Today Google Doodle celebrates Finnish feminist icon and author-activist Minna Canth’s 137 birth anniversary who stood out for women’s rights and advocated the realisation of a woman’s freedom of expression and aspirations.
Due to Canth’s activism and literary works Finland became the first European nation to give its women the right to vote in 1906. A year later, it became the first country in the world to elect women to its parliament.
Canth was born as Ulrika Wilhelmina Johnsson on March 19, 1844 in Finland’s Tampere city at a time when Europe was undergoing a drastic social change. Her views on women empowerment were considered too radical and controversial at that time.
Through her literary works, Canth constantly pushed and campaigned for workers’ rights and feminism. She wrote famous plays Työmiehen vaimo (The Worker’s Wife) in 1885 and Anna Liisa in 1895.
The play Työmiehen vaimo was about an alcoholic man who wastes his wife’s money and property. The play was so effective that the Finnish government subsequently passed a new law about the separation of property.
Canth is the first woman to receive her own flag day in Finland, starting on 19 March 2007. It is also the day of social equality in Finland.
She was also among the first female journalists in the world. She initially used to edit and write for ‘Keski-Suomi’ and eventually started her own newspaper ‘Wapaita Aatteita’ with fellow journalist August Makela.
Canth raised seven children after the death of her husband in 1879 while managing her family’s cloth business and developing her writing skills.