Women Talk

Kamla Bhasin: A feminist, poet, social worker, and a woman to be remembered

How Kamla Bhasin taught lessons on patriarchy, feminism, and women empowerment?


Noted writer, feminist activist, and supporter of the women’s rights movement in India, Kamala Bhasin, passed away on Saturday morning.

Activist Kavita Srivastava, while giving information about this sad news on Twitter, wrote, “Kamla Bhasin, our dear friend, passed away today on 25th September at around 3 pm. This is a major setback for the women’s movement in India and the South Asian region. She celebrated life in the face of adversity. Kamala, you will always be alive in our hearts. In the sisterhood, who is in deep sorrow.”  Kamla Bhasin, who often spoke outspokenly on television channels, was very active even in the last phase of her age.

How was her childhood?

Kamla Bhasin, who lived in Delhi, is known for her feminist views and activism. She is also recognized as the founder of ‘Sangat’, a South Asian network that integrates feminist principles with grassroots efforts. Bhasin was born on 24 April 1946 in Mandi Bahauddin district of present-day Pakistan. She earned a master’s degree from the University of Rajasthan and studied Sociology of Development from Münster University in West Germany. From 1976-2001 she worked with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. After this, she devoted herself completely to the works of ‘Sangat’ and the ground struggles. Bhasin has written extensively on patriarchy and gender. Her published works have been translated into about 30 languages. Her major works include Laughing Matters (2005; co-written with Bindiya Thapar), Exploring Masculinity (2004), Borders and Boundaries: Women in India’s Partition (1998, co-written with Ritu Menon), What is Patriarchy? (1993) and Feminism and its Relevance in South Asia (1986, co-written with Nighat Saeed Khan).

How her work inspires millions of women?

Gender trainer Kamla Bhasin associated with ‘Jagori’ has been active as a social scientist for almost three and a half decades on various issues of half the population. She first became active in the 1970s in Rajasthan. She then joined the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization and was active with it for 27 years. During this time she devoted full time to the development and empowerment of women in South-East Asia and South Asia. She was also the co-chairperson of Peace Women Across the Globe and coordinator of the South Asia Region of  One Billion Rising. Her issues of struggle have been gender, development, peace, militarization, human rights, and democracy.

How did she contribute to movements in India?

She participated in a procession at India Gate in New Delhi during the anti-Sikh riots. Her mother and daughter Mito also participated in it. After this, she worked for the rehabilitation of Sikhs in Delhi for many years. At a farmhouse on the outskirts of Islamabad on a bright March morning, Bhasin shared the current state of feminism in South Asia, its challenges, generational and political divisions, and the never-ending conflict between the India-Pakistan region.

What were her thoughts on patriarchy?

Kamala Bhasin has always been vocal towards the patriarchal society. To end the patriarchal society, he had organized programs not only in India but in many countries of Asia. Talking to a media house, she had said that ‘Many million girls are not allowed to study, apart from this many crore women have been thrown out of the house every year, in such a situation it is not right to remain silent and fight for the right. . For your information, let us tell you that Kamala Bhasin has been honoured with many honors on gender equality.
After the death of Kamala Bhasin, people have expressed deep grief through social media. While posting her poem, someone has written ‘Goodbye Kamala Bhasin’, while someone said it is a big loss for the country.

Eminent writer  Taslima Nasrin has also been deeply saddened by the demise of Kamala Bhasin.

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Jagisha Arora

MA in History. Writes on gender, caste, and social issues. Believe in Dr. BR Ambedkar and Democracy

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