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Feminism in India: 3 Ways to Know If It Exists for You

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From almost everywhere, now living in Bangalore, I am a writer and a film-maker who seeks a better India.

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Do You Recognize India's First Feminist?

Savitribai Phule paved the way for feminism in India by starting the first school for girls in 1848. Education is a tool that is most effective when a nation's women receive it. The value of its huge impact on patriarchy in those times made others take initiative as well. Feminists like Tarabai Shinde wrote Stri Purush Tulana(A Comparison Between Women and Men) in 1882. Pandita Ramabai openly criticized patriarchy, married outside her caste, and converted to Christianity in the 1880s. Obliteration of Sati(the ritual death mandatory for widows) and abolishing the custom of child marriage are few fruits of feminism that all women in India are enjoying generations later.

1. No Strings Attached: Your Identity as Feminist

feminism-in-india-does-it-exist

Yes, you love shopping and you love your music. But you also get judged for your choices. Branding you "too fast" or "too educated" and sometimes to the extent to be called not fit and to be a woman. Does that sound like equality? Do you feel on par as an individual? Your identity is reduced in economics as a typical women consumer who should only buy certain kinds of products. Else, you are a feminist for all the wrong reasons. But know this, you as a feminist is your identity as a woman. No strings attached.

2. Society and Politics: What's in It for You?

feminism-in-india-does-it-exist

I remember from my childhood and it's still true in India for most families that whenever there was a decision on a family matter, only men were consulted that to elders mostly. Women were supposed to support it unconditionally with almost no say by younger ones at all. It never felt like a social and political equal environment. Let's magnify and ask; What was wrong in asking 33% reservation for women in parliament? Since 1996, the bill is pending and when India's first female president vowed to implement it, so much was the uproar that one revered politician threatened self-immolation by consuming poison. Unless there is no participation from women in political and social matters right from the grassroots of society, it is not an equal society. For example, look at social, political, and economic achievements by Indira Gandhi. Increased efficiency for Indian economics by the privatization of banks, facilitating the Green Revolution; now India is not dependent on food aid by the west and it was during her tenure as prime minister that a former Indian Air Force pilot Rakesh Sharma became the first man in space from India. Mamta Banerjee served twice as Minister of Railways, the first woman to achieve the feat. The first female minister of coal and Minister of Human Resource Development. Do you watch the news; what's in it for you? Keep looking up. Keep going.

feminism-in-india-does-it-exist

3. Feminism: Not Female Superiority

Humans in general, me and you are caring by nature. Then, why is it that feminism has been misinterpreted as female superiority? Did you know who was responsible for the nurture and rise of J. Jayalalithaa as a Political and Social icon? It was men like Maruthur Gopala Ramachandran famously known as M.G.R and Rama Veerappan. They and their team never saw her as a threat to their political legacy. In fact, strong men know that feminism is not about belittling men but about respect for women. They know it is about questioning the inequality women face on a daily basis. They know for the betterment of society women must have informed beliefs and should make informed choices.

Way Forward: Good News

The good news and way forward are that feminism is sliding deeper down in India

Reforms in Judiciary: 4 Women Judges in the Supreme Court of India

Sainik School for Girls

Permanent Commission for Women in Armed Forces and Induction in NDA

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