Excerpts from Speech by Kirtibai Patil at All India Depressed Classes Women’s Conference


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Excerpts of the Speech by Kirtibai Patil, Chairman of the Reception Committee, All India Depressed Classes Women’s Conference, July 20, 1942, in Nagpur. There were about 75000 people that attended where women delegates were around 25000. This was at the time of the World War-II.

“Sisters, when our men are fighting the battles for our rights, we women cannot lag behind. Due to the immense labours of our great leader Dr. Ambedkar, a new consciousness is created amongst us. Those women who are in a position to lead our sisters must approach this point from two angles.

(A) The narrow sphere left by the Hindu religion to women and its serious consequences:

Although commonly women may be required to have a household sphere of work, they cannot for all times be left in the narrow sphere. In 1886, the women of England had no right of franchise, did they, therefore, sit quietly? No. They continued their movement for obtaining the right of franchise and they did not stop till they achieved their objective. Similarly, the so-called ignorant women are also marching forward in education and art. Thus, when history is pointing the way to progress, how can we continue to follow the narrow and selfish path laid down by the Hindu religion – a path leading to continued slavery- we are as much desirous of freedom as the men-nay, this is our right and we must achieve it by our strenuous movement and efforts

(B) The Second point is the opposition from some of our own men

We may even say that such opposition is now from a very small quarter. Freedom is only needed for those who have suffered and are suffering. Freedom means to make the poor happy and contended. Our men need our help the most today in order to achieve our rights. Therefore, our first duty is to help them in every way in achieving our rights. We need to work together and not against our men, and not treat either as superior or inferior

It is absolutely necessary that we unite and work together and hence have one Central organization and through it, we should work for the spread of education and for achieving our social and political rights.

Sisters, I thank you for giving me a patient hearing.”

From – Vinay Shende

Read also –

Forgotten Lessons – The All India Depressed Classes Women’s Conference, Nagpur, 1942

Resolutions Passed in the All-India Depressed Classes Women Conference in Nagpur, 1942

18-19th July (1942) in Dalit History – All India Conference of the Depressed Classes was held at Nagpur

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