Q. Discuss the role of women in various social, political and environmental movements since independence in India. (150 words)20 Jun, 2022 GS Paper 1 Indian Society
- Begin by referring to women participation in the independence movement and its continuity in post-independence India
- Highlight the role of women in social, political and environmental movements along with examples
- Conclude with the need for more reforms in society and women participation in different social spheres
India’s independence movement witnessed enormous participation from the women community due to Gandhian leadership and social reforms, aimed at ending their subjugation in society. Even after independence, women from various strata of society continued to voice their opinions and discontents through social, environmental and political grassroots movements.
- Political Movements: Indian Constitution guaranteed de jure political equality to women by Universal Adult Franchise under article 326. However, de facto women were subordinated in politics. Women through their participation in political movements like anti-price rise movement of 1973-75, JP movement, and other tribal and peasant movements tried to achieve an equal footing in modern India.
- Social movements: Conflicts and hierarchy in Indian society necessitated a response from the women. Thus, women started struggles against gender discrimination, domestic violence, alcoholism, rapes, and patriarchal social attitudes. Organisations like Saheli, Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), Naga Mothers Association, etc. have been at the forefront of these movements.
- Environmental Movements: Environment protection movement in India could not have succeeded without the much-needed support of the women activists. Women-led environmental movements like Chipko, Narmada Bachao Andolan, Navdanya, etc. not only protected local ecological rights and environment but also inspired environmental movements in other parts of the world as well. As a result of which women empowerment and participation are now regarded indispensable for “sustainable development”.
The role of women in transforming the social, economic and political landscape of India could never be ignored. These movements erupted to ensure constitutionally guaranteed rights for women. But, despite their overwhelming contribution women still lack adequate political representation and social empowerment. Our society remains in want of more such movements that assert equality, demand rights and generate democratic dialogue for change.
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