Fatima Sheikh

Fatima Sheikh 191st Birth Anniversary: Google honours social reformer and feminist hero

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Google has created a doodle to commemorate the 191st birthday of Indian educator and feminist hero Fatima Sheikh, often regarded as India’s first Muslim woman teacher. Sheikh co-founded the Indigenous Library, one of India’s earliest schools for females, in 1848 with fellow pioneers and social reformers Jyotirao and Savitribai Phule.

Fatima Sheikh, the first Muslim woman teacher in India, was born in 1831 in Pune. Along with other pioneers and social reformers Jyotirao and Savitribai Phule, she co-founded the Indigenous Library, one of India’s earliest schools for girls, in 1848. After the couple was evicted for teaching individuals from lower castes, Sheikh and her brother, Usman, gave their house to the Phules.

Sheikh began instructing Dalit youngsters, and the three of them were tasked with spreading education to the underprivileged. They educated Dalit and Muslim women and children who had been denied an education because of their gender, class, or religion. Sheikh used to travel door-to-door in her village, inviting the poor and oppressed to study at the Indigenous Library and break free from the rigidity of the Indian caste system.

The Satyashodhak Samaj (Truthseekers’ Society) movement was born out of her and Phules’ attempts to give education chances to the lower castes. But, like the Phule’s, she ran into opposition from the ruling classes, who tried to humiliate individuals participating in the Satyashodhak movement.

Even though Sheikh’s tale has been neglected in the past, the Indian government gave her a boost in 2014 by including her biography in Urdu textbooks with other pioneering Indian educators.