Social Scientist. v 4, no. 40-41 (Nov-Dec 1975) p. 40.


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GAIL OMVEDT

Rural Origins of Women's Liberation in India

THE YEARS after 1970, climaxing in International Women's Year of 1975, have seen a significant growth in militant and mass-based women's organizations in India. Not only is there a rising consciousness of women's special oppression, and '^women's liberation^' suddenly a respectable topic, but there is a significant turmoil at the very base of society, expressing itself in agitation and organization. New organizations have emerged in the last few years, from Dalit (untouchable) students to upper class cosmopolitans, from agricultural labourers to professional careerists. The older party fronts have been revitalized, with growing membership' and widening network. And all have been pushed to greater radicalism, in rhetoric if not in action.

Among these developments, the growth of left and especially communist-led organizations are of most significance for the mass of toiling women and thus for a women^s movement in the real sense of the term. The change is evident if we review briefly the growth of Communist Party of India (CPI) and the Communist Party India (Marxist). The CPI (M) probably has the largest mass-based women's organization in India. Operating at the state level, it has picked up a sizeable base among the rural poor in the last few years. In Tamil Nadu, the first conference of the Democratic Women's Union was held on 28 and 29



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