The 19th century was the period that saw a majority of women's issues come under the spotlight and reforms began to be made.Much of the early reforms for Indian women were conducted by men.But feminism as an initiative by women started independently a little later in Maharashtra by pioneering advocates of women's rights and education, Savitribai Phule, who started the first school for girls in India, Tarabai Shinde who wrote India's first feminist text, and Pandita Ramabai who criticized patriarchy and caste-system in Hinduism, married outside her caste and converted to Christianity.
This has led to the creation of caste-specific feminist organisations and movements.
In India, women's issues first began to be addressed when the state commissioned a report on the status of women to a group of feminist researchers and activists.
The male and female dichotomy of polar opposites with the former oppressing the latter at all times is refuted in the Indian context because it was men who initiated social reform movements against various social evils. Relational hierarchies between women within the same family are more adverse. Many Indian feminists simultaneously claim a specific "Indian" sensitivity as well as an international feminist solidarity with groups and individuals worldwide.
The rise of liberal feminism in the West in the 1970s focused deeply on demands for equal opportunities in education and employment, as well as ending violence against women.
One such right which the wife owes to her husband is being head of the household.
The heterogeneity of the Indian experience reveals that there are multiple patriarchies, contributing to the existence of multiple feminisms.
To a large extent, the emerging feminist movement in India was influenced by Western ideals.
These called for education and equal rights, but also adapted their appeals to local issues and concerns, such as dowry-related violence against women, Sati, sex selective abortion and custodial rape.
Some Indian feminists have suggested that these issues are not specifically "Indian" in nature but rather a reflection of a wider trend of patriarchal oppression of women.
According to Chaudhuri, unlike the Western feminist movement, India's movement was initiated by men, and later joined by women.
This is because though mothers there are in forefront of most of the social activism, the society has always been patriarchal.