Today marks the 107th birth anniversary of renowned poet, Begum Sufia Kamal.
An iconic figure in the women's rights movement in Bangladesh, Sufia Kamal's contributions to Bangladesh, its Liberation War and literature are unforgettable.
Born to Shayestabad's Nawab family in Barisal in 1911, Sufia Kamal is a renowned figure in the elevation of the status of women in the Bangladeshi society. She spent her life trying to empower women as at one point in history, women's education, specifically for Muslims was frowned upon by the society. Sufia Kamal was taught to read and write Bangla by her mother. She got married to Syed Nehal Hossain and eventually settled in Barisal, where she got involved in social work. The great activist also took part in the non-cooperation movement called upon by Mahatma Gandhi. Her career took off when her first short story, Shainik Bodhu. Some of her notable works are Mrittikar Ghran, Ekattarer Diary and Ekale Amader Kal.
Sufia Kamal took part in all the movements that defined the future of the country since 1947. She was known for her bravery. When General Ayub Khan, the military ruler of Pakistan commented that ordinary Bengali people are like beasts, Sufia Kamal at once stood up and remarked, "If the people are beasts then as the President of the Republic, you are the king of the beasts."
She played an integral role in establishing Bangladesh Mahila Parishad, Chhayanaut and Kachi Kanchar Mela.
Her accolades include the Independence Day Award, Ekushey Padak, Bangla Academy Award, Deshbandhu CR Das Gold Medal, and many other national and international accolades. Sufia Kamal passed away on November 20, 1999. Even though the legendary poet does not reside with us today, her life and works will live eternally in the hearts of Bangladeshi women, providing them with hope, resilience and courage.