Even before the term feminism was introduced, we had some great feminist icons in our culture and history. Draupadi, a woman born out of the fire, avenged the humiliation she met in the Mahabharata. In the Ramayana, Sita fought for her independence and raised her two sons single-handedly. Chand Bibi and Rani Lakshmi Bai are other examples of immense power and courage.
Although the current wave of feminism is still in its nascent stage in India, women are using the digital forum to demand accountability from their governments and leaders. In India, digital feminist movements largely rely on social media platforms. In 2012, in the aftermath of the death of a 23-year-old rape victim in Delhi, widespread protests broke out under the ‘Nirbhaya movement’. The protests spread to social media as well. This online rage along with the street protests grabbed global attention. Subsequently, India’s rape laws were amended to expand the definition of rape, the punishment for rape convicts was revised to a prolonged life term and even the death penalty, and stringent punishments were determined for offenses like acid attacks and stalking. In 2017, the #LahuKaLagaan hashtag took over on Twitter to campaign against the 12% tax on sanitary napkins, with the “period tax” being scrapped in 2018 as a result of the movement.
Why is feminism crucial for a country like India? Feminism is multicultural, the needs of women who live in different countries are dissimilar, and they are conditioned by several factors like societal, marital, economic, cultural, and individual consciousness.
India needs feminism because:
· a woman is treated with contempt whether she is employed or not.
· A woman deserves the same amount of money and respect as a man does for performing the same tasks.
· We have maligned the purity of something as natural as menstruation and turned it into something unmentionable.
· No man should be under the pressure of being emotionally and physically stronger than a woman.
· Girls are shunned for their choice of clothing.
It’s time we recognize that feminism isn’t about making women strong. Women already are strong. It’s about changing the way the world perceives this strength. Nobody should be afraid of being referred to as a feminist because it frees both men and women from the imposed gender stereotypes.