In News: On her 192nd birth anniversary in 2022, Fatima Shaikh was honoured with a Google Doodle on her birthday.
- She was a pioneering teacher, anti-caste activist, proponent of girls’ education, and social reformer in 19th century Maharashtra.
- She befriended Savitribai Phule when the two were enrolled in a teachers’ training programme by American missionary Cynthia Farrar.
- While in the programme, both developed a bond over their politics and mission to educate those who had been traditionally denied knowledge and education.
- She was a pioneering figure whose life, at a time when regressive attitudes towards women and bahujans pervaded society, is a testimony to her courage.
- No surviving documents of Fatima Sheikh are available today.
- In 1848, she started the first girls’ school in the country, along with Savitribai and Jyotirao Phule, amidst loud, threatening opposition.
- The school was opened inside the premises of Fatima’s home in Pune.
- Other schools for Dalits and women followed, with Fatima and Savitribai going to individual families across the town in attempts to persuade them into enrolling their children.
- As many from their own community abandoned them, Fatima Sheikh and her brother stood strongly with the Phules and the mission to educate girls and bahujans.
- The two women would often have stones and pieces of dung thrown at them while walking in the streets.
- Fatima specifically is said to have borne the wrath of both upper-caste Hindus and orthodox Muslims.
- Under pressure from upper castes, Jyotirao’s father evicted Savitribai and Jyotirao from the family home in the late 1840s. With nowhere else to go, the Phules would find shelter at the house of Mian Usman Sheikh, where they would live till 1856.
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Source Indian express