Google Doodle is today celebrating the 155th birth anniversary of Kamini Roy. It is to be noted that Kamini Roy was the first woman to graduate with honors in the history of India, who went on to advocate for the rights of all women. Also, she was a Bengali poet, educator and activist.
Born on this day in 1864 in the Bakerganj district of British India—now part of Bangladesh—Roy grew up in a prominent family. Her brother was elected Mayor of Calcutta, and her sister was a physician for Nepal’s Royal Family. Though interested in mathematics, Kamini 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 B.A. with honors. In college, she met another student, Abala Bose, who went on to be known for her social work in women’s education and alleviating 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 and 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, Kamini Roy was awarded the Jagattarini medal by Calcutta University in 1929. “Why should a woman be confined to home and denied her rightful place in society?” Kamini Roy wrote 1924.
Kamini Roy died in 1933.