My bio reads “parent, educator, montessorian and feminist”. People often ask me how all of it work together. How does being an educator and a montessorian translate in feminism, especially since child care and teaching is traditionally considered women’s territory in India?
Here are 3 reasons why I think Dr. Maria Montessori was a kickass feminist.
1. She went to an all boys technical school to study engineering. She was first refused admission into medical school. However, she persisted and became one of the first women to practise medicine in Italy. She faced gender discrimination ( for one, she wasn’t allowed to study male cadavers with male students and had to do it after class hours).
2. A staunch believer of equality, she advocated for equal pay in her speech in Berlin in 1896. She was for women following their passions, but also that all sexes do every chore with dignity, which is seen in the philosophy even today.
3. While children with disabilities were looked down upon and advised to be “locked up” , Montessori advocated for their rights, to understand them better. Her scientific observations helped her create materials and later Children’s houses or schools.
She famously said, “Let it be remembered that all the mothers in the tenement may enjoy this privilege, going away to their work with easy minds. Until the present time only one class in society might have this advantage.”
Today, as an educator, as a millennial mother who enjoys the privilege of working from home, and a woman who is constantly growing , I’ve learnt a lot. I’ve learnt that there is strength in humility, collaboration, and gentleness. I am what I am because of the work of countless women like Dr. Montessori (and those unsung like my grandma who endured and challenged with grace). And I hope that we collectively make it a better place for the humans of the future.
Let us just be, minus the Women’s Day sales and the labels and the patronizing.
Ending with words from the lady herself.
“The woman of the future will have equal rights as well as equal duties…Family life as we know it may change, but it is absurd to think the feminism will destroy maternal feelings. The new woman will marry and have children out of choice, not because matrimony and maternity are imposed on her. “