Women Freedom Fighters of India – History Notes For IAS

Women Freedom Fighters of India, – History Notes For IAS

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Women Freedom Fighters of India, – History Notes For IAS

When most of the men­folk were in prison then a remarkable thing happened. Our women came forward and took charge of the freedom struggle. Women had always been there of course but now there was an avalanche of them, which took not only the British Government but their own menfolk by surprise.
  • The burden of tears and toils of the long years of struggle for India’s freedom was borne by the wives, mothers, and daughters, silently and cheerfully.
  • The programme of self-imposed poverty and periodical jail going was possible only because of the willing co-operation of the worker’s family. In the various resistance movements in the villages, the illiterate women played this passive but contributory part as comrades of their menfolk.
  • Most attribute the induction of women into freedom struggle only post the Non-Cooperation movement. But woman’s participation in India’s freedom struggle began as early as 1817 when Bhima Bai Holkar fought bravely against the British colonel Malcolm and defeated him in guerilla warfare.
  • In 1824 Rani Channama of Kittur resisted ate armed might of the East Indian Company.

Even after 68 years of independence when we Indians could feel the fervour and the resentment of the people who witnessed that era and even participated in the freedom process of India. People from all walks of life forgot all differences and came together from all walks of life and all classes of society be it men or women or youth all came on streets to fight for the freedom of their country.

We still read or hear with awe about courageous stories of freedom fighters of those times; they still fill our hearts with respect, courage and patriotism and leaves our eyes wet with tears.

Rani lakshmibai (19th November – 17th June 1858)-Women Freedom Fighters of India 

  • A name etched in history for her bravery forever.
  • She was the queen of Maratha ruled state of Jhansi.Rani of jhansi.jpg
  • She was the first prominent women freedom fighter, who participated in the first freedom rebellion of 1857.
  • She was not allowed to adopt a successor after his death by the British, and Jhansi was annexed.
  • British wanted to take over the princely state of Jhansi under the cover of “Doctrine of Lapse”.
  • Sir Hugh Rose came to capture the city of Jhansi in March 1858 but, the brave Lakshmibai announced to fight for freedom instead to surrender.
  • With the outbreak of the Revolt she became determined to fight back. She used to go into the battlefield dressed as a man.
  • Holding the reins of the horse in her mouth she used the sword with both hands. Under her leadership the Rani’s troops showed undaunted courage and returned shot for shot.
  • Considered by the British as the best and bravest military leader of rebels this sparkling epitome of courage died a hero’s death in the battlefield.

Begum Hazrat Mahal (1820- 7th April 1879)-Women Freedom Fighters of India 

  • She was another queen of a princely state who rebelled against the British East India Company.
  • She was also known as the Begum of Awadh.
  • She also played major role during the rebellion of 1857.
  • After death of her husband Nawab Wajid Ali Shah, she took over the affairs of state of Awadh.
  • During the rebellion the supporters of Begum seized control of Lucknow as an act of rebellion against British East India Company and declared her son, Bijris Qadra as the ruler of the state of Awadh, though later it was recaptured by the Company and Begum was exiled to Calcutta.
  • She drew everyone’s attention towards the demolishment of temples and mosques by the Company to make way for the construction of roads thus; hurting religious sentiments of Indians.
  • Karl Marx said about Begum that “during the national liberation uprising of 1857-1859 in India headed the rebels”.

Annie Besant (1st October 1857- 20th September 1933)-Women Freedom Fighters of India 

  • Though she was British socialist she was a supporter of Indian self-rule.
  • In 1890 she joined Theosophical society as a member and later became its president thus. She visited IndiaWomen Freedom Fighters of India - History Notes For IAS
  • She helped in the establishment of Central Hindu College, and Sind National Collegiate Board in Mumbai in 1902.
  • In 1914 when the world was witnessing World War I she started All India Home Rule League along with Lokmanya Tilak. This body had many branches in India which was active the whole year round and mobilized agitations and demonstrations demanding home rule in India.
  • She also joined Indian National Congress and once became president of the Congress for one year.
  • Her active participation in politics gave way to Indians to gain independence.

Kasturba Gandhi  –Women Freedom Fighters of India 

  • Affectionately called Ba, she was the wife of Mohandas Gandhi.
  • Being the better-half of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Kasturba Gandhi played role as a political activist who was fighting for civil rights as well as Indian independence.
  • She accompanied her husband to all demonstrations and movements and even took his place in his absence.Women Freedom Fighters of India - History Notes For IAS
  • She played the role of teaching Indians basic lesson of health, hygiene, discipline, reading, and writing due to lack of proper education to all.
  • She played an important role at the back stage of the freedom struggle.
  • She was a leader of Women’s Satyagraha for which she was imprisoned.
  • She helped her husband in the cause of Indigo workers in Champaran, Bihar and the No Tax Campaign in Kaira, Gujarat.
  • She was arrested twice for picketing liquor and foreign cloth shops, and in 1939 for participating in the Rajkot Satyagraha.

Aruna asaf Ali (16th July 1909- 26th July 1996)

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  • Participated in public processions during the Salt Satyagraha. She was arrested on the charge that she was a vagrant and hence not released in 1931 under the Gandhi-Irwin Pact which stipulated release of all political prisoners.
  • Other women co-prisoners refused to leave the premises unless she was also released and gave in only after Mahatma Gandhi intervened. A public agitation secured her release.
  • On August 8, 1942, the AICC passed the Quit India resolution at the Bombay session.Women Freedom Fighters of India - History Notes For IAS
  • The government responded by arresting the major leaders and all members of the Congress Working Committee and thus tried to pre-empt the movement from success.
  • A young Aruna Asaf Ali presided over the remainder of the session on 9 August and hoisted the Congress flag at the Gowalia Tank maidan.
  • This marked the commencement of the movement. The police fired upon the assembly at the session.
  • Aruna was dubbed the Heroine of the 1942 movement for her bravery in the face of danger and was called Grand Old Lady of the Independence movement in her later years.
  • Aruna Asaf Ali was awarded International Lenin Peace Prize for the year 1964. She was awarded India’s highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna, posthumously in 1997.

Madam Bhikaiji Cama

  • During the epidemic of bubonic plague that hit Mumbai in 1896, she herself got infected with the disease while providing aid to the others.
  • Throughout her life she struggled for Indian Independence from abroad as she was told by her acquaintances not to take part in freedom struggle if she comes back to India.
  • While working as secretary to Dadabhai Naoroji she supported the founding of Shyamji Krishna Verma’s Indian Home Rule Society.
  • On 22nd august 1907, she unfurled the Indian flag (Flag of Indian Independence) in Stutt gurt, Germany while attending the International Socialist Conference, there she made people aware of the aftermath of the famine that had hit the Indian Subcontinent and raised her voice for the human rights and equality in India.

Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit

  • Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit was sister of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and played crucial role in Indian politics.
  • She was the first women to become cabinet minister, she was designated the post of minister of local self-government and public health.
  • She is well known for her political and diplomatic role during the freedom struggle.
  • She was the first woman president of United Nations General Assembly.
  • She was also the first woman ambassador in the world who attained the position in three countries – Moscow, Washington and London.

Sucheta Kripalani

  • She was a freedom fighter and worked closely with Mahatma Gandhi during Partition riots in India.
  • She also played major role in politics by joining Indian National Congress.
  • During the formation of constitution of India she was elected as a member of the drafting committee of Constituent assembly.
  • Another feather to her cap is attached when she sang “Vande Mataram” in the Constituent Assembly.
  • She was also elected as the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh state after independence.

DurgaBai Deshmukh

  • She was a follower of Mahatma Gandhi and thus; played active role in Gandhi Satyagraha movement and played role of Indian struggler, a lawyer, a social activist and a politician.
  • She was a Lok Sabha member as well as member of Planning Commission of India.
  • While being member of Planning Commission she launched a Central Social Welfare Board through which she improved condition of education, women, children, handicap and rehabilitation of needy persons.

Usha Mehta

  • She was one of the youngest freedom fighters of the Indian freedom movement. She was hardly five years old when she met Gandhi and was inspired by his ideals.
  •  At the age of 8, she participated in the ‘Simon Go Back’ protest.
  • A very great contribution to her credit is the origination of Congress Radio also known as Secret Congress Radio, which was an underground radio station which was active for few months during the Quit India Movement.
  • Due to this clandestine activity she was imprisoned in Yeravda Jail of Pune.