NEW DELHI: To honour the pioneer of women’s labour movement in India, search engine giant Google celebrates the 132nd birth anniversary of Anasuya Sarabhai.
Sarabhai founded India's oldest union of textile workers the Ahmedabad Textile Labour Association (Majadoor Mahajan Sangh) in 1920.
Born in Ahmedabad on November 11 in 1885 to a wealthy family of industrialists and business people, she became an orphan at the age of nine; after which, she, her brother and a younger sister were sent to live with an uncle.
She was forced to marry at the age of 13, before escaping to England with the help of her brother in 1912 to take a medical degree. She then switched to the London School of Economics when she realised that the animal dissection involved in obtaining a medical degree, was in violation of her Jain beliefs.
In England she was influenced by the Fabian Society and new ideas concerning equality and got involved with the Suffragette struggle.
Back home in India, she worked with dis-empowered women.
She decided to get involved in the labour movement after witnessing exhausted female mill workers returning home after a 36-hour shift.
In 1914, she helped Ahmedabad's weavers successfully organise their first strike for higher wages.
In the years that followed, she went on to become their most vocal supporter, negotiating with the mill owners - including her brother - for better working conditions.
She was supported in her work by the father of nation, Mahatma Gandhi, with whom she set up Gujarat’s oldest labour union, which later paved the way for the founding of the Self-Employed Women’s Association of India (SEWA).
The Doodle has been created by Maria Qamar, a Pakistani-Canadian artist and author of the book Trust No Aunty.