Fatima Sheikh Birth Anniversary: Google Doodle Pays Tribute

Fatima Sheikh was an Indian educator, who was a colleague of the social reformers Jyotiba Phule and Savitribai Phule. Fatima Sheikh was the sister of Mian Usman Sheikh, in whose house Jyotiba and Savitribai Phule took up residence. One of the first Muslim women teachers of modern India, she started educating Dalit children in Phules' school. Jyotiba and Savitribai Phule along with Fatima Sheikh took charge of spreading education among the downtrodden communities.

Fatima Sheikh Birth Anniversary

Sheikh met Savitribai Phule while both were enrolled at a teacher training institution run by Cynthia Farrar, an American missionary. She taught at all five schools that the Phules went on to establish and she taught children of all religions and castes. Sheikh took part in the founding of two schools in Bombay in 1851.

On 9 January 2022, Google honoured Fatima with a doodle on her 191st birth anniversary.

Fatima Sheikh

Google is on Sunday celebrating the 191st birth anniversary of educator and feminist icon Fatima Sheikh with a meticulously-crafted doodle. She is widely known as India's first Muslim woman teacher. Hailed as "lifelong champion" in her field, Sheikh, alongside social reformers Jyotirao and Savitribai Phule, co-founded one of India's first schools for girls in 1848 and named it the Indigenous Library.

The beautiful Google Doodle in a combination of white, blue and yellow adds an illustration of Sheikh along with two open books in the background. The doodle is simple yet presents Sheikh's career at a glance.

Fatima Sheikh overcame caste-based resistance in field of education

Born on January 9, 1831, in Pune, Fatima Sheikh is hailed for her resilience and pioneering role in supporting the idea of education for all. As a young girl, she lived with her brother Usman. The siblings opened their home to Jyotirao and Savitribai Phule after they were evicted for attempting to educate people from the lower castes. Eventually, Sheikh, alongside her fellow pioneers and social reformers Jyotirao and Savitribai Phule, co-founded the Indigenous Library in 1848.

At the library, Sheikh taught communities of marginalised Dalit and Muslim women and children who were denied entry to conventional schools on the basis of caste, creed, religion and gender. The combined efforts were recognised as Satyashodhak Samaj (Truthseekers' Society) movement. "As a lifelong champion of this movement for equality, Sheikh went door-to-door to invite the downtrodden in her community to learn at the Indigenous Library and 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," Google said in a statement, explaining today's doodle.

Her life stands as a testament to social reforms that were championed by Indian women in the pre-independence time, despite social criticism. As per Google's blogspot, Sheikh's story had been "historically overlooked" until 2014 when the Indian government highlighted her achievements in Urdu test books alongside other trailblazing Indian educators. Her work is also of the greatest significance for the oppressed Dalits and Muslims, as she was among the firsts to launch the joint struggle to make their voices heard.


  1. ^ Susie J. Tharu; K. Lalita (1991). Women Writing in India: 600 B.C. to the early twentieth century. Feminist Press at CUNY. p. 162. ISBN 978-1-55861-027-9.
  2. ^ Madhu Prasad (2019). "A strategy for exclusion". Elementary Education in India: Policy Shifts, Issues and ChallengesISBN 9781000586954.
  3. ^ Grey, Mary (2016). "Opposition to Untouchability: Gandhi and Ambedkar". A Cry for Dignity: Religion, Violence and the Struggle of Dalit Women in IndiaTaylor & Francis. p. 118. ISBN 9781315478401. Retrieved February 17, 2021.
  4. ^ Tschurenev, Jana (2019). "Civil Society, Government, and Educational Institution-Building, Bombay Presidency, 1819-1882"Empire, Civil Society, and the Beginnings of Colonial Education in IndiaCambridge University Press. p. 276. ISBN 9781108656269. Retrieved February 17, 2021.
  5. ^ "Fatima Sheikh's 191st Birthday"google.com Retrieved 2022-01-08.

External links

Why Indian history has forgotten Fatima Sheikh but remembers Savitribai Phule - article from ThePrint