“What was the contribution of the women’s participation in Indian national movement?”

 “What was the contribution of the women’s participation in national movement?"

women's participation in indian national movement_ichhori.webP

The history of the Indian struggle would be lacking without referencing the contributions of women. The sacrifice made by the Indian women will take precedence. When the majority of the male freedom fighters were incarcerated, the women stepped forward and took over the fight. To secure our independence, they battled valiantly and bravely in the face of numerous exploitation, tortures, and suffering. The role that women played in the Indian freedom struggle is more of “crusaders” rather than just “helpers”. The stories of women’s bravery, selflessness, and sacrifice in the struggle for freedom is abundant. Many of us are unaware that hundreds of women fought alongside their male counterparts in battle. They fought with unwavering courage and true passion. The Indian women broke free from a number of limitations and their conventional duties and obligations that were focused on the home. Therefore, the contribution of women to the struggle for freedom and the National Awakening is simply incredible and deserving of appreciation. However, in a society where men predominate, it is difficult for women to engage in combat as warriors. Despite the fact that women made an effort to alter the views of such orthodox individuals who believed women should solely perform domestic duties. 

In addition, women not only fought these issues but also sacrificed their lives. Rani Laxmi Bai was one of these women who fought against British rule by overcoming all odds. Women have left a legacy that demonstrates their fierce nature.

Early struggles

Indian women first took part in the Independence movement in 1817. British colonel Malcolm was beaten by Bhima Bai Holkar’s valiant guerilla fight against him. Thirty years before the “First War of Independence 1857”, many women, notably Rani Channama of Kittur and Rani Begam Hazrat Mahal of Avadh, fought against the British East India Company.

Jalianwalabagh massacre

Following the strike wave, 10,000 unarmed Baisakhi revelers were cruelly attacked with more than 1600 rounds of ammunition during General Dyer’s Jalianwala Bagh massacre. Gandhi still persisted in supporting collaboration with the British in December 1919, despite the ongoing opposition of common Indians. More widespread protests were placed throughout the first half of 1920, with 1.5 million workers participating in no less than 200 strikes. The leadership of the Congress was compelled to confront its conservatism and give a slightly more militant face to its program in reaction to this mourning mass revolutionary momentum. Thus, under the direction of leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Lajpat Rai, and Motilal Nehru, the “non-violent non-cooperation” movement was started.

Non-cooperation movement launched

Gandhi ji began the movement for non-cooperation after he returned to India in 1915 from South Africa. Women who took part in the non-violent women include Sarla Devi, Muthulaxmi Reddy, Susheela Nair, Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, Sucheta Kripalani, and Aruna Asaf Ali. Kasturba Gandhi, the wife of Mahatma Gandhi; and the women of the Nehru family, Kamla Nehru, Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, and Swarup Rani, all took part in the National Movement. The movement in Lahore was led by Lado Rani Zutshi and her daughters Manmohini, Shyama, and Janak.

Civil Disobedience and the Dandi Salt March

Women began their journey towards freedom by disobeying regulations governing salt and forests, and destroying “Prabhat Faeries”, and participating in processions that picketed clubs, colleges, legislative councils, and schools. Gandhiji specifically designated Sarojini Naidu to lead the raid on the Dharasana Salt Works in May 1930. Kamla Devi spoke at meetings, made salt, and protested foreign clothing and liquor stores throughout the revolution. During that time, the Nari Satyagraha Committee, Mahila Rashtriya Sangha, and the Ladies Picketing Board all played significant roles.

Revolutionary activities

Young college girls joined the revolutionaries’ organization, which was highly active in Dhaka, Comilla, and Chittagong. The well-known group of female revolutionaries included Preetilata Waddekar, Kalpana Dutta, Samiti and Suniti, and Bina Das.

The Quit India Movement

The resolution to Quit India, adopted in opposition to the British, specifically mentioned women as “disciplined soldiers of Indian freedom”, who needed to keep the fight going. Usha Mehta, a devoted patriot, established The “Voice of Freedom”, a radio transmitter, to broadcast the “mantra” of the freedom war. The public was informed of demonstrations, arrests, the actions of young nationalists, and Gandhi’s iconic “Do or Die” call to arms for the Quit India Movement. Up until their arrest, Usha and her brother kept up their broadcasting work.

The status of women in the country was poor during the time before independence. There was a lot of male dominance, which was the main reason for this. The majority of the women’s obligations were allocated to carrying out domestic duties; they were not permitted to take part in other jobs and activities, nor were they allowed to voice their opinions anywhere. Numerous systems that had negative consequences on women were put into place at this time. These include polygamy, female infanticide, female foeticide, limits on widow remarriage, child marriage, and the purdah system. Many social reformers, like Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Ishwar Chander Vidya Sagar, and Jyotiba Phule, faced various obstacles while working to improve the status of women in the Indian context during the time of the East India Company. Many women had acquired the art of martial arts during this time. After the revolt of 1857, Madam Bhikaji Cama, the first socialist Indian woman, campaigned for the independence of her native country. There is no denying the significant role played by women in the anti-imperialist movement in India. 

Mobilization of Women in the Gandhian phase

Gandhi was without a doubt the most genuine and well-known representation of Indian culture and knowledge in modern times. His countrymen respectfully refer to him as the Mahatma. He was an economist, political philosopher, social reformer, and truth-seeker. He transformed both the national movement and the Indian National Congress into movements of the people. He instilled courage and fearlessness in people and taught them how to oppose injustice without resorting to violence. Mahatma Gandhi is credited with playing the most important role in the Indian freedom struggle because he led the nation’s independence campaign on his own. Gandhi’s non-violent methods served as the cornerstone of the fight for independence from the British. Between 1918 and 1922, the campaign for Indian independence reached its zenith. Under Gandhi’s guidance, the INC began a number of civil disobedience campaigns that were non-violent in nature. The primary goal was to undermine the British administration by refusing to cooperate. Gandhi asserts that in order for women to fight alongside men for freedom, they must first recognize their own power; and only then will India be truly free.

Women under Gandhian leadership

  • Gandhi fought against caste, inequality, and child marriages, and promoted women’s education, which empowered and motivated women. They encouraged a large number of women to participate. 

  • The non-cooperation movement had seen unheard-of-levels of female participation, particularly among educated and middle-class women. Aruna Asaf, Muthul Laxmi Reddy, Sarla Devi, and Amrit Kaur became well-known leaders. 

  • Sarojini Naidu, who was inspired by Gandhi’s principles and participated in the civil disobedience movement, organized a non-violent demonstration at Dharsana Salt Works in opposition to the Salt Law ad taxation even after Gandhi’s arrest. She battled for the right to vote and won the election to become the first Indian woman to lead the Indian National Congress.

  • In the Quit India movement, Usha Mehta and Aruna Asaf Ali’s underground activity played a critical role in keeping the movement alive.

Most women participated in the political scenarios in 1920.  A significant number of women came out during this time. Indian women have so unitedly grasped the potential of collective action and established the groundwork for women’s empowerment in Independent India by overcoming the constraints of socioeconomic discrimination.


Women played a crucial role in India’s fight for Independence. They organized picketing of stores selling foreign liquor and goods, attended public gatherings, promoted Khadi, and actively supported national movements. They entered jails while standing valiantly up to the police baton. Numerous Indian women dedicated their life to the cause of their country’s independence.

Previous Post Next Post