ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Madhu KishwarSubscribe to Madhu Kishwar

Gandhi on Women

Madhu Kishwar This article reviews and analyses the role of Gandhi indrawing a large number of women into the mainstream of the freedom movement Gandhi's ideas about women and their role in public life was a departure from those of the 10th century reformers. He saw women use potential force in the struggle to build a new social order He consciously' attempted to articulate the connections between private and public life in order to bring women into the struggle, However, he failed to come to terms with the fact that oppression is not a -vorat condition but a social and historical experience relating to production relations. On the other hand even while insisting that a woman's real sphere of activity was the home, he was instrumental in creating conditions which could help women break the shackles of domesticity:

Gandhi on Women

This article reviews and analyses the role of Gandhi in drawing a large number of women into the mainstream of the freedom movement. Gandhi's ideas about women and their role in public life was a departure from those of the 19th century reformers. He saw women as a potential force in the struggle to build a new social order. He consciously attempted to articulate connections between private and public life in order to bring women into the struggle. However, he failed to come to terms with the fact that oppression is not a moral condition but a social and historical experience relating to production relations. On the other hand even while insisting that a woman's real sphere of activity was the home, he was instrumental in creating conditions which could help women break the shackles of domesticity [The first two parts of the article which deal with Gandhi's views on the nature of women's oppression and the influence his ideas had in drawing women into the freedom movement are published in this issue. The third part, which reviews his personal relationships with women will appear next week] "WHEN woman, whom we call abala becomes sabala, all those who are helpless will become powerful!"1 This message of Gandhi to the All India Women's Conference in 1936 reflects the crucial importance Gandhi gave to the issue of women's freedom and strength in the struggle to build a humane and exploitation- free society. Gandhi saw women not as objects of reform and humanitarianism but as self conscious subjects who could, if they choose, become arbiters of their own destiny. In this way, Gandhi represents a crucial break from the attitude of many of the leaders of the reform movements of the late nineteenth century, who tended to see women as passive recipients of more humane treatment through the initiative of enlightened male effort.

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