EXAMINING THE EMPOWERMENT OF WOMEN THROUGH THE EDUCATIONAL INITIATIVES OF BEGUM ROKEYA: A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF SOCIOECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Abstract: The 19th century witnessed a Renaissance, not only in Bengal but also throughout India. The Renaissance movement had its origins in Bengal, spearheaded by Raja Rammohan Roy, and was subsequently carried further by realists like Vidyasagar, Keshab Chandra Sen, and several more. The sentiments of reformation had an impact on both Hindu and Muslim Bengali societies. The reformation movement within the Muslim community started in the late 19th century and endured until the early 20th century. Begum Rokeya was a prominent figure within the Muslim community in Bengal before its division. She was a member of a collective of women referred to as Bengali 'bhadramahila', a term similar to "New Women" created by Virginia Woolf. She dedicated her life to emancipating Muslim women, who were obligated to adhere to rigorous Islamic customs such as purdah and others. She recognised the importance for Muslim women to capitalise on the educational possibilities available in the contemporary day. She played a key role in the history of girls' education in India, displaying fearlessness and indifference towards the severe accusations of religious leaders from the Muslim community (Maulabis). This dissertation aims to conduct a thorough analysis of Begum Rokeya's educational concepts and her significant role in promoting women's education in Bengal during the British colonial period.
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Conclusion: Begum Rokeya was an advocate for the advancement of women's education in Bengal before to its division. Although she had views that contradicted those of Muslim culture, she aspired to transform the conventional perception of the status of Muslim women, who were deprived of even the basic rights enjoyed by the rest of the population. She saw that the self-proclaimed traditionalist males in society deceived the community for their personal benefit, therefore hindering the progress of women as social collectives. She recognised that education had the ability to empower women by teaching them self-sufficiency, helping them overcome unfounded fears rooted in unjust discriminatory attitudes, and enabling them to establish themselves as esteemed individuals within society as a whole. With the objective of achieving this aim, she founded a college specifically catering to female students in Bengal. She wrote many Bengali and English books promoting the education of Muslim women. She selected the curriculum to augment her pupils' comprehension. She places a high importance on vocational efficiency, similar to Mahatma Gandhi's idea of "basic education." Her endorsement of "outdoor education" is a supplementary facet of her forward-thinking contemporary educational philosophy. Rokeya is a prominent character in the history of women's education in India, known for her advocacy and activism in promoting women's autonomy and access to education. She possessed telepathic abilities. She had the belief that if afforded the opportunity, women will possess equal levels of knowledge, foresight, critical thinking, and intellectual capacity as males. The historical significance of Bengal's women's education lies in its pivotal role in advocating for educational opportunities for women, namely Muslim women, with the aim of empowering them and reigniting their inherent yearning for autonomy. She advocated for an educational philosophy that blended pragmatism with progressivism. This elevated her to the position of a distinguished educator on the Indian subcontinent, which was under British control. The Christian missionary took the lead in promoting women's education. Vidyasagar's contribution to the education of women was commendable. Begum Rokeya persistently pursued the liberation of Muslim women by means of education, in line with the actions of those who came before her. She championed women's education, while lacking formal schooling herself. It is remarkably astonishing to every individual. In Rokeya's "Stree Jatir Abanati," education is defined as not being limited to certain national or cultural standards. Human beings possess a multitude of inherent abilities, and education empowers us to develop and refine these abilities through hard work and repetition. It is incumbent upon us to ensure the proper utilisation of our educational institutions. Humans possess a set of physical attributes bestowed upon them by .......