Google Doodle on Sunday honoured Fatima Sheikh, who is widely considered to be India’s first Muslim woman teacher. The Indian educator and feminist icon cofounded the Indigenous Library in 1848, one of India’s first schools for girls, alongside Jyotirao and Savitribai Phule.
Born on January 9 in 1831, Sheikh and her brother Usman took the Phules after the couple was evicted for attempting to educate people in lower castes. Savitribai and Fatima Sheikh then opened The Indigenous Library. The two taught Muslim and Dalit women and children who were denied education based on class, religion or gender.
Fatima and Savitribai studied in the same teacher training institute to be trained as professional teachers. They continued to teach and work together in their school until 1856.
As a staunch supporter and lifelong champion of Phules’ Satyashodhak Samaj (Truthseekers’ Society) movement, an effort to provide educational opportunities to those born into India’s lower castes, Sheikh went door-to-door to invite people of lower castes to study at the Indigenous Library.
Very little literature is available on the life and works of Fatima Sheikh. The Indian government made an attempt to acknowledge her role as a social reformer and educator in 2014, when her brief profile was included in the school Urdu textbooks of Bal Bharati Maharashtra State Bureau along with the likes of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, Zakir Hussain and Abul Kalam Azad.
Google Doodles are temporary, special changes that the Google makes on its logo to celebrate landmark events, occasions, holidays and lives of various pioneers.