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Swami Vivekananda on Women Empowerment


Need for Growth of Women
There is no chance for the welfare of the world unless the condition of women is improved. It is not possible for a bird to fly on only one wing. Know for certain that absolutely nothing can be done to improve the state of things, unless there is spread of education first among the women and the masses. … But the whole work must be done in the style of our own country.

… It is only in the homes of educated and pious mothers that great men are born. And you have reduced your women to something like manufacturing machines; alas, for heaven’s sake, is this the outcome of your education? The uplift of the women, the awakening of the masses must come first, and then only can any real good come about for the country, for India.

Nature of Indian Women
Still on this sacred soil of India, this land of Sita and Savitri, among women may be found such character, such spirit of service, such affection, compassion, contentment, and reverence, as I could not find anywhere else in the world!

… With such materials of great promise, you could not, alas, work out their uplift! You did not try to infuse the light of knowledge into them. If they get the right sort of education, they may well turn out to be the ideal women in the world.

It is very difficult to understand why in this country so much difference is made between men and women, whereas the Vedanta declares that one and the same conscious Self is present in all beings. You always criticize the women, but say what have you done for their uplift? Writing down Smritis etc., and binding them by hard rules, the men have turned the women into mere manufacturing machines! If you do not raise the women, who are the living embodiment of the Divine Mother, don’t think that you have any other way to rise.

Way to become great
All nations have attained greatness by paying proper respect to women. That country and that nation which do not respect women have never become great, nor will ever be in future. The principal reason why your race has so much degenerated is that you have no respect for these living images of Shakti. Manu says, “Where women are respected, there the gods delight; and where they are not, there all works and efforts come to naught.” There is no hope of rise for that family or country where there is no estimation of women, where they live in sadness. For this reason, they have to be raised first.

From The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, 6.328; 6.491 6.493; 7.214; 7.215.