The function of women education is to widen the horizon of our experience, as our direct contact with reality is always limited.
Concepts pertaining to the value and necessity of women education from the point of view of the individual as well as a society have varied from society to society in different stages of their evolution. Education is considered as a value in itself because it leads to the development of the overall personality of the individual. The women education in India is that of a potential medium for attaining Mukti (salvation) from the trials and tribulations of life. The function of women education is to widen the horizon of our experience, as our direct contact with reality is always limited. If women education in India expands the mental horizon, it is obvious that the higher the level of education, the wider is the horizon it opens to us. Conscious of this innate value of women education, society has always granted high status to the educated.
Another category comprises those who emphasise the utilitarian aspect of women education to society at large for fulfilling economic, political and cultural functions necessary for socio-economic activity. This category sees women education in the service of economic development and social change, thereby eliminating inequalities and ensuring soc.al justice.
However, although learning has always been honoured in India, as evidenced from the respect accorded to the Brahmins because of their knowledge of philosophy and literature, there was inadequate motivation to learn to read and write on account of lack of reward for such learning either in social (which was regulated by the rule of caste hierarchy) or in enhancing the earning capacity of the individual, as jobs beyond the caste profession could not be accessed.
The history of the women’s liberation movement all over the world shows that, right from the beginning, the importance of women’s education was recognised as the most potent agent for improving their status in society. As stated elsewhere, during the 19th century, various social reformers and liberals, took up the cause of women’s education. However, the idea of motivating these reformers to break away from the then prevalent tradition was evidently the development of the personality of women in India. There was no idea of mobilising the women’s force in the wider social context. The women education in India is one of the biggest potential processes of modernisation for generating new forces to bring about fundamental changes in the standard of values and norms of behaviour. Besides ensuring development of the personality of the individual, women education provides opportunities for acquiring economic independence. Further, women education provided for upward mobility in modern society, raising the status of an individual in the family and in society at large.