Sufia Kamal's lifelong battle for women's freedom, democracy, and establishing a secular and humane society should be taken further, said leading women's rights activists yesterday, marking the poet's 15th death anniversary.
Bangladeshi women's progress in education, politics would not be possible if the torch bearers like her had not paved the way for later generations, they said. However, Sufia Kamal's battle against patriarchy needs renewed vigour as violence continues to threaten women everywhere, they added.
Born in 1911, Sufia Kamal was a leading advocate of women's right to education in her youth and remained a dynamic civil society leader all her life.
“Her work in literature complemented her political activism,” said Ayesha Khanam, president of Bangladesh Mahila Parishad.
“While violence against women is on the rise, the country needs uncompromising women's leaders like her more than ever,” she told a memorial discussion on the poet in the capital's Cirdap auditorium, organised by Samajik Protirodh Committee.
The poet's daughter Sultana Kamal, also an eminent rights activist, said women did not feel safe anywhere these days.
“We are going through an era when every woman of regardless of her age is threatened with sexual violence. Even elderly women become victims of violence,” she said.
Despite their active participation in politics, economy and the cultural arena, women still fear of going to any secluded place alone, she added.
Reminiscing about the poet's role in the nationalist movement against Pakistani oppression in the 1960s, Abdul Quaiyyum, associate editor of the Bangla daily Pothom Alo, said, “She fought two battles at that time--one against Ayub Khan and the other against patriarchy."
“Through her leadership and inspirational words, we could envision a better future for the country and an end to repression on women,” he said.
Although the government claims to have zero tolerance for violence against women, it is hardly evident in practice, he added.
Director of Nari Progati Sangha Rokeya Kabir, President of Hill Women's Federation Chanchana Chakma, and former president of Bangladesh Mahila Samiti Selina Khaleq were also present.