Published: 13th February 2023
#WhatTheFAQ: Why do we celebrate National Women’s Day on Sarojini Naidu's birth anniversary?
Sarojini Naidu was a political activist and freedom fighter who fought for the civil rights of women. She also played a major role in the Quit India Movement
Today, February 13, is celebrated as National Women’s Day in India on the birth anniversary of a freedom fighter known as the Nightingale of India and Bharat Kokila. Sarojini Naidu was a national leader, resistance fighter and celebrated poet. Her birthday is celebrated as National Women’s Day.
Naidu was a renowned poet, writing poems on several themes of love, religion, romance, patriotism and tragedy. As we celebrate her birth anniversary with today’s edition of #WhatTheFAQ, here are a few pointers we should know about this brave freedom fighter.
Who was Sarojini Naidu?
The political activist, feminist and poet Sarojini Naidu was an advocate of civil rights, women's emancipation and anti-imperialistic ideas. She was an important person in the freedom struggle in India, during which, she participated in the Quit India Movement against the British and was imprisoned for 21 months. She was also the first women President of the Indian National Congress. She also fought for the rights of women and was the first woman Governor of the United Provinces, presently known as Uttar Pradesh.
Why is National Women’s Day celebrated on her birthday?
Sarojini Naidu was born on February 13, 1879, in Hyderabad. To recognise and commemorate her work and contribution towards the country, especially for the women in India through her feminist movements, the government departments around the county hold events and remember her leadership. Through her passionate writings in the form of poems, she transformed the freedom movement. She is known as one of India’s first feminist luminaries.
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What were a few high points of her political career?
She became a popular orator promoting the independence of India, women’s rights and education. She addressed the Indian National Congress and the Indian Social Conference in Kolkata in 1906. She joined the political part and their movent in the freedom struggle and became the first woman president of the party. Naidu was a founding member of the All India Women's Conference (AIWC). The AIWC is an NGO based in Delhi founded in order to improve educational efforts for women and children and has expanded its scope to also tackle other women's rights issues.
She joined the Salt Satyagraha with Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi initially did not want to permit women to join the march because it was physically demanding with a high risk of arrest. Naidu and other female activists persuaded him otherwise and joined the march.
What are some of her popular writings and other works?
Naidu began her writing career at the young age of 12 when she wrote a Persian play, Maher Muneer. Her first book of poems was published in London in 1905, titled The Golden Threshold. In 1917, she published a compilation of poems by her titled The Broken Wing: Songs of Love, Death and the Spring. She also published several works during her period that revolutionised the freedom struggle and encouraged more women to participate in the freedom fight.
Here are a few famous quotes by Sarojini Naidu:
— "When there is oppression, the only self-respecting thing is to rise and say this shall cease today, because my right is justice. If you are stronger, you have to help the weaker boy or girl both in play and in the work"
— "Oh, we want a new breed of men before India can be cleansed of her disease"
— "One needs a Seer's Vision and an Angel's voice to be of any avail. I do not know of any Indian man or woman today who has those gifts in their most complete measure."
— "Sense of justice is one of the most wonderful ideals of Islam, because as I read in the Qur'an I find those dynamic principles of life, not mystic but practical ethics for the daily conduct of life suited to the whole world."