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14 December, 2017 00:00 00 AM

Begum Rokeya Remembered

Begum Rokeya Remembered
Kanthashilon, a cultural organisation, arranged a poetry recital on Begum Rokeya at the Studio Theatre auditorium of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy in Dhaka on December 9. Photo: Courtesy

December 9 was Begum Rokeya Day, which marks the birth and death anniversaries of Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain (1880-1932), a social reformer and an advocate of women’s rights. Begum Rokeya was active in staging debates on the status of women and their education. In tribute to her, some students of Shahjalal University of Sceince and Technology (SUST) in Sylhet recently expressed their opinions on how Begum Rokeya’s ideals and works, especially her writings that urge women to protest against injustices and break social barriers, still inspire us to build a society free of gender disparity and discrimination.

Shahrin Sheti, Department of Public Administration

The situation of women’s education and empowerment was not always as smooth as it is today in Bangladesh. It has undergone a long dramatic process through dedication of many philosophers and pioneers to reach the present state. As a Bangladeshi girl, the woman whose name I heard in my childhood who worked for women’s development in this country is Begum Rokeya. Her dedication and philosophy have inspired our leaders and women’s rights activists to bring about gender equality, especially our Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina who has made education free for girls up to grade-12 and introduced stipends for them. This has not only resulted in significant improvement in retaining girls in schools, but also reduced underage marriage, as well as maternal and child mortality rates. Increased access to education has helped to make women in Bangladesh more self-dependent and confident.

Sushmita Das, Department of Sociology

Begum Rokeya said, “We constitute one half of our society and if we are left behind, how can the society progress?” This statement really gives me so much inspiration and power. She believed that men’s and women’s goals should be the same. Most of the women in that era faced many obstacles and intolerance. Begum Rokeya felt that for women to overcome their sufferings, they needed to be educated as only education can remove the darkness. But unfortunately, that darkness still exists. Her work, contribution and magical writing still generate awareness in the society.

Rifat Jahan, Department of Mechanical Engineering

According to Begum Rokeya, the best weapon for women’s liberation is education. In that sector, they are gradually moving ahead. As a result, women’s presence in education and work is increasing day by day. From the readymade garments industry to research, politics, sports and culture, we can see them everywhere. Nowadays, men are also more supportive of women. They are both trying their best for development. Still, there exist some misconceptions, such as girls are not suitable for engineering studies and so on. It’s better to move away from such biased ideas as soon as possible. We should keep in mind that the society is made by us, and then again, we are ruled by this society.

Songita Sarker, Department of Business Administration

Begum Rokeya radically changed the fate of Bengali women in the 20th century. Though she was brought up in a strict conservative home, she became the first critic of the system. That gives me immense inspiration to do something new, even it goes against the system under which we live. Her movement for girls’ education makes me think about the norm of keeping girls ignorant and depriving them of knowledge and understanding of the world by keeping them within four walls. I believe today’s advancement of women in every sector is the result of breaking the rules in the past century by Begum Rokeya.

Somaia Alam Chowdhury, Department of Economics

I have known about Begum Rokeya since I was a child, and I can say she has inspired me all along to be educated. She started a revolution that has brought our women here. She taught us women can be educated and have an impact on their respective societies. Though women are still under-represented and underpaid in our country, Begum Rokeya was the one who made us participate. The lesson I have learned from Begum Rokeya’s life is that every dream is valid, and there is always a way to achieve it. Begum Rokeya dedicated her whole life to educate and empower women. The right to education has made us more empowered and strong.

Noosrat Jahan, Department of Electrical and Electronics Engineering

Well known and respected as a social reformer, thinker, writer and feminist, Begum Rokeya played a very vital role in awakening Bengali women. Overcoming different obstacles, she played a lead role in spreading the light of education among our women. Today, Bengali women are contributing to various sectors. We are concerned about our education, health, economy, equal rights and prosperity. Begum Rokeya believed that education for women is the foremost requisite for their liberation. Now, they are even going abroad for higher education and research. Being a Bangladeshi, I am proud of our women’s achievements. n

The writer is a student of SUST.


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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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