Women’s education is a dream of every modern society as women constitute almost half of a nation’s population. Therefore, for the development of a nation, the development of women is essential. And for the development of women, education is a precondition. Education does not only provide knowledge about the (men’s) world; rather, it also brings awareness of women’s rights and of women’s own positions in society. However, careful observation of how and what most girls’ colleges aim to teach, shows that these colleges do not aim at Women’s education.
In a conservative society, women are restricted to the home. Their primary functions are understood as doing household works like cooking, cleaning, and caring for the children, etc. Further, it is believed that there are some skills like sewing, embroidery, decoration, etc. that are required for women. Women who have these skills are considered as ideal women.
Moreover, society also has some notion of an ideal woman; it decides how they should dress, talk, and live, etc. However, due to modern influences, education has been included in the image of an ideal woman. This article surveys some common attitudes of Women’s educational institutions that show that the main purpose of women colleges is to create “an ideal woman” not to educate them.
Firstly, the whole idea of an educational institution for a particular group of people only is problematic because it disassociates that particular group from interacting and understanding others. Also, if we look at the mindset behind sending a female to women’s college or school, we find that the whole idea is rooted in the patriarchal system. Women are considered as a source of distraction. If they study with men, it is believed that they will distract men from the study. It may also lead to affairs or sexual harassment. So, it is considered best to separate them instead of solving the problems. Furthermore, when a man gets attracted to a woman or a woman gets attracted to a man; eventually, it is believed that it is the women’s fault.
Secondly, women’s education must be liberating and bringing equality, but it is not the case with women’s colleges. Many of the women colleges in India have strict dress codes like salwar and kurta. So even in a women’s college, skirts are not allowed. Further, many of these women’s colleges offer only Home Science, not other science courses. It is believed that women cannot do mathematics and sciences, and even if they can, it is not useful for them. (Because ultimately, their real place is in the kitchen).
Finally, Women’s colleges hold competitions like mehndi competition, rangoli competition, dancing and, singing competitions, etc. The nature of competitions shows that women’s academic development is less significant than their skill development.
What is more problematic that women’s colleges rarely offer women studies that bring awareness and question the cause of women’s subjugation or teach about women’s rights, etc. It tries to maintain the status quo by aiming to create an ideal woman instead of bringing a real change in the conditions of women through education.