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Religious Studies

Sikhism: prejudice and discrimination

Women’s rights

Sikh women

Sikh women outside a Gurdwara in The UK

Sikh women have equal rights to men because Waheguru [Waheguru: A Punjabi term used in Sikhism to refer to God. ] is neither male nor female.

Sikh women can become:

  • Granthi (a reader of the Guru Granth Sahib Ji [Guru Granth Sahib: Primal collection of Sikh Scriptures, compiled by Guru Arjan and given its final form by Guru Gobind Singh. ] in a gurdwara [Gurdwara: Sikh place of worship. Literally, the 'doorway to the Guru'. ] and a conductor of services)
  • Ragi (musician in the gurdwara)
  • a member of the Khalsa (community of the pure)

A woman is free to choose her position in the Sikh community and, particularly in the West, more Sikh women now choose to follow a career or get a university education.

The Gurus’ teaching on the role of women

The prejudice often experienced by women in Indian society was frowned upon by the Gurus:

We are conceived and born from women. Woman is our life-long friend and keeps the race going. Why should we despise her, the one who gives birth to great men?’

Guru Granth Sahib Ji

The role of women in the gurdwara is increasing because of a policy initiated by the Gurus. The reason many women did not assist with Sikh ceremonies in earlier times was more due to the general prejudices [Prejudice: An opinion about something or someone not based on fact. ] of the period, than any sexist [Sexism: Discrimination based on a person's gender. ] belief.

Back to Prejudice and discrimination index

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