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Women also joined in struggle against colonialism, but while they were encouraged to participate by leaders like Gandhi, their work in the struggles was just an extension of their domestic work. Very few women were allowed to join the front ranks with men, and the ones that did spoke of the isolation they felt at times Radha KUMAR, , p. On account of this common view on women, whenever culture is being threatened an immediate response is an enforcement of women to remain in roles that are more traditional.


One is certainly not belittling the contributions of the social reform movement. The only space available to a woman earlier was in the religious sphere and in the ancient period, Buddhism and Jainism provided this space, but women had to choose between this and the family and if they chose religion they had to move out of the families by becoming a part of the Sangha.

In medieval period the bhakti movement declaring that God dwells in each individual and one could attain God through faith and many of the bhakti saints brought religion to the downtrodden and henceforth marginalized sections of society and women.

Bhakti provides women a space and to move out of the daily life of patriarchal control and in the process they get their independence. For all these women bhaktas the rejection of the power of the male figurewhom they were tied to in subordinate relationship became the terrain for struggle, self assertion and alternative seeking. Yet the women saints had to choose between marriage and a life of domesticity and their love of the supreme God PANDE, a, p.

The social reform movement provided a secular space for women in other areas by looking at various issues which were culturally imposed on women by society and making them crippled. Raja Ram Mohan Roy argued that sati was not supported by shastras and was nothing less than female murder. He argued against polygamy and for property rights for women. Keshav Chandra Sen was instrumental in getting the Native Marriage Act passed in , which forbade early marriage between boys under 18 and girls under 14; it also forbade polygamy and encouraged widow marriage.

It allowed inter-caste marriages for those who declared that they did not belong to any recongnized faith. All these organizations were formed by women in between and after WorldWarI. During this period struggle against colonial rule intensified. Nationalism became the pre-eminent cause. In the decades that followed, women showed active participation in freedom movement paving the way for some women only organizations.

There were organizations by women like Saraladevi, who set up the Bharat StreeMahamandal. It met for the first time in Allahabad in Soon many branches in Delhi, Lahore, Karachi, Amritsar, and Hyderabad were set up and it addressed many problems including Purdah, which to them was a stumbling block to accept female education.

When Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi came on the political scene, he could draw in a large number of women to the political arena by giving a very broad meaning of swaraj, and helping them find dignity in public life and a new place in the national mainstream. His views on many issues installed a new confidence among women and a consciousness that they could fight against oppression.

As a result, a large number of women joined the civil disobedience movement during the thirties. Besides Sarojini Naidu and Kamala Devi Chattopadhyay, there were thousands of other who were now readily participating in the freedom struggle. In the picketing Board in collaboration with Bengal Provincial Congress Committee was started to popularize the home industries, especially the spinning and weaving of khadi.

Punjab saw the inauguration of the Civil Disobedience movement by taking a procession of five thousandwomen at Lahore in under the leadership of Lado Rani Zutshi and Parvati, the daughter of LalaLajpat Rai. Durga Bai Deshmukh organized the women in Madras to carry forward the policies of the congress. The manufacture of salt, in defiance of the British laws prohibiting such manufacture, had a lot of symbolic value for the women.

Here was a very private issue linked to the daily lives of the people in the kitchen, brought to the forefront of the public realm and a large number of women from villages also joined Gandhiji at Dandi. Gandhiji firmly believed that by nature women were non-violent and hence would be more successful in carrying out his programmes of picketing and non-cooperative movement.

Throughout the freedom struggle when a large number of women were coming and participating they were only there in support roles. The male leadership at this time did not encourage a second line of leadership and women could assume leadership only when the men were in prison.

Nehru refers to this in his discovery of India: most of us men folk 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 upsurge of them, which took not only the British government but their own men folk by surprise. Here were these women, of the upper or middle classes, leading sheltered lives in their homes, peasant women, working women pouring out in tens and thousands in defiance of government order and police lathi.

1. The Division of Domestic Labour

It was not only their display of courage and daring but what was even more surprising was the organizational power they showed. This was also the first time in Indian history when a large mass of women were mobilized for political purposes in a mass organization. Many of the women felt that their struggle was two pronged. They were fighting not only the British overlords but they had to fight against patriarchy in their homes too. It was primarily due to the efforts of women and their role in the freedom struggle that women got the right to vote and complete equality in the constitution in India.

There were also a large number of policy documents which followed, but what really happened was that a great gap arose between the theoretical status of women and their rights as defined in these and what existed in reality. Immediately after independence, India had to deal with a variety of problems. The joy of Independence was tempered by the sadness of partition and the migration of a large majority of people and the break up of communal violence in Punjab and Bengal. This was followed by war in Kashmir, the danger of territorial fragmentation, the dispersion of power among princely states and, last but not the least, economic dislocation which was to affect women the most.

Years of colonial domination had destroyed our indigenous crafts and depleted our natural resources. Industrialization, changing technologies, illiteracy, lack of mobility - all resulted in the inability of women to cope with the new order. Once their labour was regarded as unimportant in the productive market, their role in the family also became marginal, giving them a raw status, which became abysmal with the passage of time. This resulted in the introduction of the franchise and civic rights of women in the Indian constitution.

The state adopted a patronizing role towards women. Women in India did not have to struggle for basic rights as did women in the West. This was a period primarily of accommodation. Some of the organisations took up constitutional measures such as The Marriage Act of and The Hindu Code Bill of , These bills took up the issue of marriage, divorce, succession, guardianship and adoption.

The Hindu Marriage Act made monogamy legal, outlawed polygamy among all Hindus, and conferred equal rights of divorce on both men and women.

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It also made inter-caste and interreligious marriages legal. It fixed the marriage age for boys and girls. It also made child marriage punishable. This period from the late sixties has been marked by economic crisis and stagnation, rising prices, increasing landlessness and generalised discontent both in rural and urban areas. This period is also associated with the Green revolution, which dramatically improved scientific agricultural techniques aimed at improving agricultural yield. It was very successful in India.

Although food was more plentiful, farmers not wealthy enough to keep up with the technology got left in the dust. The anti-price rise movement was a united front composed of women from the CPI M , Socialist, Congress and non-party middle-class housewives from urban areas in Western India, founded in The population base of this movement was the rural and the toiling. In Maoist women formed the Progressive Organization of Women, initiating a self-consciously feminist critique of radical leftist politics along with an overarching analysis of gender oppression.

They took up issues like anti-dowry campaign, protests against eve teasing the harassment of women in the street , obscenity, price rise, and against the hardships suffered by women living in slums. With the repression of the Emergency period, the organization disintegrated within only two years of its formation. However, this period saw the rise of many autonomous groups with different agendas and issues. Some of the common issues included the division of housework, party politics, rape, and dowry deaths. It pointed out that women continued to have an inferior status in many areas like political, economic and social.

It also stated some alarming facts with regards to employment, political participation and health status. The report pointed out to the sad fact that society had not yet succeeded in framing the required norms and institutions to enable women to fulfill their multiple roles. The increasing incidence of practices like dowry indicate a further lowering of the status of women. They also indicate a process of regression from some of the norms developed during the freedom movement. A separate chapter on Women and Development in the sixth five year plan resulted in women being perceived asproductive contributors to the national economy.

A new chapter for feminism in Jordan

A national perspective plan for women was released in October The Report pointed that the deep foundation of inequality is built in the minds through a socialization process, which continues to be extremely powerful. If education was to promote equality it must make a deliberate, planned and sustained effort. The educational system had not even attempted to undertake this responsibility. Many conferences, workshops and discussion groups took place to formulate clear guidelines, in order to help Universities, faculties, colleges and other institutions of higher learning to start such units.

The Towards Equality Report also raised the question of the Uniform Civil Code, appealing to earlier arguments but also squarely in the context of gender equity and justice. In India, we have a criminal code that is equally applicable to all, irrespective of religion, caste, gender and domicile. However, a similar code does not exist especially with respect to divorce and succession and we are still governed by the personal laws. These personal laws are varied in their sources, philosophy and application. Thus, a major constraint arises while bringing people governed by different religions under one roof.

In the post Independence period during the first few decades, the major concern was for overall economic growth. Some of these organizations have varied in their scope, objectives and vision but they have nevertheless provided women avenues of collectively voicing their concerns. These grass root organizations have questioned the welfare approach to women whereas they are primarily seen as beneficiary or recipients of programs and instead incorporated an empowerment participatory approach.

While questions about the success of these organizations are often raised, it is often seen that women exposed to some amount of mobilization show great potentialities, receptiveness and defining capacities Narayan BANERJEE, These men had caused women to suffer: not only actors, but domestic workers, factory workers, agricultural workers, athletes, soldiers and academics. The long black dresses and all that — this is the Puritans. He is the patriarch. It was the sort of word that, if uttered without irony, marked out the speaker as a very particular type of person — an iron-spined feminist of the old school, or the kind of ossified leftist who complained bitterly about the evils of capitalism.

Even feminist theorists had left it behind.