Feminism is derived from the Latin word ‘fēmina’ meaning ‘the state of being feminine.’ The movement first started in the mid 19th century in the western lands. Feminism is simply a movement for achieving equality for both sexes in social, political, economic, and personal aspects. Feminism fights against gender stereotypes that prevail in our society and provide equitable opportunities to women.
Feminism in India can be traced back to the 19th century. We simply cannot associate Western Feminism with Indian. The fight for women’s rights can on top be seen in our historical Epics, Puranas, and Upanishads.
History of Indian Feminism can be divided into three primary phases:
- 1850-1915 This period marks the first phase of feminism in India. Concepts like equality and sole rights were introduced in society. Women were highly discriminated against and were regarded as the weaker sex of society. To alter the horrors of social wickednesses like Sati Pratha, men took the first step to initiate the first phase.
During British rule, many women ruled several cities like Rani Laxmi Bai, Jind Kaur and Rani Chennama, etc. Even though changes weren’t seen till the 20th Century, efforts were made to improve.
- 1915-1947 This period is marked by the Nationalist Movement. Gandhi valued the feminine role and participation, and he wanted their voices to be heard. He knew it was important to encourage female participation to win the fight against the British. The National Federation of Indian Women and All Indian Women Conference emerged during this time. After India had attained its independence in 1947, terms like equality and democracy were added to the constitution underlying the fact that women are not the ‘weaker section’ of the society and they have all the same rights and opportunities as men.
- Post-1947 Issues like unequal work pay, domestic violence, and criminal assaults like rape and molestation were of prime importance. Feminists encountered many social and cultural challenges in fighting these injustices. After becoming the first female Prime Minister of the country in 1966, Indira Gandhi changed the dynamic of politics. The Indian Government passed the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 and the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 to uphold the rights and to ensure the safety of women. In the year 2018, The Supreme Court of India overturned its decision and repealed the ban of women entering the Sabrimala Shrine in Kerala.
Many vigilante groups like the Gulabi Gang have emerged to protect women from brutal assaults, dowry, abusive husbands, child marriage, etc. Feminists faced various challenges to bring equality to this patriarchal society. Employment opportunities are not the same for both sexes. One is considered more economical, and the other is seen as a burden. In rural society acquiring education for adolescent girls remains a challenge.
The 2012 Nirbhaya gang rape weakened the nation to its core. People were out on the street protesting and fighting for justice to instantly bring about social change. After this horrific case, the Supreme Court implemented several necessary changes in the law. In the 2013 Amendment Act, new reform to the law on rape was made, several new sexual offences were added under Section 354 A-D, and special provisions were made regarding acid attacks.
Women have suffered and have been discriminated against for hundreds of years and even though, with collective efforts of both women and men, changes are being made in our modern society, we still have a long way to progress.
3 thoughts on “TOPIC – HISTORY OF FEMINISM IN INDIA ”
I recently read your blog post and I must admit that I found it to be really fascinating. I always knew that feminism was about the rights of women, but I had never given any thought to its background. I learned through the blog that feminism has been around for a very long time and has changed over time.I also came to understand that there are several forms of feminism and that individual feminists have different beliefs.
The progress made by women in achieving equality is astounding, but it’s also sobering to realise how much more has to be done.
I believe that everyone needs to educate themselves about feminism and its history, regardless of gender. The only way we can hope to build a better future for everyone is by comprehending the past.
Great post, keep up the wonderful work!!
I really love reading your blog. As we know when many women hear the word “feminism,” they think about angry ladies in the 1970s , terms like “man-hater” and worse. But these days a feminist isn’t someone who hates men, and it isn’t even necessarily someone who identifies as a woman. Anyone can be a feminist, and we don’t have to be politically active to support the cause. Each time a women stands up for herself, without knowingly it possibly, even without claiming it. This blog is really very interesting as you have chosen a very good topic. So, just keep writing like this. Best of luck for your coming blogs.
I really love reading your blog. My idea of feminism is that of a thought process, a mindset that establishes a belief in an environment that does not consider gender as an issue, in every aspect of society. There isn’t any superiority, there shouldn’t be. Women, all over the world need to be one voice that reassures their self-determination, that paves the way for them to participate, to agree or disagree, to interpret their own inner voices and fearlessly acknowledge the same. As we know when many women hear the word “feminism,” they think about angry ladies in the 1970s , terms like “man-hater” and worse. But these days a feminist isn’t someone who hates men, and it isn’t even necessarily someone who identifies as a woman. Anyone can be a feminist, and we don’t have to be politically active to support the cause. Each time a women stands up for herself, without knowingly it possibly, even without claiming it. This blog is really very interesting as you have chosen a very good topic. So, just keep writing like this. Best of luck for your coming blogs.