Women Empowerment is an idea that seeks to offer women the freedom to choose their work over family. It allows them to share their opinions with people. It stands for a woman’s right to education and awareness. It comprises of all ways which help women improve a woman’s self-worth and allows her to choose.
In India, empowering women have been shaping and building the country’s mould. Since the origin of India, women have empowered themselves and others around them to stand up for the causes they believe in. From religious and social non-conformity to the struggle for independence to critiquing politics and taking part in the corporate world, women have made their contributions in all ways possible. The dynamics and work have evolved over the years. However, we still tightly clench the central ideas of empowering women.
Let me introduce you to three women who have been an inspiration to the country since the time of Indian Independence.
1. Aruna Asaf Ali:
Arun Asaf Ali is a recipient of the International Lenin Peace Prize, Jawaharlal Nehru Prize, Padma Vibhushan and Bharat Ratna. Her contribution during the independence struggle of India makes her a role model for all women. She actively participated in the Salt Satyagraha for which she was imprisoned. She was later released after the Gandhi-Irwin Pact. Her release was procured at the cost of many women protesters in the jail who refused to leave without her. Later in 1932, she was sent to Tihar Jail where she initiated a protest in the jail. The reason for the protest was due to indifferent treatment meted out to the political prisoners. Later she was shifted to Ambala Jail and was subjected to solitary confinement. Later after being released she took part in underground movements. On 9th August 1942, she initiated the Quit India Movement and hoisted the flag to begin the protest. Soon, she went underground to evade arrest. A 5000 rupees reward was offered to the person who found and arrested her. Her life is an inspiration for all women because she relentlessly stuck to her ideals, fought for them spiritedly and chose to rebel against the imperialistic political system in every way she found possible.
2. Rani Gaidinliu:
Rani Gaidinliu is the infamous 13-year-old girl from Nagaland who joined the Heraka religious community to free India of British imperialism. Her heroism and armed rebellions gained a lot of attention from the masses. For the same reason, she was called a reincarnation of a goddess i.e. ‘Rani’. As a young warrior, she engaged in an armed rebellion against the British. Her brother who was the head of the movement who was unfortunately hanged by the British. In such times of crisis, she rose as a leader and led her people to safety. She took refuge in Assam but the governor had already commanded the 3rd and 4th battalions to capture her. Despite the odds being against her, she continued to battle with her army. She was later captured and subjected to life imprisonment in 1932. She was released in 1947 under Jawaharlal Nehru’s discretion. Rani Gaidinliu's heroism and spirit to defend her country were embedded in every fibre of her. Such resistance and taking up of arms are evidence of her bravery.
3. Sarojini Naidu:
Sarojini Naidu famously called ‘Bharat Kokila’ was a woman of anti-imperialist thoughts who believed in rebelling for civil rights and women rights. She was born in a Bengali family and received superior education. To complete her education she studied in Madras, London and Cambridge. During her stay in London, she worked for suffrage and fought for women's rights. She later joined the Indian struggle for independence and demanded the British for Swaraj. Her poems were rich with sensory details and were an essential tool for instilling nationalism among the masses. Between 1915-1918, she travelled around different parts of India where she spread the ideas of nationalism, women rights and social welfare. She helped to establish the Women's Indian Wing (WIA). Along with Annie Besant she advocated for universal suffrage. She was arrested during the Salt March and was later released. Her contribution during the Civil Disobedience Movement and Quit India Movement makes her a true nationalist. After independence, she was the first woman to hold the seat of the first governor of the United Provinces, today called Uttar Pradesh. Her contribution to spreading awareness about women empowerment and fighting for women's rights during the independence struggle makes her an inspiration for people in India.
Such is the spirit of Indian women who fought and rebelled for their ideals unendingly until the very end of the independence struggle. Countless other women made sacrifices for the country and yet remain unrecognised. Such women are an inspiration to all and spread the message of empowering women among the masses.
Written by Aastha Raisurana