These respected Indian Women freedom fighters and their contributions play an essential part in India and modern Indian History, which is necessary for UPSC Civil Services Exam Preparation. In this article, candidates will get a list of the most famous/prominent women freedom fighters of the country. We are also going to discuss a few facts about what they contributed. This part of Modern Indian History is a large and relevant part of the General Studies (GS) Paper I in the UPSC Civil Services Exam Syllabus.
The Indian Women Freedom Fighters
Rani Lakshmi Bai of Jhansi
November 19, 1828 – June 18, 1858
Rani Lakshmi Bai was a born leader, and she was born in Banaras and then married a king – of Jhansi. Rani Lakshmi Bai fought against the British during the first war of independence in the years of 1857-58.
The role played by all brave women in the War of Independence of 1857 was creditable and invited the admiration of even leaders of the Revolt.
The leaders of the outbreak were both men and women, most prominent amongst the latter being Hazrat Mahal, Rani Laksmi Bai and the Rani of Ramgarh. Some of them led troops to the battlefield and fought bravely, while others suffered imprisonment, exile and eventual death.
February 13, 1879 – March 2, 1949
She was also known as the ‘Nightingale of India’.
Her leadership provides one of the best examples before us as to how a woman entered the Indian political scene in the colonial regime. When she joined this National Movement, Indian women were shackled with a strangled hold of orthodox religious norms. Sarojini Naidu was a lady who severed the shackles of tradition and outdated conventions and rose to the challenge posed by the British rule. Her contribution to the freedom struggle was in no way lesser match to her male counterparts.
Madam Bhikaji Cama
September 24, 1861 – August 13, 1936
Madam Bhikaji Cama was born from a wealthy family. She was the one, who dared to defy the might of an empire, and made history by unfurling what she called “Flag of Indian Independence”
foreign soil and thus succeeded in focusing world attention of India’s plight and problems was an Indian- a Parsi Lady from Bombay, Bhikhaiji Rustom Cama.
Begum Hazrat Mahal
1820 – April 7, 1879
William Howard Russell writes in his memoir My Indian Mutiny Diary: “This Begum exhibits great energy and ability. She has excited all Oudh to take up the interests of her son, and the chiefs have sworn to be faithful to him. The Begum declares perpetual war against us.”
Begum fought as long as she could and finally found asylum in Nepal, where she died in 1879. These lines are attributed to her:
Likha hoga Hazrat Mahal ki lahad par
Naseebo’n ki jali thi, Falak ki satayi
[It will be written on Hazrat Mahal’s grave
Star-crossed was she, oppressed even by the skies]
October 1, 1847 – September 20, 1933
Annie Wood, popularly known as Annie Besant, was born on October 1, 1847 in London to William Burton Persse Wood and Emily Roche Morris, an Irish Lady.
After the breaking up of her marriage, Annie Besant was appointed as the Governor of Folkstone in 1873. She had concentrated on continuous writing. Attracted by the ideals of the Free Thought Society, Annie Besant became a member of the society in 1874.At this point of time she made contributions to the periodical entitled National Reformer.
By dint of her scholarly merits, she was made the Co-editor of the National Reformer by Charles Brad laugh, a free thinker and reformer and the president of the National Secular Society. Charles Bradlaugh (September 26, 1833, to January 30, 1891) was a political activist and one of the famous English atheists of the 19th century.
He founded the National Secular Society in 1866. Charles Bradlaugh much influenced Annie Besant, and that helped her to continue her journalistic activities from 1871 to 1887. She spent a significant part of her time in involving herself in issues concerning the empowerment of women. In appreciation of her dedicated services, she was made the Vice-President of the National Secular Society.
Aruna Asaf Ali
Jul 16, 1909 – July 29, 1996
Aruna Asaf Ali plays a prominent role in the firmament of India’s freedom. Modern Indian history would be des and meaningless without mentioning her invaluable contributions to the country’s struggle for independence. She played an essential role in the formation of the National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW), the women’s wing of CPI.
Dr. Usha Mehta
March 25, 1920 – August 11, 2000
She was famous for broadcasting the Secret Congress Radio (an underground radio station). Although the station functioned only for three months, it greatly assisted the movement by disseminating uncensored news and other information banned by the British-controlled government of India. It also kept the leaders of the freedom movement in touch with the public.
She described her involvement with the Secret Congress Radio as her “finest moment” and also as her saddest moment, because an Indian technician had betrayed them to the authorities.
April 11, 1869 – February 22, 1944
Kasturba Gandhi was a prominent leader for Women’s Satyagraha.
She also participated with Indigo workers in Champaran, Bihar, in the No Tax Campaign, and Rajkot Satyagraha to make the necessary changes.
1899 – 1936
She was the wife of Dr. Jawaharlal Nehru, Kamala planned a lot of parades, including led picketing of liquor and the foreign clothes shops, and she engaged in the freedom movement with her brave attitude.
She played a very crucial part in consolidating the No Tax Campaign in the United Provinces.
Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit
August 18, 1900 – December 1, 1990
She was the daughter of Motilal Nehru and was also a President of the Congress Party.
She entered the Non-Cooperation Movement for India to fight against the British Rule.
She was arrested many times- first in 1940 and again during the Quit India Movement in 1942. After the independence, she represented India in many conferences abroad.
The historical stage of the Indian Freedom Struggle would be insufficient without mentioning the contributions of brave women. The sacrifices made by the courageous women of India inhabit a primary place in the annals (year by year) of the Indian history. They fought with a real spirit and undeterred bravery and confronted several pains, exploitations, and sufferings to win us freedom.
Areas covered in this article
- 10 Women Freedom Fighters in Indian History