Without any doubt, Sikh women had played an equal part in the struggle to keep alive the Khalsa ideals and beliefs. Sikh women worked as a silent majority in the background and sometimes as in the case of Mai Bhago exceeded the Khalsa men in warfare. But the most important part of Khalsa women was to raise the Khalsa children who kept the Khalsa alive. In Punjabi society, most often children hear stories by their grandmother, mother, aunts, etc. This builds up their character. Chhote Sahibzade, ( younger sons of Guru Gobind Singh) were raised on the stories of sacrifices of their great grandfather Guru Arjan Dev ji, their grandfather Guru Tegh Bahadur by their grandmother Mata Gujri ji(mother of Guru Gobind Singh ji, Tenth guru). When their turn came they happily sacrificed their lives, eventhough they were only 7 and 9 years old. This alone was the most amazing, glorious, sad and defining moment of the future of Sikhs. Seven and Nine years old were following the Will of God as dictated by Guru Nanak dev ji. After this incident, Sikh women, men, children put their whole effort to save their ideals and beliefs of Guru Nanak. Mughals had two point of administration in Punjab, Sarhind and Lahore. Mughals who ruled from Delhi appointed two governors at Sarhind and Lahore, under these governors there were many Nawabs, like Malerkotla, Faridkot, Bahawalpur, etc,. Under the Nawabs there were many Parganahs i.e. Zamindars, or landlords who would hold many villages as their land, on these villages farmers, ironsmith, carpenters, etc work and were taxed 67% of their income.
In 1748 A.D. Mughals appointed Mir Mannu as Governor (Subedar) of Lahore and also as a Nawab of Multan. Mir Mannu in order to pacify Hindus appointed a Khatri Hindu of Lahore named Kaura Mall as his Diwan or minister. Then he ordered 30,000+ army of Mughals at Lahore to finish Sikhs. Mughal Army swept the countryside and killed any Sikhs they found. Thousands Women, Men and Children were arrested and brought to Lahore. At that time Sikh population was so small that it affected their numbers. A decade earlier, when similar thing had happened (governor had decided to kill all Sikhs) At that point people thought that all Sikhs are finished, but Bhai Gharjha Singh and Bhai Bota Singh came out of hiding and fought with Mughals, just to show them that Sikhs were far from finished.
Mir Mannu started deploying his terror tactics. First of all, he ordered that all Sikh women in Jails to be provided with specially made to be three times heavy (1 1/4 Mann) a flour grinding instrument named Chakki. Sikh woman hapily would sing the Shabads of Nanak and grind flour whole day but not accepting conversion to Islam as the condition for their freeddom. Then Mir Mannu ordered that all Infant Sikhs who were with their mothers at the jail above to be killed right away, only those were to be spared who accept Islam as their new religion. 300 or so Infant Sikhs were killed by Mughals and their dead bodies given back to their Khalsa mother, not even single mother embraced Islam. The atrocities committed on the Sikh women by the upholders of "Islam" were so great that in 1750 A.d. Chief of Buddha Dal, Kapur Singh Virk and his 500 or so Khalsa attacked Lahore in disguise of a Sufi Saints to kill Mir Mannu but he escaped. In 1753 A.D. Mir Mannu died a very horrible death after suffering in bed for a whole month. In 1753 A.D. Kapur Singh Virk attacked Lahore again and this time he was able to free all the prisoners at these jails. The sacrifice of these Khalsa women was so great that it became a part of Daily Ardaas in 1760's. Even today Sikhs everyday pay homage to the "Singhnian jinna ne sawa sawa mann de pisne peese, bachiye de tota galean vich pavaye, par Dharm na haariya" Sikh Women who happily grinded 60 kg Chakki, had to put garlands of the dead bodies of their children around their necks but did not let pass the ideals of Nanak. Salute to Sikh Women!! Our pride and our inspiration.
Excerpts taken from these books.
The Encyclopedia of Sikhism by Harbans Singh.