Today marks the 155th birth anniversary of Kamini Roy, who was the first woman to graduate with honors in British India. Google is celebrating her birthday by dedicating today’s doodle to Kamini Roy– a poet, educator, and women’s rights activist. She was also a renowned feminist who worked towards women’s education and their right to vote. She wrote her poems in Bengali.

Born on 12 October in 1864, she joined Bethune school in 1883. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in the Sanskrit language in 1886 from Bethune College of the University of Calcutta and also started teaching in the same college.

Key Takeaways:

  • Roy was the first woman to graduate with honors in British India.
  • She is known to have advocated women’s rights and feminism in India.
  • It was because of her efforts that Bengali women could cast their votes in the 1926 Indian General Elections.
  • Though she had an early passion for mathematics, she went on to pursue Sanskrit and graduated in the same from Bethune College.

Among one of the earliest girls to receive school education in India

She was also among one the earliest girls to receive school education in India. Kamini Roy came from a family of elite Bengalis. Her father was a judge and a writer, and she picked up writing from him. She started writing at the age of eight. Her first book of poems was published in 1889. It was called Alo O Chhaya.

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Born on 12 October in 1864, she joined Bethune school in 1883. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in the Sanskrit language in 1886 from Bethune College of the University of Calcutta and also started teaching in the same college.

Advancing Feminism In Indian Society

While teaching at the Bethune College, she met a fellow student, Abala Bose, who is said to have inspired Bose to take up the cause of women empowerment and feminism. While conversing with the girls of a school in Calcutta, she said, (which were later rephrased by Bharati Ray), “the aim of women’s education was to contribute to their all-round development and fulfillment of their potential.”

While she gave up teaching and writing after the birth of her children, she took up writing again after the death of her husband and her elder son, in 1909. She also went out of her way to encourage writers and poets.

Also, in a Bengali essay titled, “The Fruit of The Tree of Knowledge”, she wrote, “The male desire to rule is the primary, if not the only, stumbling block to women’s enlightenment … They are extremely suspicious of women’s emancipation. Why? The same old fear – ‘Lest they become like us’.”

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Bangiya Nari Samaj- An Organization To Fight For Women’s Suffrage

She also led Bangiya Nari Samaj along with Kumudini Mitra (Basu) and Mrinalini Sen. The organization fought for women’s suffrage in India. Thanks to their efforts, that in 1925, the Bengali Legislative Council granted limited suffrage to the women and in 1926, Bengali women were allowed the vote for the first time in the Indian General Election.

Going against the usual norm of marrying at an early age, she married Kedarnath Roy at the age of 30. She had two children and quit teaching in 1894. After her children were born, she also quit writing. However, after the death of her husband and her elder son, she again took writing in 1909. She also went out of her way to encourage writers and poets.

Picture Credit- Scroll.in

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