Looking for a business loan? Check out these 8 government loan schemes EXCLUSIVE for Indian women in business!
Women were integral to our freedom struggle, yet we still think a woman's place is only in the home! Why did we forget women freedom fighters of India?
Women were integral to our freedom struggle, yet we still think a woman’s place is only in the home! Why did we forget women freedom fighters of India?
The traditional image of an Indian woman is of someone who didn’t step out of the home.
She is someone who ran the house and managed the family with ruthless efficiency, but never let herself be seen by anyone outside the close family. It is presumed that she was barely literate, un-empowered and incapable of articulating an idea of her own.
That women were kept away from public life, unless their father or husband “allowed” them to step out. That for the most part, men fought for freedom, the women supported them.
Yet, there were many women who participated in the Freedom Struggle!
Women like Sarojini Naidu and Mithuben Petit who stood shoulder to shoulder with Mahatma Gandhi when he violated the Salt Law.
Women like Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay who led a contingent of women in Bombay walked to Chowpathy to make salt, and then sold it in the city. The popular story goes that when Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay was arrested and produced before the magistrate, she held up a packet of salt and asked if he would like to buy the ‘salt of freedom’!
Though Gandhiji called for women to join the Salt Satyagraha, their participation remained limited, till the Civil Disobedience Movement started and all the leaders of the freedom movement were imprisoned along with tens of thousands of freedom fighters.
Then, in the words of Jawaharlal Nehru (as quoted in Discovery of India), something very unexpected happened-
“Most of us menfolk were in prison. And then a remarkable thing happened. Our women came to the front and took charge of the struggle. Women had always been there, of course, but now there was an avalanche of the which took not only the British Government but their own menfolk by surprise. Here were these women, women of the upper or middle classes, leading sheltered lives in their homes-peasant women, working-class women, rich women – pouring out in their tens of thousands in defiance of government order and police lathi. It was not only that display of courage and daring, but what was even more surprising was the organizational power they showed.”
That was the decisive moment when the British Government realised they could not hold India much longer. If women, who till a few years back were in purdah and were still not allowed to take part in public life, could come to the forefront to demand freedom, sooner or later they would have to leave the country.
Some of them were wives and sisters of leaders, prominent among whom were Kasturba Gandhi, Kamala Nehru and Nehru’s sister, Vijaylakshmi Pandit, but many others joined the struggle and rose to leadership positions despite not being from political families.
They were women like Aruna Asaf Ali who chaired the session of the Indian National Congress after the entire Working Committee was put behind bars, and who valiantly hoisted the Tricolour at great personal risk. She was compelled to go underground, and even had a price on her head.
There was Durgabai Deshmukh, who had walked out of a child marriage and devoted her life to the Freedom Movement.
There was Sucheta Kriplani, a professor of history who married a freedom fighter two decades her senior and threw herself into the freedom struggle.
Usha Mehta who organised an underground radio during the Quit India Movement.
But more than these women, there were the thousands of women who stepped out of home for the first time to fight for independence.
Post Independence, some of these women occupied positions of power. Sucheta Kriplani became the first female Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh.
However, women were not able to capitalize on these early gains. The representation of women in public life remains disproportionately low. This results in the framing of laws and policies that do not serve the cause of empowering women. Even when such laws exist, they are not implemented in a way that will benefit women.
Seventy-five years after India attained freedom from imperialism, the freedom of Indian women is still curtailed. A nation cannot be considered free till all its citizens are free. India still has a long way to go.
Previously published on author’s blog.
Image source: pixabay and YouTube
Natasha works in the development sector, where most of her experience has been in Education and Livelihoods. She is passionate about working towards gender equity, sustainability and positive climate action. And avid reader and occasional read more...
Women's Web is an open platform that publishes a diversity of views, individual posts do not necessarily represent the platform's views and opinions at all times.
Stay updated with our Weekly Newsletter or Daily Summary - or both!
As a working woman, if I wish to take care of my mother, why do you have a problem with it?
When I joined one of the organisations on deputation, I was asked to fill up several forms as usual.
One of the forms was related to the individual’s dependents. In that, I also filled up the name of my mother, which I had been doing since the time my father died.
Immediately the junior official exclaimed, “You can’t fill up your mother’s name as a dependent!”
Why is access to proper toilets for women still a novelty? Here's what organisations can do about it.
I have always been quite skeptical when it comes to using a public washroom.
The fear only increased once I attained menarche.
I thought I was weird for having such thoughts, but later I realised that most girls and women had this issue.
Please enter your email address