21 Female Social Reformers Of India: ABrief Overview

female social reformers of india

As opposed to keeping women’s roles in the shadows, we constantly promote the duties and services performed by men. However, it is accurate to say that women played an important part in building Indian freedom and the men of this generation believe they are capable of performing significantly better than women. This perception has shifted, and Indian women are no longer left behind.

Indian women have always been an icon of beauty, Sacrifice, Compassion, and Affection. From the early ages to the contemporary world, they have fought a long battle and proved themselves to be very deserving of their reputation across various occupations. Their tremendous dedication led to women’s emancipation in several fields such as education and social work and has brought a source of inspiration and hope for many social improvements

Here we are discussing the inspiring lives of 20 female social reformers of India. This article includes famous social reformers, pre-independence social reformers, and some post-independence social workers or activists. These women deserve a standing ovation from all of us for their dedication to their struggle to empower women and fight to bring societal change in India.

3 Famous Social Reformers Of India

Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa’s name is deeply intertwined with humanity. Mother Teresa, a great humanitarian, was born in India on August 27, 1910. She was given the name Agnes at birth.

She founded the 1st Missionaries of Charity to assist and serve the poor, destitute, and underprivileged. She was given the title of Pope in Italy as a result of her service and genuine devotion to helping the people.

Thousands of abandoned and orphaned children found salvation in her. She claimed that assisting the needy and the destitute is serving God, making compassion and affection the cornerstones of her purpose. She gained international recognition for her tenacity and commitment to the welfare of the underprivileged and children.

Mother Teresa received numerous prizes for her work and some of them are:

  1. 1980: Bharat Ratna
  2. 1979: Nobel Prize for Peace
  3. 1973: Templeton Foundation Award
  4. 1972: Jawaharlal Nehru International Award for peace
  5. 1962: Raman Magsaysay Award

Savitribai Phule

Savitribai Phule was a native of Naigaon village in Maharashtra. She was born on 3rd January 1831. She was nine years old when she married a thirteen-year-old boy Mahadev Govind Ranade, who later became one of Maharashtra’s most important social reformers. Savitribai Phule passionately struggled for educational equity and caste discrimination and enrolled at an Ahmednagar teaching institute.

Savitribai Phule had a major role in improving the status of women and abolishing caste oppression during the British period in India. Jyoti Rao Phule, her husband, had to leave school because his community did not allow that. Savitribai Phule was a firm social reformer who believed education should be used as a weapon against society’s ills. When education for a girl child was not possible, she struggled to fight against the barriers of gender.

In August 1848, Savitribai Phule and Jyoti Rao Phule established the first school for girls in India. By 1851, Savitribai and Jyotirao Phule founded three schools for the girl child in Pune. These three schools eventually offered English education as well as scholarship programs.

Savitribai Phule fought for women’s rights while campaigning against child marriage and eventually succeeded in this initiative. Before her death in 1897, Savitribai Phule continued Jyotirao Phule’s efforts to eliminate caste and gender discrimination. They also founded the ‘Balhatya Pratibandhak Griha,’ which sought to prevent female infanticide and rape victims’ delivery.

Kiran Bedi

Born on 9th June 1949, Kiran Bedi was a law student at the University of Delhi before she became a social reformer. She later received a PhD from the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi. Her PhD thesis focused on domestic violence against women and drug abuse. She became the First woman in India to join the Indian Police Service in 1972. Kiran is a well-known woman social reformer as well as an athlete.

She first came to public attention when her sub-inspector towed away a car, that belonged to the Prime Minister’s office, on a crane. The incident recognised Bedi as a powerful woman and earned the nickname ‘Crane Bedi.’

reference https://www.firstpost.com/politics/bjps-delhi-cm-candidate-story-of-kiran-crane-bedi-is-more-myth-than-fact-2056451.html 

She made many reforms during her tenure as an IPS officer. 

  1. She implemented changes to the Tihar jail that turned it into a model prison, such as providing dangerous criminals with their own barracks to prevent them from engaging in illicit activity there.
  2. To help the other prisoners obtain employment following their release, Bedi set up vocational training with credentials. She also established open school centers in Jail.
  3. She started Yoga/meditation classes, a de-addiction center, a bank, a bakery, and some small manufacturing units like carpentry and weaving unit in prisons.
  4. Due to her efforts, a bank was also established, inside the prison. The jail was equipped with a bakery as well as small production facilities, including ones for weaving and woodwork. The sales revenue contributed to the fund for the welfare of the prisoners. 
  5. She involved many NGOs, civilians, women activists, and volunteers, in Social Services. Such as Navjyoti Delhi Police Foundation with the aim of residential treatment to drug addicts and India Vision Foundation for reforms in police, prison, women empowerment, and rural and community development

Bedi co-founded the Navjyoti India Foundation (previously Navjyoti Delhi Police Foundation). The organization helped approximately 20,000 drug and alcohol addicts by providing them with residential treatment. It helped the vulnerable sections of society by starting 200 single-teacher schools, vocational training centres, and facilities for health and counseling centres.

She established the India Vision Foundation (IVF) in 1994. IVF works for the police and prison reforms, the upliftment of women, and rural development.

Kiran Bedi launched her website in 2008. This website was set up to help such people whose complaints were not being registered by the police.

She also participated actively in the nationwide campaign to end crimes against women. Bedi was a prominent ally of the India Against Corruption movement and later joined Aam Aadmi Party. Among her accomplishments, Bedi’s life has been defined by her passion for social justice.

Female Social Reformers Of India: Pre-Independence

Tarabai Shinde

Born in 1850, Tarabai challenged Hindu belief systems in her writings and disproved the notion that women are immoral or controlled only by men. She exposed the destructive effects of patriarchal values, deeply rooted in Hindu culture. Tarabai was one of the first feminists that addressed gender and caste inequality against women. She was instrumental in many changes in Indian society and continues to influence the world.

Tarabai’s most important book, Sri Purush Tulana (1882), was her most important work. It raised awareness about and criticized the patriarchal views and social barriers of gender. She played a major role in addressing caste oppression, which she believed was a controlling factor in women’s lives. She also questioned religion’s role in oppression. Her writings were used to define caste oppression in modern India and gender inequality.

While fighting for women’s rights, Taraba Shinde co-founded the Satyashodhak Samaj along with Jyotirao and Savitribai Phule. Tarabai Shinde also worked with upper-caste widows for their rehabilitation.

Ramabai Ranade

Ramabai, a social activist, established a girls’ high school in Pune, India, in the middle of the 19th century. Ramabai, who was born on 25th January 1862, spent her childhood in the Sangli district, of Maharashtra. Her father wasn’t interested in her education as it was taboo for girls to be educated at the time. However, her husband, Mahadev Govind Ranade, devoted much of his time to teaching her.

Ramabai has many achievements in the social realm despite having a modest background. She started the first Bharat Mahila Parishad and chaired the first session of the India Women’s Conference. However, she got tremendous support and encouragement from Justice Ranade.

She gave her life to the cause of women. She used to visit women’s cells in prisons to instill self-esteem among the inmates. She organized relief for famine-stricken people and took care of them and helped them. She was also made the president of Seva Sadan. The institution intended to teach various life skills to women.

Under Seva Sadan, a women’s training college and three hostels were developed. Here Ramabai Ranade helped poor women and widows and trained them to be financially stable. Her efforts led to the institution’s spread to eight branches in Maharashtra.

Fatima Sheikh

Among the female social reformers of India, Fatima Begum Sheikh is little known in our history books. Sheikh was a Pune native, born on 9 January 1831. She was instrumental in Jyotirao and Savitribai Phule’s success as social reformers. When the Phule couple was asked to leave home Fatima and her husband Usman gave shelter to them. The house that the Phule couple was provided as shelter became the first school for girls in India.

In 1848, Fatima Sheikh co-founded India’s first girls’ school with the Phules. By breaking the barriers of gender, Fatima Sheikh became the first Muslim woman who taught in India. She is a role model for women who broke through social barriers and challenged prejudice.

Sheikh was also a leader of India’s feminist movement. Her work for access to quality education for women with Sheikh’s contribution to the development of India’s society. Fatima was a colleague of the social reformers Jyotirao Phule and Savitribai Phule. They worked tirelessly to provide education for the lower castes.

Swarnakumari Devi

Swarnakumari Devi is a Bengali author, poet, social worker, and founder of the Sakhi Samiti.  She was born on 28th August 1855. She started the Sakhi Samiti in 1896. The organization worked to assist underprivileged women. The Sakhi Samiti took full responsibility for the widows and the upbringing of the orphans. It took care of educating them and making them self-sufficient and financially stable by teaching them the required skills. The Samiti used to organize exhibitions to raise funds for the institution.

She participated in the annual sessions of the Indian national congress. In 1929, she was elected to the office of president of Vangiya Sahitya Sammelan.

Her works faded into infamy despite her popularity as a writer. She was the first Bengali woman author to receive the Jagattarini Gold Medal from Calcutta University. In a country proud of its heritage, Swarnakumari Devi’s contributions to social reforms were not reflected in the nationalist movement.

The first female representatives of the Indian National Congress were Swarnakumari and Kadambini Ganguly.

She has received recognition from the Indian History Congress for her efforts to promote scientific education, particularly among women, as well as for being one of the first women from Bengal to find success as a writer.

Kadambini Ganguly

The first Indian woman to practice medicine in India was Kadambini Bose Ganguly. She was the first female student to get admission into Calcutta Medical College in 1884. She later completed her training in Scotland and started a medical practice in India. She also served as the Indian National Congress’s first female speaker.

Born on 18 July 1861, in Bhagalpur, Her childhood was strongly influenced by the Bengal Renaissance. Her father, Braja Kishore Basu, was a well-known activist of Brahmo Samaj. In 1863 as a headmaster, he co-founded Bhagalpur Mahila Samiti, the first organization responsible for the emancipation of women.

A young Kadambini completed her formal education at Banga Mahila Vidyalaya, later called Bethune School. She was the first candidate from the Bethune School to appear for the University of Calcutta entrance exam and created history by becoming the first woman to pass the test as early as 1878.

Young Kadambini finished her secondary education at Bethune School. She made history by becoming the first woman to pass the University of Calcutta entrance exam as early as 1878. She was the first candidate from the Bethune School to appear for the exam. Apart from education, she always questioned what society judged right. She married Dwarakanath Ganguly, a famous Brahmo Samaj leader from the Banga Mahila Vidyalaya, who was 20 years older than her.

She also made an effort to improve the working conditions for women coal workers in Eastern India. She was also a member of the Indian National Congress’s first female delegation at its fifth session. Kadambini convened the Women’s Conference in Calcutta in 1906 to show unity during the Partition of Bengal and presided over it in 1908. She actively promoted Satyagraha and organized individuals to generate money for the workers’ support throughout the same year.

She also worked relentlessly on behalf of Indians in South Africa as the president of the Transvaal Indian Association, which was established after Mahatma Gandhi was imprisoned in that country.

She was the first female doctor in India to exhibit the uncommon talent of earning numerous medical degrees from other countries.

Google honored India’s first female physician with a doodle in honor of Kadambini Ganguly’s 160th birthday.

Sister Nivedita

Sister Nivedita was an Indian social reformer and woman political activist. Born on 28th October 1867, a Christian woman Margaret Elizabeth Noble, embrace the name “Nivedita”, which was given by Swami Vivekanand. She was a vocal opponent of British rule and supported Indian public resistance.

She started a school for educationally deprived women. She used to go from door to door to educate women and girls about the importance of education. She not only had girls as her students but also adult women and widows. She spent all that she earned on her writing and lectures. She worked for the upliftment of all women regardless of their caste.

She worked relentlessly for the patients during the plague epidemic. Sister Nivedita even cleaned the rubbish and encouraged the youth to be volunteers. She also raised awareness for preventive measures among people.

She helped to design a version of the Indian flag and introduced Vande Mataram as a national prayer in her school. She supported social reform, advocated for national arts and culture, and promoted it.

Sister Nivedita was widely known as a feminist. She stood for equality for women, regardless of their castes. She was also a strong advocate for India’s independence. She was a powerful woman, who was active in the Nationalist movement and worked with many prominent leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi.

Pandita Ramabai

Born in present-day Karnataka, Pandita Ramabai became the first woman to be awarded the title of Pandita as a Sanskrit scholar. She was born on 23rd April 1858. Her progressive parents defied traditional social norms that restricted education for girls. Pandita Ramabai was born to a wealthy and privileged family.

Ramabai spent her entire life as an educator and social reformer. She learned Sanskrit through her father. She later traveled throughout India and was conferred her title of Pandita and Sarasvati by the University of Calcutta.

Ramabai is today remembered as a social reformer who inspired many distressed women to pursue education.

She established the Arya Mahila Samaj to promote women’s education and work against child marriage and rescue victims of it. The Brahmo Samaj, Hindu reformers, and Jesus Christ all had an impact on society’s goals.

She is regarded as an instrumental figure who took up the cause of women’s education and medical education for women to become doctors. Her effect was such that her voice reached Queen Victoria and the Women’s Medical Movement was initiated by Lady Dufferin.

By giving speeches and building a large network of followers, Ramabai was able to gather approximately 60,000 rupees to start an Indian school for child widows.

She established the Sharada Sadan school for child widows in Pune in 1889 with the help of numerous Hindu reformers, together with M.G. Ranade. The Mukti Mission was the name she later gave it.

In 1896 amid a severe famine, she saved and helped thousands of needy ones. She translated the Bible from the original Hebrew and Greek into the Marathi language. She was a well-educated woman who spoke seven languages.

Chandramukhi Basu

Along with Kadiambini Ganguly, Chandramukhi Basu is remembered in history as the first female graduate in British India. she was one of the first two female graduates during British rule. She was born in Dehradun in 1860. It was a huge move at the time because gender discrimination was at its peak and girls being educated was still a distant possibility. For her higher education, she had also fought a rigorous battle with college administration.

She also got her MA degree from the University of Calcutta, and after that, she was the only one to get it in that period. She began teaching at Bethune College in 1886, and when she rose to the position of the college president, she once again established herself as a prominent figure by becoming the first woman to lead a college. In 1891 she got retired from the principal post due to her health issue. Her academic journey has inspired other female students to complete their education.

Usha Mehta

Usha Mehta, who was born on March 25, 1920, was an Indian freedom fighter and supporter of Gandhi. Usha, at 8 years old, took part in a Simon Commission protest march in 1928. She first saw Mahatma Gandhi when she was a young girl, and he was inspired by him to live a long time wearing khadi.
She started studying for a law degree, but she quit in 1942 so that she could join the Quit India Movement.

The police detained Usha Mehta for linkages with secret Congress Radio, which was assisted by veteran leader Ram Manohar Lohia, and imprisoned her at Yeravda Jail. Morarji Desai, the interim government’s home minister at the time, gave the order for her freedom, making her the first political prisoner to be released in Bombay.

She promoted Gandhi’s principles post Independence and was awarded the Padma Vibhushan in 1998. Mehta resumed her studies upon independence and graduated with a Ph.D. from Bombay University. She grew to be a specialist in Gandhi’s ideology and thought. She wrote numerous essays and books in Gujarati and English. Mehta took part in every anniversary of the Quit India movement. On August 11, 2000, she died, At the age of 80.

Women Social Reformers Of India: Post-Independence

Aruna Roy

Aruna Roy was born on 06 June 1946 in Chennai. She was raised in a secular family environment and attended the Convent of Jesus and Mary in Delhi. She then completed a postgraduate in English Literature from Indraprastha College. Aruna was a civil servant in the Indian Administrative Service for several years but soon grew disenchanted from public service by seeing how bureaucrats and government officials functioned.

She joined the Barefoot College in Rajasthan and started working for the welfare of villagers. When she was at Barefoot College, the institution started the Sanjit Roy vs. the Government of Rajasthan case. This was to fight against the non-payment of minimum wages to the workers. Supreme Court decided in the favour of the workers in a landmark judgement.

She worked with many tribal and women’s groups in Rajsthan and neighbouring states. In 1985, She organized the Mahila Mela to act as a forum for women. The Mahila Mela was attended by thousands of women from across the country. It was a forum to discuss women’s empowerment and organize various workshops to make rural women aware to empower them with knowledge. She played a crucial role in Sohangarh freeing 25 hectares of land that was illegally occupied by a powerful landlord.

She co-founded the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) on 1 May 1990. MKSS worked for the empowerment of workers and low-income communities of villages. It relied on funds from volunteers and supporters and denied taking any donations from the government or big corporates.

She also worked on many prominent movements and campaigns like advocating for government transparency (Right to Information), Right to Work (NAREGA), and Right to Food. She also campaigned for the whistleblower protection law and the grievance redressal act. She was appointed professor of practice in global governance at McGill University, Montreal in 2016. Before that, she also served as an advisor to the National Advisory Council.

Aruna won Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership in 2000 for her numerous contributions to society. Apart from Lal Bahadur Shastri National Award for Excellence in Public Administration, Academia, and Management in 2010, She was also listed by Time Magazine as one of the “100 most influential people in the world”.

Medha Patkar

Medha Patkar is India’s most renowned social reformer. Born on 1 December 1954, she is a founding member of Narmada Bachao Andolan and the National Alliance of People’s Movements. Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) runs Jeevanshala Schools since 1992 and through this movement, Medha Patkar works in different sectors like health, right to food and PDS, rehabilitation, employment guarantee, and protection of the environment.

In 1992, she founded the National Alliance of People’s Movement, a progressive group of social organizations that work on anti-globalization, anti-nuclear movement, electoral reforms, etc. Patkar was a commissioner of the World Commission on Dams, the first independent global advisory body. It issued a landmark document in 2000 with recommendations for improving development outcomes in areas affected by the dam projects in Madhya Pradesh, Gujrat, and Maharastra. Patkar worked with local communities to find alternatives for dams.

When there was a large-scale slum demolition drive in Mumbai in 2003-04, Medha Patkar co-founded the Strong People’s Movement and the Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan in 2005. This movement was started to provide slum dwellers and peasant communities to their homes back with quality sanitation, electricity, water, and livelihood.

Medha Patkar also protested against the Tata Automobile Manufacturing Plant in Singur due to non-compliance with the land acquisition policy of West Bengal. Ultimately Tata had to pull off its plans to make the manufacturing facility there.

She protested against the Nandigram land grab resistance in 2007. She garnered the support of intellectuals, observed fast on Diwali, mobilized a huge number of people, and raised the issue at various forums. Ultimately the battle was won in the favor of the local people.

She protested against the Lavasa city project and filed a PIL in the Supreme Court of India. She protested with more than 500 slum dwellers and started an indefinite fast against the demolition of city slums in the Golibar area of Mumbai.

Medha Patkar organized protests to save the sugar co-operatives in Maharashtra. She also filed a PIL against the Hiranandani group alleging violations by building luxury flats instead of affordable houses. The case is in its final stage. She also participated in protests against many land acquisitions for various projects like the Kovvada Nuclear Project of Andhra Pradesh, the K-Rail Project of Kerala, and the JSW Steel project in Odisha.

In 2011, she participated in the anti-corruption nationwide movements in Mumbai under the leadership of Anna Hazare. Patkar’s activism began in the era when India was building dams. After the Sardar Sarovar Dam in Gujarat was completed, she traveled to Narmada Valley. Her activism led her to establish a network of community centers, educational institutions, and other activities to restore the natural environment.

Irom Chanu Sharmila

Irom Chanu Sharmila is a poet and human rights activist. Born on 14th March 1972 in a poor family, she struggled to finish high school. She was so profoundly touched by the murders of ten Malomites that she felt compelled. She began her 16-year-long hunger strike on 5th November 2000 to demand the repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act(AFSPA).

AFSPA allows Indian armed forces to search without warrants. Her hunger strike has become a worldwide trend and has inspired dedicated women around the globe to act for human rights.

Known as Manipur’s Iron Lady Irom Sharmila finally ended her year-long hunger strike after 5,757 days of fasting. Many young activists have been inspired by her fast.

Relatable Article: Also, read about other women who contributed to the nation for its betterment. Checked out the linked article to learn about such women.

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Pramila Nesargi

Pramila Nesargi was born on 25 March 1938. She is a women’s rights activist and a maverick lawyer. Nesargi supports a uniform civil code to protect women’s rights to improve the present condition of women in India. Her active participation in laws has crowned her as Chairman of the Bar Association of the Karnataka Bar Council.

Pramila has a reputation as an independent-minded lawyer who fights for women’s rights. Nesargi has proposed and submitted several reports to the Governments of Karnataka and the Indian Government concerning child labor, house and rent control, workplace sexual assault, domestic violence, and the suffering of prisoners.

She fights sensitive cases for those who suffer because of injustice. To bring justice to the unfortunate, Pramila Nesargi never backed out to fight powerful people. She has also raised her voice in uniting various sectors. Additionally, this Indian lawyer urged the alteration of different legislation detrimental to women in religious laws.

She is the head of Samragni Swa Udyog Trust, whose core objective is to enhance the skills of all women and special-needs children.

Amala Akkineni

Amala Akkineni is a film actress from South India, who has been married to Telugu superstar Nagarjuna Akkineni. she is also a Bharatanatyam dancer, animal welfare activist, and film director. She is recognized as India’s multi-talented social activist, Born on 12th September 1967. Amala is also a Director at the Annapurna College of Film and Media Hyderabad.

For the preservation of animal rights in India, she co-founded Blue Cross of Hyderabad, a nonprofit organization focused on the welfare of animals. The organization under the chairpersonship of Amala has been working for 29 years. The Blue Cross has helped over 533,000+ animals with Animal Birth Control, Anti-Rabies vaccines, adoptions, etc. The organization also spreads awareness and conducts training regarding animal birth control, first aid for stray animals, and per care. She received the Jeev Daya Puraskaar for her work in the field of animal welfare.

Awards for social welfare:

  1. In 2012, she received the Jeev Daya Puraskaar for her work in the field of animal welfare. Indian Animal Welfare Board presented this award.
  2. The Ministry of Women and Child Development presented the Nari Shakti Award in 2017.

Laxmi Aggarwal

Laxmi, one of India’s most prominent social activists, is well-known for being brave. She was born on 1st June 1990. She was met with a tragic incident when a one-sided lover, Naeem Khan, poured acid on her face. The acid also damaged her eyesight. Despite all odds, her exemplary devotion has made her the face of acid attack survivors in India.

She filed a PIL (Public Interest Litigation) in 2006 to reform laws for acid attacks and the regulation or complete ban of acid sales in the open market. The PIL also demanded reparations/compensation. She started a hunger strike to demand fast-tracking of justice and rehabilitation for acid attack survivors.

She was instrumental in the establishment of the Chhanv foundation. The foundation works for prosecutions of acid attack victims. It provides them with post-attack medical and legal aid, rehabilitation, counseling, and employment. She also started Sheroes Hangout, a cafe run by acid attack victims.

Laxmi joined the anti-acid attack movement. Laxmi helped hundreds of acid attack victims. Her foundation provided legal assistance, rehabilitation, and treatment. She is also the recipient of the International Women of Courage prestigious award.

Shaheen Mistri

Born on 16th March 1971, Shaheen Mistri, the founder of the Akanksha Foundation(a non-profit initiative), is one of India’s most prominent female social reformers. Mistri was born in Mumbai to a Parsi family but raised abroad. After her return to India, she saw how children did not have the opportunity for quality education and primary schools in Mumbai’s slums.

In 1989, she created the Akanksha Centre to help children with their academic skills. The center later evolved into Akanksha Foundation. It is not for profit initiative that works to provide school tutoring to the underprivileged. Today, the foundation has more than fourteen thousand children under its School Project Model with 26 schools.

Shaheen founded Teach for India in 2008 to cultivate the knowledge and skills of every Indian child and to eliminate educational inequity in India.

The foundation works by recruiting leaders and teaching the underprivileged in India. It offers a two-year fellowship with Teach for India where volunteers give their time to teach children.

Manasi Pradhan

Manasi Pradhan works as an activist, writer, and campaigner to defend women’s rights. She was born on 4th October 1962 in Odisha. To combat sexual violence against women in India, she founded the Honour for Women National Campaign. Her campaign has brought about a national uproar against atrocities against women. In addition to empowering women, Manasi has also been instrumental in demanding reforms in the judicial system, a liquor ban, and special protection for women’s security.

She founded the OYSS Women in 1987. The organization works with women to train them for their safety. It provides women with women’s rights awareness, vocational training, self-defense training, legal awareness, and much more. The organization works for women’s empowerment by undertaking various activities and events.

Manasi Pradhan launched Honour for Women National Campaign to end violence against women in India. She also started the Nirbhaya Samaroh. It is an annual event to raise awareness of women’s rights. In this event Nirbhaya Samman award is also conferred to a leading organization that works for women’s empowerment in India. Nirbhaya Puraskar is also given to women achievers.

Manasi was born to a low-income family in Odisha and struggled against the social issues and inheritance laws against educating women. She walked fifteen kilometers to school every day and was the first woman in high school to graduate. Manasi Pradhan, regardless of her background, has had an impact worldwide.

Arundhati Roy

Arundhati Roy is an Indian novelist and political activist who promotes environmental and human rights causes. She was born on 24 November 1961, in Shillong, Meghalaya. Her first book, “The God of Small Things,” was published in 1997 and won prestigious awards, including the Man Booker Prize for Fiction. It was also the best-selling work by an Indian author.

Since the 1997 release of The God of Small Things, Roy has focused mostly on political action and nonfiction. She is a vocal opponent of globalization and neo-imperialism as well as of American foreign policy. She disproves American claims that it is a peaceful and free country by citing China and 19 Third World countries as “countries that America has been at war with and bombarded, since World War II,” as well as prior American support for the Taliban movement and the Northern Alliance.

She disagrees with India’s nuclear weapons policies as well as its industrialization and economic growth. She has faced backlash due to her support of Kashmiri independence and comment on the Mumbai attacks.

Roy has also supported Medha Patkar in Narmada Bachao Andolan (Narmada Dam Project). In November 2010, Roy and five others were brought up by Delhi Police, on charges of sedition. Apart from her controversial remarks, she will always remember for her outspoken advocacy and the books written by her.

Awards & Honour

  1. At the Global Exchange Human Rights Awards in 2003, she received “special recognition” for being a Woman of Peace.
  2. She received the Sydney Peace Prize in May 2004 in recognition of her involvement in anti-violence movements and social activities.
  3. She also received the Sahitya Akademi Award for her literary work in January 2006.
  4. In 2014, She was featured in Times 100, the 100 most influential people in the world.


The last two centuries have seen many human rights advances made in India by female social reformers defying social evils.

Indian women have contributed much to society on behalf of all the nation’s female residents, who are still subject to the shackles of long-ago ritualistic reforms.

Women have played a vital role in lobbying against early marriage, polygamy, equal pay for women, and equal rights. Among other social conscience, they’ve been active in promoting education for women and the advancement of working conditions. Many women have made significant social reforms, and as a result, they serve as role models for other women in society.

Although we have listed only twenty activists who significantly fought against inequality against women, there are several other women major contributors, who inspired many distressed women from every walks of life, but did not get their due recognition.

FAQs On Women Social Reformers Of India

Who Started Indian Girls’ Education?

In 1848, Jyotiba Phule and Savitribai Phule started schools for tutoring to children and providing quality education to women.

Who Is Known As Crane Bedi?

Kiran Bedi

Who Was The 1st Woman In British India To Receive A Graduate Degree?

Kadambini Ganguly and Chandramukhi Basu were the first two women who received the degree of B.A.

Name Some Famous Female Social Reformers Of India.

Mother Teresa, Aruna Roy, Kiran Bedi, and Medha Patekar were some of the famous women of Indian social reformers. Despite the fact that women have undeniable strength, they have indeed disproved the stereotype that says they are only competent at handling domestic tasks at home and are incapable of facing or resolving difficult or urgent situations.

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