ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
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Kadambini and the Bhadralok-Early Debates over Women s Education in Bengal

Early Debates over Women's Education in Bengal Malavika Karlekar Debates over women's education in Bengal in the 1860s were broadly divided along the following lines: radical Brahmos felt that there was no justification for instituting a separate curriculum for girls or limiting the level to which girls should be educated; mainstream Brahmos and the more enlightened sections of the Hindus advocated a limited education for girls which would serve the major purpose of making women intelligent companions for the emergent bhadralok and better mothers for the next generation. The education of women, it was argued, involved a very different set of values from the rationale, for instance, behind agitating for home rule and, later, legislative representation. If women were excessively liberated there was no guarantee that they would either accept the moral straitjacket imposed on them or the sexual double standards allowed for men. These subconscious insecurities took a hysterical form occasionally as in the response to the educational and later professional successes of Kadambini, the first Indian woman doctor.

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