‘Women should understand Dr Ambedkar’s teachings’

Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar

Elites, feminists are alleged to have failed to acknowledge Dr Ambedkar’s contribution to emancipation and empowerment of Indian women
Dr Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar is known as the Architect of the Indian Constitution and as the emancipator of the Dalits, though indeed it is a major achievement, the legend has several revolutionary aspects to his legacy. But many in our country consciously evade the fact that Dr Ambedkar was a multi-faceted personality. He was a great nationalist, social reformer, political thinker, a revolutionary and prolific writer with prodigious ideas. His mission in life was to reconstruct society along the modern democratic ideas of liberty, equality and fraternity.
Dr Ambedkar's contribution to women's empowerment 

Throughout his life, Dr Ambedkar has contributed immensely to the emancipation and empowerment of women. Liberation of women from the clutches of religion, caste, class and patriarchal society was Dr Ambedkar’s mission. Not only did he strongly advocate for women’s education and he also raised the issue of family planning by placing a proposal in the assembly. While appearing before Simon Commission he demanded equal voting rights for men and women. Unfortunately, his contribution is not allegedly acknowledged by the elites or feminists in our country.
I spoke with scholars who have been studying on the feminist movement and Dr Ambedkar’s contribution in the movement.
“In India, there are two types of women empowerment moments, the one for the privileged classes, influenced totally by the western countries, whereas the other movement is being carried out by Dalit and Adivasi women i.e. labourers, workers etc for their rights and justice. But unfortunately the privileged class women’s movement has not yet fully imbibed the thoughts of Dr Ambedkar,” said Dr E Z Khobragade, retired IAS officer.
India is a country of contradictions. The social stratification based on the hierarchy of caste governs the social order. Dr Ambedkar liberated women from century-old bondages and bestowed upon them equal rights and opportunity through legislation. It’s ironic that though getting benefited from his endeavour upper caste women doesn’t recognise his beneficence due to the heavy influence of religion and patriarchy. In spite of getting educated the feminists' leaders are not able to recognise and give due credit to the liberator just because he belongs to so-called lower caste.
“The basic problem with the feminist movement in India is that while fighting for the rights of women, the rights of lower caste and class are not taken into consideration. We can realise it while looking into various laws related to women. The Vikhasha guidelines on sexual harassment at workplace are not applicable to the unorganised sector.  Over 70% of the lower caste and class women work in the unorganised sector. When an upper caste or class woman gets benefitted due to the laws related to equal remuneration but another woman coming from lower caste or class does not get that benefit because she works in the unorganised sector and the laws are not applicable here,” said Abhinaya Ramesh, an Awardee of Britsh Chevening Fellowship, MA London University.
While talking on the increasing number of atrocities against women, Khobragade said, “The overall mindset of the society has not changed yet. Gender bias and religious inequalities have become a hindrance in the overall development of women. This is one of the reasons for the increase in atrocities against women”.
 “The castist/selfish mindset of mainstream feminists do not take care of all women. As a result, these factions within Indian feminism make Nirbhaya and Khairlanji occur again and again and will continue to happen in future. So struggle against patriarchy and struggle against caste are preconditions for emancipatory change,” Abhinaya added.
To resolve the issue of violence against women concerted efforts are required. Dr Ambedkar tried to reconstruct Indian society on the egalitarian principles as markers of democratic civilisation. He tried to bring men-women equality through the constitution and entitled women by ‘Hindu Code Bill’.
“Indian women irrespective of caste-class and religion should try to understand the teachings of Dr Ambedkar. Unless the women know their constitutional rights and duties, protection and safeguards they cannot be empowered. Knowing the fundamentals of Constitution and practising them in life will be a tribute to Dr Ambedkar,” Khobragade added.