My paper explores the intersections between caste and feminism in the 21stcentury, questioning India’s future if it remains divided by ascribed status. Beginning with independence in 1947, I dissect India’s history post-colonialism and how the feminist movement gained headway during periods of political upheaval. Within the feminist movement, Indian women remain divided on the basis of caste, therefore stalling gains for true equality. India’s hope for development, increased security and peaceful negotiations will not come to fruition if the caste system persists, especially in the feminist movement.
Following India’s independence, women have been used as a marker for development, especially those belonging to the scheduled (formerly untouchable) castes. Their voices have been limited in discussions on their legal human rights, and information is not easily accessible to those living in villages, due to lack of proper information distribution. I posit that India’s physical and economic development depends on equal access to jobs and information and inclusion in political decisions by all Indian citizens, including women of all castes. In addition, India should prioritize equitable distribution of economic gains rather than show preference to men and the upper class.
Backelin-Harrison, Anika, "Intersectional India: Caste, Feminism and Development in the 21st Century" (2018). International Relations Summer Fellows. 4.
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Presented during the 20th Annual Summer Fellows Symposium, July 20, 2018 at Ursinus College.