Yesterday was Ambedkar Jayanti. It was a special day for many oppressed sections in India. It was a special day for me. As a woman and as a feminist, there is something to celebrate about Ambedkar Jayanti. A great man was born, who advocated the equality of all, and we women owe a lot to him:
1. The constitution of India, written by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, declares everyone, including women, as equal citizens with equal rights :) No clauses, terms or conditions specified!!
2. Indian women had the right to vote and the right to contest in elections right from the inception of the Indian Republic, a milestone which few other countries can claim (link). Particularly glad that no separate electorates were formed.
3. Indian women had the legal right to work and earn through paid jobs, enabling their financial empowerment.
4. Indian women (and men) were given the legal right to end unhappy marriages through divorce, a proposal which was scandalous at the time when the Hindu Marriage Act* was written.
Thank God for small mercies!!
*The Hindu marriage act was extremely progressive for Ambedkar's time: one of the most stellar aspects being a ban on legal polygamy. Dr Ambedkar particularly preferred a Uniform civil code, which was not enacted at the time due to Nehru's conflicting view point. It is sad that to this day, we have yet not been able to realize this golden dream. (link)