6 reasons why BR Ambedkar should be a feminist icon for everyone

BR Ambedkar can very well be recognized as one of the first feminists of modern India.

Dipannita Saha Dipannita Saha
अप्रैल 14, 2017
Ambedkar was a great supporter of women's right even in his youth. Photo Courtesy: Facebook/MaryadaAmbedkar

Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar or popularly known as Baba Saheb, was many things. He was the architect of Indian Constitution, a revered socialist, historian, political thinker, and an economist.

But did you know that he was a feminist too? You heard it right. In fact, Ambedkar was a great supporter of women's liberation, who questioned the ancient Hindu code book, Manu Smriti that categorized women as the lowest rung of humanity.

On his 126th birth anniversary, we bring you six facts that prove that he was a man way ahead of his times and that his views on feminism should be revered every day.

He Believed Women Have A Great Role To Play In Improving The Condition Of The Society
The Mahad Satyagraha led by him on 20 March 1927 witnessed participation of over 300 women along with their male counterparts.

He said, "I strongly believe in movements run by women. If they are truly taken into confidence, they may change the present picture of society which is very miserable. In past, they have played a significant role in improving the conditions of weaker sections and classes."

He Pushed For Maternity Rights
Ambedkar was the first person to recognize, push for and attain maternity benefits for women in the country. In 1929, Bombay Legislature became the first to incorporate maternity benefits for women factory workers, all thanks to him.

Ambedkar with Dalit women, ahead of the 1942 Nagpur national convention of Dalits. Photo Courtesy: Facebook/AmbedkarQuotes Ambedkar with Dalit women, ahead of the 1942 Nagpur national convention of Dalits. Photo Courtesy: Facebook/AmbedkarQuotes

He Was A Beacon Of Light For Women Labourers
He was the chair of the Labour Council. And he made sure that the women labourers were never denied their rights. He brought in many progressive changes, which include Women Labour Welfare Fund; Women and Child, Labour Protection Act; Restoration of Ban on Employment of Women on Underground Work in Coal Mines; and Equal pay for equal work irrespective of gender.

And you thought the fight for equal pay in India was a fad!

As A Dalit Leader, He Made Sure Dalit Women Were Never Left Behind
Ambedkar was very vocal about his absolute contempt for caste and identity politics. In fact, Dalit feminism, a branch of feminism in academic discourse that studies the intersectionality between caste, class and gender oppression, takes its inspiration from him.

His Feminism Started Early--At His Home
After his mother's death, he worked hard to educate his two sisters. He even wrote a letter to his father's friend at the age of 25, citing the importance of educating girls and boys both equally. He said, "We shall see better days soon and our progress will be greatly accelerated if male education is persuaded side by side with female education."

After his mother's death, Ambedkar worked hard to educate his two sisters. Photo Courtesy: Facebook/AmbedkarQuotes After his mother's death, Ambedkar worked hard to educate his two sisters. Photo Courtesy: Facebook/AmbedkarQuotes

He Made Sure Women's Right Were Never Compromised
When he was appointed as the chairman of the Drafting Committee to write the Constitution, he used this opportunity to include special provisions for securing women's rights.

These provisions included equal rights and opportunities in all spheres, equal means of livelihood, and allocation of seats in Panchayati Raj institutions among others.

It can be rightly said that Ambedkar had the rare foresight for empowering women as the panacea to all social evils and achieving gender equality. Although gender disparity is still a far cry, we can all take inspiration from this man.

 

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