A feminist icon, activist, development worker, educator, writer, poet, peace advocate and educator to many generations of women’s rights activists in the subcontient and beyond, Kamla Bhasin has passed away at the age of 75 .
She is considered one of the best gender trainers in the region and a tireless advocate of women’s rights.
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She was diagnosed with late-stage cancer earlier this year and she breathed her last at 2:45 a.m. Saturday, confirmed Khushi Kabir, women’s rights activist and long-term partner of Kamla.
Kamla Bhasin is the founder and advisor of Sangat, a South Asian Feminist Network, co-chair of the global network, Peace Women Across the Globe and South Asia Coordinator of One Billion Rising.
Although he is Indian by citizenship, Kamla identifies himself as a “South Asian” who transcends national jingoistic boundaries and believes that the power of love and fellowship can bridge the economic, political. and religious separation as a whole.
He began to promote peace and understanding between nations and their people in 1975.
“One of my slogans is’ I am not a dividing wall, I am a crack in that wall. So, all the walls of nationality – Bangladeshi, Pakistani, India, we became cracks in these walls and we went through on the borders and make friends. Pakistani women were the first to apologize for the genocide here [Bangladesh] – Pakistani feminists, “Kamla said in an interview with The Daily Star in 2016.
She has had a special relationship with Bangladesh – for more than four decades, she has worked with women’s rights activists and NGOs in Bangladesh, conducting participants, experiences, workshops on women’s development and men, committed to gender, feminism, sustainable development and human rights.
His death was mourned by generations of activists in the country yesterday.
Born on April 24, 1946, in Mandi Bahauddin district, now in Pakistan, his family moved to Rajasthan in India after the partition. He obtained his MA from Rajasthan University and then went on to study Sociology of Development at the University of Münster in West Germany.
He started his career working for the empowerment of the rural and urban poor in 1972, with a voluntary organization in Rajasthan, India. From 1976 to 2001, she worked with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, supporting innovative NGO initiatives for the development and empowerment of marginalized people, especially women, in Southeast Asia and South Asia.
In 2002, she left her job at the UN to devote her time to Sangat, a network that brought together thousands of women across the region with a common understanding of gender, poverty and social justice.
Kamla believes and teaches that the struggle for gender equality is not a fight between men and women.
“It’s a battle between two ideologies – two ways of thinking – one is patriarchy is better, men are superior. Others say no, equality is better, men and women are diverse and equal and equality is good for everyone. And men should realize that unless women are free men cannot be free, “he would say.
She has written extensively on gender, women’s empowerment, participation and sustainable development, participatory training, media and communication. His books have been translated into more than 30 languages. He prides himself on writing books in easily accessible language for activists and development workers. He has also written many children’s books on the themes of freedom and equality.
She wrote songs, poems and slogans promoting peace and feminism.
Kamla loves to joke, sing and dance and her laughter, like her love, is contagious, her friends and colleagues remember, as she offered condolences from around the world yesterday.
She believes South Asia needs a “cultural revolution to change our language and traditions such as those that prevent women from participating in final rituals”.
“Schools, madrasas and media need to start this cultural revolution. Media is responsible for spreading patriarchy. There may be a good article in favor of gender equality but then most of the ads continue to be patriarchal “So, I think we need a cultural revolution, a new Muktir Andolon,” he said.