Question: Discuss the role of women in the freedom struggle especially during the Gandhian phase.
Answer:The freedom movement was the watershed moment in India’s history which featured people from all sections of society including women. Unlike other countries, women had a large role to play in the freedom struggle.
Role of women in freedom struggle
Gandhian era featured large number of women who took part in Satyagraha in a non violent way. But there where many who followed the revolutionary way of struggle that included actively using arms to fight British imperialism.
Ex: The Chittagong armoury raid perpetuated by Surya Sen had major women participants in form of Kalpana Dutt and Pritilata Waddedar. Bina Das, a young student shot at the Bengal Governor during convocation.
Women leaders were at the forefront of demand for self government or Swaraj. The Home Rule movement was one such movement that had woman at the helm.
Ex: Annie Besant launched the Home Rule League across India that advocated for self governance of the country along with Bal Gangadhar Tilak.
During the launch of Quit India movement, the British pre-empted and arrested all major Congress party leaders. This forced the cadre to go into hiding. Women played a major role in establishing communication between congress party workers.
Ex: Usha Mehta organised the Congress Radio, an underground radio station that functioned for some time during Quit India movement.
- Participants in mass movements
Gandhiji’s mass movement would not have been successful if women did not participate actively. It was because of large-scale participation of women that movements like Civil disobedience and Quit India were successful.
Ex: Sarojini Naidu was actively involved in Salts satyagraha in Darasana. Similarly the Kheda satyagraha was successful due to active participation of women villagers.
Thus, women’s contribution to Indian freedom movement is unparalleled. This re-establishes the importance of role women played during Gandhian era.