Why is Feminism in India so Confusing?

  What are different school of thought for Feminism in Indian Context?

different school of thought _ichhori Webp

The concept of feminism came after the woman's movement, which came earlier. There has been an intricate link between feminism and women’s movement, each complementing each other. It includes a wide range of theories, ideologies, political movements, etc.

 During pre-independence women’s movement came as a reform to raise a voice against inequality and injustice and the western philosophy of liberty, equality and fraternity was also widespread and incorporated into the women’s movement but it also included a wide range of issues like hunger and poverty.

The issues and problems of women were completely different in India and the West despite having the same goals their environment and circumstances were contrasting and the methods used to overcome ex Sampat Pal Devi’s Gulabi Gang’ which tackle with domestic abuse .They try to use Hindu goddess and ancient matrilineal society where women were in power.

The process of Feminism

Indian writers write about feminism in following ways 

  • Institutionalized within academia 

  • Policy making, whether state or global 

  • Multiculturalism and postmodernism 

  • Rise of non-western scholars living in western location and appearance of Indian scholars

Now Indian scholars were aware of the Feminism and start researching about it and comparing how different it is for the west and what challenges and issues both face and started writing about it , raising their voices,demand for equality , injustice, rights and freedom.

They write about it and got more aware of their rights and freedom, especially millennials and genz where they have access to internet connection and in educational institutions also started talking feminism and why they need it.

We divided the Feminism in India into 3 parts:

The First Phase began in the mid-19th century, which focuses on education and institutional reforms. It not only touched politics but entered areas of culture and society and called as Social reform movement it raised polygamy, Sati , casteism and child marriage.

The Second Phase -started from 1915 where Gandhi included women into the Quit India movement which also saw the rise of many women’s organizations like Women’s Dissociation(WIA), National Council of Women in India (NCWI) and several other organizations.

Sarojini Naidu ,Kamla Bai and Durga Bai in Madras encouraged the women to come forward, and they actively took part in the freedom struggle, to include civil disobedience and many such movements.

The third phase, which deals with women post independence .It was because of participation of women of India got independence and Article 15(3) gave the state the right to make special provision for women. During partition, women were the one who suffered the most due to changing territories and conditions. They were exposed to various their own family slaughtered types of violence even due to fear.

Despite all these, the condition of women was not good in patriarchal India regarding female foeticide education and Feminists seen as someone who dominated men.

India also focused on caste-based gender inequality as they considered the lowest because of caste and gender.

As India is full of tradition, culture and customs, women face much discrimination and injustice. From education to personal law to religious law, they don’t get any right and freedom despite our constitution. After that there is a hierarchy of age, class, kinship ,lineage etc which they have to face. And if they are in lower strata of society, they have to suffer more due to it and girls are a burden and have to marry early and have no access to education.

These traditions and customs have been embedded in women and now they are used to it and because of unawareness of constitutional rights they don’t raise their voice and some even don’t even vote also and use their political rights and nobody make them aware of these and political parties take full advantage of it and give seats to female candidates.

Female foeticide , infanticide ,child marriage and dowry are also prevalent in Indian society till now and it can only eradicate with women raising voice for it and gaining political power to make strict laws about it so that nobody could even think of doing it.

 Though these things are banned but still prevalent because we don’t talk about such things and always consider women as inferior and taught about these topics and school .

Indian Subaltern Feminism 

Subaltern simply means lower status and women, especially Dalit and Black, have considered the lowest as patriarchy, race, culture, religion and various other hierarchies colonized and marginalized them. Therefore, they are called Subaltern. Dalit woman writer Bama’s stories and the African-American woman writer Alice Walker’s stories portray the political struggle and reality of it.

Feminism is for upliftment of women but some section needs special attention and priority and in India it is alit women who need it.

Changing face of Feminism 

From liberal Feminism to post-feminism which suits the wishes and goals of gen z and millennials to become financially independent ,childfree , to embrace the Sexuality and cultural independence than DBA (Dalit, Bahujan, Adivasi) not choosing the path of feminism  as it is dominated by Savarna feminists and their exclusivity and not raising voice for them .

Intersectionality can’t be attended until the political power and allyship changes . Representation is a key to gender equality and social and cultural changes need to be made with help of legislation.


Indian Feminism is totally different from west because it a country of different religions and cultures and different intsersections of caste, religion etc. Women here face issues of dowry ,female foeticide, infanticide ,no awareness about constitution rights laws of inheritance etc .

Hence it needs a combination of different schools of Feminism particularly intersectional and they need to be in politic power to change the allyship and dominance of men and should support each other and let go of internalised misogyny .

It also changes due to different periods, times , conditions like colonial, independence ,pre independence and post independence as the condition  and environment was changing.


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