Many historians claim that women enjoyed an equal status with men in ancient India. It is said that women were educated, had a say in family matters, took important decisions of life and were free to choose their own husbands. The ancient system of "Swayamvara" is mentioned in holy scripts and also in many epics. A woman in ancient India was respected and was given due importance in the society. Child marriage was unheard of and many women were also famous sages like Gargi, Maitreyi, etc.
With time, women started to lose their importance and their status began to wane. The freedom given to women was curtailed slowly and she
was not allowed to voice her opinions in political matters in a society.
Polygamy began to increase and child marriage came into vogue. Daughters
were considered to be a burden and they were reduced to doing the chores
of household. Sati, an ancient practice in which a widow had to lie
beside her husband's pyre, came into vogue. Women were tortured and
humiliated and their position and condition degraded.
In ancient India, remarriage of widows was not encouraged. They were
seen as a disgrace to the family and had to give up all the comforts of
life. They wore plain clothes, tonsured their heads, had a separate
place to stay and ate bland food. Reformers and emperors like Asoka,
fought for the rights and welfare of women. Due to the efforts of many
such reformers and philosophers, the condition of women improved and
they were able to walk on the streets again with their heads held high.