Women, Caste and Reform Class 8 Notes CBSE History Chapter 8 [Free PDF Download]

VSAT 2022

Women, Caste and Reform Class 8 Notes History Chapter 8 - PDF Download

In today’s world women are respected; they can work, study and even get married when they are mature enough to understand. But this was starkly different 200 years ago. The lives of women were comparatively difficult from what it is now. There were various limitations or restrictions imposed on women. Girl children had no access to education; they were married at an early age. In most parts of the country, women were forced to practice ‘sati’.


The caste system was also one of the biggest issues during those times. The Kshatriyas and Brahmins considered themselves of upper caste, the moneylenders and traders followed them and were referred to as Vaishyas and the artisans, peasants, weavers, and potters were considered as Shudras, the lower caste.


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  • Women empowerment is one of the most used term these days. Today women are leading in all feilds- whether it is the army or the medical sector or in the field of scientific research. 

  • But the situation was not same 200 years back. Women faced so much of humiliation in the past. Women had to go through a lot of adversities. Child marriages, polygamy, the humiliation of widows were quite common during that time. One of the practices of that time was the ‘Sati Daha Pratha’ or in other words ‘Sati’ in which a woman had to die after the death of her husband in the same pyre.

CBSE Class 8 Social Science History Chapter 8 talks about such social evils and how society was freed from them.

Area of Concerns:

  • The major area of concern was the gender discrimination in India at that time. Women were just treated same as commodities.

  • Young girls were forced to marry with elderly men even before attaining 10 years of age. However manier time, the groom used to be a dying old men. After the death of the men, the widowed women were made to sit and die on the same pyre as that of their husbands’. This horrifying practise of burning innocent women to death was referred as ‘Sati Daha Pratha’.

  • People were also divided in terms of caste. The upper castes of the society was of Brahmins and Kshatriyas. The traders and moneylenders were referred as Vaishyas and were placed under the upper castes.

  • The bottom-most caste were referred as the Shudras and artisans and peasants like weavers, potters came under this caste.

  • The lower castes was treated as ‘untouchables’ by the upper castes. It was a discriminative practice within the religion.

  • The reform again these was initiated in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and the situation had started to change.

  • However, the reform was not so easy. It was achieved later through several movements against the supporters of these practices.

Beginning of the Era of Change

  • During the early nineteenth century, several debates and arguments were made regarding social customs and practices.

  • New types of communications were published which included books, newspapers, magazines, leaflets and pamphlets.

  • The new means of communication were quite easily accessible.

  • Common people were now able to express their views.

  • A new and reformed thought led towards the change.

  • Some People like Raja Rammohun Roy came forward and led the movement towards change.

  • Raja Rammohun Roy also played a very important role in expanding women education in India. He was the proposer of the expansion of western education and favoring women education in India.

  • The movement against ‘Sati’ system was initiated by Raja Rammohun Roy which was later banned by William Lord Bentinck. This was the most famous movements in the history of India.

  • Another reformer during this period was Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar who was the main architect of the Widow Remarriage Act. He gave several ancient Sanskrit texts in support of widow remarriage.

  • In southern part, the movement against widow remarriage was carried out by Veersalingam Pantulu in India.

  • Widow remarriage was supported by Swami Dayanand Saraswati also, who was one of the renowned social reformers and establisher of Arya Samaj.

Women Education in India:

  • Reformers by now had realized the significance of women education.

  • Several schools for girls were opened by Vidyasagar in Calcutta and by some other reformers in Bombay.

  • The main idea for girls in attaining schools was the way of thinking of their family members. Most of the family members thought that the schools would take away their girls from them.

  • However, the practice of going outside was still not supported by the family members of the girls. Due to this reason, girls were taught by either thier father or husband throughout the mid-nineteenth century.

  • Arya Samaj in Punjab and Jyotirao Phule in Maharashtra by now had opened several schools for girls.

  • At that time teaching of women by women became popular.

  • Begums of Bhopal helped in promoting education in India in the Muslim community.

  • Several schools for girls were opened in Patna and Calcutta by Begum Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain. 

  • Women education had gained an escalation after 1880. Since then, women had started to enter universities, and some of them even became doctors.

  • In the beginning of 1900, women were presented with opportunities and were able to carry on with their education.

  • The orthodox mentality of the family members of the women was the main problem of the women education in India.

  • In the early twentieth-century, due to the political pressure groups were created by women to enact laws for female suffrage (the right to vote) and improved physical condition and education for women.

Caste and Social Reforms

  • The caste system is still persistent in several parts of India.

  • Initially the caste system was reformed by Raja Rammohun Roy and Prarthana Samaj.

  • Schools were established by the Christian Missionaries for the tribal groups and lower caste children.

  • Demand for labor was increased as the cities expanded. Most of the laborers were from the lower castes. Few of these people went abroad to get rid of the oppression of the upper castes.

  • There were movements in order to drive away from the inequality and caste-based society in India. The Satnami movement, initiated by Ghasidas, was one of a good example to these.

  • Haridas Thakur’s Matua Movement was another movement made to upgrade the social status of the Chandala cultivators.

  • Each and every movement was led by non- Brahmin people. Their main agenda was to form a sense of self-esteem among the lower caste people.

  • One of the most famous movements of lower castes was brought by Jyotirao Phule. His notable work in the movement was the book written by him named ‘Gulamgiri’ which was based on slavery. His moral idea was to connect with the people of lower castes in India and the black slaves in America.

  • Another renowned activist of the anti-caste movement was B.R. Ambedkar. He was a part of several movements between 1927 to 1935 for entering in the temples by the lower castes.

Working Towards Change

During the early nineteenth century, changes were observed because new forms of communication were developed. Books, newspapers, magazines, leaflets and pamphlets were available, and people read them and discussed and debated about the social customs and practices and came up with ideas to change them.

One such person was Raja Ram Mohan Roy who was moved by the problems faced by widows. He founded the Brahmo Samaj in Calcutta. He was vocal against social practices such as discrimination based on caste, superstitions and the practice of ‘sati’. He also wanted to spread the knowledge of western education and bring freedom and equality for women.

Changing the Lives of Widows

Raja Rammohan Roy founded the Brahmo Samaj to fight against social vices. He started a campaign against sati. The Britishers censured Indian customs and traditions. They supported Raja Rammohan, and in 1829, sati was outlawed. He also encouraged women’s education.

Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar was also one of the most prominent reformers, and through ancient texts, he proposed widow remarriage. In 1856, British officials passed the bill allowing widow remarriage.

Girls Started Going to School

Education was the only way through which the girls could have a better future. In the mid-nineteenth century, schools were opened. Many fretted that schools would take girls away from home and stop them from doing their household chores. Girls had to travel through public places to reach schools which were not liked by most people, So most women were taught at home by their comparatively liberal fathers or husbands.

Later the Arya Samaj established schools for girls in Punjab, and Jyotirao Phule founded schools in Maharashtra. In well-bred Muslim homes, women were taught at home to read Koran in Arabic. During the late nineteenth century, Urdu novels were first written. These were intended to support women to understand about religion and household management in a language they could understand.

Women Write About Women

During the early twentieth century, the Begums of Bhopal played an essential role in supporting education amongst women. They built a primary school for girls at Aligarh. Begum Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain started schools for Muslim girls in Calcutta and Patna. By the 1880s, Indian women began going to universities, where they became doctors, and teachers.

Pandita Ramabai penned a book about the suffering of upper-caste Hindu women. In the twentieth century, Subhas Chandra Bose and Jawaharlal Nehru extended their support for greater equity and freedom for women.

Caste and Social Reform

In 1840 Paramhans Mandali was founded in Bombay to toil for the abolition of caste.  The Prarthana Samaj adhered to the idea of Bhakti that considered religious equality of all castes. Christian missionaries began to set up educational institutes for tribal groups and “lower”-caste children, during the nineteenth century.

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Demands for Equality and Justice

Over the second half of the nineteenth century, people of lower castes started organising movements against caste discrimination and demanded social justice and equality. Ghasidas founded the Satnami Campaign, and served as the leather workers and organised a movement to enhance their social status. Shri Narayana Guru declared the paragons of unity for his people. He contended against mistreating people based on caste differences.

Class 8 History Chapter 8 Notes

The notes of History for Class 8 CBSE deals with the theories related to Caste, Women, and Reforms. It describes elaborately about the status of women, how people were discriminated against based on their gender, their caste, girls getting educated and the Non-Brahman movements. The Class 8 History Notes by Vedantu will make students realise how things were different two hundred years ago and how the attitude towards social customs and women began to change from the early 19th century. To get good grades in the exam students can download the Class 8 History Notes PDF available free of cost.

FAQs on Women, Caste and Reform Class 8 Notes CBSE History Chapter 8 [Free PDF Download]

Q1. Illustrate Jyoti Rao’s Justification for Criticising Caste Inequality.

Ans: Jyotirao Phule was born in 1827. He was known as the leader of the Low-caste. He was highly critical of the Brahmans’ claim of their supremacy to others. According to Phule, the “upper” classes had no right to their power and land. He believed that the land belonged to the indigenous people who were referred to as the low castes.  Phule claimed that before Aryan rule, there thrived a golden age when warrior-peasants cultivated the land and ruled the Maratha countryside. He suggested that the Shudras and Ati Shudras should join and unite against caste discrimination. The Satyashodhak Samaj association founded by Phule worked towards bringing down caste inequality.

Q2. What were the Opportunities Available for People Who came from the Lower Caste?

Ans: With the development of cities, new requirements for labour were required. Drains had to be cleaned, buildings were constructed, and for this work carriers, diggers, bricklayers and sweepers, where needed. This labour came from people who were from the low caste. They moved out of their villages and small towns and shifted to the cities to get work. Some went to work in the plantations in Mauritius, Assam, Trinidad, and Indonesia. Although it was not comfortable to work in the new locations, poor people saw this as an opportunity to get away from the upper-caste exploitations.

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