India’s First Women Social Worker – Abala Bose

Abala Bose was a social worker in India and is known as an early feminist. She was born on 8th August 1865 to Durga Mohan Das and Brahmamayi in Barisal. Her father Durga Mohan Das was a Brahmo Samaj leader, a social reformer and he also contributed in the field of widow remarriage and women’s emancipation. She was one of the early students of Banga Mahila Vidyalaya, (the first women’s liberal arts college in India) and the Bethune School (the oldest women’s college in Asia), gaining entrance with a scholarship in 1881. 

She couldn’t get into Calcutta Medical College because of her being a woman. But in 1882, she went to Madras (now Chennai) to study medicine, with a Bengal government scholarship.
She became ill before the result of her final examination even got declared and she never learned that she had passed the exam. In 1887, she married the scientist Sir Jagadish Chandra BoseAbala was an educator and an early feminist, who dedicated her entire life to the cause of girl’s and women’s education. That is also during an era when women had low status in society, child marriage and child widows were common and dowry and other social pressure made the lives of women intolerable. Hence, she is known for her efforts in women’s education and her contribution towards helping widows. Upon her husband’s knighthood in 1916, Abala Bose became Lady Bose. Though she was born to a renowned family and married a very successful scientist, Bose had her own legacy which lives on; the contribution she made to the society and towards bettering the lives of girls, women and widows.   

In 1919, Bose founded Nari Shiksha Samiti, a non-profit society which helped in giving education to children, girls and women. Lady Bose established around 88 primary schools and 14 adult education centers in different parts of Bengal during her lifetime. She was the pioneer thinker for establishing Mahila Shilpa Bhavan in Kolkata and Jhargram, which provided vocational training to distressed women, particularly widows, and secured jobs for them so that they could earn their livelihood. 

Lady Bose established Vidyasagar Bani Bhavan Primary Teachers Training Institute in 1925. She was the first in India to set up programs of institutional pre-primary and primary teacher’s training. After her husband’s death, she donated Rs 10,000,000 to set up the Sister NiveditaWomen’s Education Fund, which set up the Adults Primary Education Center. Bose is also known to have had influence over Kamini Roy who picked up feminism from her. She had served as Secretary of Brahmo Balika Shikshalaya from 1910 to 1936. Lady Bose passed away on 26th April 1951 but her lifelong dedication towards the education of children, girls and women and her achievements is and will always be remembered. 

 

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