What are the differences between the School of feminist thought in Indian and international context?

 What are the differences between the School of feminist thought in Indian and international context?


Since the rise of feminism is typically attributed to western influence, the names Virginia Woolf, Simone de Beauvoir, Adrienne Rich, and Elaine Showalter immediately spring to mind when one thinks of feminism. It's true that these spokeswomen set out to theorise the requirements of women in a culture where their inner thoughts have to be expressed clearly and forcefully.

However, we cannot ignore cultural distinctions in order to view history in rigidly universal terms. Multicultural and diasporic feminism. Women's demands vary depending on where they reside and are influenced by a variety of circumstances, including familial, societal/racial, marital, economic, cultural, and personal consciousness (subjectivity).

It would be extremely incorrect in such a diverse setting to compare Indian feminism to Western feminism, which is characterised by radical rules, and to point to western feminist critics when discussing issues that women in India face. Feminism is more than just a voice of opposition or doubt. It involves moral self-reflection, facing one’s own fears, and realising one’s own value. It continues to forge new connections while maintaining old ones.

With their wide range of narrative techniques and interpretations, Indian epics and puranas touch on every conceivable facet of human existence, assisting us in posing and better understanding some of the fundamental issues that shape family and public life.

Shakuntala from Kalidasa and Kannagi from Ilango Adigal are two outstanding examples of women who, while being raised and nurtured in a patriarchal environment with utter submission to authority, struggle for their moral rights and put the kings to shame.

No significant political or social movement against male dominance has taken place. Surprisingly, female members of the bhakti movement overcame all obstacles to achieve gender equality. They even rebelled against caste distinctions and patriarchy. For example, by avoiding marriage, Meera, Avvaiyar, and Karaikal Ammaiyar rebelled against patriarchy and undermined hegemonic norms.

Indian women ignored in history

In our history, women have not been “visible” and have only been seen as “things” of men’s desire. For instance, the history of the Dalits and the Ambedkar movement both neglected the importance of women. Even if the writing of the dalits is ripe for additional theorization, dalit aesthetics is stagnating despite some theorization by the dalits themselves. Their theorising has been heavily influenced by the nature of their protest.

Over the past 200 years, India’s feminist rhetoric has been influenced by both its hostility to foreign hegemony and its colonial past. Additionally, there has always been a campaign to give women a voice in the fight against cultural and religious restrictions that highlight and reinforce the economic, social, political, and psychological oppression.

Investigation of the native lineage of Indian feminism is prominent thanks to colour images, a filmography on the representation of women in cinema, particularly in stereotyping, discrimination, and patriarchy, and an extensive bibliography.

Feminism and the women’s movement have been closely linked throughout the world, inspiring and enhancing one another. This is true not just of India. While the women’s movement was a much more recent event in India, the name “feminism” is more recent. Many social, cultural, and political groups, ideologies, and moral philosophies that address gender inequality and equal rights for women are collectively referred to as feminism. The women’s movement got its start in the 19th century as a social reform movement in the pre-independence era. Through the study of English and contact with the west, our educated elite were at this time imbibing the western idea of liberty, equality, and brotherhood.

A social reform movement was created by extending this western liberalism to the issue of women. The primary concern in the early decades following Independence was for global economic expansion. An additional decade immediately after that saw a rise in concern for equity and the reduction of poverty. There were no such targeted programmes for women and gender issues were included in concerns about poverty. The women’s movement has focused on many issues in the post-independence era, including dowry, women’s employment, price increases, land rights, political participation of women, Dalit women and other marginalised women’s rights, rising fundamentalism, women’s representation in the media, etc. Many Non-Governmental Organizations have also taken up this issue. The long-standing women’s movement in India is also the root of women’s studies and gender studies today. Numerous women’s studies centres have been established, and a fight is currently taking place since they are on the verge of being forgotten. Even though there is still much to be done and a number of barriers stand in the way of many more women experiencing this reality, the women’s movement has elevated and increased awareness of women’s issues.

Feminism waves in India

The Women’s Movement started in the 19th century as a social reform movement in the pre-independence era. The study of English and contact with the West at this time allowed our educated elite to absorb the western concept of liberty, equality, and brotherhood. This western liberalism was expanded to include the issue of women and transformed into a movement for social transformation. The concepts and changes that were to be promoted in the reform movements were not uniform and differed widely. However, they did have a common interest in eliminating social ills, partially in response to accusations of barbarism from the colonial rulers. This was a time when colonial ideology was under hegemonic dominance and influence. This period saw the emergence of the bourgeoisie and the development of new ways of thought.

Three significant organisations were founded in the second phase: the Women’s India Association (WIA), the National Council of Women in India (NCWI), and the All India Women’s Conference (AIWC). After World War One, women started all of these organisations between 1917 and 1927. The fight against colonial rule grew more intense during this time. Nationalism rose to become the dominant issue. In the decades that followed, women demonstrated active participation in the freedom movement, paving the way for some women-only organisations. Gandhi legitimised and expanded Indian women’s public activities by involving them in the non-violent civil disobedience movement against the Raj. Women’s groups like Saraladevi’s, who founded the Bharat Stree Mahamandal, existed. It convened for the first time in 1910 at Allahabad. The organisation quickly established numerous branches in Delhi, Lahore, Karachi, Amritsar, and Hyderabad, and it addressed a number of issues, including Purdah, which to them was a barrier to accepting female education.

Women in India gained full equality in the constitution and the ability to vote largely as a result of their efforts and participation in the liberation struggle. The State is given the authority to establish specific provisions for women by Article 15(3) (INDIA, 1949). There were numerous policy documents that came after, but what actually transpired was that a significant gap developed between the theoretical status of women and their rights as defined in these and what actually existed. Immediately following independence, India faced a number of issues. The grief of division, the mass migration of people, and the cessation of intercommunal violence in Punjab and Bengal subdued the euphoria of independence. Following this were the conflicts in Kashmir, the threat of territorial fragmentation, the distribution of power among the 600 princely states, and, last but certainly not least, the economic upheaval that was most likely to damage women. Our native crafts had been decimated and our natural resources had been exhausted over many years of colonial rule. Lack of mobility, illiteracy, changing technology, industrialization, and illiteracy all contributed to women’s failure to adapt to the new order.


For the first time, women themselves raised their voices in opposition to the impairments they experience, questioned, and fought against not only British rule but also patriarchy itself. Women were able to gain various social freedoms and rights as a result of this process. Despite the fact that there is still much to be done and that there are several barriers preventing many women from experiencing this reality, the women’s movement has significantly aided women’s efforts to achieve equality by bringing women’s issues to the fore and making them more visible.




Word count – 1338

Previous Post Next Post