Zenana (Persian: زنانه,
Urdu: زنانہ, Hindi: ज़नाना) refers to the part of a house in South Asian countries such as Indiaand Pakistanreserved for the women of the household. The Zenana is the apartments of an Eastern house in which the women of the family are secluded. This is an Islamiccustom, which has been introduced into India and has spread amongst the Hindus.
The zenana missions are missions by women missionaries to Indian women in their own homes, with the aim of converting them to Christianity. The
Baptist Missionary Societyinaugurated Zenana missions to India in the early 19th century. The concept was later taken up by other churches and extended to other countries.
By the 1880s, the "zenana missions" became dedicated to providing Indian women with medical help in their own homes. This involved recruiting female doctors, both by persuading female doctors in Europe to come to India and by encouraging Indian women to study medicine. As a result, the zenana missions helped break down the male bias of colonial medicine in India.
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