The Fourteenth Inspirational Woman that we have today is Renuka Ray,
She joined All India Women’s Conference and worked hard to champion women’s rights and inheritance rights in parental property. In 1932 she became President of All India Women’s Conference. She was also its President for the years 1953-54.
In 1943 she was nominated to Central Legislative Assembly as a representative of women of India. She was also a member of Constituent Assembly of India in 1946-47.
She was appointed as Minister of Relief & Rehabilitation, West Bengal in the years 1952-57. She was also Lok Sabha member for the years 1957-1967 from Malda Lok Sabha constituency. In year 1959 she headed a committee on Social Welfare and Welfare of Backward Classes, which is popularly known as Renuka Ray Committee.
At the young age of 16, she met Gandhi. She was massively influenced by him and boycotted the British Education System in response to his call for action. However, on his insistence, she went back to finish her education. She went to Kensington School and shortly after, she went to the London School of Economics to pursue a B.A.
When Renuka Ray returned to India, she joined All India Women’s Conference and worked relentlessly to champion women’s rights and inheritance rights in parental property. She was nominated as an independent member to discuss possible legal changes in the laws pertaining to women. In 1932, she became President of All India Women’s Conference. In 1943 she was nominated to Central Legislative Assembly as a representative of women of India. She was also a member of Constituent Assembly of India in 1946-47.
She also served on the Planning Commission and on the Governing Body of Visva Bharati University in Shanti Niketan.
She established the All Bengal Women’s Union and the Women’s Coordinating Council. Her memoir is titled My Reminiscences: Social Development during the Gandhian Era and After.
In 1934, as the Legal Secretary of the AIWC, she submitted a document titled ‘Legal Disabilities of Women in India; A Plea for a Commission of Enquiry’. This articulated the committee’s disappointment with the treatment of the Sharda Bill. Sharda Bill, which was the Child Marriage Restraint Act, fixed the age of marriage for girls at 14 years and boys at 18 years (It was later amended to 18 for girls and 21 for boys). Her document showed their commitment to legally review of the situation of women before the Law in India. Renuka argued for a uniform personal law code, arguing that the position of Indian women was one of the most iniquitous in the world.
In 1959, she also headed a committee on Social Welfare and Welfare of Backward Classes, which is popularly known as Renuka Ray Committee. This committee, under her leadership, submitted its report and recommended that a separate department should be created under the Ministry of Home Affairs for backward classes. However, contrary to the recommendations by the Renuka Ray Committee, the Welfare of Backward Classes continued to be handled initially by the Department of Social Security and later, by the Department of Social Welfare.
She once visited 7 coal mines of the Jharia Coal Belt, where many women were employed. The scenes she saw there were so horrifying that she and her colleagues drew up a report urging that women not be allowed to continue in this hazardous occupation, and that the AIWC must immediately take on the responsibility of finding them alternative employment, a task which they recognised would not be easy. She was also a staunch believer in the importance of consumer rights. She insisted with utmost assertion that the defence industry should never be privatised.
Ray was a powerful orator, and through her well-articulated, informed speeches in the Assembly sessions, she made her stance on various issues that concern our country absolutely clear.
Secularism is an ideal Ray held up with utmost certainty. She asserted, “We have never stood nor do we stand today for Hindu domination; we do not want that Hindus as such as a religious community shall override any other interests.” For Ray, the larger interest of the nation was of paramount importance, such as education.
While debating the citizenship clause, Ray said, “Turning to the citizenship Clause, I think there should be a categorical statement in it about a single uniform citizenship with equal rights and privileges. As rights involve responsibilities, so it is necessary that the obligations of citizenship should also be enumerated in this Clause.” She was a vehement champion of a Uniform Civil Code.
She strongly condemned the Devasi system and asserted, “Devdasi system—the dedication of women in temples—must be abolished by a categorical provision in the Constitution, as it would be better procedure as the custom still lingers in some areas.” She strongly criticised the trafficking of women and its continuance in her time. Further, she believed that a woman’s intelligence and her abilities resulted in her growth. She added, “Women in this country have striven for their rights, for equality of status, for justice and fairplay and most of all to be able to take their part in responsible work in the service of their country. The social backwardness of women has been sought to be exploited in the same manner as backwardness of so many sections in this country by those who wanted to deny the country its freedom.”
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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