These 15 women contributed to the drafting of the Indian Constitution


These 15 women contributed to the drafting of the Indian Constitution

On 26 November 1949, the elected Constituent Assembly enacted the Indian Constitution, which went into force on 26 January 1950. The Constituent Assembly had 389 members in all. While Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, known as the "Father of the Constitution," and other trailblazing male members who contributed to the drafting of the Indian Constitution are remembered by all, it is simple to overlook the work of the fifteen female members of the Constituent Assembly.

1. Ammu Swaminathan

In Anakkara, in the Palghat district of Kerala, Ammu Swaminathan was born into a Hindu high caste family. In 1917, she joined forces with Annie Besant, Margaret Cousins, Malathi Patwardhan, Mrs. Dadabhoy, and Mrs. Ambujammal to create the Women's India Association in Madras. In 1946, she was elected to the Constituent Assembly for the Madras Constituency.

On November 24, 1949, during the debate on Dr. B. R. Ambedkar's motion to approve the draught Constitution, Ammu made the following statement: "People outside have been complaining that India did not offer her women equal rights. Now we may assert that women were granted rights equal to those of every other citizen of the nation when the Indian people themselves drafted their Constitution.

In 1952, she won a seat in the Lok Sabha, and then in 1954, a seat in the Rajya Sabha. Ammu, a devoted movie fan, was elected vice president of the Federation of Film Societies in 1959, which Satyajit Ray headed as president. In addition, she oversaw the Censor Board and the Bharat Scouts and Guides from 1960 to 1965.

2. Dakshayani Velayudhan

Born on the island of Bolgatty in Cochin on July 4, 1912, was Dakshayani Velayudhan. She was the head of what was then known as the Depressed Classes. She belonged to the Pulaya community, which experienced tremendous discrimination, and was among the first generation from the community to receive an education. She was also the first woman to wear an upper cloth.

The State Government proposed Dakshayani for election to the Cochin Legislative Council in 1945.

In 1946, she was the only Dalit woman and the first to be elected to the Constituent Assembly. During the debates in the Constituent Assembly, Dakshayani stood with B R Ambedkar on a number of topics pertaining to the Scheduled Caste community.

3. Begum Aizaz Rasul

She married the young landowner Nawaab Aizaz Rasul, who was born into the Malerkotla royal line. In the Constituent Assembly, she was the sole Muslim woman. Begum and her husband started running for politics after the Government of India Act of 1935 was approved and they both joined the Muslim League. She won a seat in the U.P. Legislative Assembly in the 1937 elections.

Begum Aizaz Rasul joined Congress in 1950 after the Muslim League in India was disbanded. She was a member of the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly from 1969 to 1990 and was elected as a Rajya Sabha member in 1952. She served as the Minister for Social Welfare and Minorities between 1969 and 1971. She received a Padma Bhushan in 2000 for her services in social work.

4. Durgabai Deshmukh

In Rajahmundry, on July 15, 1909, Durgabai Deshmukh was born. She joined the Non-Cooperation Movement when she was just twelve years old, and in May 1930, in Madras City, she joined Andhra Kesari T. Prakasam in the Salt Satyagraha movement. She founded the Andhra Mahila Sabha in 1936, and within ten years it had grown into a significant centre for social welfare and education in Madras.

She presided over a number of significant organisations, including the Central Social Welfare Board, the National Committee for Girls' and Women's Education, and the National Council for Women's Education. She was on the Planning Commission as a member of parliament.

She had ties to the Andhra Educational Society which was in New Delhi as well. For her great work advancing literacy in India, Durgabai received the fourth Nehru Literary Award in 1971. She was awarded the Padma Vibhushan in 1975.

5. Hansa Jivraj Mehta


Hansa Mehta, the son of the Dewan of Baroda Manubhai Nandshankar Mehta, was born in England on July 3, 1897, and he studied sociology and journalism there. In addition to being a reformer, she was a social activist, author, and teacher.

She translated many English stories, including Gulliver's Travels, and produced numerous books for children in Gujarati. She served on the Bombay Schools Committee in 1926, and in 1945–1946, she was elected as president of the All-India Women's Conference.

She gave a proposal for the Charter of Women's Rights in her presidential address at the All-India Women's Conference convention in Hyderabad. Between 1945 and 1960, she served in a number of positions in India, including vice chancellor of SNDT Women's University, member of the All-India Secondary Board of Education, and president of the Inter-University Board of India, and vice-chancellor of Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda.

6. Kamla Chaudhary

Even though Kamla Chaudhary was raised in a wealthy Lucknow family, she nevertheless struggled to finish her schooling. In contrast to her family's custom of supporting the imperial authority, she joined the nationalists and actively engaged in Gandhi's 1930 Civil Disobedience Movement.

She was elected as a member of the Lok Sabha in the late 1970s and was the vice-president of the All-India Congress Committee when it was in its fifty-fourth session. In her widely read work, Chaudhary also often wrote about the inner lives of women or the creation of contemporary India.

7. Leela Roy

Leela Roy was born in Goalpara in October of 1990 in Assam. Her father was a supporter of the Nationalist Movement and served as a deputy magistrate. After earning her degree from Bethune College in 1921, she joined the All-Bengal Women's Suffrage Committee as assistant secretary and organised gatherings to advocate for women's rights.

She joined the Congress in 1937, and the following year Bengal Provincial Congress Women's Organization was established. She joined the Subash Chandra Bose-founded women's subcommittee and was proposed as editor of the Forward Bloc Weekly after Netaji’s arrest in 1940.

Leela Roy and her husband were handed over full control of party operations by Netaji before he left India. She started the Jatiya Mahila Sanghati, a group for women in West Bengal, in 1947. She was not happy with the way the new party was formed in 1960 when the Forward Bloc (Subhasist) and the Praja Socialist Party merged.

8. Malati Choudhury

Malati Choudhury was born in 1904 in East Bengal to a prominent family (now Bangladesh). Malati Choudhury was transferred to Santiniketan in 1921 when she was 16 years old, where she enrolled in Viswa-Bharati.

She wed Nabakrushna Choudhuri, who moved to Odisha in 1927 and ultimately rose to the position of Chief Minister. Malati Choudhury joined the Indian National Congress and took part in the Salt Satyagraha with her husband at her side. To foster a supportive climate for Satyagraha, they engaged the populace through education and communication.

Together with her husband, she established Utkal Congress Samajvadi Karmi Sangh in 1933, which came to be known as the Orissa Provincial Branch of the All-India Congress Socialist Party later. She accompanied Mahatma Gandhi in 1934 on his well-known "padayatra" in Orissa. She established a number of organisations, including the Bajiraut Chhatravas, to help vulnerable populations in Odisha. She resisted Indira Gandhi's declaration of Emergency, which led to her eventual imprisonment.

9. Purnima Banerjee

The Indian National Congress committee in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, was headed by Purnima Banerjee. She was a member of a radical group of Uttar Pradeshi women who led the liberation struggle in the late 1930s and early 1940s.

She was detained several times due to her involvement in the Quit India and Satyagraha movements. Her unwavering dedication to a socialist worldview was one of Purnima Banerjee's speeches in the Constituent Assembly that stood out the most. She was tasked with organising kisan meetings, involving trade unions, and working toward increased rural engagement as the city committee's secretary.

10. Rajkumari Amrit Kaur

In Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, on February 2, 1889, Amrit Kaur was born. She was elected as India's first minister of health and she served for ten years. She studied at the Sherborne School for Girls in Dorset, England, as the daughter of Harnam Singh, the former Maharaja of Kapurthala. However, she gave it all up to be Mahatma Gandhi's secretary for 16 years.

She fought for the autonomy of the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), which she founded. She firmly supported women's healthcare, education, and participation in sports. She founded the Central Leprosy and Research Institute, and the Tuberculosis Association of India served as vice chair of the League of Red Cross Societies' board of governors and served as chair of St. John's Ambulance Society's executive committee. The New York Times referred to her as "a princess in her nation's service” in 1964 when she passed away.

11. Renuka Ray

Renuka Ray was the daughter of prominent personalities, Charulata Mukherjee, a social worker and participant in the All-India Women's Conference, and Satish Chandra Mukherjee, an ICS officer (AIWC). Renuka spent some time as a young child living in London where she earned her BA from the London School of Economics.

She filed a document titled "Legal Disabilities of Women in India; A Plea for a Commission of Enquiry" in 1934 while serving as the AIWC's legal secretary. The document expressed the AIWC's dissatisfaction with how the Sharda Bill was handled and their commitment to having the legal status of women in India reviewed. The status of Indian women, according to Renuka, is among the most unfair in the world, and she called for a standard personal law system.

She was in the Central Legislative Assembly from 1943 to 1946 and then moved on to the Constituent Assembly and Provisional Parliament. After this, she was the Minister for Relief and Rehabilitation in the West Bengal Legislative Assembly from 1952 to 1957. She then served as the Lok Sabha representative for Malda in 1957 and 1962.

She also served on the Planning Commission, the governing body of Visva Bharati University at Shanti Niketan, and the AIWC as president in 1952. She was the founder of the Women's Coordinating Council and the All-Bengal Women's Union.

12. Sarojini Naidu

Sarojini Naidu was born in Hyderabad, India on February 13, 1879. She was the first Indian woman to hold the positions of the state governor and president of the Indian National Congress. She is famously known as the "Nightingale of India" due to her selfless work.

She first studied at King's College in London before transferring to Girton College in Cambridge. Before becoming engaged in Mahatma Gandhi's Non-Cooperation Movement and the Congress movement in India, she got some suffragist campaigning experience in England. She visited Africa in 1924 on behalf of the local Indian population, and in 1928–1929 she lectured around North America on the Congress movement. In India, she engaged in anti-British activities that led to her serving multiple prison sentences (1930, 1932, and 1942–1943). In 1931, she and Gandhi travelled to London for the Round Table Conference's second unproductive session. In 1914, well-known author Sarojini Naidu was chosen as a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

13. Sucheta Kriplani

Sucheta Kriplani was born in 1908 in the town of Ambala, which comes now in Haryana. She is most known for her involvement in the 1942 Quit India Movement. In 1940, Kripalani also founded the Congress party's women's branch. Following independence, Kripalani's political career includes positions as a New Delhi-based MP and the state government of Uttar Pradesh's Minister of Labor, Community Development, and Industry. She succeeded Chandra Bhanu Gupta as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, holding the position until 1967. She was the first female Chief Minister of India.

14. Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit

She was the sister of India's first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, and was born in Allahabad on August 18, 1900. In 1932–1933, 1940, and 1942–1943, the British imprisoned her on three separate occasions.

When Pandit was chosen to serve on the Allahabad Municipal Board, her extensive political career officially began. The first Indian woman to hold that office, she was chosen to serve in the Assembly of the United Provinces in 1936 and was named minister of local self-government and public health in 1937.

She and all other Congress party officials resigned in 1939 in protest of the British government's assertion that India participated in World War II as a combatant. In September 1953, she was chosen to lead the General Assembly of the United Nations as the organization's first female and Asian president.

15. Annie Mascarene

In Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, Annie Mascarene was born into a Latin Catholic household. She was one of the first women elected to the Travancore State Congress and the first woman appointed to its Working Committee. She was a driving force behind the independence and racial fusion campaigns in the Travancore State.

She spent varying amounts of time in prison from 1939 to 1947 for her political involvement. Mascarene won the 1951 Indian general election and was then elected to the First Lok Sabha. She was one of just 10 people elected to Parliament at the time and the first female MP from Kerala. She spent a brief stint as Minister in Charge of Health and Power before to her election to Parliament in 1949–1950.

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