Political Feminism in India: An Analysis of Actors, Debates and Strategies
Political Feminism in India An Analysis of Actors, Debates and Strategies; ISBN 978-969-9675-06-5
53 Pages Posted: 5 Jun 2018
Date Written: October 25, 2017
The last 50 years of feminist activism in India has managed to challenge the 5,000 years of patriarchal order. The main achievements were the deconstruction of violence against women, questioning of male domination within the family, kinship, religion, media and the State, in addition to a series of legal reforms. Understanding of privilege to reshape the world has been the distinct contribution of the feminist movement along with the focus on the marginalised.
The feminist space in India is distinctive and builds upon a diversity of women’s groups, political party networks, feminist and HIV/AIDS-related NGOs, nonfunded feminist and queer groups and individuals, democratic rights groups, eco-feminists, non-feminists, research institutes and universities. Despite the broad experience, this space remains rather disunited.
Currently, there is a backlash to feminism, as major insights of women’s activism did not succeed in altering the fixed notions of gender roles and traditions. On the contrary, some of these have enjoyed a revival with marketisation and cultural traditionalism. There is a disconnect between theory and practice: study groups and human rights activists seem to work in silos, unlike in the 1970s when there was greater dialogue between the women’s movement and women’s studies. The gendering of citizenship requires us to question and challenge the fact that citizenship, a supposedly public identity, is produced and mediated by the supposedly private heterosexual patriarchal family. The ‘personal’ has become ‘political’ as it is completely submerged in power relations. Like any other structure of power, patriarchy too has an outside, which is what makes possible the different kinds of protests that constantly undermine it.
Feminism today is the constant questioning of the world we perceive and the boundaries we encounter. The more we understand, the more we are able to build a narrative for change. There are innumerable new energies arising from different positions transforming the feminist field: new contestations of patriarchy, and new contestations of the normative feminism itself. It will be the interplay of fields that might change the system altogether.
Keywords: feminism, women's rights movement, violence against women, patriarchy, structure of power
JEL Classification: Z18
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation