Today’s Google’s Doodle is dedicated to Kamini Roy, a renowned Bengali poet, social worker and feminist during the British rule in India. Today’s Doodle honor her on her 155th birth anniversary. “Why should a woman be confined to home and denied her rightful place in society?” wrote the Bengali poet, educator, and activist Kamini Roy in 1924. Kamini Roy was the first woman to graduate with honors in the history of India. She went on to advocate for the rights of all women.
She was born on this day in 1864 in the Bakerganj district of British India. But that part of India is now in Bangladesh and she grew up in a prominent family. Her brother got elected as Mayor of Calcutta, and her sister was a physician for Nepal’s Royal Family. Though interested in mathematics, Roy began writing poetry at an early age.
During a time when women were expected to focus primarily on marriage, Kamini was determined to pursue education. In 1886, she graduated with a degree in Sanskrit from Bethune College, earning her Bachelors in Arts with honors. In college, she met Abala Bose, who went on to be known for her social work in women’s education. Who also popularly alleviated the condition of widows. Her friendship with Bose would inspire her interest in advocating for women’s rights.
After graduation, Kamini became a teacher at Bethune. She published Alo O Chhaya, the first of her many books of poems, in 1889. By forming organizations to champion causes she believed in, she helped advance feminism on the Indian subcontinent. She also worked to help Bengali women win the right to vote in 1926. For her literary accomplishments, Calcutta University in 1929 awarded Kamini Roy the Jagattarini medal. The great poet Rabindranath Tagore and Sanskrit literature had a lot of influence on her as well.