Begum Jahanara Shahnawaz holds a special place in Indian history for her relentless pursuit of women’s rights, particularly the right to vote. As the long-pending Women’s Reservation Bill is poised to be presented before Parliament, it is fitting to remember her significant contributions.
Jahanara Shahnawaz’s journey as a trailblazer began when she attended the First Round Table Conference (RTC) as one of only two women representatives. She continued to advocate for women’s rights at the Second and Third RTCs, where she stood as one of three women representatives and eventually the sole female participant.
The RTCs, convened in London to address Indian leaders’ concerns regarding the Simon Commission, provided Jahanara with a platform to represent the 160 million Indian women. She passionately conveyed Indian aspirations for women’s rights, underlining the historical significance of their involvement and advocating voting privileges.
Jahanara’s tireless efforts extended to England, where she actively lobbied for Indian women’s suffrage. She teamed up with influential British women for Indian women’s voting rights.
1935, the Government of India Act was finally enacted, granting over 600,000 women the right to vote and establishing reservations in Legislative Assemblies. Although it fell short of Jahanara’s aspiration for a Universal Adult Franchise, it marked a significant triumph for Indian women. In the 1937 elections, 80 women were elected to Provincial Legislative Assemblies, making history.
Begum Jahanara Shahnawaz’s pioneering efforts paved the way for Indian women to participate fully in the democratic process, ensuring their voices were heard and their rights recognized. Her legacy inspires generations of women to advocate for equality and empowerment in India and beyond.
For a detailed story, please visit: Awaz the voice