DR. Neelima Ibrahim (1921- 2002) was a noble and indomitable soul and a true renaissance woman. She left us on June 18 2002. She received her PhD from Dhaka University in 1959 while she was a mother of five children. She started her teaching career in 1944 in Calcutta Victoria Institution and continued teaching in the Bangla Department of Dhaka University. She worked as the Chairman of the department, Director General of Bangla Academy, and Provost of Rokeya Hall. She also led the Bangladesh Mahila Samity, FPAB and CWFD.
She was actively involved with the pre-liberation student movement and had given shelter to many student leaders when they were in distress. She remained in Bangladesh during the Liberation War and actively helped freedom fighters by providing them with money, shelter and medication. After being informed about the kidnapping of her colleagues, she went to the Mirpur Badhavumi and Dhaka Medical College Morgue to identify them. Finally, after liberation, she was actively involved in the initiative to construct a memorial for the Shaheed Intellectuals.
In the pre-liberation years, she spent most of her time educating students. However, like any other Bangladeshi, the Liberation War had a tremendous effect on her professional life. In January 1972, Bangabandhu asked her to create a centre to shelter all Biranganas. Because of these efforts, the “Nari Punorbashon Board” was constituted. Later, she wrote “Ami Binangana Bolchi.”
Finally, to me she was also an excellent mother. I worked as her driver during the Liberation War and after the War as well. She always taught us to be independent but at the same time to care about our family. In this regard, she was lucky to have a supportive husband. She was a very hard working woman and was dedicated to furthering female empowerment and promoting education. I believe it is important for us to do something constructive so that the younger generation can know about her work. We miss you maa.
The writer is a former Secretary to the Government.