The educator and women's rights activist is one of India’s most recognized, and possibly most-talked-about ladies. She wears her life on her sleeve with pride, still sends hand-written notes and will pair a traditional salwar kameez with sneakers. And let’s not forget she’s been immortalized through her daughter, Arundhati Roy’s Booker prize-winning novel, The God of Small Things.
As a young woman, Roy married her husband to escape the possibility of an arranged marriage. After two children and years of dealing with his alcoholism, Mary left. Emotionally battered and wary of the weight of her gender, she knew she wanted something different for her daughter. Roy wanted her little girl to have the same educational opportunities as her male counterparts, so she founded the Corpus Christi High School - now Pallikoodam school - in 1967. The school was the subject of the documentary Mary Roy and Corpus Christi, and has also been featured on BBC World and Star News.
With the flame of activism burning bright in Mary’s heart, in 1986 she filed and won a lawsuit against the inheritance legislation of her Keralite Syrian Christian community in the Supreme Court. The subsequent judgement guaranteed equal inheritance rights for Syrian Christian women in a culture that was all too happy to pass property through men alone.
We think it’s safe to say: There’s something about Mary!