71 years of a democratic India – the largest democracy in the world. This dream was made possible by Dr Ambedkar, and many many others whose efforts have built our nation to what it is today. But not many know that there were 15 women who played a very crucial role in the drafting and making of our Constitution.
1. Ammu Swaminathan
Hailing from Palghat district, Kerala, she had formed the Women’s India Association in 1917 in Madras, and later become a part of the Constituent Assembly in 1946.
2. Dakshayani Velayudhan
Born on a small island of Bolgatty in Cochin, she led, the (then titled) Depressed Class. She was the first and only Dalit woman to be elected to the Constituent Assembly in 1946.
3. Begum Aizaz Rasul
Malerkotla was born in a princely family, who married Nawaab Aizaz Rasul. She and her husband joined the Muslim League, and she was the only Muslim women member in the Constituent Assembly.
4. Durgabai Deshmukh
At the tender age of 12, she participated in the Non-Co-operation Movement and the Salt Satyagraha movement in Madras city in May 1930. She also established the Andhra Mahila Sabha in 1936.
5. Hansa Jivraj Mehta
A reformer, a social activist, an educator and a writer, Hansa Mehta was elected to the Bombay Schools Committee in 1926. She went on to become the President of the All India Women’s Conference.
6. Kamla Chaudhary
She was an active participant in the Civil Disobedience Movement in 1930, the vice-president of the All India Congress Committee in its 54th session and a member of the Lok Sabha in the late seventies.
7. Leela Roy
She along with her friends, founded the Dipali Sangha and established schools which become centres of political discussion. She also founded Chhatri Sangha, an association of women students in Dacca and Kolkata.
8. Malati Choudhury
She was born in East Bengal, (now Bangladesh). She got admitted to Viswa-Bharti at the age of 16. Later during the Salt Satyagraha, accompanied by her husband, she communicated and educated the people to create a favourable environment for the Satyagraha.
A secretary of the Indian National Congress committee in Allahabad, she was one of the many radical women who stood at the forefront of the freedom movement. She was a part of the Satyagraha and the Quit India Movement.
10. Rajkumari Amrit Kaur
She was India’s first Health Minister and held that post for 10 years. She was the founder of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). She was also a firm believer in women’s education and their participation in sports and healthcare.
11. Sarojini Naidu
The ‘Nightingale of India’ she was the first women to become the president of the Indian National Congress and the first woman to be appointed as an Indian state governor.
12. Renuka Roy
She had a long political career, with varied roles and responsibilities. From 1943 to 1946, she was a member of the Central Legislative Assembly, a member of the Constituent Assembly and the Provisional Parliament. She then become a Minister for Relief and Rehabilitation, and a member of the Lok Sabha.
13. Sucheta Kriplani
She is especially remembered for her role in the Quit India Movement of 1942. She formed the women’s wing of the Congress party in 1940, and also become the MP from New Delhi and the Minister of Labour, Community Development and Industry in UP’s State Government, post-independence.
14. Vijaylakshami Pandit
The first Indian woman ever to become a cabinet minister, she was also Jawaharlal Nehru’s sister. Her political career began with the Allahabad Municipal Election. She was then elected to the Assembly of United Provinces and in 1937 she became minster of the local self-government.
15. Annie Mascarene
The first Indian women to be a part of the Travancore State Congress Working Committee, she was one of the leaders of the freedom movement.
The work and integrity of these 15 women, makes them timeless ‘s-heroes’!