Involvement of large numbers of women in the nationalist movement began with the Rowlatt Act of 1919 by the British Govt., Known commonly as the Seditious Meeting Act, it was an attempt to extend wartime restrictions on civil rights into peacetime allowing detention without trials for possession of  tracts officially declared seditious.   Massive protests were organized and Gandhi emerged as a national leader of a non-violent resistance movement and encouraged women to join and court arrest by distributing banned literature.  Women organized hartals, work stoppage.  Martial law was declared and the brutal tragedy at Amritsar occurred when General Dyer ordered his troops to fire into an unarmed crowd of men and women gathered for a peaceful meeting within the walled space of Jallianwala Bagh. Villages were bombed.

Women freedommovement

The women who got organized behind the civil disobedience movement Satyagraha in 1920-1921 had among them migrant workers and middle-class housewives. They hawked khadi (handloomed cloth) and charkhas (spinningwheels) on the streets to raise funds, held bonfires of imported cloth, and picketed liquor shops. They were delegates at Congress Party sessions, presided over committee sessions.  They were activists at the Flag Satyagraha against the British Government that levied punitive taxes on basic necessities such as salt, and banned the Congress activists flag which displayed the charkha (spinning wheel) as a national symbol.

The Poet Subramanya Bharati composed poems exhorting women towards not only national freedom but also their own liberation from sexist traditions.  He escaped arrest and fled to French occupied territories at Pondicheri.

Poet, Bharathi

Poet, Bharathi

 

Source: The History of Doing by Radha Kumar