Movements for the Emancipation of Women: The Contribution of M. G. Rained

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The Contribution of M. G. Rained (1842 – 1901)

M. G. Remade joined the Widow Remarriage Association in Maharashtra and championed the cause of widow remarriage. He also opposed child marriages. He helped pandit Ramabai in establishing Shard Sedan (a widow՚s home) and supported her in taking up the cause of women) .

The Contribution of Swami Dayanand and Vivekananda

  • Swami Dayanand encouraged female education and widow remarriage. He condemned child marriages, polygamy and the custom of dowry. The Arya Samaj founded by him also championed the cause of women and stressed the equality of men and women.
  • Vivekananda was of the view that the women could become powerful regenerative forces in the society.

The Role of Sir Slayed Ahmad Khan (1817 – 1989)

  • The spread of education among the Muslims was slow. Sir Slayed Ahmad Khan and other Muslim reformers advocated it as back as the end of the nineteenth century. Since then the tendency has been towards a steady growth of women՚s education among the Muslims.
  • He also criticized the systems of purdah and polygamy among the Muslims. In his opinion, the custom of easy divorce by simply repeating the word ‘divorce’ thrice, was an injustice to the women and was illogical.

The Contribution of D. K. Carve (1858 – 1962)

He took up the cause of widow remarriage in Maharashtra. Her also established homes for the widows and schools for the girls. He founded the first women՚s university in Bombay in 1916. As a widower, he refused to marry a teenager and married a Brahman widow. He also served as the secretary of Widow Remarriage Association.

Legislation and Women՚S Emancipation

  • First important legislation was the abolition of sati in 1829 during the governor- generalship of Lord William Bentinck. This law was initially meant for Bengal but in 1803, it was extended in a modified form to the Bombay and Madras Presidencies. Another landmark legislation was the legalization of widow remarriage in 1856 in the form of widow Remarriage Act. Ishtar Chandra Vidyasagar played the most significant role in persuading the British government to introduce this legislation. In 1870, an act was passed to make it compulsory for parents to register the birth of children. The main objective of this Act was to discourage the practice of female infanticide which was prevalent in some communities. In 1872 Civil Marriage Act or Native Marriage Act was passed which forbade the marriage of girls below the age of 14 and of boys below the age of 18. However, this Act had various limitations and did not make much impact on society.
  • Ultimately, as a result of the crusading zeal of the Paris reformer B. M. Balearic, the British Indian Government was compelled to pass the famous Age of Consent Act in 1891 which forbade the marriage of girls below the age of 12 (the minimum age of marriage for girls was raised from 10 to 12) . It must be borne in mind that the British Government generally avoided introducing legislation for the improvement in the condition of women for the fear of antagonizing the orthodoxy sections of the Indian society. Legislation such as abolition of sati (1829) _, Widow Remarriage Act 1856) and the Age of Consent Act (1891) became possible due to enormous pressure exerted by reformers such as Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Ishtar Chandra Vidyasagar and B. M. / Malabar. The famous nationalist leader Bal Gangadhar Tikal opposed the Age of Consent Bill on the ground that British Government had no right to interfere into the internal matters of the Hindu society and argued that it was a matter for Hindus themselves to decide.
  • It was only in 1929 that a decisive step was taken to strike a blow at the harmful custom of child marriage. The Shard Act (also called the Child Marriage Restrain Act) passed in that year raised the marriage age for girls to fourteen and for boys to eighteen. This Act was sponsored by Her Bolas Shard. The public opinion in favor of introducing this Act was created by the All India Women ′ (AIWC) also resisted the move of some orthodox to amend the Shard Act. After independence, the Hindu Code Bill (1955) and Kamala Act have granted women equal right to inherit the paternal property along with the male children. The Hindu Code Bill also made monogamy mandatory for both men and women, permitted dissolution of marriage. The Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Act, 1978 raised the age of marriage for girls and boys from 15 and 18 years to 18 and 21 years respectively.

Birth of Women՚S Movement

The steps taken by the nineteenth and early twentieth century reforms in the sphere of women՚s upliftment led to considerable improvement in the condition and status of women. Many women like Annie Besant (who was the leading figure of the Theosophical Society, who founded the Home Rule League Movement and who became the Congress President in 1917) and Sarojini Naidu (elected Congress President in 1925) became important leaders of the national movement. During various nationalist agitations, the women volunteers picketed shops which were selling liquor.

Birth of Women՚S Movement
  • The women also took part in the boycott of foreign goods and also in the Non- Cooperation, Civil Disobedience and Quit India Movements. Sister Subbalakshmi (1886 – 1969 (was the first Hindu widow in the Madras Presidency to study for her graduation. She also worked for the upliftment of women. She was actively associated with All India Women՚s Conference founded a quarterly journal Roshni and in 1946, it set up its central office.
  • Another important women reformer was Dr. Muthulakshmi Redid. She became a member of the Madras Legislative Council in 1927. As a result of the strenuous agitation of Dr. Muthulakshmi Redid and other reformers, an Act was passed in 1925 which extended to the devadasis sections of the penal Code which made traffic in minors a criminal offence.

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