Feminism

What is feminism?
Who are called as a feminist?
What does a feminist do?
Why feminism arrived?

Before saying about feminism let me clear one thing feminism is not only about women getting equal rights and opportunities rather feminism is a belief that every individual should be given equal rights, powers and opportunities. If you stand for equality then you are a feminist. Basically feminist are those individuals who takes care no one is treated unfairly.

Feminism started in the 19th and early 20th centuries addressing issues of women’s suffrage (the right of women to vote in elections). The second-wave feminism started in 1960s broadened debate to include cultural inequalities, gender norms, and the role of women in society.

During the 17th and 18th centuries in Europe many Enlightenment philosophers defended the rights of women, including Jeremy Bentham (1781), Marquis de Condorcet (1790), and Mary Wollstonecraft (1792). Other important writers of the time also expressed the views of the feminist.

Unlike the Western feminist movement, India’s movement was initiated by men, and later joined by women. The first phase of feminism in India was initiated by men to uproot the social evils of sati (widow immolation), to allow widow remarriage, to forbid child marriage, and to reduce illiteracy, as well as to regulate the age of consent and to ensure property rights through legal intervention.

But feminism as an initiative by women started independently a little later in Maharashtra by pioneering advocates of women’s rights and education: Savitribai Phule, who started the first school for girls in India (1848).

 Tarabai Shinde, who wrote India’s first feminist text Stri Purush Tulana (A Comparison Between Women and Men) in 1882; and Pandita Ramabai, who criticized patriarchy and caste-system in Hinduism, married outside her caste and converted to Christianity (1880s).

The Bengali reformers included abolishing sati, which was a widow’s death by burning on her husband’s funeral pyre, abolishing the custom of child marriage, abolishing the disfiguring of widows, introducing the marriage of upper caste Hindu widows, promoting women’s education, obtaining legal rights for women to own property, and requiring the law to acknowledge women’s status by granting them basic rights in matters such as adoption.

The second phase started when Mahatma Gandhi expanded Indian women’s public activities by initiating them into the non-violent civil disobedience movement against the British. Many women organisations formed. Women-only organisations like All India Women’s Conference (AIWC) and the National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW) emerged. Women started looking for their scope in leadership roles in political parties, women’s franchise and communal awards. In 1954 the Indian Communist Party formed its own women’s wing known as the National Federation of Indian Women.

By the 19th century and 20th century more women issues came to spotlight. More amount of women became active and started protesting for their rights. Feminists in the 1970s challenged the inequalities that had been established and fought to reverse them. These inequalities included the unequal wages for women. The aim was to abolish the free service of women.

Struggle of feminist are still going on. Many women are still fighting for their freedom. We need to change this view that women don’t need permission they have their voice and they can make their own choice.

Let’s find out about some Indian feminists and their contributions. They are :

  • Savitribai Phule  She is one of the earliest Indian feminists. She started the first school for girls in India in the year 1848.
  • Tarabai Shinde – The writer of India’s first feminist text Stri Purush Tulana (A Comparison Between Women and Men) in 1882.
  • Kamini Roy She is a poet and suffragette. She became the first woman Honors Graduate in India in 1886.
  • Saroj Nalini Dutt – She is the early social reformer who pioneered the formation of educational Women’s Institutes in Bengal.
  • Mira Datta Gupta – Activist for women’s issues and one of the founding members of the All India Women’s Conference.
  • Sarala Devi Chaudhurani – Founder of the Bharat Stree Mahamandal, one of the first women’s organisations in India.

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