Eternal Gandhi - Gender Equality

Eternal Gandhi: Gender Equality

  • Gandhi forcefully advocated various rights of women, which would put them on par with men in all spheres of life.
  • He believed in gender equality, which was based on non-violence. For him, non-violence meant a capacity for infinite love and conversely a capacity for infinite suffering, which according to him, was possible only for women. He believed that both men and women have the same soul dwelling in their bodies and since the soul is sexless, hence men and women are perfectly equal. In fact, he went on to say that in terms of morality women were superior to men. He stood for equal opportunities for women in education, which would help them to know their rights and assert their rightful place in society. However, they should also be taught about household affairs and the rearing of children as these two remained their prime responsibilities.
  • Gandhi also insisted that there should be no legal disability against women in laws related to property inheritance and job opportunities. They should be regarded as legal co-sharers in their husband's property. He wanted a husband to treat his wife as an 'Ardhangini' and 'Sahdharmini', a comrade in life, having the same privileges as himself.
  • Despite his concern that economic independence of women may bring a disruption in their household duties, he advocated activities such as spinning for women which would help supplement the family income. He stood for equal payment to women. He also wanted women to get voting rights just like men. He wanted parents to bring up their sons and daughters as equals.
  • It was at Gandhi's call that Indian women stepped out of their homes in large numbers to participate in the freedom movement and among various things, they were at the forefront in Gandhi's constructive programme.
  • In keeping with Gandhi's vision, on 22 January 2015, the government of India launched a programme called 'Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao' which can be translated as Save the daughter, educate the daughter. It aims to generate awareness and improve the efficiency of welfare services intended for girls, by bringing the issue of declining child sex ratio to the forefront. It aims to create equal value for the girl child and promote her education through sustained social mobilization and communication campaigns.