The Thirteenth Inspirational Woman that we have today is Rajkumari Amrit Kaur. She was a freedom fighter and a member of the Constituent Assembly that drafted the Constitution of India.
Rajkumari Bibiji Amrit Kaur Ahluwalia, was an Indian activist and politician. Following her long-lasting association with the Indian independence movement, she was appointed the first Health Minister of India in 1947 and remained in office until 1957. She also held the charge of Sports Minister and Urban Development Minister and was instrumental in setting up the National Institute of Sports,Patiala.During her tenure, Kaur ushered in several healthcare reforms in India and is widely remembered for her contributions to the sector and her advocacy of women’s rights.
Following the Jallianwala Bagh massacre later that year, when the British forces shot and killed over 400 peaceful protestors in Amritsar, Punjab, Kaur became a strong critic of the British rule in India. She formally joined the Congress and began active participation in India’s independence movement while also focusing on bringing about social reform. She was strongly opposed to the practice of purdah and to child marriage, and campaigned to abolish the devadasi system in India.
Kaur co-founded the All India Women’s Conference in 1927 She was later appointed its secretary in 1930, and president in 1933. She was imprisoned by the British authorities for her participation in the Dandi March, led by Mahatama Gandhi in 1930.
As a representative of the Indian National Congress, in 1937 she went on a mission of goodwill to Bannu, in the present-day Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. The British Raj authorities charged her with sedition and imprisoned her.Rajkumari with Mahatma Gandhi, Shimla 1945
The British authorities appointed her as a member of the Advisory Board of Education, but she resigned from the position following her involvement with the Quit India Movement in 1942. She was imprisoned by the authorities for her actions during the time.
She championed the cause of universal suffrage, and testified before the Lothian Committee on Indian franchise and constitutional reforms, and before the Joint Select Committee of British Parliament on Indian constitutional reforms.
Kaur served as the Chairperson of the All India Women’s Education Fund Association. She was a member of the Executive Committee of Lady Irwin College in New Delhi. She was sent as a member of the Indian delegation to UNESCO conferences in London and Paris in 1945 and 1946, respectively. She also served as a member of the Board of Trustees of the All India Spinners’ Association.
Kaur worked to reduce illiteracy, and eradicate the custom of child marriages and the purdah system for women, which were then prevalent among some Indian communities.
Following India’s independence from the colonial rule in August 1947, Kaur was elected from the United Provinces to the Indian Constituent Assembly, the government body that was assigned to design the Constitution of India. She was also a member of Sub-Committee on Fundamental Rights and Sub-Committee on Minorities. As a member of the Constituent Assembly, she supported a proposal for a Uniform Civil Code in India. She also advocated for universal franchise, opposed affirmative action for women, and debated the language concerning the protection of religious rights.
After India’s independence, Amrit Kaur became part of Jawaharlal Nehru’s first Cabinet; she was the first woman to hold Cabinet rank, serving for ten years. She was assigned the Ministry of Health. In 1950, she was elected the president of World Health Assembly. As Health Minister, Kaur led a major campaign to fight the spread of malaria in India.She also lead the campaign to eradicate Tuberculosis and was the driving force behind the largest B.C.G vaccination programme in the world.
As the health minister, Kaur played an instrumental role in establishment of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi, and became its first president. Kaur introduced a bill in the Lok Sabha for the establishment of AIIMS in 1956, following a recommendation made after the Government of India conducted a national health survey. Kaur was instrumental in raising funds for the establishment of AIIMs, securing aid from New Zealand, Australia, West Germany, Sweden, and the United States. She and one of her brothers donated their ancestral property and house (named Manorville) in Simla, Himachal Pradesh to serve as a holiday home for the staff and nurses of the Institute.
Kaur was also instrumental in founding the Indian Council of Child Welfare.Kaur served as the Chairperson of the Indian Red Cross society for fourteen years. During her leadership, the Indian Red Cross did a number of pioneering works in the hinterlands of India. She served on the boards of governmental bodies aimed at fighting tuberculosis and leprosy. She started the Amrit Kaur College of Nursing and the National Sports Club of India.
From 1957 until her death in 1964, she remained a member of Rajya Sabha. Between 1958 and 1963 Kaur was the president of the All-India Motor Transport Congress in Delhi. Until her death, she continued to hold the presidencies of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, the Tuberculosis Association of India, and the St. John’s Ambulance Corps. She also was awarded the Rene Sand Memorial Award,and was named TIME Magazine’s Woman of the Year in 1947.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.
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We also have a Facebook Group Restarter Moms for Mothers or Women who would like to rejoin their careers post a career break or women who are enterpreneurs.
We are also running a series Inspirational Women from January 2021 to March 31,2021, featuring around 1000 stories about Indian Women, who changed the world. #choosetochallenge
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