Gendered nationalism, egalitarian revolution : women in the political discourses of Gandhi and Ambedkar.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameBachelor of Arts (Hons)
This dissertation examines how women were positioned in the political discourses of B. R. Ambedkar and M. K. Gandhi through an analysis of their speeches, articles, and correspondence. Comparisons between these two men have focused on their conflicting views of the Indian caste system. However, both Gandhi and Ambedkar commented extensively on the place of women in Indian society. A comparison of their respective views reveals a shared goal of realising social, political, and legal equality for women. However, they articulated different means of achieving that goal. This dissertation argues that differences between Gandhi’s and Ambedkar’s respective discourses on women emerged from their divergent political ideologies. Chapter one shows that Gandhi’s discourse on women was a complex and fluctuating product of competing influences, including his role as leader of the Indian nationalist movement, the impact of contemporary events, and his tendency toward conservatism. This suggests that his discourse on women was subject to many of the same concerns as his general politics. Chapter two shows that Ambedkar’s discourse on women was heavily influenced by his emancipatory, modernising, egalitarian, and social interventionist political ideology. The interface between caste and gender in Ambedkar’s writing is also examined. It is argued that he identified correlations between caste and gender-based discriminations. Overall, despite the appearance of similarities between Gandhi’s and Ambedkar’s respective discourses on women, their respective discourses on women evinced separate influences and ideologies.