are building human rights to follow. The essay has proven that funding in the U.S. for programs such as women’s rights boards, such as the National Organization of Women that was established in the 1970s will help improve not only the health and education for women in India, but also their protection. With funding, health care could improve, education for women could improve and the number of law enforcement officers and financial dedication to court and other forms of law administration would also happen in the country. Until that happens, women will continue to fall far behind the U.S. in women’s rights.


Chitnis, Varsha. Danaya Wright. N.D. The Legacy of Colonialism: Law and Women’s Rights in 
India. Washington and Lee University: 33. Accessed July 16

“Exploring Constitutional Conflicts.” N.D. University of Missouri: 7. Accessed: July 15

Murduch, Johnathan. 1999. The Microfinance Promise. Journal of Economic Literature. New
York University. Accessed: July 14

Purnima. 2010. Women’s Issues in India: Role and Importance of Media. Global Media Journal.
Allama Iqbal Open University: July 16 Accessed.

What is the Role of Women in Indian Politcs? 2009. Law and Public Policy: 16. India
[email protected]. Accessed: July 14, 2012

“Women in Elective Office 2012.” 2012 Center for American Women and Politics: 2. Accessed:
July 15

“Women’s Leadership in American History.” N.D. The City University of New York: 4. Accessed:
July 15

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By Hanna Robinson

Hanna has won numerous writing awards. She specializes in academic writing, copywriting, business plans and resumes. After graduating from the Comosun College's journalism program, she went on to work at community newspapers throughout Atlantic Canada, before embarking on her freelancing journey.

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