15 Women Who Contributed In Drafting Indian Constitution

It is a known fact that Indian constitution is the world’s lengthiest constitution. The Constituent Assembly took 2 years, 11 months and 17 days to complete the celebrated task of drafting the Constitution. We always talk about the Drafting Committee headed by Dr. BR Ambedkar, Father of Indian Constitution; but many still do not know that there were 15 great women who contributed in the drafting of constitution. Let us have a look at the lives of these remarkable ladies:

  • Ammu Swaminathan – Born in 1894 in Palakkad, Kerala, Ammu Swaminathan belonged to an upper caste Brahmin family. She was a follower of Mahatma Gandhi and took part in India’s struggle for independence. After independence, in 1946, she became one of the members of the Constituent Assembly of India. She vocalized on fundamental rights and directive principles. In 1952, she was elected a member of the Lok Sabha and then to Rajya Sabha in 1954. Later in 1960, she also served as a President of the Bharat Scouts and Guides.  With keen interest in movies, she went on to become the Vice President of the Federation of Film Societies and the Censor Board.
  • Dakshayani Velayudhan Dakshayani Velayudhan was born on 4th July 1912 in Ernakulam, Kerala. She belonged to the lower caste Pulayar community. She was the first Scheduled Caste woman graduate in India, a science graduate, a member of the Cochin Legislative Council. She and her husband, R. Velayudhan were the first scheduled caste couple in the parliament.

She advocated for untouchability, forced labor, reservations, and separate electorates for Dalits.

  • Begum Aizaz Rasul – Begum Qudsia Aijaz Rasul, born on 2nd April 1909, was the only Muslim woman in the Constituent Assembly. She hailed from a princely family of Malerkotla, Punjab. She entered into electoral politics in 1937 when she was elected as a member of the U.P. Legislative Assembly. She played a key role in popularizing hockey for Indian women. She presided the Indian Women Hockey Federation for 20 years. She was also the president of the Asian Women’s Hockey Federation.

She was a member of the Minority Rights Drafting Subcommittee. She opposed the reservation for minorities in legislative assemblies, the partition of India and feudal practices like the zamindari system.

She herself defied many traditional norms like the purdah system.

She was awarded the Padma Bhushan for her contributions to social work in 2000.

  • Durgabai Deshmukh – Lady Deshmukh was a freedom fighter, politician and a public activist for women liberation. She founded the Andhra Mahila Sabha in 1937. She was also the founder chairperson of Central Social Welfare Board. She was a follower of Mahatma Gandhi and following his footsteps participated in Salt Satyagraha and Civil Disobedience Movement. She was the first chairperson of the National Council on Women’s Education, which was established by the Government of India in 1958.

She was the only woman in the panel of chairmen in the Constituent Assembly. She proposed issues like inclusion of national language, judicial independence and human trafficking.

  • Hansa Jivraj Mehta – She was born on 3rd July 1897 in a Nagar Brahmin family in Baroda, Gujarat. As advised by Mahatma Gandhi, she participated in various freedom movement activities. In 1926, she was elected to Bombay Schools Committee. In 1945, she presided the All India Women’s’ Conference. She represented India in the Nuclear Sub-Committee on the status of women in 1946. In 1947–48, while with the UN Human Rights Commission, she changed the language of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to “all human beings are born free and equal”, highlighting the need for gender equality. She held different posts from 1945-1960 – the vice-chancellor of SNDT Women’s University, member of All India Secondary Board of Education, president of Inter University Board of India among others. She also wrote several books in her lifetime.
  • Kamla Chaudhary – She was a story writer in Hindi. In 1930, she participated in Civil Disobedience Movement and was arrested several times. In 1946, she was elected to the Constituent Assembly from Uttar Pradesh. She was the Senior Vice-Chairman of All India Congress Committee. Throughout her life, she worked for education of girls in villages and backward areas. She encouraged the Khadi and Village industries which had the potential to provide employment of young women.
  • Leela Roy – Born on 2nd October 1900, she was the only woman of Bengal in the Constituent Assembly. She was the first woman to get admission in the University of Dhaka and completed her M.A. She was the founder of Dipali Sangha, Chhatri Sangha, Dacca Mahila Satyagraha Sangha, Bengal Provincial Congress Women’s Organization and Jayita Mahila Sanghati. In 1931, she started publishing Jayasree, the name being suggested by Rabindranath Tagore.

She was elected to the Constituent Assembly of India in  1946, after her release from prison suffered due to participation in Quit India Movement.

  • Malati Choudhury – She was one of the first women Marxist leaders in India. She played an important role in Indian independence movement. She was born on 26th July 1904 in Bihar. Her ancestral origin was Dhaka. She was a Gandhian and during the Salt Satyaghraha, she and her husband joined Indian National Congress. In 1933, she founded Utkal Congress Samajvadi Karmi Sangh along with her husband which came to be known as the Orissa Provincial Branch of the All India Congress Socialist Party. She had also set up Bajiraut Chhatravas, Utkal Navajeevan Mandal and the Postbasic School at Champatimunda, near Angul, Orissa.
  • Purnima Banerjee – She was an active participant in Salt March and Quit India Movement, and thereby, was also imprisoned. Her steadfast commitment to socialist ideas was one of the most striking aspects of her speeches in the Constituent Assembly. Being the secretary of the Indian National Congress Committee in Allahabad, she was responsible for organizing trade unions, kisan meetings and work towards rural development.
  •  Rajkumari Amrit Kaur – She was born on 2nd February 1887 in Lucknow. She was the first Health Minister of India in 1947 and remained in position for next 10 years. She played a crucial role in establishment of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi and became its first president.  She was also a contributory in setting up Indian Council of Child Welfare. She was the Chairperson of Indian Red Cross Society for 14 years. She served as president of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, the Tuberculosis Association of India, and the St. John’s Ambulance Corps until her death.

She was named TIME Magazine’s Woman of the Year in 1947.

  • Renuka Ray – In 1934. She became the legal secretary of the All India Women’s Conference (AIWC). There, she submitted a document titled ‘Legal Disabilities of Women in India; A Plea for a Commission of Enquiry’. She supported a uniform personal law code, and said that the position of Indian women was one of the most iniquitous in the world. She was a member of Central Legislative Assembly in 1943. She served as a Minister of Relief & Rehabilitation, West Bengal during 1952-57. In 1959, she headed a committee on Social Welfare and Welfare of Backward Classes, popularly known as Renuka Ray Committee.
  •  Sarojini NaiduSarojini Naidu, popularly known as the Nightingale of India, was the first Indian woman to be the president of the Indian National Congress and to be appointed as an Indian state governor. She participated in non-cooperation movement. She had an active participation in Indian politics and worked with Mahatma Gandhi. She was popular for her literary mastery and was elected as a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1914.
  • Sucheta Kripalani – She was born in June 1908 in Punjab. She was an active participant in Indian independence movement and joined Quit India Movement. She set up the All India Mahila Congress in 1940. She was the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh and remained in office till 1967. She was the first woman Chief Minister of India.
  •  Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit – She was the sister of Jawahar Lal Nehru. She was the first woman to hold a cabinet position in pre-independence India – minister of local self-government and public health. She was India’s ambassador to Soviet Union, United States, Mexico, Ireland and Spain during different time periods. She presided the United Nations General Assembly in 1953. She became the first woman to hold this position.
  • Annie Mascarene – One of the first women to join the Travancore State Congress, she later became a member of its Working Committee. Among the 10 candidates for the parliamentary elections, she was the first woman from Kerala to be elected. She also served as a Minister in Charge of Health and Power for a brief period.