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Presenting 30 Women Leaders Of India, For Those Who Feel ‘Women Have No Place In Protests’

Posted: January 25, 2021

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Throughout history, various brave and selfless women leaders of India have led social and political movements, leaving a monumental impact.

Since time immemorial, our country has been a witness to various mass movements – most of them organized as a civilized discourse to wipe out injustice and establish peace and harmony.

One of these protests is the ongoing Farmer Protests organised by various farmers around the country against the three farm acts which were passed by the Indian Parliament.

The question of the ‘place’ of women in farmers’ protests

While deliberating on the ongoing protests, Chief Justice of India, S.A Bobde said , “We want to place our appreciation for this stand (about elders, women and children not participating in protests in future).”

This statement is a representation of the sexist mindset ingrained in our society which considers women not being ‘capable’ of protesting and leading movements.

CJI Bobde’s statement led many women to ask if they do not have equal footing as men, while many also asserted that women in India have led many major protests and movements throughout history, thus this statement is not only factually incorrect but also represents the ingrained stereotypes held against women.

There is a worry that a move may be made to prevent women from taking part in protests in the future.

Nirjhari Sinha, an activist, reminded the Court of Article 14 under which she has equality in the eyes of the law.

And well known writer activist Kavita Krishnan went a step further to remind the Honorable Court of the protest scheduled of Women Farmers’ Day, 18th January.

Women leaders of India who led, as well as fought in protests

We celebrated Women Farmer’s Day on 18th January. Let’s focus on some powerful women leaders of India whose participation in various social and political movements have contributed to the expansion of democracy and eradication of social evils.

Begum Hazrat Mahal

Widely known as Begum of Awadh, Begum Hazrat Mahal played a monumental role in India’s First Struggle for Independence in 1857. She led her band of supporters to rebel against the British East India Company.

Rani Lakshmibai – Rani of Jhansi

One of the leading figures of the Revolt of 1857, Rani Lakshmibai is still known as a symbol of power and resilience. She fought against the British forces in the revolt till the very end but passed away due to her wounds at the age of 23.

Jhalkaribai

Jhalkaribai was a soldier in the women’s army of Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi. She disguised herself as the Queen of Jhansi in order to help the Rani Lakshmibai to escape safely out of the Fort of Jhansi. She was also a close advisor to the Queen.

Abadi Bano Begum

She was one of the first Muslim women to participate in the Indian Independence Movement. She travelled extensively throughout India to mobilize people and gather support for the Khilafat Movement, as her sons became figures of the movement.

Uda Devi

Uda Devi is remembered as one of the ‘Dalit Veeranganas’ of the Indian Rebellion of 1857. When the British attacked Awadh, she along with her husband played a vital role in the armed resistance.

Kittur Chenamma

Queen of the princely state of Kittur, Kittur Chenamma led an armed rebellion against the British East India Company as an opposition against the policy of Doctrine of Lapse and to retain control over her region.

Bhikaiji Rustom Cama

One of the prominent women leaders of India in the Indian Independence Movement, Bhikaiji Rustom Cama unfurled what she called the ‘Flag of Indian Independence’ at the second Socialist Congress at Stuttgart,Germany which later served as one of the templates from which the current National Flag of India was created.

Sarojini Naidu

One of the most prominent women leaders of India, Sarojini Naidu joined the Indian Independence Movement in the wake of the partition of Bengal in 1905 and played a major role in several movements, such as the Dandi March where she and many women took part in breaking salt laws and taking out processions.

Sarala Devi Chaudhurani

A prominent figure of the Tagore family, Sarala Devi became involved in the Indian Freedom Struggle around 1895. In 1910, she founded the ‘Bharat Stree Mahamandal’, the all India Women’s Organisation, a semi- revolutionary group.

Swarnakumari Devi 

An important part of the social reform movement in India, Swarnakumari Devi founded the ‘Sakhi Samiti’  in 1896 to assist helpless orphans and widows. The activities of the samiti continued till around 1906.

Kamala Devi Chattopadhyaya

Kamala Devi Chattopadhyaya played a prominent role in the Civil Disobedience Movement of 1930, where she addressed meetings and picketed foreign cloth and liquor shops. She was in-charge of the women’s wing of the Hindustan Seva Dal.

Kasturba Gandhi

Kasturba Gandhi participated and led various social and political movements in India. She participated in the Satyagraha Movement in Gujarat and took part in the Salt March in 1930, even though she was in poor health.

Indumati Babuji Patnakar

At the age of 16, She joined the Independence movement against the British rule in 1942 and started taking part in the underground movement of ‘Prati Sarkar’ by 1943, where she carried pistols and revolvers to the fighters.

Maniben Patel

Daughter of freedom fighter and post- Independence Indian leader Sardar Vallabhbai Patel, Maniben Patel led many movements such as the Borsad Movement, Non- Cooperation Movement as well as Bardoli and Rajkot Satyagraha.

Sucheta Kripalani

Prominent Indian fighter and politician, Sucheta Kripalani played a pivotal role during the Quit Indian Movement of 1942 and worked with Mahatma Gandhi during the Partition riots. She accompanied him to Noakhali in 1946.

Aruna Asaf Ali

Prominent Indian political activist and educator, Aruna Asaf Ali participated in the Salt Satyagraha and Quit India Movement. She is widely renowned for hoisting the Indian National Flag at Gowalia Tank Maidan,Bombay during the Quit India Movement in 1942.

Mantangini Hazra

Mantangini Hazra was an Indian revolutionary who participated in the Civil Disobedience Movement in 1932 and was arrested for breaking the Salt Act. She was shot dead by the British police in front of the Tamluk Police Station.

Kamala Nehru

Kamala Nehru, Indian Independence activist and wife of Jawaharlal Nehru was in the forefront of various movements, such as the Non-Cooperation Movement of 1921 where she mobilized groups of women in Allahabad and picketed shops selling foreign cloth and liquor.

Amrit Kaur

Amrit Kaur was a renowned Indian activist and politician. She played an active role in India’s Independence Movement and also campaigned extensively to abolish the devadasi system. She strongly opposed the practice of purdah and child marriage.

Lakshmi Sahgal

A revolutionary of the Indian Independence Movement and an officer of the Indian National Army, Lakshmi Sahgal is also known as ‘Captain Lakshmi.’ She was one of the founding members of ‘All India Women’s Democratic Association’ and led several of its activities and campaigns.

Annie Besant

A British socialist, theosophist and women’s right activist, Annie Besant played a crucial role in the Indian National Movement for Independence. In 1926, she launched the Home Rule Movement in India along with Bal Gangadhar Tilak and also led the national movement as the President of the Indian National Congress.

Ch. Kamalamma 

At the age of 15, Ch. Kamalamma joined the post-independence armed struggle to fight against the rule of Nizams of Hyderabad and their army of Razakars. Later, she also became the secretary of the CPI Mahila Samakhya.

Gaura Devi

Gaura Devi is widely known as one of the leaders of the popular Chipko Movement in the early 1970s. She was elected to lead the Mahila Mangal Dal (Women’s Welfare Association) which worked for the protection of community forests.

Medha Patkar 

An Indian social activist, Medha Patkar has been in the forefront of various social movements, one of the prominent ones being the Narmada Bachao Andolan, which aims to provide justice to all those people affected by the dam projects related to the Sardar Sarovar Dam Project.

Sampat Pal

Founder of the Gulabi Gang, Sampat Pal is an Indian social activist. Gulabi Gang works as a vigilante group and works towards fighting for women who are victims of domestic abuse and other kinds of violence.

Ela Bhatt

Founder of the Self-Employed Women’s Association of India (SEWA), Ela Bhatt and her trade union promotes the rights of low-income, independently employed female workers. The organization works towards a better share of social security and rights of labour standards enjoyed by traditional employees.

Saminathan Dharambal

An Indian social and women’s rights activist, Saminathan Dharambal led several major movements in India, such as the Anti-Hindi agitation and the Self-Respect Movement. She was also the secretary of the Tamil Women’s Association, known for safeguarding women’s rights and education.

Arundhati Roy

Prominent Indian author, Arundhati Roy is a political activist who is a spokesperson of the Anti Globalisation/ Alter Globalisation movement and a critic of neo-imperialism. She also campaigned with activist Medha Patkar against the Narmada Dam Project.

Kavita Krishnan

A women’s rights activist, Kavita Krishnan raised the problem of violence against women following the 2012 Nirbhaya gang rape case. She is also the secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association.(AIPWA)

Krishnammal Jagannathan

Krishnammal Jagannathan was initially involved in the Indian Independence Movement along with her husband. She participated in the Sarvodaya Movement and Quit India Movement.In 1981, she founded the Land For Tiller’s Freedom and actively fought against governments and big industries.

Image source: OpenClipart-Vectors on Pixabay

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