Socio-political movements by women: Case Study of Shaheen Bagh in India


Socio-political movements by women have driven global and national action on gender equality. These movements provide a better understanding of the deficiencies that women and girls face as also their essential knowledge and strength of how to advance for their rights. While pushing for change and equitable system, they develop leadership skills, some even use these in turn to enter and transform political arena. In 2019 only, thousands of women were seen demonstrating in France against gender based violence and sexual abuse. Women in Chile, Argentina, Sudan, Lebanon and Hungary have been extremely active and leading the way in the protests. These women demand gender equality in varied areas and freedom from oppression. Looking into agenda, women in Argentina are fighting for abortion rights; women in Lebanon are raising their voice against patriarchy and women in Romania are demanding fair access to healthcare and education. Around the globe, women are fuelling democratic and social movements and pushing for the agenda that will usher a change in the social and political structure.

In India, women have come on the streets to oppose Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Register of Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR). While Government of India has conducted NRC in the state of Assam and is preparing for nationwide NRC, Parliament has passed CAA for granting citizenship to migrants of neighbouring countries on the basis of religion. In the wake of these policy decisions, minorities feel apprehensive of religious discrimination and fearful for losing their citizenship. Women among minorities have shown more courage than men and have launched a massive movement against discriminatory policies of the government. Shaheen Bagh in the national capital New Delhi has emerged as the centre of this movement. The middle class and lower middle class women of minorities are in the lead for the last two months. The methods used in this movement include occupation of public spaces (even the blockade of a road) which symbolizes defiance to power. Images of these women have hit the national and international media. The government has refused to acknowledge this movement and rejected the demands of these women.

By using the case study method, the Shaheen Bagh movement has been studied here to understand the women power with regard to a socio-political movement. The study is focused to find out the motivation and analyse the capabilities of these little educated lower strata minority women in leading and sustaining a massive movement to resist their discrimination and to avert an imminent danger to their (also their male counterparts’) national identity. The innovative communication tools used by these women on the ground and in the digital domain, and the positive coverage given by a large section of media to this movement provide an opportunity to researchers. This study assumes significance in the light of the fact that women of lower strata with little exposure to the outside world have provided leadership to a movement with serious social and political connotations.

Key Words: Women, freedom, citizenship, movement, discrimination