I always credit my mother for giving me my feminist soul. From the earliest days of my childhood in Bangladesh, mom would always take me to all her women’s rights activist events. When she began to get involved in the publishing world to launch her own magazine Ananya for Bangladeshi women, I used to sit in the corner during her meetings. Exposing me from such an early age to the world of women’s rights made me who I am today. Watching her break down barriers most Bangladeshi women would not even go near showed me that nothing was beyond my reach.
Ammu (mom in Bengali) always led by example. She always stipulated the importance of relying on no one but yourself and your education, and to be financially independent. Mom opened my eyes to the subjugation of women around the world, and taught me never to take opportunities that were given to me, like healthcare or education, things many Bangladeshi women and girls still do not have access to, for granted. She always said hard work was something no one could ever take away from you.
When you glance over the women from my mom’s side of the family, it is difficult to deny their remarkable achievements, be it within or beyond the traditional domestic sphere designated to women. From my grandmother to my eldest aunt, my Boro Khala, women in my family epitomize what it means to be strong women. Whether it was the death of their son, or their husband taking on another wife, these women taught me when life throws you a curve ball, you pick yourself up and keep going, keep living. Most importantly, they demonstrated how to create an independent identity, and not be defined by the man in your life.
Three of them were recently profiled in the Bangladeshi magazine, Purple. I wanted to share the stories of their journeys with my readers as they recall the women that inspired them, how they cultivated their careers, and reared children in Bangladesh. They remind us how all over the world, women overcome obstacles and do extraordinary things with their lives everyday.
I hope you will celebrate them with me. I know they will inspire you the same way they continue to inspire me.