“Ayesha Khanam: The Unforgettable Warrior of Bangladesh’s Progressive Women’s Movement”

Ayesha Khanam will always be remembered as a great leader, in the women’s movement in our country. She played a significant role in the progressive women’s movement of Bangladesh, advocating for a secular, democratic, gender-equal, and humane society, the speakers said about Ayesha Khanam during the publication ceremony of the Ayesha Khanam Memoirs. “Ayesha Khanam Memoirs: Endless Explorer of Liberation” took place on September 12, 2023, at the National Museum in Shahbagh. The event was organized by the Ayesha Khanam Memorial Book Editing Committee to honor the late president of Bangladesh Mahila Parishad (BMP), Ayesha Khanam.

The event was chaired by human rights activist Sultana Kamal, and speeches were delivered by Dr. Fauzia Moslem, president of Bangladesh Mahila Parishad, Mujahidul Islam Selim, former president of the Communist Party of Bangladesh, Mofidul Haque, founder trustee of the Liberation War Museum, Shahriar Kabir, president of Ekattorer Ghatok Dalal Nirmul Committee, Sanjib Drong, general secretary of Bangladesh Adivasi Forum, Syeda Munira Aktar, a member of Ayesha Khanam’s family, and Dr. Tania Haque, professor of Women and Gender Studies, Department of Dhaka University.

The president of Bangladesh Mahila Parishad, Dr. Fauzia Moslem, praised Ayesha Khanam for her significant role in the liberation war of Bangladesh in 1971 and its preparation in the 1960s. She described Ayesha’s life as a symbol of equality and progress. The book about Ayesha Khanam not only explores her life but also provides an analysis of the social conditions during that period.

Prominent human rights activist Sultana Kamal mentioned that Ayesha Khanam’s courage to speak out still inspires us today. She strongly emphasized the need for necessary statements by policymakers. As a women’s rights activist, a freedom fighter, and a leader against communalism, she demonstrated skill and foresight.

The former leader of the Communist Party of Bangladesh, Mujahidul Islam Selim, said, Ayesha Khanam was a brave and rebellious person who fought for the rights and well-being of people.

The founder of the Liberation War Museum and author, researcher, and publisher Mofidul Haque said that this memorial book has been created to organize the women’s movement, with the goal of the welfare of women in the changed social and political circumstances.

Shahriar Kabir, the chairman of Ekattorer Ghatok Dalal Nirmul Committee, praised Ayesha Khanam for her role in building awareness about the Liberation War and preventing the fraudulently use of religion in politics. He acknowledged her support for the progressive citizen’s movement and highlighted her inspiration for the younger generation in the fight against fundamentalism and communalism.

Sanjeeb Drong, the general secretary of Bangladesh Indigenous Forum, believes that ensuring the well-being of marginalized communities is crucial for today’s event to be meaningful, and Ayesha Khanam’s inspiring personality can motivate us to create a more equal society.

Syeda Munira Akhtar, a childhood friend and a member of Ayesha Khanam’s family, said that Bangladesh is being praised today because we were able to involve everyone through the movement.
Dr. Tania Hossain, a professor at the Women and Gender Studies Department of Dhaka University, said that Ayesha Khanam has worked tirelessly to establish equal rights for women and men in society and has actively worked towards creating an equal social structure.

Gautam Bosak, Associate Editor of BMP read the write-up of Dr. Anupam Sen, President of the publication committee who could not attend the program due to illness. Dr. Anupam Sen praised Ayesha Khanam for using her social science knowledge to lead a movement against the abuse of women in Bangladesh and urging her successors to continue her work.

The event featured performances by Rabindra Sangeet artist Tania Mannan and recitation artist Laila Afroz. The Chair of the event and the special guests unveiled the cover of the memorial book, and human rights activist Sultana Kamal presented a portrait of Ayesha Khanam drawn by prominent artist Shishir Bhattacharya to her daughter Urmee Khan. Prominent figures from civil society, including Dr. Hamida Hossain, Abdul Mannan, Hamiduzzaman Khan, Ramendu Majumdar, Mazeda Shaokat, Zakia K. Hassan, Bivuranjan Sarkar, Dr. Wazedul Islam, Ashok Karmakar, Chandan Lahiri, Jinat Ara, Shawkat Akbar, Banani Biswas, Shahida Parveen, Falguni Tripura, and representatives from the Bangladesh Mahila Parishad and the media, were also present at the event.

The event was conducted by Shima Moslem, the Joint General Secretary of Bangladesh Mahila Parishad and Member Secretary of the Ayesha Khanam Memorial Book Editing Committee

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