Kamini Roy — Rise of feminism

Kamini Roy
Kamini roy

Kamini Roy — Rise of feminism

A tribute to the legend

Kamini Roy

Now a days we can observe many activists and organizations who are fighting for women rights and their betterment with advocacy of women’s equal rights and their empowerment.

When we discuss feminism, a name cannot be escaped or omitted. Yes, the name which flourishes in golden letters and cannot be forgotten is “Kamini Roy”– a famous Bengali poetess, female activist and educationist or pre-independent India.

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About Kamini Roy:

Shri Chandi Charan Sen”- a judge and a writer also a leading member of the Brahmo Samaj was blessed by a baby girl on 12 October 1864, presently in Barisal District of Bangladesh, the then village of Basanda, in Bakergunj District of Bengal Presidency under British India. He named her “Kamini”. She was one of the first girls to attend school in pre-independent India. Culture and education were inherited by Kamini since birth. She learnt a lot from her father’s collection of books, and she used her father’s library extensively to expand her knowledge as she understood that this is the only weapon which can support every aspect of life.

Maintaining the repute of an educated and aristocrat family, her brother “Shri Nisith Chandra Sen”, was also a renowned barrister in the Calcutta High Court, who later became the “Mayor of Calcutta”. On the other hand, her sister “Jamini” was the house physician of the then Royal family of Nepal.

During those days when women were expected to focus primarily on marriage and settle with her family, Kamini fought against all odds and pursued her education with full determination. She graduated from Bethune College under the University of Calcutta in 1886 and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with Sanskrit honours though she had a deep interest in Mathematics. She was the first female student to graduate with honours subject in pre-independent British India. Among the first two women honours graduates ever in the country, “Kadambini Ganguly” was another remarkable lady during this period though she was three years senior to Kamini in the same institution.

After the completion of her graduation from Bethune College, she started teaching there after getting an offer in the same year maintaining the repute of her aristocrat family. In 1894 she got hitched to Shri “Kedarnath Roy”. She was blessed with two children. After this, she retired from her writing profession. When her readers asked, why she had stopped writing? She replied, “Her children were her living poems.” Kamini restituted writing poetry after the death of her husband, Shri Kedarnath Roy in 1909 and her oldest son.

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Kamini Roy’s contribution:

While in college, she met another like-minded fellow student named “Abala Bose”, who was well reputed for her social work in women’s education and alleviating the poor condition of widows. She befriends with “Abala Bose” and her work inspired “Kamini” in advocating for women’s rights. She picked up the cue for feminism and decided to dedicate her life to women’s rights.

In 1883 during the tenure of Viceroy Lord Ripon “Ilbert Bill” popularly known as “the White Mutiny” written by Sir Courtenay Peregrine Ilbert (The law member of the Viceroy’s Council) was introduced. Majority of English women opposed this bill and later on in 1884 Lord Ripon passed the bill with an amendment in it. The bill stated “Jurisdiction to try Europeans would be conferred on European and Indian District Magistrates and Sessions Judges alike. However, a defendant would in all cases have the right to claim trial by a jury of which at least half the members must be European”. In other words, Indian judges were also empowered to hear cases in which European citizens were involved.

Kamini Roy supported this bill with Indian social workers and citizens were supporting her.

She also created awareness among women through her poems, stories and write-ups.

In 1921, she was one of the influential leaders, along with Kumudini Mitra (Basu) and Mrinalini Sen, of the “Bangiya Nari Samaj” — an organization formed to fight for woman’s suffrage. In order to give women, the right to vote in the then Bengal, she ran a long campaign advocating for women’s rights.

At last in 1925, The Bengal Legislative Council granted limited suffrage to women, allowing Bengali women to exercise their rights for the first time. Finally, in the year 1926 Indian general election, women were given the right to vote. The feat is notable as even in Europe and France, women couldn’t vote till 1944. Greece allowed women to vote in 1952 whereas Switzerland allowed women to vote as late as 1971.

As a member of the “Female Labour Investigation Commission” (1922–23) she did many other works to strengthen the rights of women and empowering them by all possible means.

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Kamini Roy was also a proficient and an influenceable poetess and a writer. Her writing style was very simple, and she used easy-to-understand language so that she can cater to the mass.

Influenced by poet Rabindranath Tagore and Sanskrit literature, Kamini Roy published her first collection of verses, “Alo Chhaya” in 1889 and then two more books were published.

She went out of her way to encourage other writers and poets as well. In 1923, she visited Barisal (presently in Bangladesh) and encouraged “Sufia Kamal”, then a young girl, to continue writing.

Apart from these, among her notable literary contributions are:

Ø Mahasweta

Ø Pundorik

Ø Pouraniki

Ø Dwip O Dhup

Ø Jibon Pathey

Ø Nirmalya

Ø Malya O Nirmalya

Ø Ashok Sangeet

Ø Gunjan (Children’s book)

Ø Balika Sikkhar Adarsha (a book of songs and essays for children)

She was honoured with the Jagattarini Gold Medal by Calcutta University

She became the president of Bangla Literature Summit (1930) and vice-president of Bangiya Sahitya Parishad in 1932–33.

In the year 1933, she ended her physical journey on earth and started her new journey for her heavenly abode.

In occasion of her 155th birth anniversary, Google commemorated Kamini Roy with a Doodle On 12 October 2019.

She will always be remembered for her immortal quote “Why should a woman be confined to the home and denied her rightful place in society?”

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About Upal Chakraborty 14 Articles
Upal Chakraborty is a Professional Educational Coach, a Content Creator, an author, a ghostwriter and a blogger with experience over the last 17+ years in the education and training industry.

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