The Indian women’s movement can only grow by being inclusive

Synopsis: While learning from previous generations, feminists today must continue to make room for the concerns of persons from different backgrounds and social groups.


Recently, Kamala Bhasin, an Indian developmental feminist activist, has passed away. One of her renowned quotes is the “definition of gender means the socio-cultural definition of a girl and boy, man and woman, it doesn’t mean caste, it doesn’t mean race.” This has opened the various debate on how to perceive these words.

What is the difference between the Feminist movement of past and present?

Movement in the 1970s and 1980s: Priority was to make women the focus of politics and demands for justice in various contexts. Their important goal was to show that women had certain common experiences due to patriarchal social structures.

Today: Women of different social backgrounds experience the world differently. So, they connect with others according to their views. Among the many ways, most popular today is intersectionality.

In the words of critical race scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw, it is how black women’s experiences were shaped by them being Black and women and were different from the experiences of both Black men and non-Black women

In India also, the same structure has been followed. Therefore, to understand this feminist ideology, India has to understand how it is shaped by other social structures.

What are the different shifts seen in the feminist movement of India?

During the last few decades, it was seen that feminists are organizing around particular issues and identities rather than simply as “women”. For example, Dalit and Muslim women have formed their own organizations and networks. It could be because they understand their issues well.

Over the time, it has been realized that people of all backgrounds and social groups need and deserve equal attention from the feminist movement. It is contradictory to Bhasin’s comment that feminism is about getting rid of patriarchy and that transgender and ecological issues are separate from it.

Source: This post is based on the article “The Indian women’s movement can only grow by being inclusivepublished in Indian Express on 7th October 2021.

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