CHAPTER 3 – WOMEN IN INDIAN NATIONAL MOVEMENT
ROLE OF WOMEN IN INDIAN NATINAL MOVEMENT
- The participation of women in National Movement legitimised the Indian National Congress. The British understood that the method of Satyagraha had a special appeal for women.
- The participation of women in the freedom movement also influenced the movement for Women’s rights. It legitimised their claim to a place in the governance of India.
- However, there were regional differences in the number of women who joined the national movement and synthesized women’s interest with nationalist issues.
- The best organised, the most independent and fielded the largest demonstrations were Bombay women. They articulated a clearly feminist nationalism.
- Bengal women were known for their militancy. Marching alongside men in the Congress parade and later joining revolutionary activities, they were subjects of folksongs and legends. These women espoused a feminist ideology but put aside in favour of a larger struggle.
- However, in Madras fewer women joined the movement. In North India, Nehru and Zutshi families provided strong women leaders.. They put nationalist agenda first and believed that it was not possible to raise women’s consciousness about both politics and women’s rights at the same time.
- The revolutionary women presented a different aspect in Indian National movement. They described themselves as sacrificing all the things a women wants like marriage, children etc. No one including the revolutionary women considered revolutionaries as representatives of Indian womanhood.
- Rural women unless they were widows protested with their families.
- From Swadeshi movement onwards women’s role in National movement can be seen conspicuously. Under Gandhian leadership their role become more conspicuous in non-cooperation movement, civil disobedience movement and Quit India movement.
- From Non Cooperation movement they got associated with specific programme that as dharna on liquor shop. Sarojini naidu, Urmila devi etc. played an important role during non-cooperation movement.
- From 1920’s onwards, the male leaders in the movement cemented a relationship with peasants, workers and women’s association with the intention of gaining mass support from the people.
- During 1933 all revolutionary women like Urmila devi, Santhi Das and Protibha devi (Nari sayagraha samiti) etc. were all in jail.
- During Quit India movement they got involved in underground movement. Example Aruna asaf ali and Usha Mehta (she started congress radio)
DRAWBACKS OF WOMENS PARTICIPATION
- Only women from upper and middle class Hindu women participated and their participation was never large.
- Only few Muslim women followed Gandhi. Rest found it difficult to accept Hindu ideas or were ignore by congress leaders.
ISSUES RAISED BY WOMENS ASSOCIATIONS
- Women’s education
- Child Marriage
- Devadasi system
- Female infanticide
WOMEN IN MODERN INDIA- ISSUE OF SUFFRAGE AND COUNCIL ENTRY
- An Irish – Margaret Couisins was the first to raise issue of women’s suffrage. She send a memorandum to Viceroy through a delegation under Anie Besant in 1917.
- Sarojni Naidu raised this issue at special session of Indian national Congress at Bombay (August 1918)
- Act of 1919 did not recognise women suffrage but a provision in this act added women to the list of registered voters in provincial legislative councils.
- BOMBAY AND MADRAS were the first to extend franchise to women in 1921
- MUTHULAKSHMI REDDY was the first women legislator appointed to MADRAS legislative council in 1927.
- Sarojini Naidu represented Indian women organisation in SECOND ROUND TABLE CONFERENCE IN 1931
ORGANISATION REALTED TO WOMEN
- Bharat Stri Mahamandal —1910—Allahabad —-founded by Sarladevi
- ALL INDIA MUSLIM LADIES CONFERENCE—-1914
- Lady Hardinge Medical College —1916
- National Council Of Indian Women —1925—By Mehribai Tata
- All India Women’s Conference –at poona—1926-27—-By Margaret Couisins
- Women’s Indian Association –1915 –by Dorothy Jina Rja Dasa—-Anie Besant was its first President
- Desh Sevika Sangh —1930— a women wing of RSS
OTHER FACTS RELATED TO WOMEN
- Ten women took part in INC session in1889
- Kadambini Ganguly —–First Indian Women Graduate. She was a medical student who failed in her final exam but was given diploma of graduation in Medicine by the Principal to continue private practice. Other graduate of this college was Chandramukhi.
- Annie Besant—launched home rule, became president of INC in 1917.
- Gandhiji played an important role in integrating women in National movement
- He used sacred legends from Ramayana like branded British as Ravan who abducted Sita
- He made an appeal that rule of Rama would be founded when women like Sita joined nationalistic movement.
- Rashtriya stree Sangh –founded by Sarjoni Naidu with goal of swaraj
- Indian National Congress set a women’s department in 1940 —Sucheta Mazumdar Kriplani was chosen to organise this department
- Women also played role in INA movement-Dr. Lakshmi Swaminathan was Head of Department of Women’s Affairs under provisional INA government . She took charge of Rani of Jhansi regiment.
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