WOMEN fought for freedom on two fronts that were connected. One was national independence and the other was the struggle for gender equality. As Mrs Devaki Krishnan, who won a seat in the 1952 Kuala Lumpur elections, said in her manifesto: “I will interest myself particularly in the lot of the women of Kuala Lumpur and in extending the programme of social work already carried out by the municipality.”
Education was what created such political activism and the corresponding move towards female emancipation. In 1852, formal schooling for girls began in Penang but remained exclusive and elite. Only in the early 20th century did education, whether in English or the vernacular languages, expanded and became more comprehensive.