Women Social Warriors - 1
In order to bring a change in society, revolution is a must. And to ignite a revolution, fiery souls are a must. India has been blessed enough to witness some such zestful women personalities who dedicated their lives towards transforming the society for the better. Had it not been for these strong-willed, noble-hearted females, perhaps we wouldn’t have come so far.
a. Mother Teresa : She established the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta in the year 1950 with an aim to help the sick and the poor. It later spread its expanse to other parts of the country and now has over 500 centres in more than 100 countries. Considered to be an epitome of compassion, humility and sympathy, she devoted her life towards the cause of the disabled and the destitute. She also opened a hospice called ‘Shanti Nagar’ for the patients of leprosy and ‘Nirmala Shishu Bhavan’ for orphans and homeless children. She was honoured with the Nobel Peace prize, the Padma Shree and the Bharat Ratna for her selfless service towards the underprivileged, apart from many other awards and recognitions.
b. Kiran Bedi : A retired IPS officer, she has not only had remarkable contributions in the police force, but also in the field of social activism. She has founded two NGOs in India- Navjyoti and India Vision Foundation. The latter deals with reforming the prison inmates in terms of drug abuse, etc. During her tenure, she has also initiated detoxification programmes, Vipassana meditation, yoga asanas, literacy programmes in jail etc. Her post-retirement website, aims to help people whose complaints are not accepted by the local police. She is also one of the prominent members of the India Against Corruption (IAC) initiative along with Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal.
c. Maneka Gandhi : A politician, animal rights activist, former journalist and environmentalist, she is hugely responsible for bringing the animal rights issue to the forefront. Her organization, People for Animals (since 1992) is the largest one for animal welfare in India. She also runs an NGO by the same name, that has its shelters all across India. Having also authored a few books on the same area, she has had her hand in introducing several legislations for animals, and the formation of National Zoo Authority for the regulation of the zoos. She has also received a number of awards for her remarkable contribution in the field.
d. Aruna Roy : Born in the late 1940s, she founded the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (“Workers and Peasants Strength Union”). She was best known as a prominent leader of the Right to Information movement. Having been a part of the Social Work and Research Centre, Tilonia (Rajasthan), she later served as a member of the National Advisory Council. In 2000, she received the Ramon Magsaysay Award for community leadership, besides other such recognitions.
e. Kulsumben Sayani : The mission of her life was to propagate adult literacy, especially amongst the conservative women of the Muslim community. Born in 1990, she started literacy work at a grass-roots level, with a meagre sum of money and few other women. However, gradually her efforts stared taking a concrete shape in the form of journals, lectures etc. and later she became the Honorary Secretary of the All India Women’s Conference. She took up the principle of ‘each one teach one’ and eventually she was appointed as the member of the National Committee on Women’s Education. She has represented India on many prestigious educational programmes conducted by international organizations such as UNESCO and others. As recognition of her services she was awarded the Nehru Literacy Award.
It is largely due to these women and many others that society has ridden itself of many of its loopholes over the course of many years. If women continue to exhibit their mettle in the field of social activism, the world will continuously grow into a better, more beautiful place.