Feminism is a hot topic of discussion in recent times. Almost every urban literate person talks about feminism in some way. There are rallies and protests held every so often to let all genders have equal rights.
Feminism from Time Immortal
But did you know that feminism is not a recent phenomenon? It started quite early in India. Queens like Jhansi ki Rani Lakshmibai, Tarabai of Kolhapur, and Rani Rudrama Devi of Kakatiya are brave women who took up command in “masculine” wars.
In more contemporary history, we see Raja Rammohan Roy, Maharshi Dhondo Karve, and Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar as prominent feminists. They preached and practiced equality towards women. In fact, Raja Rammohan Roy intensely opposed the horrific practice of Sati. British rulers consequently banned it. Maharshi Karve established schools and colleges for women for women’s education.
Savitribai Phule and her husband Jyotirao Phule were pioneers in the field of education for the women, poor and downtrodden.
Other Notable Feminists
Anandibai Joshi was the first Indian woman to study abroad.
Kadambini Ganguly and Muthulakshmi Reddy studied medicine in a men’s college.
Pandita Ramabai, supported widows and started the kindergarten style of education in India.
Rukmabai became India’s first lady doctor.
And Cornelia Dorabjee was India’s first woman lawyer.
These are examples of women overcoming hurdles to follow their passion. Remember that these women created history in the 1800s and 1900s, when women were expected to stay at home.
Even though there is a significant change now, women are still under the pressure of patriarchy. It is 2019, yet women are told what to wear and how to behave. Married women who do not carry the signs of marriage are judged. Widowed women are not invited to functions, fearing “bad omens”.
Famous Feminists in Today’s Times
All is not lost, though. There were and are feminists who have made life easier for the future generations. Authors like Ismat Chugtai and Mahashweta Devi have written texts rich in feminism. They are famous not only in India but also have made a mark in Western countries.
Uma Narayan, a feminist scholar is a professor and author of the book, “Dislocating Cultures: Identities, Traditions and Third World Feminism“.
If you think that only affluent women from educated and urban households participate in feminist activities, think again! Sampat Pal Devi is a social worker in the Bundelkhand area of Uttar Pradesh. She founded the infamous Gulabi Gang to fight against abuse in women.
Medha Patkar and Sudha Murthy are actively working to improve the lives of the poorer sections of the society. Just recently, Mangala Mani stayed at the Indian Research Centre in Arctic for a whopping 403 days. These women are slowly but steadily working to give equal rights to women.
Do you know any feminists working for the upliftment of women and other genders? Is anyone breaking gender stereotypes? Share their stories with us here!
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