In the United States, Women’s Equality Day is celebrated on 26 August to commemorate the adoption of Amendment XIX (Nineteenth Amendment) of the United States Constitution in 1920 to prohibit the states from depriving citizens of the United States of the right to vote based on their gender identity.
It was first celebrated in 1971, designated by Congress in 1973, and proclaimed by the President of the United States each year.
Although the day is a National celebration centric in the USA, there is no denying that Women’s Equality Day shouldn’t be limited to that single scope. The day in itself has a major impact on the international level when it comes to women’s right to vote.
To commemorate the day, we will look at some of the most relevant and must-watch Indian language movies that explore the female struggle, determination and triumph in society.
Starring Nimisha Sajayan and Suraj Venjaramoodu, this Malayalam language movie was an eye-opener. This movie rips through patriarchy, the foundation of family and religion, even in modern India. The story follows a woman’s struggle to be the submissive wife her husband and family expect her to be and her journey to change herself – more like, not to change herself to appease the societal rules women should abide by.
Written and directed by Aparna Sen, the movie tells the story of Violet, a middle-aged Anglo-Indian teacher living alone at 36 Chowringhee Lane in Calcutta. When a former student and her boyfriend start visiting, Violet welcomes them with open arms. There’s beauty and strength in being by yourself, and the way the main character doesn’t let her friends’ trickery affect her reflects the comfort a woman finds in having her own space and enjoying her own company. A liberated woman is content in her own company, after all.
Internationally released as The New Classmate, this fun and thought-provoking film highlight the importance of education for women. In the film, Swara Bhaskar plays Chanda Sahay, a high school dropout, housemaid, and single mom. Soon, she starts dreaming of a new future. Throughout the film, the audience is gently prompted to recognise the humanity of those deprived of equality in all aspects of life due to poverty.
Nirupama’s story speaks to Indian women who are often taken for granted and blamed for everything. Rajeev, her husband, is told he has to move to Ireland for work, and Nirupama wants to go with him. Rajeev tells his wife, “But it’s not possible because of the high cost of living in Ireland.” How Old Are You is about Nirupama finding her forgotten self and taking back control, encouraging its viewers of the same.
Starring Jyothika, Urvashi, Bhanupriyaand Saranya Ponvannan, Magalir Mattum literally translates to Ladies Only. “This film is a celebration of women. It will make the audience celebrate the women in their lives. We should inculcate mutual respect and empathy for both genders, which is what I have tried to do in Magalir Mattum,’ said the movie director.
The movie Parched, directed by Leena Yadav, narrates the story of four village women who are intertwined but have different daily challenges and stories. The recreation of ground realities is strikingly accurate, with the moral police masquerading as the Panchayat, considering the so-called detrimental effects of television and mobile phones on women’s “sanskaar” – the film becomes a mirror for the everyday activities of our society, whether they are urban or rural.
An old man’s widow, Unnimaya, 17, is ostracised by the community. Her relationship with Madhavan, a Kathakali artist, is complicated when she becomes pregnant. A poignant commentary on Brahminical patriarchy, Unnimaya traverses the journey from widow to champion her self-esteem and self-respect.

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