The struggle of women in the freedom movement often gets lost in the telling of these narratives, the sacrifice and efforts of thousands of Indian women is overlooked. When many male freedom fighters were imprisoned women took charge and led the fight for freedom.
Bhikaji Rustom Cama was born in 1861 in Mumbai. She was social worker and philanthropist. Cama was exiled to Europe and was told that the only way she could return to India is if she swore to not take part in the freedom movement, refusing to do so she continued her work from Europe throughout her life. She travelled to Stuttgart, Germany to hoist the Indian flag of Independence during the international socialist conference, 1907.
Many of us know about Jyotirao Phule but how many people have at least heard about Savitribai Phule, his wife. Savitribai Phule born in 1831 is known as one of India’s early feminists. She opposed child marriage and discrimination based on gender and caste. Savitribai along with her husband started ashram for widowed women and the first women’s school in Bhide Wada, Pune. She also work relentlessly to uplift the ‘untouchables’.
3.Capt. Laxmi Sehgal
Capt. Laxmi Sehgal was born in a Hindu family. Growing up having witnessed people of so called lower castes being treated badly led her to fight against the caste system in India. Later on in life she was moved by the nationalist sentiment and countries call for freedom. She had studied medicine and was working in Singapore when she met Subhash Chandra bose and was fascinated by his ideas, she later joined and lead his womens regiment, hence Captain Laxmi Sehgal. She was arrested by the British Army in 1946 but was released a few months later. After Independence she open a clinic in Kanpur and treated poor people, free of cost.
4.Begum Hazrat Mahal
Hazrat Mahal was the second wife of Wajid Ali Shah, the Shah of Awadh. After her husband was exiled to Calcutta by the end of 1857 rebellion she took matters of the state into her own hands, she not only defeated Britishers but also managed to reinstate her son on the thrown of Awadh. She even organised an army of women and made Uda Devi its commander.
She was born as Bhavani Golikeri in1892, Mangalore. She was an active part of freedom struggle for around 50 years. Married at the age of 13, her father-in- law was a progressive man who encouraged her to study further. Her husband died when she was 25. She was the founder of ‘Bhagini Mandal’ and played a significant role in the women’s wing of Seva Dal. She believed in educating other women and was a part of the school Tilak Kanya Shala. Her father started the Karnataka press, she joined the press team.
Umabai used to give shelter to freedom fighter from the Britishers and was arrested for being a part of the freedom movement. When she was in jail British declared her NGO Bhagini Mandal as unlawful,sealed down the Tilak Kanya Shala and Karnataka press.