When we talk about Indian constitution, The only name which comes in our mind is Dr B R Ambedkar. But he and his team worked together to form constitution. Do we know how many women were there in the constituent assembly? What was their contribution? What were the issues raised in the constituent assembly by these women’s?
In all there were 389 members of which 15 were women. All these women were successful in building their personal life and political career. They belonged to different religion and different caste. Names of these great women’s are as follows:
- Ammu Swaminathan
- Dakshayani Velayadhan
- Begum Aizaz Rasul
- Durgabai Deshmukh
- Hansa Jivraj Mehta
- Kamla Chaudhary
- Leela Roy
- Malati Choudhury
- Purnima Banerjee
- Amrit Kaur
- Renuka Ray
- Sarojini Naidu
- Sucheta kriplani
- Vijaya lakshmi Pandit
- Annie Mascarene
Born on 22nd April, 1894 was from a lower class family. She had never been to school and self taught herself Malyalam. She was married to Subbarama Swaminathan, a brahmin, who was more than 20 years older than her. Her husband encouraged her talents, appointed tutors to teach her English and other subjects.
Ammu Swaminathan was a follower of Mahatma Gandhi and took part in India’s struggle for independence. She was selected as ‘Mother of The Year’ in 1975 on the inauguration of International Women’s Year.
Ammu Swaminathan was a follower of Mahatma Gandhi and took part in India’s struggle for independence. She was selected as ‘Mother of The Year’ in 1975 on the inauguration of International Women’s Year.In a speech during the discussion on the motion by Dr B R Ambedkar to pass the draft Constitution on November 24, 1949, an optimistic and confident Ammu said, “People outside have been saying that India did not give equal rights to her women. Now we can say that when the Indian people themselves framed their Constitution they have given rights to women equal with every other citizen of the country.” She was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1952 and Rajya Sabha in 1954. In 1959, an avid film buff, Ammu became the Vice President of the Federation of Film Societies. She also presided over the Bharat Scouts and Guides (1960-65) and the Censor Board.
Was born on July 4, 1912, on the island of Bolgatty in Cochin. She was the leader of the (then titled) Depressed Classes. She holds several distinctions including becoming the first woman from her community to wear an upper cloth, the first Scheduled Caste woman graduate in India, a science graduate, a member of the Cochin
Legislative Council and of being one of fifteen female members of the Constituent Assembly of India. She was the first and only Dalit woman MLA, the Kerala government has constituted the ‘Dakshayani Velayudhan Award’ which will be given to women who contributed in empowering other women in the state. Velayudhan was elected to the Constituent Assembly of India by the Council in 1946. She was the first and only Scheduled Caste woman to be elected to the constituent assembly. From 1946-1952 she served as a member of the Constituent Assembly and the Provisional Parliament of India. In Parliament she took special interest in the matters of education especially that of the Scheduled Castes. During discussions on draft Article 11, which aimed at prohibiting discrimination on the basis of caste, Velayudhan called for implementation of non-discrimination provisions through public education and pointed out that it would send a great public signal if the Constituent Assembly were to endorse a resolution condemning caste discrimination. “The working of the Constitution,” she said, “will depend on how people conduct themselves in the future, not on the actual execution of the law.”
Begum Aizaz Rasul
Was born on 2 April 1909, she belonged to a collateral branch of the ruling family of Malerkotla princely state in Punjab. She was married to the young landowner Nawaab Aizaz Rasul. She was the only Muslim woman member of the Constituent Assembly. With the enactment of the Government of India Act 1935, Begum and her husband joined the Muslim League and entered electoral politics. In the 1937 elections, she was elected to the U.P. Legislative Assembly. In 1946, she was elected to the Constituent
Assembly of India. In 1950, the Muslim League in India dissolved and Begum Aizaz Rasul joined the Congress. She was elected to the Rajya Sabha in 1952 and was a member of the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly from 1969 to 1989. Between, 1969 and 1971, she was the Minister for Social Welfare and Minorities. Begum Aizaz Rasul was elected the Deputy Leader of the Delegation and the Deputy leader of Opposition in the Constituent Legislative Assembly. Begum Aizaz Rasul was instrumental in creating consensus amongst the Muslim leadership to voluntarily give up the demand for reserved seats for religious minorities. During the discussions pertaining to the right of minorities in an assembly of the Drafting Committee, she opposed the idea of having ‘separate electorates’ for Muslims. She quoted the idea as ‘a self-destructive weapon which separates the minorities from the majority for all time’. By 1949, the Muslim members who wished for the retention of separate electorates came around to accept Begum’s appeal. In 2000, she was awarded a Padma Bhushan for her contribution to social work.
Born in Rajahmundry on 15 July 1909 was an Indian freedom fighter, lawyer, social worker and politician. In 1936, she established the Andhra Mahila Sabha, which within a decade became a great institution of education and social welfare in the city of Madras. She was the Chairwoman of several central organizations like Central Social Welfare Board, National Council for Women’s EducationandNational Committee On Girls’ and Women’s Education.
She was a Member of Parliament and the Planning Commission. She was elected to the Constituent Assembly from the Madras Province. She was the only woman in the panel of Chairmen in the Constituent Assembly. She proposed Hindustani (Hindi+Urdu) as the national language of India but also expressed fear about the forceful campaign for Hindi in South India.She proposed a period of fifteen years of status quo to enable all the non-Hindi speakers to adopt and learn Hindi. Durgabai was awarded the fourth Nehru Literary Award in 1971 for her outstanding contribution to the promotion of literacy in India. In 1975, she was awarded the Padma Vibhushan.
Hansa Jivraj Mehta
Was born in a Nagar Brahmin family on 3 July 1897.A reformist, social activist, educator, independence activist, feminist and writer, she participated in freedom movement with Mahatma Gandhi. She was arrested and sent to jail by the British along with her husband in 1932. Later she was elected to Bombay Legislative Council. She was a member of the Advisory Committee and Sub Committee on Fundamental Rights in the Constituent Assembly. Hansa Mehta was elected to Bombay Schools Committee in 1926
and became president of All India Women’s Conference in 1945–46. She later went on to become the vice chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of the United Nations in 1950. She was also a member of the Executive Board of UNESCO. She was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1959.
Was born on 22 February 1908 in Lucknow. She was an Indian short story writer in Hindi language and a Member of Parliament from Hapur in the 3rd Lok Sabha. She joined the nationalists and was an active participant in the Civil Disobedience Movement launched by Gandhi in 1930. She was vice-president of the All India Congress Committee in its fifty-fourth
session and was elected as a member of the Lok Sabha in the late seventies. Chaudhary was also a celebrated fiction writer and her stories usually dealt with women’s inner worlds or the emergence of India as a modern nation. Gender discrimination, exploitation of peasants and poor condition of widows were main themes in her works.
She acted as the senior Vice- Chairperson during the 54th session of the All India Congress Committee. She was an elected member of the Constituent Assembly of India and after the Constitution was adopted she served as a member of the Provincial Government of India till 1952.
Was born in Goalpara, Assam in October 1900. She graduated from Bethune College in 1921 and became assistant secretary to the All Bengal Women’s Suffrage Committee and arranged meetings to demand women’s rights. She threw herself into social work and education for girls, starting the second girls school in Dhaka. Over the years, she set up a number of schools and institutes for women. She took part in the Civil Disobedience Movement and was imprisoned for six years. In 1938, she was nominated by Congress President, Subhas
Chandra Bose to the National Planning Committee of the Congress. In 1931, she began publishing Jayasree, the first magazine edited, managed, and wholly contributed by women writers. In 1942, during the Quit India Movement both she and her husband were arrested and her magazine was forced to cease. On her release in 1946, she was elected to the Constituent Assembly of India.
Was born in 1904 in East Bengal (now Bangladesh). She was an Indian civil rights and freedom activist and Gandhian. She married Nabakrushna Choudhuri, who later became the Chief Minister of Odisha and shifted to Odisha in 1927. During the Salt Satyagraha, Malati Choudhury, accompanied by her husband joined the Indian National Congress and participated in the movement. In 1933, she formed Utkal Congress Samajvadi Karmi Sangh along with her husband which later
came to be known as the Orissa Provincial Branch of the All India Congress Socialist Party. In 1934, she joined Gandhiji in his famous “padayatra” in Orissa. After independence, Malati Choudhury, as a member of the Constituent Assembly of India, and as the President of the Utkal Pradesh Congress Committee, tried her best to emphasize the role of education, especially adult education in rural reconstruction.
Rajkumari Amrit Kaur
Was born on 2 February 1889 in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh (then United Provinces), India. she was educated at the Sherborne School for Girls in Dorset, England. The British authorities appointed her as a member of the Advisory Board of Education, but she resigned from the position following her involvement with the Quit India Movement in 1942. She was imprisoned by the authorities for her actions during the time. Kaur worked to reduce illiteracy, and
eradicate the custom of child marriages and the purdah system for women, which were prevalent then among some Indian communities.
Following India’s independence from the colonial rule in August 1947, Kaur was appointed to the Indian Constituent Assembly, the government body that was assigned to design the Constitution of India. She was also a member of Sub-Committee on Fundamental Rights and Sub-Committee on Minorities.
After India’s independence, Amrit Kaur became part of Jawaharlal Nehru‘s first Cabinet; she was the first woman to hold Cabinet rank. She was assigned the Ministry of Health. In 1950, she was elected the president of World Health Assembly, becoming the first woman and the first Asian to hold that post; for the first 25 years of that organisation’s history, only two women held that post. She set up the Tuberculosis Association of India, the Central Leprosy and Research Institute, was vice chair of the board of governors of the League of Red Cross Societies and chair of the executive committee of St John’s Ambulance Society. When she died in 1964, The New York Times called her “a princess in her nation’s service”.
Born in 1904 was a noted freedom-fighter, social activist and politician of India. As a young girl, Renuka lived for a while in London and completed her BA from the London School of Economics. From 1943 to 1946 she was a member of the Central Legislative Assembly, then of the Constituent Assembly and the Provisional Parliament. In 1952–57, she served on the West Bengal Legislative Assembly as Minister for Relief and
Rehabilitation. In 1957 and again in 1962, she was the member for Malda of the Lok Sabha. She was also President of the AIWC in 1952, served on the Planning Commission and on the governing body of Visva Bharati University in Shanti Niketan. She served as a Minister for Relief and Rehabilitation. She established the All Bengal Women’s Union and the Women’s Coordinating Council. She was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1988.
Was born on Feb 13, 1879, in Hyderabad, India. She was an Indian political activist and poet. Born in a Bengali family in Hyderabad, Naidu was educated in Chennai, London and Cambridge. She was the first Indian woman to be president of the Indian National Congress and to be appointed as an Indian State Governor. She is popularly called “the Nightingale of India”. After some experience in
the suffragist campaign in England, she was drawn to India’s Congress movement
and to Mahatma Gandhi’s Non-cooperation Movement. Her anti-British activity brought her a number of prison sentences (1930, 1932 and 1942–43). She accompanied Gandhi to London for the inconclusive second session of the Round Table Conference in 1931. She played a vital role I forming the constitution of India as she represented women and helped create the laws that safeguard the rights of women in the constitution of the country. Sarojini Naidu was also known for her literary prowess and in 1914 she was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Naidu was one of the major figures to have led the Civil Disobedience Movement and the Quit India Movement led by Gandhi. Naidu was awarded the Kasar-i-Hind Medal by the British government for her work during the plague epidemic in India, but she later returned it as a form of protest against the April 1919 jallianwala bagh massacre.
Was born in Ambala, Punjab (now in Haryana) into a Brahmo family. She was a shy child, self-conscious about her appearance and intellect, as she points out in her book, An Unfinished Autobiography. It was the age she grew up in and the situations she faced that shaped her personality. she came to the forefront during the Quit India Movement. She later worked closely with Mahatma Gandhi during the Partition riots. She became a part of the
subcommittee that laid down the charter for the constitution of India. On 14 August 1947, she sang VandeMataram in the Independence Session of the Constituent Assembly a few minutes before Nehru delivered his famous “Tryst with Destiny” speech.She was also the founder of the All India Mahilla Congress, established in 1940. From 1960 to 1963, she served as Minister of Labour, Community Development and Industry in the UP government.In October 1963, she became the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, the first woman to hold that position in any Indian state.
Was born in Allahabad on 18 August 1900. She participated in the freedom movement which resulted in her being imprisoned by the British on three different occasions, in 1932-1933, 1940, and 1942-1943. She was an Indian diplomat and politician who were elected as the first female president of the United Nations General Assembly. Pandit was the first Indian woman to hold a cabinet post in pre-independent India. In 1937, she was elected to the provincial legislature of
the United Provinces and was designated minister of local self-government and public health. In, 1946, she was elected to the Constituent Assembly from the United Provinces. In India, she served as Governor of Maharashtra from 1962 to 1964, after which she was elected to the Indian Parliament’s lower house, Lok Sabha, from Phulpur, her brother’s former Constituency from 1964 to 1968.
Was born on6 June 1902 into a Latin Catholic family belonging to Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. She was one of the first women to join the Travancore State Congress in 1938 and became the first woman to be part of the Travancore State Congress Working Committee serving on the party’s publicity committee. She was one of the leaders of the movements for independence and integration with the Indian nation in the Travancore State.
In a statewide propaganda tour undertaken with party president Pillai,Mascarene was outspoken in her criticism of the level of participation allowed in the legislature, of the dewan, and the government. Her statements led to assault by a police officer as well as her home being broken into and her property being stolen. She published an account of the incident, angering the police. In 1946 she became member of the Constituent Assembly. She served on the Assembly’s select committee that looked into the Hindu Code Bill. In 1948 she was reelected to the Travancore-Cochin Legislative Assembly and served until 1952. In 1949, she became the first woman post-independence to serve as a Minister in the state.
Born in 1911was an Indian freedom fighter and a part of the constituent assembly from 1946 – 1950. Purnima Banerjee was the secretary of the Indian National Congress committee in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh. She was one among a radical network of women from Uttar Pradesh who stood at the forefront of the freedom movement in late 1930’s and 40’s.She was arrested for her participation in the Satyagraha and Quit India Movement. One of the more striking aspects of Purnima Banerjee’s speeches in the Constituent Assembly was her steadfast commitment to a socialist ideology. As secretary for the city committee, she was responsible for engaging and organizing trade unions, kisan meetings and work towards greater rural engagement.
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