Women Movement in India

Powerful Essays
Foundation Course

1

Human Rights, Gender and Environment

Indian Women’s Movement
Aparna Basu∗

The roots of the Indian women’s movement go back to the nineteenth century male social reformers who took up issues concerning women and started women’s organizations. Women started forming their own organization from the end of the nineteenth century first at the local and then at the national level. In the years before independence, the two main issues they took up were political rights and reform of personal laws. Women’s participation in the freedom struggle broadened the base of the women’s movement. In post independence India, large number of women’s autonomous groups have sprung up challenging patriarchy and taking up a variety of issues such as violence against women, greater share for women in political decision making, etc. both at the activist and academic level. India has a rich and vibrant women’s movement but it has still a long way to go to achieve gender equality and gender justice.

Socio-Religious Reform Movements
The roots of the Indian women’s movement go back to the early nineteenth century when social reformers, beginning with Ram Mohun Roy (1772-1833), began to focus on issues concerning women. Roy condemned sati, kulin polygamy and spoke in favour of women’s property rights. He held the condition of Indian women as one of the factors responsible for the degraded state of Indian society. If Ram Mohun is remembered for his anti-sati movement, Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar is more often remembered for his widow remarriage campaign. Following them, improving the condition of women became the first tenet of the Indian social reform movement. Women’s inferior status, enforced seclusion, early marriage, condition of widows and lack of education were facts documented by reformers throughout the country.

Women’s Organizations started by men
Men who belonged to the socio religious reform associations began the first organization for women. In



References: Bagal, J.C., 1964, “Sarala Devi Chaudhurani”, Sahitya Sadhak Charitmala, no.99, Bangiya Sahityya Parishad, Calcutta Basu, Aparna, 1976, “Role of Women in the Freedom Movement”, in B.R.Nanda, ed, Indian Women From Purdah to Modernity, Vikas, Delhi. Basu Aparna, 1996, Mridula Sarabhai: Rebel With A Cause, Oxford University Press, Delhi Basu Aparna and Ray, Bharati, 2003 (2nd edition), Women’s Struggle: A History of the All India Women Conference, 1927-2002, Manohar, Delhi Basu, Aparna, 2008 “Women’s Struggle for the Vote” in Indian Historical Review, XXXV, No.1 Chattopadhyaya, Kamaladevi, 1983, Indian Women’s Battle for Freedom, Abhinav Publications, New Delhi Cousins, Margaret, 1950, We Two Together, Ganesh & Co., Madras Forbes, Geraldine, 1998, Women in Modern India, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. Kaur, Manmohan, 1968, Role of Women in the Freedom Movement, 1857-1947, Sterling, New Delhi Kumar, Radha, 1993, The History of Doing, Kali for Women, Delhi Lerner, Gerda, 1981, The Majority Finds Its Past, Placing Women in History, Oxford University Press, London, New York, Toronto, etc. Nanda, Reena, 2002, Kamaladevi Chattopahdhyaya, Oxford University Press, Delhi Reddy, Muthulakshmi, 1956, Mrs. Margaret Cousins and Her Work in India, WIA, Madras University of Delhi B A Programme II

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