#Sepia Stories

How Sarojini Naidu, The Nightingale of India Was a Pioneer of Women’s Rights

post image

Sarojini Naidu was an Indian political activist, freedom fighter and poetess. 2021 marks her 142nd birth anniversary. Sarojini Naidu was an advocate of civil rights, women’s emancipation, and anti-imperialistic ideas. A prominent figure in India’s fight for independence from the British rule, Naidu’s nationalistic work as a poet won her the title of Nightingale of India.

How She Powered the Freedom Movement

A child prodigy and a freedom fighter, Sarojini Naidu was also a skilful orator and an excellent administrator. She was an active member in the freedom movement, and a magnet for other women to join the same.

Known globally for her grit and determination, Sarojini Naidu, went on to have a prolific political career as she was the first governor of United Provinces of Independent India from 1947–1949. She also became the second women to hold the position of president in Indian National Congress.

A Poet with Impact

Sarojini Naidu loved writing and her poetry was not just poetry, but verse with a message. She began writing at the early age of 12. Today across India her poems are taught as a a part of the syllabus in many schools and universities. In 1905, she published her first collection of poems, named ‘The Golden Threshold’. She wrote a play called “Maher Muneer” and earned recognition and praise from all over the world. She did her higher education in London at Cambridge. This play also fascinated the Nawab of Hyderabad as she gained popularity. She earned a scholarship at the age of 16 from the Nizam of Hyderabad and went to King’s College, London.

In Company of Nobel Laureates

Nobel Laureates, Arthur Simon and Edmond Gausse encouraged her to focus on Indian themes for writing. To represent her poetry, she covered Indian contemporary life and issues.

In London, during her university days, she fell in love with Padipati Govindarajulu Naidu, a physician. She was courageous enough, and with confidence got married at the age of 19 in 1898 and questioned caste barriers. Perhaps this is what made her once say, about the idea of an Indian. “I say it is not your pride that you are a Madrasi, it is not your pride that you a brahmin, it is not your pride that you belong to south India, it is not your pride that you are a Hindu, that it is your pride that you are an Indian.”

Biggest Battles She Fought

In India in 1915-18, she travelled to diverse regions, areas to give speeches on social welfare, women’s empowerment and nationalism. In 1917, she founded the Women’s Indian Association. She sought equal rights for women. She encourage more women to join the freedom struggle and ‘play a part.’

She became the president of Indian National Congress in 1925 and joined the Salt Satyagraha in 1930. In South Africa, she also led the East African Indian Congress.

The British government also honoured her with the Kaisar-i-Hind Medal for her work during the plague epidemic in India. She performed an important role in Quit India Movement. During this period, the British government arrested and put her in prison.

Life Lessons We Can Learn From Her

Over 140 years later, Naidu still inspires every generation of women to passion and vigour in whatever career we choose. She voiced for the cause she believed in and broke all traditional customs when she married the man of her choice.  Her legacy of some of the most valuable literary treasures makes us always remember her. Her struggle for women’s emancipation and empowerment is of keen importance in the current times.

Sarojini Naidu Women Rights – She rallied for change, for equality and intercaste marriage

Things She Said

“We want deeper sincerity of motive, a greater courage in speech and earnestness in action”, is one of her famous quotes which was celebrated in the freedom movement of India.

Several establishments like Sarojini Naidu Medical College, Sarojini Naidu College for Women, Sarojini Naidu School of Arts and Communication, Sarojini Devi Eye hospital have been attributed to her.

post image
How Sarojini Naidu, The Nightingale of India Was a Pioneer of Women’s Rights
post image
Wise Women: Six Ancient Female Philosophers You Should Know About
post image
On Her Birth Anniversary Here Are Five Of Her Most Thought-Provoking Quotes
post image
Who Was Mabel Bell? 10 Things We Know About Alexander Graham Bell’s Deaf Wife