Defying the barriers of age, gender and religion, the Indian women became the torch- bearer during the struggle for freedom in India. In this context, discuss the role of women in the freedom struggle especially during the Gandhian phase.
- Introduce briefly with factors encouraging women’s participation
- Discuss the different role played by women citing some examples.
- Conclude appropriately
Gandhiji successfully managed to evolve his discourse on the position of women both within and outside the domain of home. The late 19th century educational reforms produced a new kind of awareness among masses which believed in equality and empowerment of women. As a result women played a very important role in Indian freedom struggle.
Role Played by women:
- During Swadeshi campaign their activities were limited to boycott of foreign cloth and picketing of liquor shops. A nationalistic cult around Bharat Mata (mother India) started to emerge which further necessitated the role of women.
- Independent bodies of women such as Rashtriya Stree Sanghas were fused with District Congress Committees. It also saw inclusion of women from all sections – Hindu/ Muslim, widows, scheduled/marginalised sections. E.g. – BiAmma, the mother of Ali brothers addressed 6000 women to join men in picketing. In Andhra Pradesh, a vibrant Durgabai collected over a thousand devadasis to hear Gandhi’s speech.
- During Civil Disobedience, women volunteers participated in marches boycotts and prabhatpheris. Desh Sevika Sangh was formed for passive resistance. Sarojini Naidu, Muhtulaxmi Reddy, Margret Cousins were put in jail.
- In the event of men’s arrest, the women’s organisation took on the task of carrying on civil disobedience and organising meetings. Many girl children used to form a BanarSena in order to participate in Prabhat Pheris. Many a times they used to act as a couriers in order to deliver important information.
- Women like Usha Mehta were active in organizing underground radio station, also known as Secret Congress Radio.
The image and magnitude of participation of the Indian women within the national movement was drawn from the multilayered nations of Mother India and Victorian morality. They defied social customs and established themselves as a force to reckon with.
Subjects : Current Affairs