because the woman's place is wherever the woman is...

Monday, June 25, 2012

Sarojini Naidu

Born to an academic father and a mother who was a poet, Sarojini Naidu  might have lived a peaceful and circumspect life if she hadn't been an in-your-face woman. A published poet herself at twelve, Naidu graduated at the top of her class and won a scholarship to study in England at sixteen. Eventually, of course, she married, as was the custom of the day. In spite of this, however, she joined the Indian National Movement in 1905 and began traveling around, calling for India's independence from Great Britain and boldly encouraging women to get out of the kitchen and press for the vote.

When Naidu met Mahatma Gandhi in 1916, her fate as a full-scale freedom fighter was sealed and from then on, many of the most famous photos of Gandhi-ji feature Naidu on one side or the other of the man who first crafted the technique of civil disobedience (now called non-violent direct action). After that fortuitous meeting, Naidu amped up the level of her already vigorous revolutionary activism. She wrote, spoke, and organized -- particularly other women -- and, as might have been expected, was subsequently arrested and imprisoned for her unapologetic demands. But nothing could stop her. "When there is oppression," she wrote, "the only self-respecting thing is to rise and say this shall cease today, because my right is justice."

Widely respected for her commitment and clarity of vision, Naidu was ultimately thrust into leadership positions in the political structure of India, first to preside over the Indian National Congress in 1925, then to preside over the East African Indian Congress in South Africa in 1929, and finally as the Governor of Uttar Pradesh, the largest state in India, the position she held when she died. Her birthday on February 13th is celebrated every year in India as Women's Day. Perhaps they should call it In-Your-Face Women's Day instead. Hmmm?

No comments:

Post a Comment