The Indian Feminist Movement | world's solutions

The Indian Feminist Movement

The Indian Feminist Movement

Introduction: world’s solutions

The Indian women’s movement began in the nineteenth century. Women had begun to form their own organization from the end of the nineteenth century on both the local and national level. In the years before independence, they had two issues;political rights and reform of personal laws to struggle for. Indian women movement based on their participation in freedom struggle in order to get their rights. Indian women call upon freedom, gender equality and stop violence against women. The movement had begun within a man called “Ram Mohan Roy”. He began to focus on women’s issues like political participation, polygamy, sexual violation against women and his opinion, women should have an effective role on all fields of life; political, economically and socially. He put the roots of Indian women as one of the main factors responsible for the state of Indian society. He improved the condition of Indian women that was considered the first step in reform.

The Indian Feminist Movement

The Indian Feminist Movement

Before independence, the social reform movement first addressed the woman’s role within Indian society, but this was restricted to the women in the upper classes and exposed illiberal traditions such as that of treatment of women and child marriage and the colonial powers that’s controlled through men in Indian society. And so they wished to protect their society by reforming what they called was mere deviation. Although the progress that is achieved by Indian feminist movements, women who lived in modern India still face many issues of discrimination . Two decades ago,  a disturbing trend of sex abortion has emerged which they considered as injustices worth to struggle against.

The history of Indian Feminist Movement:-

Unlike the Western women movement, Indian women movement was started by men, and later joined by women .The Indian women’s movement went back to more than a hundred years, but its outreach, its agenda and its form have been changed over the years. The history of Indian feminist movement can be divided into three phases; the first phase, beginning in the mid-nineteenth century, started when male European colonists began to go against the social interest, the second phase, it was started from 1915 till Indian independence, when the president  Gandhi took part in women’s movements into the Quit India movement then independent women’s organizations began to emerge and finally, the third phase, it started after the independence, which has focused on treatment of women in society and their right to have a role in political life.

During hundred years of women’s rights movements, the difference between genders was more taken in that their roles, functions, aims and desires were different. This difference became the main reason for initiating women’s movements. Early 19th century movements which were headed by women argued that the difference between men and women wasn’t a reason for the women’s subjection in society. However, recently reformers had a great effect on the history of the Indian society. Within the formation of women’s organizations and their own participation in campaigns, their role was achieved but in a different way that the argument was for women’s rights to speech, education and emancipation.


First phase: 1850–1915:

In the modern age, the concepts of democracy, equality and human rights have already been existed. Within the existence of the concept of nationalism in addition the gender discrimination the social reform movements which related to and gender relations have been started. This first phase of Indian feminist movement was headed by men to go against the  widow immolation in order to allow widow remarriage, to forbid marriage of children, and to eliminate illiteracy, as well as to regulate the age of silence and to ensure property rights through legal intervention. In addition to this, some Indian women from upper class rejected restrictions they faced. However, efforts which are made, the status of women in Indian society were failed by the late nineteenth century till the nationalist movements emerged in India.. In the mid to late nineteenth century, there was a national form of resistance to any colonial efforts made to modernize the Indian family. In the Age of Consent controversy which has been erupted after the government tried to rise the age of marriage for women.

Second phase1915-1974:

The fight against colonial rule was raised during this decade. Nationalism became the main cause. The president Gandhi expanded Indian women’s public activities by involving them into the non-violent civil obedience movement .He raised their roles of caring, sacrifice and tolerance. Women organizations like All India Women’s Conference and the National Federation of Indian Women have been emerged. Women struggled for issues that were related to women’s political participation  as well as their leadership roles in political parties.

The new era of Indian movements was appeared and is defined as feminism that was responsible for the women’s associations’ creation. These associations called upon women’s education issues. Women became an important part of various nationalist including the civil disobedience movements in the 1930.

After independence, the All India Women’s movements continued to operate and the Indian Party formed its own women’s community known as the National Federation of Indian Women. However, feminist movements became less active right after India’s 1947 independence, as the nationalist agendas on nation building took place over feminist issues.


After independence, Indian women began to engage in the workforce. Before independence, most feminists accepted the division within the labor. However, women challenged the inequalities that had been existed and struggled to reverse them. These inequalities included unequal wages for women, and restricting women from labor. By the way, the Indian women sake to forbid the use of women as a servant . Women began to recognize the gender inequalities in language, religion, region, class. Recently, in the early twenty-first century, the aim of the Indian feminist movement has gone beyond treating women as an affective member of society and a right to parity in addition, they had the power to decide the form and the shapee of their personal lives and the right of self-determination.

The reasons of the Indian feminist movement:

Indian female movement deals with the social reform movement.  The absence and the ineffective of women’s role and participation and contribution to political situations in the Indian society gave the fact that there is sufficient evidence that women were excluded from the formal education system and have a negative effect in their society.Women took part in the freedom movement because they were affected by patriotism and wanted to see the end of their miserable life. Their participation in the Indian feminist movement did not lead to independent women’s movement because it was part of the anti-colonial movement. It transformed the lives of many young widows and women won respect for their courage to prove themselves. In other words,violence against women was on the rise and reported in the media. There were cases of rape in police custody and sexual harassment in the workplace and on the street. These issues entered the fields of culture, religion, and law; of family and society; of the problems of and official responses to population, poverty, illiteracy, and labor.

If Indian men in the nineteenth century had not been concerned with modernizing women’s roles, women movement in India wouldn’t be existed. They focused on specific issues such as child marriage, condition of widows, education since the world was seen through the prism of their own class and rank. Their efforts had a positive effect in bringing women of their families into the world controlled by colonial rule. Women liberated and created a space for themselves. They started to establish and form   organizations of their own, first at the local, then at the national level. They believed that liberal feminist ideas and the belief that education, gaining the political rights, and legislative reforms would improve women’s position in the Indian society. They fought for the country’s freedom and believed that independence from the colonial rule. Another reason for their movement was that women who have treated in asexual assault by their husband are the most common because their husbands believe that they have to fulfill their desire. Thus, the women’s movements have always demanded higher punishment in rape cases. After decade and half years of their fight against rape, the most of them feel that they have reached to the position that they have to change or forbid and stopped of the situation of rape .An international campaign had been made to discuss and stop the violence against women as violation of human rights .

The impact of the Indian feminist movement:

The women’s movement has a great impact in the Indian community. However, change is slow and painful, a large section of Indian women lives have improved. An important aim of the movement is to locate the feminist struggle in its various Indian cultural and historical settings. Indians women have their equality in the early nineteenth century.  Then, the Indian Constitution granted them equality and freedom from discrimination based on gender or religion, and guaranteed their freedom of speech in order to guarantee their welfare.  Indian feminists movements are also have a great impact specifically, globalization on women in India. They argue that globalization has led to economic changes that have raised more social and economic challenges for women, specifically for working class and upper caste women. Many companies in India began to use educated women in their call centers. These women have few effective labor rights, or rights to collective action.

In other words, multinational organiztions are seen to advertise image of ideal women across the country is arguedin order to make an increase in the commodification of women’s bodies. According to some feminists, such developments lead women to greater sexual autonomy and more control over their bodies. However, many other feminists feel that this commodification of female bodies has only served the purpose men desire.

Modern influences are affected the younger generations in parts of India, where girls are beginning to leave the traditional ways of Indian life and break gender stereotypes. In other parts of the country, the idea of openly dating has come into play, and the terms “girlfriend” and “boyfriend” are being used. Other women have landed highly respectable careers, and can be seen across the world advertisements. However, the country is still dominated by men who are against and unwelcoming to such movements that go against sex and gender traditions in India.

In general, in the uneducated part of the Indian society, which forms a major of the total population, women are seen as economic burdens. Their contributions to productivity are seen invisible because their local contributions are vague. The reality is that the high illiteracy rates among women obligate them to inappropriate jobs with less job security than men. Even in agricultural field, where men and women work like each other, women are still be paid less. However in the urban part of Indian society, women are empowered with laws. Educated women are often accused of using these laws to release legal terrorism on husbands by dis-satisfied wives


Indian feminist movement has a great effect before and after independence. This movement included the political opportunities and resources mobilization theory. The movement is also have achievements in different field including political level, social welfare and legal issue such as Reform Act of Child Marriage, movements against women’s suffrage. The caste system is also limited women from getting opportunities, particularly in India. Recently, feminist movements are struggling for justice and equality. Women in India always have had to balance between being a non-sexual equal to men. Some women have managed this balance act, while most women have been excluded from the political arena. The majority of the Indian women who have managed to negotiate their way, only been left with the political dealings. The movement has gone through different stages, but has often returned to similar arguments for women’s rights, women’s role in the political life that has been regarded belonging to the male sphere. The women’s movement is still divided into the lines of class and religion, as well as economic status and education.



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