Mains Daily Question
Feb. 19, 2021

  1. Discuss the role played by Indian women in the Indian national movement led by Mahatma Gandhi.


  • Introduce with women's participation in freedom struggle and the fillip under Gandhi

  • Discuss the role of women - can subdivide into phases (like initial days, CDM, Quit India)

  • Conclude appropriately

Model Answer

While women participated in India's struggle for Independence right from the revolt of 1857, Swadeshi movement etc., their participation got mainstreamed with the entry of Gandhi on the Indian political scene. Gandhi believed in the power of the masses and his mass movements actively encouraged the participation of women in large numbers. Women actively participated in various activities including pamplet distribution, picketing, practicing satyagraha, and civil disobedience. 

Women's participation under Gandhi's leadership:

Involvement of women in the initial days:

  • During the Rowlatt Satyagraha of 1919, he invited women to participate in the nationalist campaign.

  • In the Non Cooperation Movement, Gandhiji initially prescribed a limited role for women of boycott and Swadeshi, but women claimed for themselves a greater active role.

Civil disobedience movement:

  • It was during the Civil Disobedience movement that women got involved in large numbers.

  • In north India, hundreds of women from respectable families shocked their conservative men folk by openly participating in nationalist demonstrations. While the women's participation was more organized in Bombay and limited in Madras, it was the most militant in Bengal.

Quit India movement:

  • Women activism was visible most significantly in the Quit India movement of 1942 at the start of which all the front-ranking male congress leaders were put in prison. In that situation, prominent woman leaders took upon themselves the responsibility of coordinating the movement in the face of unprecedented police repression.

  • Sucheta Kripalini co-ordinated the non-violent resistance, while Arunaa asaf Ali gave leadership to the underground revolutionary activities.

  • The most important aspect of this movement was the participation of a large number of rural women taking their own initiative to liberate their country.

Gandhiji initially encouraged limited participation of women through spinning, picketing at foreign cloth and liquor shops etc. But once they entered the movement in large numbers, women took part in all aspects of the movement, even taking leadership when needed. Women won respect for their courage and mass participation in the freedom struggle.



Subjects : Modern History
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