COMMENTARY – Blended Memory: Kashmir’s Cultural Front and America’s Nineteenth Amendment

Dr. Nyla Ali Khan

As we celebrate the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment in the United States (on August 18, 1920), which gave women the right to vote, I am reminded of the rights that the women of Jammu and Kashmir enjoyed as early as 1947. 
Because of the propaganda from every side, several people don’t realize that. 

Women in my homeland gained new rights and increasingly asserted themselves in politics – and this momentous shift in traditional gender relationships opened up new possibilities for the pursuit of democracy and regional peace. 

In 1947, Kashmiri women formed a coalition across religious and class divides to further the nationalist consciousness of a society in the process of self-determining.

The work done by this organization was culturally regenerative, politically emancipatory, and socially redemptive.

The women’s movement was by no means elitist or exclusionary. In addition to upper-and middle-class women, even grass-roots workers were active participants in the women’s movement. 

The Cultural Front of this movement sought to unite a variety of religious and regional groups in a single, national movement.

Most of the members of this coalition were wives and mothers who shared the nationalist hopes, anxieties, ardent desire to be the architects of their future and inscribe their own destinies along with their male counterparts. 

Their participation in the fervent political awakening and cultural resurgence of that era did not, by any means, endorse the traditionally submissive and self-denying role of the wife and mother.

Note: A native of Kashmir, Nyla Ali Khan is a citizen of the United States. Recently selected as  Advisory Council chair for the Oklahoma Commission on the Status of Women, her essays on diverse topics appear regularly at, an online news service, and in The City Sentinel newspaper in Oklahoma City.