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Q: What is the contribution of Sikhism in the upliftment of women?

A: Before Guru Nanak Dev Ji came in this world, the place assigned to Indian woman was low and unenviable. Women were expected only to cook, clean and serve the husband. Women did not have any role in making decisions or express their views.

In addition, under the Sati system followed by Hindus, a woman had to burn herself on her husband's funeral pyre to become a Sati. Furthermore, women were considered a burden on family and female infanticide was common.

The position of Muslim women was also far from satisfactory. A Muslim man could lawfully marry four women and regarded them chiefly as an object of sexual gratification. Women were kept within veil and their education and movements were severely restricted.

Some Hindu and Islamic preachers had allowed an inferior position to women, and affirmed that they were unworthy of performing religious worship.  Sikh Gurus gave women equal rights and equal status. Women gained social equality and religious freedom. Gurus rehabilitated women in Indian society. Religious gatherings and kirtan were offered openly to women; they could participate fully in religious ceremonies and received Amrit (Sikh Baptism) on equal terms with men. Guru Amar Das Ji deputed some women for missionary work. Guru Har Gobind Ji called woman 'the conscience of man'. In religious gatherings, men and women sang and preached without any distinction.

Sikh Gurus ordained to be wedded to only one person. Guru Amar Das Ji condemned the practice of female infanticide and Sati. He advocated widow remarriage. #Guru Teg Bahadur Ji# blessed the women of the city of Amritsar in Punjab, India. Sikh history furnishes names of many women who inspired men to heroic deeds.


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