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  • 22 Aug 2022 GS Paper 1 Indian Society

    Day 43: To what extent has the women’s movement in the different stages of evolution been able to challenge the notion of patriarchy? Discuss. (150 Words)

    Approach
    • Briefly describe women's movement in India.
    • Describe the women’s movement in different stages: during colonial period, post-colonial period etc. that has been able to challenge the notion of patriarchy.
    • Conclude suitably.

    Answer:

    The beginning of women’s movements can be observed first from a social reform movement in the 19th century. During the colonial period women’s movements in India were born out of the same historical circumstances and social milieu as earlier 19th century social reform movements, which provoked a new thinking about various social institutions, practices and social reform legislations. The women’s movements ideological and social content changed from time to time and continued into our times.

    The women’s movement that has been able to challenge the notion of patriarchy in various time periods can be discussed as:

    During Colonial Period

    • During Swadeshi movement, meetings were arranged and khadi Spinnings were taken up by women. Women contributed their bangles, nose rings and bracelets to the national fund. The women workers of the Arya Samaj were also responsible for arousing national spirit among the people. Swarna Kumari, sister of Rabindranath Tagore and her daughter Sarala Devi were strong supporters of the Swadeshi movement.
    • The period from 1911-18 is of great significance in the history of Indian national movement because for the first time a woman Annie Besant led the national movement as president of Indian National Congress.
    • The important achievement of the women’s movement in India was the founding of Women’s Indian Association (WIA) which was mainly concerned with influencing the government policy on women’s suffrage, educational and social reform issues.
    • Gandhi launched an all India Satyagraha in 1919 against the provocative enactment of the Rowlat Act. Women took out processions, propagated the use of Khadi and even courted jail.
    • After the struggle for franchise, for the first time, Indian women exercised their vote in the elections of 1926. The first woman to stand for election was Kamala Devi Chattopadhaya. She saw the enactment of the abolition of Devadasi system and laws to close brothels and protect the minor girls.
    • A large number of women including Sarojini Naidu, actively took part in the Dandi March. In 1931 Sarojini Naidu attended the Second Round Table Conference as an official representative of the women of India.
    • During the Civil Disobedience Movement of 1930, Kamala Devi Chattopadhyaya addressed meetings and picketed foreign cloth and liquor shops.
    • During Quit India Movement, men leaders were arrested in the first round up and in their absence, women carried on the movement and bore the brunt of the British wrath. In the Indian National Army of Subhash Chandra Bose, Rani Jhansi Regiment was created for women.

    During Post-Colonial Period

    • The Telangana Movement (1946-51) was a protest of the people who wanted both food and freedom from the oppressive regime of the Nizam, the Patils and the Jagirdars in Hyderabad State. Some of the women who took active part in the movement were Dubala Salamma, Chityala Ailamma, Pesaru Satbamma, etc.
    • The Chipko Movement was born in Advani in Tehri Garhwal district of Utter Pradesh. The illiterate adivasi women led this movement under the leadership of Sri Sunderlal Bahuguna. This points out the link between women’s burden as food providers and gatherers and their militancy in protecting natural resources from violent devastation. Gaura Devi led 27 village women to prevent the contractors and forest department personnel from entering the Reni Forest to cut 2,415 trees.
    • The anti-arrack movement of women in Andhra Pradesh, women have played a historic role in bringing about a ban on consumption and sale of distilled liquor in Andhra Pradesh.

    Since the 1970s

    • In the post-independence period, the women’s movement has concerned itself with a large number of issues such as dowry, women’s work, price rise, land rights, political participation of women, Dalit marginalised women’s right, growing fundamentalism, women’s representation in the media etc. It has also been able to draw a large number of women around three major issues: girl child, gender violence and globalization.
    • Article 15 and Article 16 (2) of the constitution forbids discrimination and accepts all as equal in the eyes of the law (Article 14). In the early 1950s a series of legislations such as the Hindu Marriage Act, Hindu Succession Act, Dowry Prohibition Act and Equal Remuneration Act were passed.
    • The decade from 1975 to 1985 saw the emergence of the autonomous women’s movement. The year 1975 was declared as the International Women’s Year (IWY) which was later extended to a decade.
    • Mortality rate among women is higher than that of men due to malnutrition. Violence against women appears in the form of dowry deaths, wife battering, mass rape during caste and communal riots, gang rape, sexual harassment of women and stereotyped representation of women in media. Along with these, poverty and deprivation affect the conditions of dalit and tribal women, many of whom are forced to prostitution.

    Thus, women participated in various movements that has been able to challenge the notion of patriarchy.

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