Who is Fatima Sheikh, the late Indian educator honoured by Google Doodle?
Google marks the birth anniversaries of several renowned personalities with a special doodle and on Sunday, the global tech giant celebrated the 191st birthday of Fatima Sheikh, educator and feminist icon.
Sheikh, born on January 9, 1831, in Pune, is widely regarded as the country’s first Muslim woman teacher. She, along with fellow social reformers Jyotirao Phule and Savitribai Phule, co-founded the Indigenous Library in 1848, one of India’s first schools for girls, the company said.
“She lived with her brother Usman, and the siblings opened their home to the Phules after the couple was evicted for attempting to educate people in lower castes. The Indigenous Library opened under the Sheikhs' roof. Here, Savitribai Phule and Fatima Sheikh taught communities of marginalised Dalit and Muslim women and children who were denied education based on class, religion, or gender,” Google said.
Sheikh was a champion of the ‘Satyashodhak Samaj’ (Truthseekers’ Society) – the equality movement by the Phules to provide educational opportunities to the downtrodden communities – and went door-to-door and invited the members in her community to learn at the Indigenous Library to escape the rigidity of the Indian caste system. She met great resistance from the dominant classes who attempted to humiliate those involved in the Satyashodhak movement, but Sheikh and her allies persisted.
The Indian government, in 2014, shone new light on her achievements by featuring her profile in Urdu textbooks alongside other trailblazing Indian educators.