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Women and
gender justice

Women and gender justice / Presentation

Sikh

Photo by Taka

Sikh

Equal partners

Pilgrim Sikh women walking around Golden Temple by the holy lake. Punjab, Amritsar, India.

They are not said to be husband and wife, who merely sit together. Rather they alone are called husband and wife, who have one soul in two bodies.

Guru Amar Das, Pauri, p. 788.

Sikhism and equality of women

By Harminder Kaur

In all walks of life, including spirituality, Sikh woman is considered equal to a man. Rather, in many compositions of Sikh Gurus, all creation is considered feminine and only God is masculine. She also has the freedom to be baptized in Sikhism and attain the title of Kaur – the princess of the almighty. In Sikhism, women have an equal right to spiritual development and progress to attain salvation. Illustratively, they are allowed to lead religious congregations, take part in recitation of scriptures or singing of hymns, work as a priest, and participate equally in all religious, cultural, and social activities. In the not so recent past, a Sikh woman was heading the sole spiritual and administrative body of the Sikhs at Amritsar.

Sikhism guides that the girl child has equal right to good education and choice of vocation. Sikh history has recorded the exemplary role of women, portraying them as equal partners in service, devotion, sacrifice, and bravery to men. There are numerous examples of women's public service in Sikh tradition. Third Sikh Guru himself assigned the task of supervision and preaching of the community to many Sikh women in sixteenth century. In all religious, political, social and cultural events, during Guru’s life-time, women participated actively.

Displays of steadfastness by Sikh women during the seventeenth and eighteenth century when Sikhs were fiercely persecuted have had a strong impact on modern-day Sikhs, who recount these stories in their regular prayers while observing that "Our mothers and sisters, who plied hand-mills in jail, grinding daily corn, who saw their children being hacked to pieces in front of their eyes, but who uttered not a moan from their lips and remained steadfast in their Sikh faith -recall their spirit of fortitude and sacrifice, and say, Waheguru, Glory be to God!"

Bhai Gurdas ji, a recognised scholarly authority on Sikhism and respected historical poet of Sikhs observed that a woman is the favourite in her parental home, loved dearly by her father and mother. In the home of her in-laws, she is the pillar of the family, the guarantee of its good fortune. Sharing in spiritual wisdom and enlightenment, and with noble qualities man and woman together knock at the door of liberation.


The Sikh religion was founded by Guru Nanak Dev (born in 1469 AD) and was followed by nine more Gurus. In 1708 AD, the Guruship was ceremoniously bestowed upon the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) by the tenth Guru. Since then, the SGGS is revered as the living Guru – the word Guru. Therefore, the basic Sikh philosophy comes from the traditions set by the ten Gurus during their lifetimes and from the compositions included in the SGGS, which contains the writings of the Sikh Gurus, and select saints and Sikhs. The Sikh religion considers that all the human being consists of body, mind and soul, and the human race, irrespective of gender is equal in all respects.

They are not said to be husband and wife, who merely sit together. Rather they alone are called husband and wife, who have one soul in two bodies.

Guru Amar Das, Pauri, p. 788.