Feminism in the Indian Context

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Feminism in India is a set of movements aimes at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights and equal opportunities for Indian women. It is the pursuit of women’s rights. within the society of India. Like their feminist counterparts all over the world, feminists in India seek gender equality; the right to work for equal wages, the right to equal access to health and education, and equal political rights. Indian feminists also have fought against culture-specific issues within India’s patriarchal society, such as inheritance laws and the practice of widow immolation known as Sati.

The history of feminism in India can be divided into three phases; the first phase, beginning in the mid eighteenth century, initiated when male European colonists began to speak out against the social evils of Sati; the second phase, from 1915 to Indian independence, when Gandhi incorporated women’s movements into the Quit India Movement and independent women’s organisations began to emerge; and finally, the third phase, post-independence, which has focused on fair treatment of women at home after marriage, in the work force and right to political parity.

Despite the progress made by Indian feminist movements, women living in modern India still face many issues of discrimination. India’s patriarchal culture has made the process of gaining land-ownership rights and access to education challenging. In the past two decades, there has also emerged a trend of sex selective abortion. To Indian feminists, these are seen as injustices worth struggling against.

As in the West, there has been some criticism of feminist movements in India. They have especially been criticised for focusing too much on women already privileged, and neglecting the needs and representation of poorer or lower caste women. This has led to the creation of caste-specific feminist organisations and movements.

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