When most of the menfolk were in prison then a remarkable thing happened. Our women came forward and took charge of the freedom struggle. Women had always been there of course but now there was an avalanche of them, which took not only the British Government but their own menfolk by surprise.
Ø The burden of tears and toils of the long years of struggle for India’s freedom was borne by the wives, mothers, and daughters, silently and cheerfully.
Ø The programme of self-imposed poverty and periodical jail going was possible only because of the willing co-operation of the worker’s family. In the various resistance movements in the villages, the illiterate women played this passive but contributory part as comrades of their menfolk.
Ø Most attribute the induction of women into freedom struggle only post the Non-Cooperation movement. But woman’s participation in India’s freedom struggle began as early as 1817 when Bhima Bai Holkar fought bravely against the British colonel Malcolm and defeated him in guerilla warfare.
Ø In 1824 Rani Channama of Kittur resisted ate armed might of the East Indian Company.
Rani Lakshmi Bai of Jhansi
Ø She was not allowed to adopt a successor after his death by the British, and Jhansi was annexed.
Ø With the outbreak of the Revolt she became determined to fight back. She used to go into the battlefield dressed as a man.
Ø Holding the reins of the horse in her mouth she used the sword with both hands. Under her leadership the Rani’s troops showed undaunted courage and returned shot for shot.
Ø Considered by the British as the best and bravest military leader of rebels this sparkling epitome of courage died a hero’s death in the battlefield.
Begum Hazrat Mahal
Ø She was also known as the Begum of Awadh.
Ø She also played major role during the rebellion of 1857. After death of her husband Nawab Wajid Ali Shah, she took over the affairs of state of Awadh.
Ø During the rebellion the supporters of Begum seized control of Lucknow as an act of rebellion against British East India Company and declared her son, Bijris Qadra as the ruler of the state of Awadh, though later it was recaptured by the Company and Begum was exiled to Calcutta.
Ø She drew everyone’s attention towards the demolishment of temples and mosques by the Company to make way for the construction of roads thus; hurting religious sentiments of Indians.
Kittur Rani Chennamma
Ø One of the earliest Indian rulers who fought forfreedom.
Ø 33 years before the National Uprising, this queen of a princely state in Karnataka led an armed rebellion against the British, and lost her life in the end.
Ø Even today, she is revered as one of the bravest women in Karnataka.
Ø She campaigned for the Montagu Chelmsford Reforms, the Khilafat issue, the draconian Rowlett Act and the Satyagraha.
Ø When Gandhi launched the Civil Disobedience Movement, she proved a faithful lieutenant.
Ø With great courage she quelled the rioters, sold proscribed literature, and addressed frenzied meetings on the carnage at Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar.
Ø In 1930 when Mahatma Gandhi chose her to lead the Salt Satyagraha the stories of her courage became legion.
Ø After Gandhi’s arrest she had prepared 2,000 volunteers under the scorching sun to raid the Dahrsana Salt Works, while the police faced them half a mile up the road with rifle, lathis (canes) and steel tipped clubs.
Ø The volunteers wildly cheered when she shook off the arm of the British police officer who came to arrest her and marched proudly to the barbed wire stockade where she was interned before being imprisoned.
Ø Gokhale and Gandhi were her guiding influences.
Ø Though she was British socialist she was a supporter of Indian self-rule.
Ø In 1890 she joined Theosophical society as a member and later became its president thus. She visited India
Ø She helped in the establishment of Central Hindu College, and Sind National Collegiate Board in Mumbai in 1902.
Ø In 1914 when the world was witnessing World War I she started All India Home Rule League along with Lokmanya Tilak. This body had many branches in India which was active the whole year round and mobilized agitations and demonstrations demanding home rule in India.
Ø She also joined Indian National Congress and once became president of the Congress for one year. Her active participation in politics gave way to Indians to gain independence.
Ø Affectionately called Ba, she was the wife of Mohandas Gandhi.
Ø She was a leader of Women’s Satyagraha for which she was imprisoned.
Ø She helped her husband in the cause of Indigo workers in Champaran, Bihar and the No Tax Campaign in Kaira, Gujarat.
Ø She was arrested twice for picketing liquor and foreign cloth shops, and in 1939 for participating in the Rajkot Satyagraha.
Aruna Asaf Ali
Ø Participated in public processions during the Salt Satyagraha. She was arrested on the charge that she was a vagrant and hence not released in 1931 under the Gandhi-Irwin Pact which stipulated release of all political prisoners.
Ø Other women co-prisoners refused to leave the premises unless she was also released and gave in only after Mahatma Gandhi intervened. A public agitation secured her release.
Ø On August 8, 1942, the AICC passed the Quit India resolution at the Bombay session.
Ø The government responded by arresting the major leaders and all members of the Congress Working Committee and thus tried to pre-empt the movement from success.
Ø A young Aruna Asaf Ali presided over the remainder of the session on 9 August and hoisted the Congress flag at the Gowalia Tank maidan.
Ø This marked the commencement of the movement. The police fired upon the assembly at the session.
Ø Aruna was dubbed the Heroine of the 1942 movement for her bravery in the face of danger and was called Grand Old Lady of the Independence movement in her later years.
Ø Aruna Asaf Ali was awarded International Lenin Peace Prize for the year 1964. She was awarded India’s highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna, posthumously in 1997.
Ø During the epidemic of bubonic plague that hit Mumbai in 1896, she herself got infected with the disease while providing aid to the others.
Ø Throughout her life she struggled for Indian Independence from abroad as she was told by her acquaintances not to take part in freedom struggle if she comes back to India.
Ø While working as secretary to DadabhaiNaoroji she supported the founding of Shyamji Krishna Verma’s Indian Home Rule Society.
Ø On 22nd august 1907, she unfurled the Indian flag (Flag of Indian Independence) in Stuttgurt, Germany while attending the International Socialist Conference, there she made people aware of the aftermath of the famine that had hit the Indian Subcontinent and raised her voice for the human rights and equality in India.
Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit
Ø Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit was sister of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and played crucial role in Indian politics.
Ø She was the first women to become cabinet minister, she was designated the post of minister of local self-government and public health.
Ø She is well known for her political and diplomatic role during the freedom struggle.
Ø She was the first woman president of United Nations General Assembly.
Ø She was also the first woman ambassador in the world who attained the position in three countries – Moscow, Washington and London.
Ø She was a freedom fighter and worked closely with Mahatma Gandhi during Partition riots in India.
Ø She also played major role in politics by joining Indian National Congress.
Ø During the formation of constitution of India she was elected as a member of the drafting committee of Constituent assembly.
Ø Another feather to her cap is attached when she sang “VandeMataram” in the Constituent Assembly.
Ø She was also elected as the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh state after independence.
Ø She was a follower of Mahatma Gandhi and thus; played active role in Gandhi Satyagraha movement and played role of Indian struggler, a lawyer, a social activist and a politician.
Ø She was a Lok Sabha member as well as member of Planning Commission of India.
Ø While being member of Planning Commission she launched a Central Social Welfare Board through which she improved condition of education, women, children, handicap and rehabilitation of needy persons.
Ø She was one of the youngest freedom fighters of the Indian freedom movement. She was hardly five years old when she met Gandhi and was inspired by his ideals.
Ø At the age of 8, she participated in the ‘Simon Go Back’ protest.
Ø A very great contribution to her credit is the origination of Congress Radio also known as Secret Congress Radio, which was an underground radio station which was active for few months during the Quit India Movement of 1983.
Ø Due to this clandestine activity she was imprisoned in Yeravda Jail of Pune.
Ø Along with her husband, JyotiraoPhule, she played an important role in improving women’s rights in India during British rule.
Ø The couple founded the first women’s school at BhideWadai in Pune in 1848.
Ø She also worked to abolish discrimination and unfair treatment of people based on caste and gender.
Ø She is described as one of the first-generation modern Indian feminists, and an important contributor to world feminism in general, as she was both addressing and challenging not simply the question of gender in isolation but also issues related to caste and casteist patriarchy.
Ø Women shouldered critical responsibilities in India’s struggle for freedom.
Ø They held public meetings, organized picketing of shops selling foreign alcohol and articles, sold Khadi and actively participated in National Movements.
Ø They bravely faced the baton of the police and went behind the iron bars
Ø Hundreds and thousands of Indian women dedicated their lives for obtaining freedom of their motherland. The above mentioned women are but a few among them.
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