Indira Gandhi

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Examine techniques Indira Gandhi uses in "True Liberation of Women" to explore aspects of human experience.

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Indira Gandhi employs a variety of techniques in her speech, "True Liberation of Women," in order to explore aspects of human experience. Let's see some examples.

First, she uses a great deal of alliteration and parallelism, often at once. Here is the first instance of these techniques I noted:

Yet, in my concern for the underprivileged, how can I ignore women who, since the beginning of history, have been dominated over and discriminated against in social customs and in laws.

Note the repeating and harsh consonant sounds, "dominated . . . discriminated," as well as the powerful repetition of syntax: "dominated over and discriminated against," "in social customs and in laws." With these techniques, Gandhi references the painful experiences that women have shared under the whip hand of men.

Second, she uses an appeal to authority, repeating the ideas published by an eminent college president, via both direct citation as well as indirect paraphrase:

I quote: "The penetration of the habit of language into the minds of little girls as they grow up to be women is more profound than most people, including most women, have realized. For, it implies that personality is really a male attribute and that women are a sub or a human sub-species." The author goes on to say that it is time we looked more carefully where the thoughtless use of stereotypes is taking us.

By explaining human experiences through the words of this authority, whom she identifies as "Mr. Ling White, the President of Mills College in the USA," Gandhi makes it clear that women have often been marginalized through the insidious power of language.

Finally, Gandhi employs figurative language, unifying our future human experiences by comparing them to a physical march that people must embark on together:

We want to walk together and in step with all others, but if men hesitate, should not women show the way?

These techniques, taken together, relate human experiences clearly and elegantly to the audience—both to the listeners who were present when Gandhi delivered this speech at the inauguration of the All-India Women's Conference Building Complex and to the readers who, today, access Gandhi's speech in its written format.

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In her speech, Indira Gandhi makes it clear that the struggle of women  to be fully recognized is no different than any group seeking to have their voice validated.  She is smart enough to understand that there will be a greater resonance in her message if she is able to link the struggle of women to a broader struggle of voice being acknowledged.  Similar to the Indian independence movement, Gandhi is able to fully embrace this idea.  She suggests that the need to acknowledge the woman's voice is reflective of a larger human struggle for validation:

To be liberated, woman must feel free to be herself, not in rivalry to man but in the context of her own capacity and her personality. We need women to be more interested, more alive and more active not because they are women but because they do comprise half the human race.

The need to be validated is something that Gandhi later asserts is "the quality of India itself."  In this, she is clearly asserting that the struggle of women's liberation can be seen as part of a larger narrative, more human in scope.  When she speaks of the "effort" to combat the problems facing human beings in the modern setting, Gandhi does so in terms that are more humanistic than feminist: "The effort has to be a universal one, conscious and concerted, considering no one too small to contribute. The effort must embrace all nationalities and all classes regardless of religion, caste or sex."  In this, one can see the techniques of inclusion that enable her message to be more widely accepted.  At the same time, such a technique prevents her from falling into the same linguistic trap as those who deny women's voice through exclusion.

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