I have included service of women in the constructive programme, for though Satyagraha has automatically brought India's women out from their darkness, as nothing else could have in such an incredibly short space of time, Congressmen have not felt the call to see that women became equal partners in the fight for Swaraj. They have not realized that woman must be the true helpmate of man in the mission of service. Woman has been suppressed under custom and law for which man was responsible and in the shaping of which she had no hand. In a plan of life based on non-violence, woman has as much right to shape her own destiny as man has to shape his. But as every right in a non-violent society proceeds from the previous performance of a duty, it follows that rules of social conduct must be framed by mutual co-operation and consultation. They can never be imposed from outside. Men have not realized this truth in its fullness in their behaviour towards women. They have considered themselves to be lords and masters of women instead of considering them as their friends and co-workers. It is the privilege of Congressmen to give the women of India a lifting hand. Women are in the position somewhat of the slave of old who did not know that he could or ever had to be free. And when freedom came, for the moment he felt helpless. Women have been taught to regard themselves as slaves of men. It is up to Congressmen to see that they enable them to realize their full status and play their part as equals of men.
This revolution is easy, if the mind is made up.
Let Congressmen begin with their own homes. Wives should not be dolls and
objects of indulgence, but should be treated as honoured comrades in common
service. To this end those who have not received a liberal education should
receive such instruction as is possible from their husbands. The same
observation applies, with the necessary changes, to mothers and daughters.
It is hardly necessary to point out that I have
given a one-sided picture of the helpless state of India's women. I am quite
conscious of the fact that in the villages generally' they hold their own with
their men folk and in some respects even rule them. But to the impartial
outsider the legal and customary status of woman is bad enough throughout and
demands radical alteration.