|Movement/Organization||Founder||Year of Foundation||Objectives|
|Brahmo Samaj||Raja Ram Mohan Roy||1825||Abolish restrictions and prejudices against women including child marriage, polygamy, limited rights to inherit property. Emphasized education for women.|
|Prarthana Samaj||MG Ranade & RG Bhandarkar||1867||Similar objectives to Brahmo Samaj but remained confined to western India. Criticized child marriage, polygamy, restriction on remarriage of widows, and non-access to education.|
|Arya Samaj||Dayanand Saraswati||1875||A religious revivalist movement revitalizing ancient Hindu traditions. Advocated reform in the caste system, compulsory education for men and women, prohibition of child marriage by law, remarriage of child widows. Opposed to divorce and widow remarriage in general.|
|Women’s India Association (WIA)||Annie Besant, Margaret Cousins, Jeena Raja Dasa, and others||1917||Founded to liberate women from the deplorable condition women suffered in socio-economic and political matters during the 19th and early 20th century. Developed into a potent force to fight against illiteracy, child marriage, the Devadasi system and other social ills.|
|All India Women’s Conference (AIWC)||Margaret Cousins||1926||Founded to improve educational efforts for women and children and has expanded its scope to also tackle other women’s rights issues. One of the oldest women’s groups in India with branches throughout the country.|
|National Council for Women in India (NCWI)||Durgabai Deshmukh||1958||Established to ensure equal rights of women in society. Works to improve the condition of women all over the country with a major emphasis on promoting women’s education.|
Women’s Participation during Freedom Struggle
- Gandhi believed that women played a crucial role in the political, economic and social liberation of India.
- He had great faith in women’s ability to lead a non-violent movement, and they played important roles in India’s freedom struggle under his guidance.
- Women organized public meetings, picketed shops selling foreign goods, sold Khadi, and actively participated in national movements.
- Women criticized their exclusion from the salt satyagraha led by Gandhi, leading him to reconsider his stance on women’s participation in 1930.
- Several women’s organizations such as Desh Sevika Sangh, Nari Satyagraha Samiti, Mahila Rashtriya Sangh, Ladies Picketing Board, Stri Swarajya Sangh and Swayam Sevika Sangh emerged during this time to organize mass boycotts of foreign cloth and liquor.
- Despite their acceptance of individual freedom ideas, women’s participation in protests was not always non-violent, and they faced resistance from society and their own families.
- Gandhi saw women playing a critical role in eliminating the forces of communalism, the caste system, and untouchability.
- A range of initiatives have been implemented post-Independence to advance women’s emancipation in society.
- These efforts mainly center around constitutional provisions, social legislation, and planned economic development.
- The women’s movement has been shaped by the socio-economic and political developments of this period.
- In the Himalayan region, the Chipko movement arose spontaneously as women mobilized to prevent the cutting down of forests.
- Women continue to lead ecological protests today due to their involvement in the Chipko movement.
- Early campaigns against gender-based violence and oppression, such as the 2003 Blank Noise Project and 2009 Pink Chaddi movement, set the stage for future feminist movements.
- Later movements, like the 2011 Why Loiter project, 2015 Pinjra Tod movement, and 2017 Bekhauf Azadi March, resonated with a larger number of women and turned into true feminist movements.
- Two important organizations for rural women, Kasturba Memorial Trust and Bharatiya Grameen Mahila Sangh, were established in the post-Independence period to develop leadership potential in rural women.
- The Department of Women and Child Development was established in 1985 under the Ministry of Human Resource Development to assist women and child development to reach their full potential.
1. What is the history of the feminist movement in independent India?
- The feminist movement in independent India has a rich history that dates back to the early 20th century. It gained momentum with women like Sarojini Naidu and Kamala Nehru actively participating in the struggle for India’s independence. Post-independence, the movement continued to address issues like gender equality, women’s rights, and social justice.
2. How did the feminist movement in India contribute to women’s rights post-independence?
- The feminist movement in India post-independence played a significant role in advocating for women’s rights. It led to legislative changes, such as the Hindu Code Bill, which granted women greater legal rights in matters like marriage and property. Additionally, it has raised awareness about issues like gender-based violence and discrimination.
3. What are some ongoing challenges that the Indian feminist movement faces today?
- The Indian feminist movement continues to grapple with challenges such as gender-based violence, unequal access to education and employment, and cultural norms that perpetuate gender discrimination. Addressing these issues remains a central focus of feminist activists in India.
4. How can individuals support the feminist movement in India?
- Individuals can support the feminist movement in India by promoting gender equality in their personal and professional lives, advocating for women’s rights, and supporting organizations and initiatives that work towards women’s empowerment and social justice.
5. How has the feminist movement in India evolved over time?
- The feminist movement in India has evolved from its early focus on political rights to encompass a broader spectrum of issues, including economic empowerment, reproductive rights, and LGBTQ+ rights. It has adapted to the changing needs and challenges faced by women in contemporary India.
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