In News: 8th of March was marked worldwide as International Women’s Day (IWD). It is the 109th year of the celebration of the event.
- The IWD 2020 campaign theme is “#EachforEqual”. The United Nations theme for the same is “I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights”.
Purpose behind celebrating IWD
The official IWD website describes the event as
- A global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.
- The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.
History of International Women’s Day
- The origins of the IWD are rooted in the labour movement.
- In 1908, 15,000 women protested in New York City demanding better working conditions and voting rights.
- A year later, the Socialist Party of America passed a declaration, and the first National Woman’s Day (NWD) was observed across the United States on 28 February. The NWD was celebrated on the last Sunday of February until 1913.
- At the second International Conference of Working Women held in 1910, the German Marxist and women’s rights activist Clara Zetkin proposed the celebration of February 28 as Women’s Day in every country.
- The conference, which consisted of unions, socialist parties, working women’s clubs and female legislators, unanimously approved the suggestion – thus resulting in International Women’s Day being honoured for the first time in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland in 1911.
- In 1913, the date for IWD was shifted to March 8, and it remains as the official date to this day.
In the coming years, the IWD served as a rallying point for many movements.
- In 1914, women across Europe held marches against World War I (1914-1918).
- In the same year, female activists in the UK led demonstrations demanding voting rights on this day.
- In 1917, in response to the death of over 20 lakh soldiers in the War, Russian women began a strike for “bread and peace”.
- The strike led to the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II. The provisional government established in Russia granted women the right to vote.
Women Freedom Fighters:
- She was the first woman in independent India who joined the Cabinet as the Health Minister and remained in that position for 10 years.
- She laid the foundations of:
- The Indian Council for Child Welfare.
- The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS)
- Lady Irwin College,Delhi
- All India Women’s Conference Center
Role in freedom struggle:
- Mahatma Gandhi’s Secretary
- She participated in the civil disobedience movement in the 1930s.
- Kaur was jailed after the Quit India movement.
- Her determination had Mahatma Gandhi write to her in October, 1936 saying, I am now in search of a woman who would realise her mission. Are you that woman, will you be one?
- Social work:
- Kaur also worked on the purdah system, child marriage and the Devadasi system.
- Equality for women: She was not in favour of reservations for women and believed that universal adult franchise would open the doors for women to enter into the legislative and administrative institutions of the country.
- She was in favour of Uniform Civil code.
- She was also known as Sarala Devi Chaudhurani.
- She was born in September 1872 to Swarnakumari Devi, Tagore’s elder sister, and Janakinath Ghoshal, one of the founding members of the Indian National Congress.
Role in freedom struggle:
- She authored a book titled ‘Ahitagnika’ for school students to generate awareness concerning the freedom struggle and also launched an underground revolutionary group.
- She created the musical composition for Bankim Chandra Chatterjee’s “Vande Mataram”
- She promoted the use of Swadeshi products.
- In 1910, she founded the ‘Bharat Stree Mahamandal’, the All India Women’s Organization, a semi-revolutionary group with branches across the Indian subcontinent.
- She also worked for widows in an association named “Vidhwa Shilpashram”, where widows were given education and skills to help them find employment.
- In 1919, in the aftermath of the Jallianwallah Bagh massacre, she and her husband were arrested because several articles critical of the British were published in the weekly newspaper ‘Hindusthan’ published by them.
- She was also deeply influenced by Subhash Chandra Bose’s political views of achieving freedom only through violence against the British.
- She was a member of the Chatri Sangha revolutionary society.
- Her parents, Beni Madhab Das and Sarala Devi, were idealistic and politically aware.
- After the 1928 session of the Congress Bina joined a circle of revolutionaries whose leader was Bhupal Bose.
- In 1932 she catapulted herself into history by attempting to shoot the Governor of Bengal, Stanley Jackson, at the convocation where she was to receive her degree.
- She was caught and sentenced to rigorous imprisonment.
- After her early release in 1939, Das joined the Congress party.
- In 1942, she participated in the Quit India movement and was imprisoned again from 1942–45.
- From 1946–47, she was a member of the Bengal Provincial Legislative Assembly and, from 1947–51, of the West Bengal Legislative Assembly.
- Some years later, in 1941, she became the secretary of the South Kolkata Congress Committee, and in 1940 she accompanied Gandhiji to Noakhali during riots.
- Award: She won the Padma Shri award in 1960 for her "Social Work".
- Works: Bina Das wrote two autobiographical works in Bengali: Shrinkhal Jhankar and Pitridhan.
Bharat stree Mahamandal
- It was the first women's organisation in India founded by Sarala Devi Chaudhurani in Allahabad in 1910. One of the primary goals of the organisation was to promote female education, which at that time was not well developed. The organisation opened several offices during British rule
All India Women’s Conference
- The All India Women's Conference (AIWC) was founded in 1927 in Pune in order to promote women and children's education and social welfare.
- The idea for the AIWC emerged in 1926, at the suggestion of Irish-born theosophist and feminist Margaret Cousins.
- The first meeting held in Poona saw 2,000 attendees who met at the Fergusson College Hall at Poona University.
- Amrit Kaur was one of the founding members of AIWC.One of the first secretaries of AIWC was Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay.