Women empowerment and Gandhi: A legacy

Brindha Vinodh

By Brindha Vinodh

Does a man aristocratic and magnanimous in his notions and visions yet simple and humble in his pragmatic lifestyle need any introduction?  Yes, Mohandas Karam Chand Gandhi needs no introduction for his quintessential integrity, yet what makes this essay essential is the need to carry forward his legacy to the burgeoning generations and establish the values of his scrupulous virtues and broad perceptions that he envisaged for women relevant to the contemporary era. We have known him as the father of our nation, as a freedom fighter, as a man of non-violence but his role in the upliftment of women has been less talked about. A subtle exploration!
He was way ahead of his times in terms of his images and the indelible impressions and impact that women could leave. To quote Gandhi himself, “To call women the weaker sex is a libel; It is man’s injustice to women.” Even now when in remote villages, we hear of a random Gowry being ill-treated for lack of dowry or a Rathi being plunged into the pyres of her husband in the name of ‘sati,’ Gandhi was liberal enough to take pivotal roles in emancipating women from such social evils. To him, women were not to be confined to the ‘purdahs’ of the taboos but set free from the cages of confinement.
He was one of the pioneers in encouraging women’ participation in politics. Politics even today remains a male-dominated domain. But, he encouraged women to participate in the freedom movements of India. Whilst Sarojini Naidu, Lakshmi Sehgal and a few others made to the list of top women fighters, many women remain as unsung warriors. Many women participated in public processions, meetings and gatherings to boycott the influence of the British products. A gentleman who gently made the progress of women into the arena of politics a pragmatic one, breaking the shackles of an orthodox landscape.
His role in the economic independence of women is commendable. The earliest forms started in the form of spinning, weaving and other domestic activities that could earn the women of his times a mention in economic realms. Although they were meant to supplement the income of men, to him, a woman was  a complement of man. He definitely laid the foundation stone for the economic ladders of women. 
So, what do we interpret and conclude? His principles hold relevance even today for can anyone dare to say that a “woman can go alone in the midnight wearing her jewels?” If the answer is a ‘No’, I am sure his virtues, values and visions still hold relevance. To quote him again, as long as there is a “vicious, brutal and barbarous practice” of a different dimension going on against women, his story shall continue to be depicted in the pages of History. When his birthday becomes a day of his wishes fully fulfilled than yet another holiday, India shall see the dawn of his dreams.

BIO: Brindha Vinodh is a postgraduate in Econometrics. A former copyeditor and a freelancer, she is a writer within. Her poems and short stories have been widely published in magazines, e-zines, literary journals and she has contributed to several anthologies.  She currently resides in the USA with her family. 

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