Paying salute to Finnish feminist writer and social activist, Google celebrated the 173rd Birthday of Minna Canth on Sunday (19 March) with a doodle on its homepage. Canth is regarded as the pioneer of the country’s equality movement.
In 1906, women in Finland became the first in Europe to win the right to vote and it was because of Canth’s activism and powerful writing that helped pave the way for this historic achievement. Shortly after, in 1907, Finland became the first country in the world to send a woman representative to the Parliament. Finland celebrates her birthday every year as the Day of Equality, in observance to the social change she ushered in Finland.
Born as Ulrika Wilhelmina Johnsson on March 19, 1844, Canth began her writing career while managing their family business and taking care of seven children as a widow.
Through her literary works, she became the voice of workers and women fighting for their rights. Her most famous play, ‘Työmiehen vaimo’, about an alcoholic who squanders his wife’s inheritance pushed the Parliament to enact a law that allowed women to claim their right to legally own assets. But her most influential as well as controversial play was ‘The Pastor’s Family’. During that time, she became a controversial figure as she challenged the established social norms and conventions. In 1878, Canth published her first book, a collection of short stories called Novelleja ja kertomuksia.
She was also one of the first authors to write in the Finnish instead of penning her books in Swedish. A museum in her hometown of Kuopio celebrates Canth’s life and legacy. Statues and busts of her can also be found in towns where she had lived.