International Women’s Day

CJP Team

Revolutions do not happen overnight; it takes years and years for positive changes to be implemented and progress to be made. Similarly, these revolutions and movements are not the result of a single person’s efforts, but of collective resistance and solidarity. India has always followed a patriarchal structure, a hierarchical power relationship, in which men are dominant and women are subordinate. Women’s subordination is visible in many ways, both in the private and public spheres, where women are denied rights and access to many things that men take for granted. Patriarchy, as a concept/tool, aids in the critical understanding of women’s status in any society. Thus, while men in India were born with all the privileges and rights, the women of India had to fight for their basic rights, right to vote, right to education, right of autonomy on their own bodies.

For centuries, they have been purposefully denied opportunities for growth in the name of religion and socio-cultural practices. Even Mahatma Gandhi, a self-proclaimed champion of women’s rights, had urged women to stop fighting for voting rights and instead concentrate their efforts on ‘helping their men against the common foe’ in 1920. On the social-political level, women faced denial of freedom even in their homes, suppression, persecution and unnatural indoctrination, unequal and inferior status, rigid caste hierarchy, and even untouchability. Religious tradition and social institutions have a significant impact on the role and status of women.

Despite this, as more efforts were made to oppress women, an increasing number of Indian women’s movements emerged, paving the way for intersectionality and catapulting gender violence into national discourse. Long before the #MeToo movement, and decades before the Indian government enacted any laws to protect women from violence, Indian feminists fought for women’s right to exist unmolested and unscathed in public and private spaces. Even today, as people celebrate international women’s day, their struggles remain the same, the battles even bigger.

Dr Ambedkar, the great fighter and deep thinker, has made significant contributions to the cause of women’s liberation, rejecting Manu’s definition of women. He recognised women’s equality and worked to secure it legally at a time when few others did, beginning with opposing oppressive customs such as sati, child marriage, and widow remarriage restrictions.

While Babasaheb paved the way for women rights, the journey has been a long and tiring one, and the fight is still going on. Even today, as India has entered its 75th year of Independence, atrocities against women bodies have intensified, and so has the fight to break the cages that women are kept in. While some of these fights turn into movements and are fought through protest and dissents, such as the Shaheen Bagh women protest against CAA-NRC or the Pinjra todh movement against discriminatory curfews in hostels, some are fought in the court rooms.

In recent years, the courts have issued several significant celebrated judgments in cases relating to the women rights, such as the right to privacy, equal rights for daughters in coparcenary property, eligibility of women army officers in commanding roles and permanent commission, ban of two-finger test as medical examination, right of adult women to choose prostitution as her vocation, etc. All of these cases have aided people in seeking justice and maintaining their faith in courts as defenders of the rule of law.


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Vol 55, No. 39, Mar 26 - April 1, 2023