Abala Bose might be famously known as the daughter of Brahmo reformer Durga Mohan Das, and wife of Indian scientist Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose, but there’s a lot more to know about her life. A fierce feminist, she was a staunch supporter of many causes, including education for women and the better treatment of widows in Indian society.
Although her father was a prominent figure, her mother Brahmamoyee almost finds no mention, even though she championed the cause for upliftment of young widows, who struggled with social oppression. She went out of her way to provide them with education and shelter, and this deeply moved Abala.
A woman who made brave choices, Abala decided to take up a career in medicine with her father’s support. She even received a scholarship in 1881, and went to Madras to study. But even though she cleared her final examinations, she had to return home due to her ailing health.
Her husband, her biggest support
Abala eventually married Jagadish Chandra Bose, famously known as the father of radio science. His work involved frequent travel across the world, and Abala tried to accompany him as much as possible.
These travels allowed her to see how women lived in various societies of the world.
And even though the circumstances were different, Abala realised there are several struggles that bind women.
In 1916, after her husband received a knighthood, she was also sometimes referred to as Lady Bose.
An illustrious journey
In 1910, Abala became the Secretary of the Brahmo Balika Shikshalaya, and held the post for the next 26 years.
She was able to train teachers at the kindergarten level, thanks to Sister Nivedita. The school revolutionalised women empowerment, by training girls in self-defence, and even taking the older girl students to visit different places of their interest.
Abala also embarked on a mission to empower young girls through education on a mass level by launching Nari Shakti Samiti with the help of her friends and family. The organisation was able to achieve a lot of things, including women teaching skills like embroidery. It also collected funds for women’s education and the welfare of widows.
In 1925, Abala also established the Vidyasagar Bani Bhavan to provide both teacher training and education to widows, who would then go on to be employed in schools that came under the jurisdiction of the Nari Shiksha Samiti.
Through her lifetime, Abala Bose was successfully able to establish 88 primary schools and 14 adult education centres in Bengal.
At a time when society paid little to no attention to the plight of girls and women, especially widows, Abala dedicated her whole life in uplifting the state of women in society. The schools she set up imparted education through innovative methods, thus inspired a lot of people to initiate the cause, of their own accord.
(Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta)
Follow us on Instagram for the latest updates.