“But though no hand unsanctioned dares
Unveil the mysteries of her grace,
Time lifts the curtain unawares,
And sorrow looks into her face—
Who shall prevent the subtle years,
Or shield a woman’s eyes from tears?”
– Sarojini Naidu
(THE PARDAH NASHIN)
Dr. Sachchidananda Sinha once called Sarojini Naidu to address the House during a Constituent Assembly, “I shall now request Bulbul-i-Hind, the Nightingale of India, to address the house.” A poet, orator, freedom fighter and an advocate of women’s right – she played many roles during her life. Working towards achieving a better India, she, with her poetry, raised her voice and represented change. From representing India at international forums, writing momentous poetry, braving the British’s lathicharge, and fighting for women’s rights, Naidu did it all. Her birth anniversary i.e 13th February, marks the celebration of women. The day is tagged as National Women’s Day of India.
Sarojini Naidu actively participated in the freedom struggle. Through her wit and charm, she made a separate affectionate corner in the hearts of many people. Women, public and political leaders were in awe of her personality.
“Bulbul ko gul mubarak, gul ko chaman mubarak, Rangeen tabiaton ko rang-e-sukhan mubarak.”
Born to a Bengali family, Naidu was never appealed by a life confined to domesticity and traditions. She became a household name after joining the non-cooperation movement. She was the second woman President of Indian National Congress. Naidu and the father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi were close and used to work together alot. She admired him and referred to their friendship as “real comradeship”.
Even after achieving independence in 1947, she remained an active part of Indian politics. She was the first woman Governor of the then United Provinces — from 15 August, 1947 till her death on 3 March, 1949.
WOMEN WHO HAVE LED TO CHANGE
Inspired by Bulbul-I-Hind, many Indian women opted the path of activism and led to change in the country. Naidu’s dedication, strength, and ability to bring change motivated masses.
Here’s a list of women who have contributed to the country’s progress through their social roles –
- Kamala Bhasin – Working consistently on subjects of gender equality, education, poverty alleviation, human rights, and peace, she is a social scientist, poet, and development feminist. She envisions a feminist movement that transcends class, borders, and other social and political divisions. Her powerful written works have enabled the people of the country to fight against injustice.
- Viji Penkoottu – Viji Penkoottu is a women rights activist and human rights activist from Kerala. She has fought against rights of saleswomen and launched a campaign in order to fight for their basic rights. She struggled for eight years to get the Kerala Shops and Commercial Establishments (Amendments) Act, 2018, passed which accounted for flexible working hours and a place to sit for women.
- Vrinda Grover – Vrinda, as recognized by TIME Magazine (2013), is one of the most influential lawyer and human rights activist. Her struggle and power, both indicate a trail of change. With her handling of several major cases such as 1984 riot, she has become a name in the media and among the women of the country.
- Indira Jaising – yourstory.com describes Jaising as “A lawyer and human rights activist, Indira Jaising has been called ‘formidable’ by many especially when recounting her efforts in framing of the Domestic Violence Act (2005). Founder of the Lawyer’s Collective, Indira started her legal practice in the early 1960s and has been working tirelessly for the past 53 years.”
- Aruna Roy – With tireless efforts, Aruna Roy played a crucial role in bringing Right to Information Act to life with several others. Her activism made her the winner of Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership in 2000.
- Pramila Nesargi – Pramila, the first graduate in her family is a renowned lawyer and women rights activist. She is the first women as well to hold the position of the Chairman of the Bar Association, Karnataka. She heads a special trust dedicated towards uplifting women and development of children.
- Vandana Shiva – A tireless environmental activist, Vandana Shiva is a fierce opposer of the concept of globalisation. An eco-activist campaining against genetically modified seeds, she is the receiver of Right Livelihood Award 2010.
This list is never ending as there are many women in the country working for the upliftment and betterment of our society. It is due to their collective efforts that our country is tirelessly progressing day and night.
NATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY
Malala Yousafzai, an activist and the youngest Nobel Prize laureate once said, “If one man can destroy everything, why can’t one girl change it?”
The world is forever grateful to strong women who stand against the wrong and raise voices for the right. Women’s contribution to activism is unparalleled and so is there role in human life.
Thanking all women in our lives this National Women’s Day.
Happy Birthday Bulbul-i-Hind.